A Fresh Look at My Role in Christianity

Week 4, Part 4 in the Series: “Christianity From a Fresh Perspective”

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

What if I daily treated Jesus as the most important person in the world? What if I believed my relationship with him through prayer, Bible reading, and worship was the most important thing I could do all day? What would happen if I took what precious little time I have in a day and gave some of it to him as a gift? What if I stopped trying to gain more knowledge, or buy his favor, and just enjoyed him?

How would my life change if as I read his Word, I asked Jesus to show me:

  • Who He, the Father, and the Spirit really are – not just who I think they are.
  • His power for my life – what that looks like today, not just 2000 years ago.
  • His promises and gifts – and how he intends they are to impact my life and the lives of those I love.
  • How he longs to convict, lead, and comfort me in my current circumstances.

How would my life and the lives around me change if when I prayed I first asked how he would have me pray for my needs, my circumstances, and the needs of those around me?

What if I asked him to show me how he blesses my life – to open my eyes to the daily gifts I don’t see. And what if I then took time to thank him, and recount those gifts to him often?

What would happen if I had the boldness to make these requests:

  • This situation______________________is way beyond me. Please show me your power.
  • I feel hopeless, please show me your love and goodness.
  • I can’t change, please change me!
  • I’m not even sure you exist – if you are real, show me!

What if I then trusted God to come through? What if I then chose to yield to Him and let go of my control?

I know what would happen – my life would change. Because I would be asking the only One able to change my life to do so, and then let him do it.

What if then I asked for the boldness to tell someone else what I’ve seen and heard? How would that change my world?

I know the answer to that as well – by the power and love of Jesus Christ through us, the world would slowly change, one person at a time.

I know, because I have seen and and heard and can testify – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and he has not only the power, but the desire to change lives and set captives free. He’s doing so for me and for many around me daily. (I John 1:3 NLT)

This song beautifully portraits our role in Christianity –

Ashes Remain, “All Of Me”

With great longing for the Giver of the gospel,

Robin <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Power to Face Death, and Win!

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. John 11:25 (NLT) 

Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus had become deathly ill. Even though Lazarus’ sister, Martha, had alerted Jesus to his friend’s illness, Jesus chose to delay coming to them, arriving 4 days after his death.  The mourners had filled the house, and wailing could be heard from quite a distance.

When Martha was alerted their dear friend had finally arrived, she ran out to meet him, leaving the mourners and their sister, Mary inside. “Why didn’t you come sooner?  You could have healed him?” Questions and hurt clouded the face that usually beamed upon seeing him. “Martha, your brother will rise again”, Jesus responded compassionately.

“Well, of course he will rise at the end of time, like all others who follow you.”  Martha was certain.

Jesus insisted, “But, Martha, I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, even if he dies will live.  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (My rendition of the biblical account in John 11.)

Moments later, Jesus proved his authority by commanding death to give up its claim; and Lazarus, obediently came out of the tomb.  Death had no choice but to obey “the resurrection and the life”!

Not too many days later, Jesus himself was nailed to a cross, and 3 days after, death spewed him out of the grave as well, because it could not hold “the resurrection and the life”!

Upon Jesus’ resurrection, it is also reported by eye witnesses, many graves were opened, and followers of Jesus who’d died were raised to life and were seen walking around Jerusalem!  Death powerless to hold “the resurrection and the life”. (Matthew 27:50-56)

It is promised that one day, all who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for them, following him rather than their own way, will also be raised by “the resurrection and the life”.

This is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

It isn’t a glimmer of hope.  It’s a fact, born out by Christ’s resurrection, and eye-witness accounts of those who not only saw and spoke to the risen Christ, but those who later willingly gave their lives for what they saw and heard.

No one would willingly die for a lie or a glimmer of hope.

From ancient days until now, thousands (possibly millions) have chosen to willingly die sometimes gruesome deaths, because they would not recant their belief in the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.

Others have sought to discredit the accounts, only to eventually realize their validity.

And millions have died with peace, knowing one day, their bodies will be raised.

No one is able to face death with the ability to “fake peace”.  Facing death has a way of unmasking even the best actor. 

Less than a week ago, a very dear friend of mine, and Senior Pastor of our church, Paul C. Foster Sr., succumbed to death, his body too weak from cancer to fight any longer.

Over the previous months, as his cancer spread, and great pain became a moment by moment companion, he faced the pain, and suffering with a perspective only miraculous.  Even in his death, I am told he was valiant, a warrior.

