Thursday, March 21, 2013

When We Argue

If you are unfamiliar with The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, it is written as if it is letters from a senior demon giving instruction to a junior demon on how to keep a human from becoming a Christian.  So far it is quite humorous and I find it to hit home in many areas.  One being the subjects of arguments in domestic life:

"In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face....Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his [partners] utterances with the fullest and most over-sensitive interpretation of the tone and the content and the suspected intention.  He must then be encouraged to do the same to him.  Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent....Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken." The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I don't know about you, but this hits home in our household.  The actual words we might say seem fairly innocuous, but the tone in which the word are uttered can be nasty.  This of course begets a nasty answer and voila! we are quarrelling as described by C.S. Lewis. 

I pray that next time I will pause before responding and see where the devil is trying to get his foothold.  Then I will "resist the devil and he will flee..." James 4:7

In His Grace...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In the Valley

"Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation - the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks....Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else....He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs-to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish.  It is during such trough periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be." The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I have been in the valley of late.  It has been harder to see the things of God, even as I continue to give thanks and praise Him.  I know He is still there, I know He is still good and I know He still loves me.  But I have fallen into a "trough" as C.S. Lewis calls it.  The "trough" can make it hard to see the things I am to write about.  The "trough" can make life seem dimmer and events more difficult to overcome.

David writes about being in "troughs" throughout the Psalms.  He also celebrates the "peaks" as he does in Psalm 34, one of my favorites:

"I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from eveil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him."

In His Grace...

Friday, March 15, 2013


"To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted."  Titus 1:15

Are our consciences corrupted? Has our society moved so far from God's plan that we have no consciences left?  Is this why so much in our society seems to have taken a downturn?  Our movies are more violent than ever, our TV shows are more graphic, even our video games and cartoons have taken a dangerous turn.  We seem to have become numb to that which was detestable 50 or 100 years ago. 

I witnessed something yesterday that reassures me that I am not numb.  I witnessed a little girl hit by a car.  I did not see the actual impact, but I saw the little girl rolling away from the car.  I saw the mother gather her baby in her arms and sit in the street crying out in fear.  I heard the little girls anguished cries for her mother.  I saw the gold, sparkly shoes lying in the street.  It is a picture I cannot remove from my mind.

I ache for this little girl and her mother, her whole family.  I do not know what happened.  I know that she was taken to our local hospital and then she was transported to a hospital that specializes in children's medicine.  I will most likely never know the outcome.

But I am reassured that I am not numb.  As I have grown in my faith, so much in our society has become unpleasant to me.  I do not want to watch the movies, or the television shows. 

I ache for the family...and so I pray...

In His Grace... 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reaching Out

This is something I am not good at.  I have a tendency to wait for others to contact me.  I have written before about my dislike of the telephone - the feeling that I am interrupting others when I call.

But in our small group last Sunday, in our study of the book of James, one of the questions was "List some ways that Christian friends have encouraged you to persevere in tough times." 

The resounding answer to this question is that they reached out to me.  They called, emailed, visited...took time from their busy schedules to spend time with me.  Whether it was on the phone or in person really didn't make a difference.  When others reach out to me, it makes me feel loved. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-32

It has become increasingly apparent to me that I must stick my head out of my shell (sometimes I am similar to a turtle) and reach out to friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances.  I must make the effort because over time they stop putting out the effort because they see no return on their investment. 

So even if I feel like I am interrupting, or if I feel stupid because I cannot think of things to say (with my father-in-law in particular), I must make the effort. 

Because in the end, if I do so, I am being a blessing to God.

In His Grace...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Treasures in Heaven

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them no to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

As I discussed in my last post, we are the rich. 

God tells us that we should not be haughty and we should not trust in our riches.  We should trust in God because He is the one that provides the riches in the first place.

We should be storing up treasures by being rich in good works.  These are the only treasures that are worth storing up - the only riches that are worth anything, are the things that are worth something to God.  Feeding the poor, providing clothes and shelter for the homeless, caring for orphans and widows.  Does anyone else find this to be intimidating? 

I can provide monetary support by sponsoring a child through an organization like World Vision. I can give to the Salvation Army or the Redwood Gospel Mission to help people in our own country.  But how difficult it is to take it to the next level. To go volunteer and meet the homeless and hungry face to face. 

I pray for the courage to take my good works to the next level.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We are Rich

A couple of years ago, our pastor did a sermon series called Rich.  He provided some startling statistics that opened my eyes and gave me a different perspective on our finances.

Please do not quote me as I do not have the actual statistics written down, but it was something like this:

If you don't feel rich but you have a car and a roof over your head, you are rich. 

If everyone around you makes more money than you do but you have a refrigerator full of food, you are rich. 

If you can buy a cup of coffee on a regular basis, you are rich.

You get the idea.

But here in America, we lose sight of the things that make us rich in relation to the rest of the world.  We compare ourselves with the "Joneses" up the street that have a bigger house, the fancier car, the nicer clothes.  We forget that for much of the world population, having a roof over their heads is a privilege.  Owning any form of transportation is a privilege.  Knowing that you have food to eat for the next several days is a privilege.

I have all these things and much, much more.

And I have the most important thing of all - a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I am rich.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The idea of entitlement has been popping up in a variety of places lately.

The DJ's were discussing it on the radio in the last few days.  Then my husband and I were discussing it on our way to our small group.  Then the subject came up at our small group.

Why do we, as Americans, feel so entitled?

And it seems that the younger we are, the more entitled we feel?  We feel we deserve the bigger, better, taller, larger, higher                                    (you fill in the blank). 

But why do we deserve it?  What have we done to earn it? 

My parents own their own business and it has been getting harder and harder to find good workers - people that do whatever the job requires.  People that are willing to go the extra mile have become few and far between.

I place myself in this category as well.  I worked for my parents for six and a half years.  I definitely worked hard, but I wasn't willing to go the extra step that my parents are willing to do.  The business did not become my life as it has theirs. 

Where did we lose the work ethic?  What has led to the idea that even if we don't work for it, we deserve it?

God is pretty clear what He thinks about riches and how we gather or spend, " Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.  You have laid up treasure in the last days."  James 5:1-3

I do not say any of this to judge but rather to open my heart to what God wants to teach me.  I know I have much to learn and I pray that I will keep my eyes, ears and heart wide open to His purpose for me.

In His Grace...

Friday, March 1, 2013

When did I stop....

...worrying about what other people thought?

This is something I have done for quite a while.  Years most likely.  It would stop me from making phone calls at work because I was worried about what the others would think of what I said.  It would stop me from making phone calls at home because I was worried about bothering others or that I would say something stupid.  It would stop me from asking questions at seminars, in classes, anywhere really.

I knew it was irrational, I knew it was silly.  I cannot know what others think and I cannot control it.  But I couldn't get past it.

So I allowed a worry, a fear, to take control. 

But this week at work, I noticed that when I needed to make a phone call, I didn't have the usual pause.  I didn't stop to think what others would think, I would just pick up the phone and call because it needed to be done. 

"...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."  2 Timothy 1:7

I don't know what changed.  I don't know why now. 

But I do know it is all because of God's love.  His amazing, unfathomable love.  Why He loves us so much I truly cannot understand.  But whether or not I understand it, I can feel it. 

I have made it to the book of Revelation in my reading through the Bible from cover to cover.  The book of Revelation has never made as much sense to me as it is this time.  Is it because I've read everything leading up to it?  Is it just because I have moved along further in my walk with Jesus?  I don't know.  But I would encourage anyone that hasn't read the Bible from cover to cover to do so.  It is a challenging but fulfilling task.

In His Grace...