Monday, November 28, 2011

My theme lately, in my spiritual life, has been seeking to see the counterfeits for what they truly are and choosing the real thing in Christ. In other words, applying God’s truth to the lies I’ve believed. Always an introspective individual, I attempt to keep my accounts with God up to date. However, it seems I never get to rest on my laurels because my God makes sure to take it to the next level, showing me the filth in the corners of my heart that I had been unaware of.

Blind Spots?

As blind spots go, I try not to have any. I even ask people what they are with no response. But, God always has a few to reveal to me when I seek Him. Unfortunately for me, it is usually in the realm of pride. I never realized how often my reactions involved a seed (or a whole loaf) of pride.

Pride? What pride?

When we think of pride, we often think of the arrogant snotty person who thinks he or she is better than others. Or maybe we envision the one who must always be right or is constantly talking about how wonderful, smart, fill-in-the-blank he or she is. But, gulp, did you know that that is only one form of pride? Pride underlies so many things in our lives if we will only take a good look. This includes that ‘reverse pride’ often displayed by those who look down on those who have more than they do.

Who Me?

One example in my own life has to do with the upcoming Christmas holiday. Did you know that I am a bad gifter? Yes, it’s true. I am not one of those who comes up with the ‘perfect’ gift that the other person will gush over and remember forever.

What's Pride Got to do with it?

The thing is that I lose sight of the purpose of Christmas and even gifting. So what if my gift is not the super gift I’d like it to be. It still has plenty of thought and love put in it. Who am I to think that I have to be a good gifter? Who am I to feel sorry for myself because I do not have the gift of being a good gifter?

Anxiety Mode?

When I go into anxiety mode concerning a gift I’ve bought or made for another, I am exhibiting, double gulp, PRIDE! What have I done? I have placed my need to give a good gift over the person I’m getting the gift for in the first place. It’s not about the gift at all! It’s about that other person.

Self-talk 101?

In order to change this, it takes a deep look into my own self-talk. What am I saying to myself that makes me feel this way? How is the self-talk creating a false belief? What is the truth that I can shine into this false belief to kick it’s behind out the door?

The Point?

The real point is that all of us have these hidden false beliefs or ‘blind spots’ in our lives. The only way to change it around is to look at it through the lens of God’s truth. As long as I allow these false beliefs to ferment in the corners of my mind, I will continue to operate in the same mode – the WRONG mode!

I’m Taking Over?

Today I was watching the TV show “Tabitha’s Salon Takeover” on BRAVO. In this particular episode, Tabitha was taking the owner around and showing her all the hidden filth in the salon. She was pointing out a mess in an upper cabinet and noticed a bunch of flies. She pulls out a bag, and it is full of cherries. Not good cherries. Maggot covered, disgusting cherries! This is what happens when we leave hidden false beliefs and sins – we get a stinky, maggot-infested mess in our souls. Sooner or later, others will smell the stench as well.

House Keeping?

This kind of house keeping takes constant effort. Imagine leaving those cherries for a whole year in that cupboard? Yes! Spring and Fall deep cleaning are great, but we should always be looking at our beliefs, shining the light of God’s truth into the hidden places of our life in order to keep from becoming a blind, hypocritical mess, believing the lie and accepting the counterfeit when a little cleansing of the Word can make us something beautiful: The image of Jesus Christ!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Those that venerate the Bible as the Word of God, find great comfort, wisdom and advice within its pages. The Bible tells us how to live if we want to be happy. It warns us about other things, giving us guard rails to show us where danger lurks. It contains all that is needed to live. I love my Bible in its entirety, but there are a few verses that I count as my favorites. These are often the verses that helped me through various times in my life, inspired me and reminded me of the joy awaiting when life is over. . .

Read more here

What verses inspire you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments :)

My friend's funeral was amazing, as expected. I knew it would be a glorious uplifting, not only of Melissa, but of the God she so faithfully served. During the open mike period, I stood to give a shortened version of a poem I wrote for my mother and then adapted for my friend. Later, her pastor read a testimony she had given in service, and in it she talked about what I had said. Truly a kiss from God.

I thought I might retell that story here. I won't tell it as well as Melissa would have, but here goes. My mother had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive uterine cancer. After a surgery and several chemo treatments (short version)she was given six months to live and placed on hospice. I spent as much of that time as I could with Mom, helping her physically and emotionally to prepare for the end. During part of that time, Mom kept worrying about her relationship with God and if she had done enough and if she really mattered.

Several times, she received some of those address labels in the mail where they ask you to donate to a cause. Receiving them wasn't a problem, that had happened for some time. The thing was, instead of saying Marilyn Masters, they read Marilyn Matters! What a sign and a hug from God to her, reminding her that she did matter, very much, to her God! Through all this, I had written the poem for my mother called "Marilyn Matters".