In December 2016, months after the pain from the bladder cancer had begun to etch the marks of its talons into his body, our Lead Pastor, his son, Sammy Foster, held an interview with his father.  In it Paul Sr shared how God was using the pain and the uncertainty to change his life dramatically.  During the interview, there was a peace about him other-worldly, because he had more than a glimmer of hope. He had a certain hope of life, even if he died.

The video (about 10 minutes) powerfully portraits someone who, without mask, faced death, knowing who would win. “From Interruption to Invitation”.

Friday last was his funeral.  After, this was posted on our church’s Facebook page:

Screenshot_20170603-175753

Am I sad?  Yes.  I miss my friend.  But I know where he is.  He’s not lost.  He is safely home, where no pain can touch him, and no sadness can mar the glory now surrounding him, with his Master.  He wouldn’t come back if he could.  In a way, I’m jealous – for he’s seeing only what I longingly envision, and he experiences what I in faith believe, for now.  He’s far better off.

Because of Jesus’ power over the grave, one day my grave will also yield to “The Resurrection and The Life”, and my body will shake off its dust.  What a blessed, solid hope!

Lovingly praying for your hope as well,

Robin <3

Worth the Wait

Gary and I will be married 5 years this Fall.  We’d both been married before – successful, long-lived marriages of over 25 years each.  We’d both learned a thing or two about marriage before we wed.

But like all couples, we’ve had our rough moments since the wedding day.

We are a cross-cultural marriage, Gary having lived in the mountain regions of Kentucky and West Virginia much of his first marriage, where he and his first wife spent their lives together in ministry. I grew up in the Midwestern suburbs, and spent several years of my first marriage traveling the world with my first husband’s job.

Gary a country boy at heart, and I a city girl by experience.

He loves to dress up jeans and a t-shirt with his favorite baseball cap; and I love to wear jeans with a nice blouse, jewelry and sometimes a hat.

But we both love Jesus, knowing he’d brought us together – looking forward to the day we’d serve him side by side.  We’d both lived through loving and being loved by a spouse no matter the cost.  For each of us, the cost was watching our spouses become ill and die. We’d both persevered watching our sons struggle with the death of their other parent.

We’ve both weathered and grown through some pretty harsh life experiences. The experiences we share, are also the experiences that we don’t share – each so similar, yet so different.

Blending our cultures and experiences hasn’t always been easy, and for the first year was especially difficult.  So many misunderstandings between 5 people, and so many new ways of doing things. I’m so glad we were reminded before we married, that all couples, no matter what, go through a time of getting used to the new norm.

As I remember those early days, I revel in the time we now share:

The boys are now out of the home – grown and choosing their own way.  We celebrate their adulthood, and enjoy this new season of life.

Gary and I for the first time in our marriage are alone in the house – and are enjoying it immensely!  We cherish this time together!

I’m so glad we waited for this time, and didn’t give up when things were difficult!  The difficulties we forged through together have only made this time sweeter!

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

Are you currently in a difficult season, my friend?  Unable to see the end from the beginning?  If your life has been given over to Christ’s lead, then trust and wait.  He never fails to keep a promise.

What is today won’t be forever.

God will make all things beautiful, in their time.  He promises.

While you are waiting through this season, do you have a support system of godly people to uphold and encourage you?  Attending a local church where Jesus is worshiped, and families are made, is so critical to making it through all seasons!

Let me know if I can pray for you.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

The Arrival

There have been times in my life when I just wanted someone to come and restore sanity! Life was hard and I didn’t feel strong enough to continue under the weight.  All of us have felt that way at one time or another.

From the time of God’s intervention in the garden, hundreds of years had passed.  Life was hard. The people of Israel, the nation whom God had chosen to fulfill the promise, and to whom the promise had been passed down, waited.  They often found themselves in a position of slavery, for one reason or another.  Not that God wasn’t with them, but because of their choices.

Throughout those many hundreds of years, God reminded them over and over, at times when they needed it most, he hadn’t forgotten them.  He’d even sent prophets to point them back to him when they’d gone their own way.  These prophets spoke God’s words to the people of Israel, and any other nation who would listen, proclaiming one day, He’d send a great King to rule and reign, restoring peace.  The people of Israel assumed this king would come as most other kings came – with great pomp and ceremony, proclaiming his power and might boldly.

