Friday, December 17, 2010

Take my will....

Love the old hymns. One of my favorites "Take My Life, and Let it Be"...

I'm singing the words...."Take my life, and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise, let them flow in ceaseless praise.....

...Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love...
...Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee...
...Take my silver and my gold....
...Take my will --- HOLD IT!!!!! SCREECHING HALT!!!

I sing to be holy...consecrated to the Lord....and fall flat. Rather I should say, I dig in my heels.

George Fox wrote "I know Jesus, and He was very precious to my soul; but I found something in me that would not keep sweet and patient and kind. I did what I could to keep it down, but it was there. I besought Jesus to do something for me, and when I gave Him my will. He came to my heart, and took out all that would not be sweet, all that would not be kind, all that would not be patient, and then HE shut the door." Oh, I want those to be my words...
I am sorry my Lord.... Make this not just a hymn to be sung but my prayer, my heartfelt prayer.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne, It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee
Ever, only, all for Thee

"So as to live the rest of your earthly life...for the will of God." 1 Peter 4:2

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Just do the next thing...."

Have you faced a situation that is just too big that you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless not knowing what to do? My friend use to say in times like that, "Just do the next thing."

The situation regarding the number of widows and orphans is overwhelming. In Africa alone, I'm told AIDS results in over 45 million orphans. I personally feel helpless, don't know what to do. Frustrated. But I then remember my friend's comment, "Just do the next thing."

In recent months, actually about a year and a half now -- God's people at LifeBridge Church [and all over the country] with feelings of inadequacies, not sure what to do, have been doing "the next thing" -- coming along side the Walser family .. fundraising, praying fervently, encouraging, advocating for orphans, donating time, money, sweat and tears resulting in Abby Lynne Walser being brought into her family. She will be home Christmas night.

What if all God's people "just do the next thing" regarding orphan care? God will even tell us the next thing to do. He says in Isaiah 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.'" To some, they will hear His voice say to begin taking that long, difficult journey to adopt? To others: to withdraw some of the retirement money and give to the family who is adopting. Yet to another who is handy, to help a family with a much needed larger bedroom for a new child, or maybe His voice is calling you to go! To go serve orphans and widows...perhaps even in Africa! [Visit The Rafiki Foundation]

I love looking at the pictures of Abby with her Mommy and Daddy. I keep looking at them and I keep smiling. They are all so blessed...BUT... so am I, and so too many others for we got to do "the next thing." Many blessed people by doing the next thing in obedience to God's voice got to bring a little girl home to her family, and honor God. That makes me want to do more of "the next thing."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thankful to be a Plain - and cracked - Cup

I am a big Indiana Jones fan. My favorite movie of the series -- "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Indiana Jones is seeking the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper.

In one of the final scenes, Indiana Jones' father [played wonderfully by Sean Connery] is seriously wounded by the "bad guy" and thus about to die. But if Indiana, succeeds in finding the Holy Grail, fill it with holy water, and give it to his father to drink -- it would have the power to heal. [We know this because the last Knight of the last Crusade, tells them he has been kept alive for eons with the power of the Grail]. But there's a problem, the Holy Grail is hidden among several other cups, and the last Knight is not disclosing which one is the Grail.

One of the characters, Elsa [misguided of course] chooses a gilded cup encrusted in jewels. She fills it with water and gives it to the sinister Donovan [the one who shot Indiana's we are pretty sure what is coming]. Donovan drinks, only to rapidly decay and crumble into dust. Indiana, our hero, on the other hand, recognizing that the Grail would be that of a humble carpenter and not a wealthy king selects a plain wooden cup, fills it with the water and quickly takes it to his father to drink who is then healed.

I love the story, love the scene...and my favorite part of the scene: the plain cup.

I'm a nobody, a plain cup. To be honest in my humanity - that is very painful..."until I entered the sanctuary of God..." [Psalm 73:17] then I understood for God tells me in His Word that He deliberately chose "nobodies" [me] - He chose "what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world even things that are not to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" [1 Corinthians 1:27-28]

So...when I begin to feel sorry for myself [confession time -- which is far too often], I will immediately enter the sanctuary of my God who will affirm just how very plain I am in order that I not boast before Him, but only in the Lord! To God be the Glory!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What was He thinking?