Later, I shared this story with Melissa as she was going through another round in her fight with cancer and feeling much of the same angst, so wanting to know that she mattered. I adapted the poem, inserting her name, and gave it, along with a letter to my dear friend. Little did I really know the true impact of that until much later. Last Sunday, May 23, 2010, my precious friend met her Lord face to face,

Marilyn Matters!

My friend, I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Marilyn Matters!
He made you special in His plan
For He knows: Marilyn Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you
For to Him: Marilyn Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings
Remember: Marilyn Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!

Copyright 2005 Angela Masters Young

Melissa Matters!
My friend I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Melissa Matters!
He made you special in His plan,
For He knows: Melissa Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you,
For to Him: Melissa Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings,
Remember: Melissa Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Melissa Matters!

Church: The Crippled Body

In the process of studying this concept for Sunday School lessons and writing about it, I decided I need to share this on my blog, and invite comment. If I may use your comment in an article or book, please say so, leave name, location, and a link of you want that included.

The church is a body;the members are its body parts. Romans 12:5 tells us that, "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another." In other words,God is letting us know that there are no Lone Rangers in the church. We are all connected as a body to one another. God is also letting us know that, because we are connected, we cannot function fully without every member, every part, in the place God has called it to function and doing the job God has called it to do.

For those of you who don't believe you have any effect (or affect) on the body of Christ by what you do or don't do, try this little experiment: Take a hammer and whack your thumb with it. OK, thumb is growing in size and turning colors. What is the rest of the body doing? Going,"oh, that kinda hurt."? Absolutely not! The rest of the body is reacting to the pain felt by the thumb! The feet and legs are probably in a dancing frenzy. The arms and hands, similarly seeming to be having a seizure, probably hold on to the thumb. The mouth may be alternating between a deathly scream and trying to sooth the offended member by sucking on it. In simple terms - one part was hurt but EVERY part hurts.

Understanding this connectedness and its effect on the rest of the body is crucial for the church member in understanding his or her place in the body of Christ and why he or she is so important. If the heart decides it doesn't need to show up one day, what happens? Uh, yeah, I think you get the picture. We, the body,need to help those that are in pain and bring them to healing. That, however, is not the point of this post.

As a diabetic, I understand fully that my pancreas has decided it doesn't really need to function at its best. What happens to my body? My blood sugar doesn't regulate itself (kind of important), my body essentially "pickles" itself over time. Other methods have to come into play so that the body doesn't die. My life is held back in some ways because of it.

Now apply this to the church. When one member is missing or not in the place God planned for them, the entire body is effected! It's not about "me" in the church body, it's about "us"! Just like I can use medications and diet to keep my sugar in check (sometimes), the church has to learn to function without this member. Does it function as well? No, it does not! Those medications I take may help, but they don't take the place of a functioning pancreas. They also come with side effects, creating other issues.

Some of the side effects of "mediating" the broken body part includes other parts that are overwhelmed because they step in for a part they were never meant to play/be. When a member of the body decides, for whatever reason, that he or she doesn't need to be doing what God has called him or her to do, others have to step in and do jobs they were not called to do. This person or persons, in doing too many jobs, may neglect their own job or suffer burnout, causing more pain to the rest of the body.

Can the church go on with broken, missing or indifferent body parts? Yes it can, but just like the person with a broken leg has to hobble on crutches, curtailing his or her ability to do many things, the Church has to hobble along as well.

Can you imagine what would happen to our lives, our church, our world, if every member found God's place for them and showed up? I pray that each of you reading this will evaluate your own place in the body, and work with your fellow members to create a growing, functioning, thriving church that is out doing the work God has called it to do in a godless nation. Just as our body has symptoms when something goes wrong, the church does as well. Our godless nation isn't about the lost. The lost are doing what the lost do. Our godless nation is a symptom of a broken, hurting church. It is only as the church functions in God's perfect will, with each member functioning in God's perfect will, that the lives of those around it will change, because they will finally see what God can do when the Church gets it right.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sittin' on the sidelines,
watching you all connect;
Wanting to be a part
but not knowing how.
These walls I've built
keep you at a distance,
But they do so much more;
they lock me within.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Better a day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere!

"10 Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of wicked people. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. 12 Happy is the person who trusts in You, Lord of Hosts!" Psalm 84:10,12 (HCSB)

Have you ever felt this way? I so identify with David in this Psalm. I would much rather spend time with Him than anything the world could offer. He is my God and I am His child, His sheep, His.

You see, God and I have had a relationship for a very long time. I knew Him before I finally accepted Him as my Savior at the age of 7. I fully believe the intimacy of my relationship with God began in the womb, but became a part of who I am when I was three.

