Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Slaying the Giant


We have a Goliath in our midst and isn’t ISIS. It’s not terrorism and it isn’t homophobia. It’s not the NRA or the FBI or Hillary Clinton. It isn’t even Donald Trump. Our Goliath is much bigger and much more powerful than all of these people or organizations combined.

                                                             It’s called Sin.

While it wails on our psyche like a petulant child we wring our hands in frustration. What are we going to do? This thing, this Sin is massive and we don't know how to beat it. We feel powerless because it grows stronger and more deadly by the day. It eats away at our society like a cancerous tumor while we cower in the corner, afraid to look this thing in the eye. Lest we forget, here is a reminder of who we are and how we can take this sucker out…

We are sons and daughters of the living God, a people after God’s own heart. We’ve been called to minister to our brothers and sisters, offering encouragement and nourishment in an environment fraught with danger and pain and suffering. We are faith-filled believers, armed with the power of the Holy Spirit living and breathing inside us, working with us to will and to act according to God’s purposes. We are mighty warriors infused with God’s power and authority to slay every enemy in our path. What exactly are we so afraid of?

We're incapacitated because we've spent more time behind a camera than on our knees. We trade sound doctrine for a watered down version and we wonder why we're actually drowning. We arm our homes before we arm our spirits and we turn to ourselves for answers rather than returning to our Savior. If we want to slay our giant the answer is simple. We need to cry out to Jesus and repent.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven , and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Weeping on my knees,
Sherry


Friday, June 10, 2016

Nail Clippings and Hair Clippings: Are You Growing?

I posted this devotion on my blog in 2009, and I'm glad I happened upon it again.
I should do the self-analysis at the end on a yearly basis.




My poor little doggy's toenails are too long. We've been meaning to take her to the groomer for weeks, but time had gotten away from us.  She could  use a good trimming, too; she’s getting a bit shaggy.


Like me, her nails need constant clipping and her hair grows out of its styled cut because…well, because we are living organisms, and living things are constantly in a state of change and growth.



My doggy’s toenails made me think again about Sunday’s thought-provoking sermon. Our guest preacher spoke to us about the importance of a Christian growing to maturity. In closing he asked, “Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? Are you growing spiritually?”







He gave us these 10 questions to think about, to help us see if we growing.

Are You Growing Spiritually?

 1. Are you becoming more confident in your salvation, not always questioning whether your salvation took or if you are really saved?

2. Do you feel more satisfied, content, and fulfilled in Christ?

3. Are you becoming increasingly aware of your sinfulness and weaknesses?

4. Are you finding new guidance in familiar scriptures?

5. When at church, you don’t feel the need to keep God on the clock?

6. Are you learning to see trials and temptations more as opportunities for your growth and for God’s glory?

7. Is your perspective on life becoming less temporal and more eternal?

8. Are you eager to share with others what Christ is doing in your life?

9. Are you praying for opportunities to minister to those around you that don’t know Christ?

10. Does the way you spend your money and the way you spend your time indicate Christ’s importance and priority in your life?

My automatic and immediate answer to all of the above was “YES”, but I’m convicted I need to take an honest assessment of my situation. I need spend a little time thinking about each question, meditating on my “yes” answers, and praying to uncover the “not quite” places I’ve secreted away and haven’t fully surrendered.

I have faith that He lives in me, but if I'm not growing in Christ, just how alive am I in Him?

How about you? Are you growing?

Much love,
Cat 



Sunday, June 5, 2016

Stepping In It

The early morning sun beamed directly into my eyes when I looked east as I walked the yard performing poop duty. Even though I wore sunglasses, it was difficult to see. I just didn’t want to step in any.

Job accomplished, I entered the back door to the garage. As I walked through to the house, I could still smell something.  That didn’t bode well. I looked at my shoes. Sure enough, I had done it…stepped in something.
 
The same shoes that had walked the streets of Jerusalem now had dog poop on them.

Life is just like that. We can be so careful and still step in it.

I believe it’s important to call people by their name. So when I eat at a restaurant, I try to ask what the server’s name is if they don’t have a nametag. A few weeks ago I learned the name of the handsome, dark-skinned young man who seated us…Darnell. Last week I returned to that same restaurant.  A handsome, dark-skinned young man came to seat me and I called him Darnell. His reply caused me great embarrassment. 

“No, my name is Guy. Darnell is the other one.”

My husband, John, stepped in it good one time. He asked a young lady when she was due.  She wasn’t pregnant.

We’ve all stepped in it. 

Christ-followers are not immune to blunders. Just as I was trying to be careful in the yard, we need to be vigilant about the words that come out of our mouths. Even though we know what we are trying to say, a non-Christian may interpret our words totally differently. We could easily come across as judgmental.

It’s not pleasant to step in it.



Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come...”  Luke 17:1a (NIV)



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Hate Religion


            That’s a strange title for someone who’s supposed to be a Christian writer, but it’s the truth. Nations have fought wars over differing theologies, with people tortured, burned and beheaded in the name of truth. Some countries base civil law on religious law, and people are killed for committing sins like adultery (mostly the women, I notice). The Crusades, Jihad, the Peasant’s revolution during the Reformation, each claimed a God who is supposed to be the embodiment of love itself.