God rarely does anything the way we assume.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

Finally…the time…had come…

All was ready…the right people…the right circumstances…

All was in place…

An elderly couple had long given up hope of ever bearing a child.  As Zechariah, a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, went about his daily duties, an angel appeared and told him his wife Elizabeth would soon conceive and bear a son. They were to name him John.  He would become the one whom God had promised would prepare the people for the coming of the long promised Messiah (a Hebrew word for leader/savior). (Luke 1:5-25 NLT)

Just a short time later, a young woman from the town of Nazareth, named Mary, a virgin, went about her daily tasks as usual, until an angel of God interrupted and gave her the news she would bear the Son of God (the seed from Genesis 3) within the next 9 months. (Luke 1:26-38 NLT)

Not many weeks later, Joseph, Mary’s fiance, learned she was pregnant.  He, being a godly man, became very troubled by her perceived unfaithfulness.  After much thought, he chose to divorce her quietly rather than have her go through public humiliation.  That was the plan until an angel intervened in a dream, letting him know Mary hadn’t been unfaithful, but in fact was carrying the promised Messiah. (Matthew 1:18-24 NLT)

Nine months later, as Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census decreed by the Roman Emperor, Augustus, Mary’s body told her the child would come soon.  No one would give them lodging, but Joseph found a place in a nearby stable. There she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  They named him Jesus (which in Hebrew means Jehovah (one of God’s names) saves, and is generous), as Joseph had been told to do by the angel. (Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 1:20,21 both NLT)

God had long waited the coming of the One who would restore fully his relationship with mankind.  The night had finally arrived, and all heaven sang out the joyous news!

“Don’t be afraid!” he [the angel] said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 

Luke 2:10-14 (NLT)

The same message rings through time to us –

“Don’t be afraid.  The Savior has come!” He may not come to us in the way we expect, but the restorer, the champion of mankind has come.  God didn’t abandon us in our rebellion.  He made a way.  Praise Him!

We will finish out the week with the Battle he waged to win our freedom in the midst of struggle.

With love,

Robin <3

You may also enjoy, “Look For God’s Gifts

Why Do We Suffer, Part 3

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We were made to live in a garden, surrounded by God's goodness. Click To Tweet

What went wrong?

The Beginning of Suffering

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:1-10 (NIV)

Every time I read this, my heart breaks.

In choosing to eat from the tree, to acquire personal “knowledge” and “wisdom” apart from God, Adam and Eve immediately began to suffer the natural consequences of evil:

Decay and Death (verse 3)

They were created to know and experience God’s goodness alone.  Knowing evil was a poison that once entering their souls, suffocated their spirits with doubt, mistrust, shame, fear, and all manner of evil. Knowing evil altered their very core as their rebellion against their Creator imprinted on their souls. Thereafter the effects of rebellion and the knowledge of evil passed down from generation to generation.

Shame (see verse 7)

Before eating the fruit, their understanding of “good” came from the unchanging goodness of God’s character.  However, now, their sense of “good” would be based upon personal preference and circumstance. Ever-changing wisdom of man, rather than the unchanging character of God.

Their sense of “good” now saw shame in what God had made, so they covered their nakedness by sowing fig leaves to cover themselves in an attempt at providing their own goodness.

Fear (verses 8-10)

Evil is antithetical to Good – always has been, and always will be.  In listening to the serpent (Satan in disguise) and eating the fruit, Adam and Eve (as well as their offspring) became captive to Satan and sin, blinding them to God’s goodness.  Now aligned with the enemy of God, they feared the one who had made them.  God hadn’t changed, they had.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16 (NLT) Click To Tweet

Are We Any Different Today?

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

On our own, we can’t restore what was lost; but God can.

The plan of restoration began even before Adam and Eve ate the fruit. And so the rest of this week, we will look at God’s restoration plan through the series, “Amazing Grace” in discussing “Who Is Jesus?”

This discussion was very difficult to write, and so took me much longer than normal to pen. Hence finishing up last week’s post this week.  These truths are so pivotal to understanding suffering in our lives and in the world; I didn’t want to mess it up.  

Again, I love discussion!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Why Do We Suffer? Part 1

I’ve asked this question in one form or fashion.  My son has asked, as he’s dealt with his father’s death, and every other thing he’s suffered through having autism. My step sons have asked as they’ve grappled with losing their mom.  My husband has asked. We may not all use the same words, but we have certainly asked, along with millions who’ve asked before us.  There will be millions after us.

