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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Like it or not, You're in DEBT

I don't know how to break the news to you.  Some of you are financially with-it and have every 't' crossed and every 'i' perfectly dotted.

You are frugal to a fault.

You spend wisely, save cautiously, give generously.

You live circumspectly, you do everything right.  Good for you.  I hate to break it to you.  But you are in debt - and you might not realize it.

And for the others - the not so perfectionistic - you too have a mounting, continuing debt you might have forgotten about.

With us already past the first week of the new year, and with some of us taking a look at the books, I feel it my kind obligation to let you know about a debt you have that you may have forgotten about.  This is a serious one - apparently it is a continuous debt.  One that remains outstanding.  And there is really nothing you can do about it, but to just keep paying it.

You will be indebted like this the rest of your life.  There is no special payment plan.  You can't work it out with the creditors.  There is no self-help book/guru/class to milk of its wisdom.

There is no other way to deal with this kind of debt than to simply keep paying on it.

The thing is, no matter how much you pay on it - the debt never seems to lessen.  It is just THERE.

It may lead to frustration.

You may wish there were something - anything - you can do to climb out from under this ongoing, outstanding, mounting, continuing debt.  But you can't.  I hate to break it to you - but you are indebted for life.

How can I say this with such confidence?!

You might be saying, "You don't even know me, much less my finances!  How can you tell me that I'm in debt?!"

I can say with utmost confidence that you are because it is in the Bible.

If the Bible is true, then it tells you that you are truly in debt.  A neverending, unpayable debt.

Sorry to have to be so blunt.  But it's plainly there.  In black and white.  In your Bible.

Romans 13:8 says,

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

There you have it folks.

Happy debt-paying in 2015!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I Can Honestly Tell My Kids "You're Special"

When I was growing up and someone would tell me, "You're special!" I would always wonder what they meant by that.  I was never sure if this was a compliment or if it was a condolence prize to make me feel better when I didn't feel better than I did.  Sometimes people would say, "You are SO special!" or, "God made you special!"

The word 'special' began to mean nothing to me.  I thought about what it means to be special and realized that I figured since everyone in the world is someone God made, then telling everyone they're special means absolutely nothing.  Being special, I thought, should mean one is outstanding, better, set-apart from the rest.  I thought to be special I had to do or be something extraordinary - or aspire to some high ambition or demonstrate a quality that no-one else could possess.

In the end I just figured people who told me I was special were just being nice and didn't really know me that well, or just ignored my glaring faults if they weren't blind to them.

But I was wrong.

Here's a side note:  I like to read and study on a wide variety of topics.  One of my interests is biology - specifically human biology.  I love to learn and understand how our bodies work!  And in some of my observations I began to realize something I once thought of as false.  I began to understand that each human being, created in the image of God, is SPECIAL.

A female child is born with about 1 Million Eggs.  By puberty only half of them are still around.  Only 300-500 will ever develop into mature eggs to be released.  Of those, only however many children she conceives get to ever become a person.

And that doesn't even compare to the sperm - a whopping 60,000 are produced every minute!!  That is incredible!!

Of those millions upon millions of sperm, only a select few - carrying essential DNA will ever get to meet up with a mature egg to conceive a child.

And beyond that, conception is in itself miraculous.  Don't believe me?  The width of a fallopian tube is about like a human hair.  You were once small enough to fit inside a human hair.  It's amazing the sperm ever get there or that the egg ever gets squeezed through this passage to meet up with a sperm. Each and every human being is incredibly special.

God could have picked any one of those million sperm or any one of those million eggs your mother had.  And of all those potential DNA recipes, He chose to make a person - you - out of the exact DNA from your biological parents.  You are unique and special because though there are millions of people on the planet only a tiny percentage of the potential DNA mixes got to be made into YOU!!!

That is why I can honestly tell my children that they are 'special'.

They'd like to roll their eyes at me.  But they don't.  Because they know I'll launch into human biology 101 with them if they do.

So, sure, be a cynic and try to tell me that saying to someone 'You're special' is pointless.  (Because I was that cynic at one time!)  But I won't listen.  I'll just direct you to study human biology 'til you begin to 'get it.'


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Will China Gain if the Protests are Heard?

I have not set foot in the homeland of my birth in over 10 years.  And yet, I still feel a close bond to the people of Hong Kong.  And as I watch and hear and read of all taking place there - these tumultuous times - I can't help but to chime in here with my small, timid, perhaps unheard voice.  Because we in America tout the virtues of democracy - but will we speak up for those who risk what they know not, who sit and protest and voice their own desire for freedom?

I will.

Though this is a small, not oft-read blog, I'll throw in my two-cents about this matter of democracy and freedom.

China stands to gain SO much if they heed and hear the cry and protests of those within its governance.  Did you catch that?  I said, 'those within its governance.'  Catch that, please.  It means not only those who raise their protest in a land claiming democracy - namely, Hong Kong.  It also means those within the border of mainland China.