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...."

....I was reading the creation account this morning. The Lord God created a masterpiece of a planet, and what does He do....He gives the care of it to man! What was He thinking? Knowing full well in short order, His created beings were going to screw up the works yet the Lord blessed them choosing the first couple and their heirs the amazing privilege of ruling over what He had beautifully and perfectly created.

Using my sanctified imagination while reading Genesis 1, I pictured each breathtaking creation "day" with man in the thoughts of God: "And God said.. and it was. And God said...and it was. And God said...and it was," - and then at the pinnacle of creation, "Let Us make man in our image." I wonder the first couple's thought when Creator God, the Alpha and the Omega, the great I Am proclaimed...... [my paraphrase]: "Not the angels...but you ... YOU - man - are to subdue it, to rule over everything - the fish, the birds, every living creature. I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree. Everything that has breath of life in it - I give to you to care for.." Amazing, humbling to be chosen to care for what He has made! Mankind to have dominion over the earth and everything in it?? Too wonderful!

Respectfully I ask, "What was He thinking?"

What was the Lord God thinking when He again chose man - His followers [known for screwing up the works] with His Gospel message -- to "Go" tell others of the Gospel, to be witnesses, to make disciples? Creator God, the Alpha and the Omega, the great I Am, Sovereign, Holy God chose not the angels [who long to], but us, the privilege to preach the gospel.

What was God thinking? Thank You me not to screw it up by keeping this wonderful news to myself, but in love to preach the gospel leaving the results with you.

‎"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." Ephesians 6:19-20

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Greater Joy .... November 3, 2010

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

I became a follower of Jesus Christ when my youngest child, a son, was 4 months old. One of the very first things I did [and I remember it like yesterday] was to kneel beside him, and give Him back to Jesus. I believed then and to this day that it was God's will that I do so. It was pure and right with no other motive, than that my son would one day serve our King. God gave him to me and I gave him back to God.

Over the years friends had often said that I was like the mother of James and John wanting my son to sit either to the right or left of King Jesus. That is not true. My heart's desire, for Christ planted it there, was that Stephen would serve the King - and not seated to His right or left, but at His feet.

Never in my wildest imagination, as I knelt beside him those thirty years ago, did I ever think my son would not serve God. If anything, I was so very grateful - certain that Christ who opened my eyes to my depravity would do the same for my son. As his mom, I would bring him up [as well as his older sister] in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and one day like Samuel, he too on hearing the voice of God, would say, "Speak, for your servant is listening." My favorite verse -- "There is no greater joy than to hear your child walks in truth!!! " But for many years and to this day, my son does not walk in truth. He does not serve God, but rejects King Jesus.

Over the years, I have not had that joy [yes joy...but not the greater joy of hearing my own child walks with Jesus] but rather great heartache. The "lost" of my son has been the most difficult trial I have ever had to bear as a mom who loves the Lord Jesus. One particular season my dear husband Larry came home each afternoon, just to hold me in his arms as I wept uncontrollably as my heart pain over my lost child was so unbearable. There were days...weeks when I did not even know where he was. Had he been in a car wreck? Was he lying on the side of the road? Where was he sleeping? Did he have food to eat? I was also angry, hurt, bitter, resentful for how could this happen?!! Was it not God's will that my son would live for Him? What did I do wrong? Did I hear God right?

Looking back -- I did plenty wrong as a parent raising children. I usurped the authority of my husband, was oftentimes harsh and I could go on and on...but that is for another blog. Bottom line I was not "all that." But heart for Jesus was and still is that my children would serve Him. 3 John 4 says: "to hear" not see. God began a work in my heart that I don't have to "see." It is enough that I hear that they are His and living for Him -- and so that is my prayer.