Have I a pat answer?  No.  But I’ve grappled, and asked, and sought an answer in the only book I know can answer such questions authoritatively.  From the only author whose not only seen all suffering, but been through all suffering. The only One I know who can answer the question of suffering with personal experience, along with immense grace, mercy, and hope. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Here’s what I’ve come up with.  Please bear with me and don’t walk away before I’ve finished, with an “I know where she’s going, and I don’t want to go there.”  You may be surprised by the ending, if you wait it out.  Remember, I have several “t-shirts” as the backdrop to all of this.

God Made and Entrusted Adam to Rule Over His Creation

In the first days of creation, God waited until after he’d made the sun, moon, planets, land, oceans, sky, atmosphere, vegetation, fish, birds, and land animals. We were the last creature he made, and the pinnacle of his earthly creation. (Genesis 1, Genesis 2:15Psalm 8)

After, God said all he made was “good”.

God gave Adam the job of ruling over all he’d made, under him. That would be a “bit” more important than if the royal family of England called one day and asked one of us to run their kingdom for them, under their tutelage.   Pretty heady job! Along with this, Adam was tasked with tilling the ground and filling the earth with little Adams and Eves.

Don’t overlook this – God put Adam in charge.

God created Adam in his image – Adam’s ability and authority (his heart, compassion, courage, grace, mercy, and wisdom) to rule under God came from being made in God’s image.  

There Were No Barricades to Relationship

As God’s creation, made in his image, Adam longed to be in relationship with God. And God chose relationship with Adam.  This relationship was not forced but natural and beautiful, with nothing at this point to mar their communion as Creator and created. Nothing.

One of Adam’s first tasks was to name the animals.  The Bible says God brought each animal he’d made before Adam to see what he would name it.  I picture Adam sitting and thinking…contemplating… about each characteristic, each nuance, each detail of each creature as it came before him.  The Bible seems to insinuate God waited to see what Adam would name each animal, as if in anticipation. (Genesis 2:19-20)  I can imagine Adam talking it over with God, each together reveling in this moment when everything was new.

Of all the creatures in the garden, there was none like Adam.  So, God chose to give Adam a special gift.  He made one like him, to complement him, from his own body, and presented her to Adam, so that he wouldn’t be alone.  Adam named her – Eve.  There was no strife between them.  They were naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2:20-25)

Beautiful, huh!  No suffering at all.  Only “utopia”.  Something we’ve all longed for – not surprising as we all originated from this scene.  What happened?  Let’s continue the story tomorrow.

Until then,

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

No Fear!

Please Pray!

This week I’m going “live”, in the sense something has come up in life that is a bit frightening, and I’m going to need to remember all God has been teaching me.  This week’s “live” posts are to remind to me that I’m not doing this alone, and that God is fully aware and has already paved the way for his good plan for my family.

We found out yesterday that my son with autism has developed a condition where his platelet count is dropping – two blood tests in a row.  A bit of research last evening showed that some of his hefty daily concoction of meds can have this side effect, by causing his body to see his platelets as an enemy, and fight them as an invader.

I have enough medical background to know that platelets help the blood clot.  If your blood doesn’t clot, you bleed.  Right at this point in life, he can’t live without these meds.  They help him function as normally as possible.  We see a specialist this week, but already my brain and emotions want to go into full “what if” mode, mixed with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So, I’m asking those of you who follow Jesus to pray for us – for peace, calm, wisdom, and healing.  I want God’s plan, and I don’t want to freak out in the middle.

This morning I read a blog post from Proverbs 31 Ministries, by Katy KcCown, entitled, “When the Road Ahead Feels Uncertain“.  God’s timing is always perfect!  I liked it so much, I decided to subscribe.  As a gift I was sent 4 pages of Bible verses on dealing with fear!  I didn’t even know these would be coming!

 

These verses are excerpted from the list I received entitled:

“Power Promises to Fight Fear & Anxiety”

God, you did not give me a spirit of fear.  You gave me one of power.  ‘For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)”

God, you say I should not fear.  You promise YOU are with me and will help me. ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)”

God, you promise YOU are greater than anything I am dealing with. ‘Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ I John 4:4 (KJV)”

(For the full list, you will need to subscribe to Katy’s blog,”Katy KcCown, Laugh. Live. Faith.” .  The list will follow in your email inbox as her gift for subscribing.)

My plans to up-end fear today:  

Choose to dwell on What Is True about God, who stands with me.

Surround myself with prayer warriors who follow Jesus.

 

Thank you friends for doing this with me this week.

With love,

Robin<3