I have no memories of this time, but I know that I took something special away from the experience. At the age of 3, I had pneumonia and developed a fever. My mother, believing the old school notion of covering up the child when the chills come, piled blankets on me until I began to have convulsions.

I was run quickly to the hospital where they stripped me down and threw me on ice, trying to bring down the fever, which had risen to 108º! The fever was brought down to 105º where it stayed for the next three days. I remained in the hospital for 11 days. I can only imagine the fear that must have coursed through my little body.

The health care professionals thought I would be a vegetable. They were wrong. I am a viable, intelligent human being. A couple of issues happened because of the fever, but my brain managed to create new pathways to cope. This, my friends, is definitely a God thing!

So, why do I attribute my special relationship with my God to this time? I firmly believe God was there, holding me through the entire experience. I developed a trust that cannot be explained in the usual manner, and had conversations (prayers) with God from early on. He has always been the one for me through everything.

He walked with me through the hazards and joys of my entire life, always giving me what I needed, when I needed it. Always showing me His hand and bringing me to the things I needed, good or bad, to become the best Angie I could be. I don’t know for sure that this early relationship with God is unusual, but from what I know from others, it is. Some feel called from an early age, but not very many have what I had and have.

God and I have had so much fun building the God stories in my life. I do long for the day when we can be face to face forever without the baggage that life brings. I don’t know what He has for my future while still on earth, but I do know what He has for my forever future. Whatever He has, I trust Him and He has always been faithful, so I don’t need to worry – He’s got my back!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Righteousness begets Righteousness: Seeking to change our world

In re-writing an article about Proverbs 28:28 and the definition for wisdom, and it started me thinking. Proverbs 28:28 reads: "When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase." The article stirred my heart and got me thinking about my country and its rapid descent into wickedness. No longer is wickedness merely tolerated, it is accepted and excused. This ought not to be.

Wisdom, defined from I Kings 3:4-11 by Solomon's response to God's request to give him anything He wanted, is:

~Acknowledging God's mercy and kindness to those who walk in truth, righteousness and uprightness of heart with God. (v. 6)

~Recognizing the nothingness of one's knowledge, understanding, and abilities. (v. 7)

~Recognizing that the task is impossible for mere man without God. (v. 8)

~Asking God for an understanding heart, and the ability to discern between good and evil, along with recognizing it all comes from Him and Him alone. (v. 9)

Seems simple doesn't it? I can't; God can; He is my source for everything; without Him I am nothing.

Now back to Proverbs 28:28. When wickedness grows, the righteousness of the land wanes. Those who are righteous fear for their lives and hide from the wickedness around them. This, then, leaves the wicked open with little opposition, and they continue to gobble up everyone they can in their path. Not only do they do wicked things, the glory in those who do them, seek to have their wicked deeds accepted as normal, and hate anyone who tries to tell them otherwise. When the wicked abound, everyone has to fear for their lives and their property and much more because there is no restraint to keep people from harming themselves and others.

On the other hand, "when they perish, the righteous increase." Let's word that this way: when the righteous increase, the wicked perish. That may be taking liberties, but stay with me. The wicked arise because God-fearing people are no longer wise.

They become like the world through compromise; they begin to believe their own understanding instead of seeking God's understanding and God's purpose; they often have a form of worship, but lack depth and a real connection with the God they are supposedly serving; they begin to laugh at things that would have shocked them at one time; their standards and morals begin to gradually slide away; they hide their light under a bushel, not allowing it to shine out into and illuminate the wickedness of the world.

The world wanders around in increasing darkness, seeking the ever illusive peace and happiness satan has promised them through his counterfit offerings. Where are the righteous? Those that exist have hidden their lights for fear of their life.

What I believe this scripture is pointing out is that in a time of wickedness, Christians need to seek God and His wisdom and stand tall and firm if they want to effect the nation. Instead of buying the "politically correct" notions and the understandings of the world, Christians need to get right and stand tall, letting their light shine out into the darkness. If death comes from this, then praise the Lord that you get to die for him.

If we want to turn our nation around, we must seek the kind of wisdom Solomon asked for and be a light to the world.

"Proverbs 28:28 serves as a warning to those of us seeking God’s wisdom and His righteousness to stand up and let our God shine from our lives for others to see. When the righteous act as a light in the darkness of wickedness, they draw the wicked to God. Wisdom realizes this and seeks to get the life aligned with God’s ways, eschewing complacency, political-correctness, compromise and even legalism to stand out in a way that turns the tide from increasing wickedness to increasing righteousness. This then is wisdom." (quote from my article) And this, then, is what God is calling His followers to do today to turn around our country AND our churches.

Bible study: Job 28:28 What is wisdom

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