I do... I do... I do believe in spite of me and my parenting, God graciously gave me my son and daughter to raise for His glory, for His kingdom purpose. Before the beginning of time sovereign God knew I would mess up and yet He still allowed me to have children to bring them up - for His good pleasure. He is the One who will take my ashes and turn them into beauty. I believe not based on a promise found in the Bible, but a whisper to my heart many years ago that my children, both of them -- would serve the King. I rejoice to see that my daughter walks in truth... and I await to hear that my son does as well.

Last night in our Community Group, we were reading the parable of the prodigal son [Luke 15] and a new friend, a bear of a man... a biker...who came for the very first time tearfully told us that his former wife and daughter had been praying for him for 14 years. Six months ago - he repented and turned to Christ at the age of 51. I was so personally encouraged, that of all the nights, for him to was the night we were talking about the eternal-timeless love of Father God who forgives.

In a separate conversation at the end of the night, my dear friend, Melissa drew me aside as she was under divine compulsion to begin praying everyday for my son. It is my belief that Sovereign God orchestrates everything....places things on our hearts, in our pray about because He is about to move... He is about to do something. So like the father of the prodigal son, I am anticipating my son's return.... but not to me, but to God and say, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Someone wrote regarding prayer to "expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think. Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He only can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ and expect great things."

A popular allegory, many have been blessed by is .."Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. "Much Afraid", a young woman journeying to the High Places of the Shepherd is guided by two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. One of my favorite parts in the story is whenever the Shepherd.. the Good Shepherd... talks with Much Afraid they always withdrew a little. Sorrow and Suffering always present but also always withdrawing a little when the Good Shepherd is present talking with Much Afraid alone.

Throughout the years, 15 now, sorrow and suffering have been my constant companions over Stephen, but my Good Shepherd is also ever present. I have come to love sorrow and suffering for like Much Afraid they have brought me into a deeper intimacy with the Good Shepherd. Of late, I think I actually hear them laughing. I feel there is something on the horizon...something that suffering and sorrow knows and believing that very soon I will hear.

November 3, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Orphan Care

Being confronted with another "imperative" a/k/a command from the Lord Jesus ----
The care of widows and orphans [James 1:27].

Some years ago -- we heard about the exciting work of The Rafiki Foundation. [Rafiki aims to help orphans and widows in Africa become godly contributors in their countries. Their mission is to help Africans know God by caring for and educating orphans, providing materials and training in education and Bible study, and giving economic opportunities to widows].

In small ways, we began to support the work of The Rafiki Foundation, believing it was good enough and pleasing to God. But the Lord has been, dare I say, on us of late - about our definition of "good enough."

This past year, the Lord brought a family into our church who had adopted a beautiful little boy from Ethiopia. That family's story and then dozens more of families who have or are in the process of adopting has been creating an angst in my heart. I wondered, if I miss the boat on something that broke the heart of Jesus! Was supporting Rafiki in small ways really "good enough"? I heard myself asking God [more like whining], "Is not our present involvement with widows and orphans 'good enough' Lord? " Somewhere deep inside, and not in a reproachful way but lovingly, His answer: "No... it is not."

If you have read my first blog, you will remember I am learning not to say "I will never, ever," to the Lord Almighty. But startled on realizing the Lord was calling for "more," I worried, "What if He wants us to adopt?" I felt, being a 59 year old grandma with a 64 year old husband, that it was perfectly sane to say to God this time, "I will never, ever adopt."

Though I did not verbalize it... in my heart my prayer was "Please don't say adopt." But I know the Bible...I know the Lord well enough that for anything, anytime He calls a person [even a "senior" person] to something, He will equip, for nothing is too difficult for Him. There is absolutely no excuse for disobedience when the Lord commands.

The Lord for His good pleasure brought about three families in our church to adopt [not us]. They are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia [one being the family I mentioned earlier who had previously adopted] while a fourth family is adopting locally, a special needs child. These families have sold possessions, cut back in spending, cut coupons, fundraised [i.e. garage sales, car washes], prayed [always praying] because they have taken seriously and gladly the command to care for orphans and widows. I read posted on their FB pages ...that they don't see adoption as being about "sacrificing....but it being about prioritizing."