China is a huge country.  It is a huge force for possible good globally.  And the Chinese people as a whole are resourceful, courageous, hard-working, smart, industrious, family-honouring, smart, studious, daring, smart, delightful - and did I say, smart?  'Cuz I'll say it again.  They are smart, clever, brilliant - however you want to put it.  And these days the government of China can affirm the smarts of the people they govern or they can denounce it.

China has the power to quell the voice of protest.  But they would lose so much if they did.
They would lose the wealth that Hong Kong generates - a 'who-cares' attitude would begin at the first squelching of their collective voice, and business would suffer.  Tax revenues would fall - it would be the beginning of the end, and China would lose, BIG time.

They would lose the confidence, respect and honour of the people they govern and they would lose the respect of the watching world.  They would face shame on a global scale.  China would LOSE face, not gain it, if they refused to listen to the protests of the people.

China would again prove she is driven more by fear than by any other factor.  Fear driven leadership, while perhaps effective in the short-term, only serves to crumble a nation.  No-one respects actions taken on the basis of fear.

And China would gain SO much if she heard the cries of her people.

There would be breezes of hope and a future!
There would be economic gain and benefit.
There would be a 'We-Can-Work-Together' attitude!
There would be greater willingness to come together and see great things accomplished.
There would be public honour for the government.
There would be a better tomorrow.

If only the powers that be would sit up and take notice.

The people of Hong Kong have protested peacefully.  They have enacted civil disobedience with an emphasis on the civil.  They have pulled together to make their wishes clear.  In many ways, they have demonstrated to China how orderly governmental and political ideas can be exchanged and heard.

Will China act wisely?  Judiciously?  Will she gain honour on a global scale?  Or will she kow-tow to fear and set forth a hard-line approach, which will only bring further disaster and gloom on a struggling nation?

Ultimately, we know that politics isn't the only answer to a nation in struggle.  We know there is no peace without the Prince of Peace.  But until He is given His rightful place, a democratic process allows for access to basic freedoms for all.  Will China allow such access to its people?

Only time will tell.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Problem of Being Intentional. Or Not.

It's a buzz phrase these days: Intentional.  It sounds so...purposeful, determined, self-directed, controlled.
Sounds almost too good to be true.

Let me just put this out there.  I am intentional about a very few things in my life.
And the rest, well, I like to leave the door wide open for the spontaneous.  Don't get me wrong - this can be problematic too.  Because I want to allow room for people who come along who weren't on my to-do list (if I really had one, which I don't usually).

I'd like to be intentional about so much, but I just don't seem to have that gift.  I do think it must be a gift.  It is a gift given to the driven, type A - and well, I'm just a type B, or C or maybe a Q or X or Z.  Haven't figured that out yet, and being a non-type A, I may just never get around to typing myself into a category.  Which is really okay, because who has time to stare inward - navel-gazing, I call it - ad nauseum figuring out where I really fit into some category or such.

I'm a Mom with 5 kids, ages 13 down to 3.  I am up to my eyeballs in just living.  I'd love to pretend I'm soaring on the glory of parenthood - and I do have those moments daily - being such a spontaneous, unplanned, un-intentional type, I do take time to smell the flowers and the sweaty hugs and morning breath of the kids that crawl all over me before I really want to get up.  It's more wonderful than it sounds - I just can't describe it to you!

The thing I am intentional about seems to be being anti-social.  Now - not in the terribly negative, rude, off-putting sense.  No - I'm anti-social in the sense of feeling obligated to run hither and yon to every social event there is.  I feel maxed out just socializing with a broad range of children.  And I love being social one-on-one.  I just don't do well with the chit-chatty general socialness of society.  So, I'm intentional about preserving my social energies and limit myself to whatever is realistic - which really isn't much.  I guess I'll just ask for forgiveness and understanding when it comes to my lack of socialness.

And I share this for you who may be type A or B or Z.  Because I'd like you to know you don't have to perform, you don't have to win the gregarious prize.  You don't need to worry what everyone thinks of you.  Because if you just hang onto your sanity and snuggle a kid or two each day, you're doing just fine.  Forget trying to do it all.  If doing it all is stressing you out, just start being intentional about disengaging from society, just a little bit.  I may be accused of being selfish (which would be spot on).
 But I am not trying to win a popularity contest.

Relax.

Be intentional, if that's your gift.  And if it's not, just be intentional about what really matters, and let the rest of your life flow from the joy
                        of living
                                 for an audience 
                                                   of One.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The "Don't Listen To Me" Prayer

So I have this big thing against complaining.  I feel justified in my anti-complaining stance - after all, God isn't fond of it either, and since we are to imitate Him, well, you draw your own conclusion!

The thing that gets me about complaining is that at the heart of it it smacks of discontent and ingratitude.  I know a few particular people who have a big thing against ingratitude, and if you know any, you will know how easy it is to raise their ire.  Just don't thank them.  Enough.  Or sincerely enough.  Or at all.  Or act entitled.  The offense this causes is my reaction to complaining.  My children know it.  My husband knows it.  Complaining is simply off limits in my house.