 

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,  that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 5:8-11 NKJV)

 

            Rather than focusing on a relationship with God, we often reduce religion to a set of rules or formulas. Like self-help gurus who list the ten steps to sure success, we think if we go to church every Sunday and tithe faithfully, God will not allow anything bad to happen to us. There are preachers who say if your faith is strong enough, God will grant your every wish – a “name it and claim, it” theology.

Politician, Man, Speaking, Speaker

 

            Sometimes non-believers condescend to acknowledge that “some” people get a lot of comfort from religion and that’s fine for them. They have no place for “religion” in their lives. After all, if God is all good, how can He allow such awful things like tornadoes and floods? Is He powerless or doesn’t He care? Why bother with Him? Maybe He doesn’t even exist. Religion is for the gullible.

            I started to imagine what our world would be like if God granted every wish and protected everyone who called on Him from harm. Even when His own Son asked that the cup of a tortuous death pass Him by, God did not respond and deliver Him the way He wanted.  Sometimes we want to understand our God before we worship Him and we look to “religion” to explain everything, as if finite minds could ever grasp the infinite.

            If God granted every plea and turned away whirlwinds, in our fractured humanity, we would soon think of Him as a faithful butler — an all powerful, benign Jeeves at our service. If history is any indication, it would not take long before one nation would want to claim Him as its own, leading to wars for world domination. After a while, we would not respect or fear Him. We would begin to make ourselves gods and turn into living horrors.   

 


 

            And what, in a life where I and my loved ones are saved from all harm, would burn the dross from my soul? What would force me to be gentle, when everything in me cries out to assert my authority? What power could make me stronger because I experienced a dreadful event and lived to talk about it? What would make me admit my helplessness and force me to trust God?  If God removed all the all the bad things from my life, how could I learn to walk by faith and not by sight? What would enable me to step out in courage, knowing that even if I will die, I will live? When I get to the end of myself, what will be there to save me?

 

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”  (Matthew 15:8-9 NKJV)

 

            Forget religion. I don’t need religion. What I need flows from a sovereign God I do not understand, but trust with every fiber of my being.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Picture of Faith





If you could take a snapshot of faith, what would it look like? 

It would probably involve the scene of a crisis. Perhaps it would tell the story of a lost job or a difficult doctor-patient consultation. It might be a portrait of a prodigal son or daughter struggling to find answers apart from the truth that already exists. It may be watching over a family saying tearful goodbyes to a young soldier leaving for a tour of duty in a dangerous place far from home. 

Faith is there. It’s resting in a quiet corner of the scene, waiting - no, longing to be embraced. It’s reaching for the heart of the unemployed, the patient, the son or daughter. Never intrusive, but so eager for the opportunity to fill a void and offer the peace that defies explanation, except as defined by the Master who authored it and Who is the finisher of it. 



"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4,6 NASB) 

Faith is that moment of realization that God is bigger. He is our Source. He is our Answer. Whatever the issue, faith bears the face of our Heavenly Father, with eyes that see beyond our deepest desires or most desperate needs. Faith is tangible and real. It’s filled with hope and promise. The only limitation comes when we choose to embrace fear, whether of the known or the unknown. Faith cannot co-exist with fear. 


Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:1, 3 NASB)

If you’re longing for peace, waiting for answers, or fighting fear, look past the circumstances that cloud your view and find that corner in your snapshot that awaits your discovery and your surrender. Open your heart and accept the faith and the hope resting on the fingertips of Jesus' outstretched hands.             


 And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you, go in peace.’”
 (Luke 7:50, NASB)


Friday, May 20, 2016

He's Got This

It was only our second meeting as the local chapter of the non-profit, Days for Girls. A dozen sisters-in-Christ gathered on a Monday night to measure, cut and sew reusable menstrual kits. The colorful drawstring bags would contain contoured waterproof shields and flannel liners that would literally change the lives of girls who had been missing school every month just because they had no way to manage their periods.  


At the end of our night of hard work and friendship building, we had 43 bags and 75 liners completed.  Fabulous progress, but if we were going to meet our goal of having 50 kits ready to go to Guatemala the next month, we’d need 325 more liners and 100 shields completed.  As we were packing up to leave, I mentioned to the group that there was a special die-cut machine that would make cutting the fabric significantly easier, faster, and more precise.

“It costs $600,” I said, “so, if you have any connections or know of any businesses that might want to contribute to this, please let me know.” 

At home an hour later, my phone rang.  It’s almost 10 o’clock, I thought. This can’t be good.

The voice was unfamiliar.

“Hi, it’s Jan, from the meeting tonight.  What you said earlier about needing $600 for the die cutter? I have it.”

Jan went on to explain how she and her husband had been dealing with the IRS over some old tax returns.  She’d picked up her mail before she’d left for our meeting, but hadn’t had time to look through it.  When she got home, she found a check from the IRS for $613, and she and her husband wanted to donate it so we could get the die cutter. 

“The amount is just a perfect match, don’t you think?” she gushed.  She was so thrilled to see God provide in such a direct way.  She was so thrilled to be a part of it.

I shared in her excitement and thanked her for her generous spirit; together we praised God.  But I’ve been down this road before.  I’ve seen God provide in many, many different ways. But what struck me this time, was that he had already provided even before I shared the request with the women earlier that night.  That check was already in Jan’s purse, just waiting for her to open the envelope. 

…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matthew 6:8


There it was, another reminder that He’s got this. Whatever our assignment, yours and mine, our job is just to keep up and keep moving forward—for His kingdom. 

In Christ,

LuAnn Kern

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