So, though it does not appear God has adoption in His plan for us [no comment here], it is clear there is much we are to do and can do. We continue to support Rafiki and pray how God might involve us further in the future, and are and can get behind the families in our community. We too can sell possessions, cut back in spending, cut coupons, fundraise, pray [always pray]. We can contribute money, time, energy, be grandparents, encourage, be a voice [one reason why I'm blogging], help with child care when they travel to Ethiopia to go to their court and "Gotcha" dates.

Good enough? I don't want to ask that anymore...but only to wait and.... trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge Him and He will make my paths straight.

John Piper said, adoption [being] the heart of the gospel and the clearest picture of what God has done for us, so it seems clear to me that my future blogs will include adoption.

I am looking forward to sharing a wonderful idea that two of our families are going to present on their blogs to raise funds to bring their children home. Perhaps you might like to participate. Stay tune.

In my blog list are the sites of three of our families who are adopting - Melissa [& Jon] Maser, Erica [& Dave] Shubin, and Rachel [& Joe] Walser. Visit their sites if you would like to know more about them and their journeys. You won't be disappointed. Maybe too, like me, you are an empty nester with heart angst regarding widows and orphans, wondering how God plans to use you in the winter of your years. Those years can bear perhaps more fruit than earlier years. Maybe there is a family or two or three in your own church community to whom you can get behind.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cracked Pot for Jesus

Every time I have said "I will never, ever do that" I am sure I cause my Lord in heaven to smile. For every single time I have said the words: "I will never, ever do that" I end up doing the very thing I said I would never, ever do. The most recent never, ever - "I will never, ever blog," and here I am blogging. [I think I caused my Lord to smile!]

And so what am I blogging about? Him, My Lord one better to blog about then Jesus :)

I love Jesus ... and loving Him is even only possible because He first loved me. Jesus is my King, the center of the universe. Everything revolves around Him. He created us all for the very purpose of "blogging" about Him. Revelation 4:11 states "...thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." And so my blogs will be about Him!

My Lord Jesus left the earth after his resurrection, entrusting His glorious Gospel message to those He loves [me being one of them]. He said: "Go...and make disciples." It is as if the Lord Jesus said: "You, you.....[not the angels who are willing, who long to do so], but you, Barbara 'Go.' And to make sure you understand I really mean -- you, I state it in the imperative. Don't say 'I will never, ever do that', for it is my wonderful command to you. I could have commanded the angels, but I chose you." Amazing!

Amazing that He put this great "treasure", the message of salvation and the glorious results, in common pots of clay a/k/a cracked pots [2 Corinthians 4:7]. Mere mortals [by the way called His "ambassadors"] get to obey His command. Just call me a "Cracked Pot" for Jesus!

There is another "never, ever" I did not say, but am tempted to say to my Lord Jesus....but that's my next blog.


My friend Erica told me about this puzzle idea she came upon to raise funds for her and her family's adoption. It's a 500 piece puzzle, and they are inviting people to "sponsor" a piece of the puzzle for $10. Then she showed me her puzzle!

Is this not an absolutely beautiful work of art!!?

Now not just because it is a beautiful work...but I am very excited about this fundraising idea for so many reasons:

  • On the back of each puzzle piece the name of the sponsor will be permanently written.
  • As each piece is sponsored, the Shubin family [6 of them] will put it together - together :)
  • Years from now, the newest Shubin at a time when she might be sorting through some of those existential issues all kiddoes go through [more difficult I think for one who is adopted] -- this puzzle will be a visual reminder to her of those who participated in bringing her home. How wonderful is that?!! She will see over 500 names of individuals, families who gladly did so.
  • I had medical insurance when I delivered my children, but there is no "adoption insurance" and this simply is a beautiful God honoring fundraising idea that anyone can do.
Once the puzzle is completed, it will be displayed in a frame so that both front [art of Julia Cairns] and back [those who help "defend the cause of the weak and fatherless"] can be seen.

Click here to read more about it: Many Pieces Together Complete a Puzzle.

"A father of the fatherless... is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families..." Psalm 68:5a, 6a.