In fact, it is so off limits, that I even react when it is subtle.  Or not so subtle since you'd have to be a genius to slip complaining by me in any form and have it go unnoticed.  I may be kind and ignore it.  Or I may just call you on it.  Don't try your luck!

So you will be shocked to know that I, too, of all people, who so nobly turn my nose up at complaining, once in a while, have a complaining heart.

Aaargh.

Then I face the very thing in me that I so detest in others.  And it happened to me the other day.

You see, we have never had a headboard for our bed (or a footboard for that matter).  For a year we slept on a mattress on the floor, while we were in transition.  I got much stronger leg and back muscles from that, to the point where I now feel somewhat of a wimp, enjoying the luxury of a bed that sits on a basic frame.

But once in a while, in a hotel or as a guest, we experience the headboard thing.  Our bed doesn't end up sliding out from the wall, my pillows don't fall down the crack and I began to realize that this headboard thing is the next step in luxurious living.

But we have been focussed on settling everyone in our house with highest priorities falling to kids and such.  And right now we can't afford a headboard (*sigh*).  Well, of course we could spend on it and pay later, or juggle things around, but it just isn't a priority in our family budget.  And probably won't be for a while.

And I woke up the other day with the first thought popping into my head, "I guess someday we'll eventually get a headboard."  And I caught myself.  "Quit it!  Of all the things in life concerning you, you think of a headboard?!  There are people grieved, suffering, dying, ailing, hurting, fearful, and lost and you dwell on a headboard!?  Get over yourself."

And I knew God was listening in on my thoughts, since He knows and sees the ponderings of our souls.  And I said, "Okay Lord, just don't listen to me right now.  These thoughts aren't exactly the kind of thing I want you to hear.  Let me just sort this out and shut down this complaining heart before I let you in on my thoughts."  I do this whenever I have ungodly thoughts.  I call it the Don't-Listen-To-Me prayer.  Because I know God knows what I'm thinking.  And once in a while I am quite ashamed of myself for thinking such things.

Sometimes I want to read the imprecatory Psalms over someone, and then I repent and pray the Don't-Listen-To-Me-Right-Now prayer.

Even though the Psalmist didn't pray that, but felt quite comfortable calling on God to deal with His enemies in most unsavory ways.

I know I can be honest with God about the things going on within me - as we all can.  But I do recognize when my thoughts are me-centred, petty, unrighteous, unholy and filled with complaining.  It is at those times I arrest myself and simply ask God to not listen to me.  I do this because at those moments when I think of Who He is and all He has done, I realize my complaints (not borne out of soul suffering, but merely whiney, self-pitying stuff) are rude, offensive and denying of His daily mercy and grace in my life.

And in fact, the Don't Listen To Me prayer does help me.  Because it arrests me at that moment and tells me, "Hey, if you have to pray that, don't you think there is something going on that needs correcting and changing?"  It forces me to address the ugliness in my soul and re-focus on what - or Who - is eternal.

I invite you to pray the Don't Listen To Me prayer too.  Because all our thoughts lie open before Him.  Certainly He knows how sinful we can be.  I'm sure He'll give us a minute or two (hour, day, week etc). to realign ourselves to His purpose and to reflect on His grace.

And it certainly does wonders to tweak a complaining heart.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Things Aunt Lydia Taught Me

It has been less than a week since Aunt Lydia made her transfer from earth's shadows to heaven's glory.  I can just hear her voice, with a chuckle, saying, "If I'd have known how great this would be, I would've booked my trip sooner!"

Her birthday was December 19, just one day after mine.  Because of that, and because kids tend to think the day is somewhat significant, I have always felt a closeness to her.  That and because she was my aunt meant I could tell her almost anything and not get in trouble for it.  Aunts are supposed to fill that place in a kid's life, I guess.  They are supposed to be a non-parent, family-type who can get away with spoiling their niece or nephew and listen to them complain about everything under the sun - including secret opinions of other relatives.

Aunt Lydia loved beauty.  She always had growing things spread around her house - perhaps I got a little touch of that in me.  I love the magic of planting and growing - of seeing photosynthesis erupting before my very eyes in matters of days and even hours.  She cared very much about aesthetics - something I'm sure I would do well to take up, someday!

But more than beauty, birds, flowers and such she loved Jesus.  She would putter around her kitchen and yard and I would hear her singing.  She couldn't hardly get past a checkout lane without greeting the cashier and intentionally calling her by name and handing her a tract.  I've never been a great tract-giver.  But watching Aunt Lydia in action, I wished I were!  She had a boldness about her witness that made an impression on me.

She loved to worship.  She hated to miss the fellowship of believers at her place of worship.  I would watch her sit there and just close her eyes and drink it all in - the slow, acappella singing and simple harmonious songs.  Her heart soared in worship, because she adored Jesus with a depth of passion that shows up the rest of us, when we fail to enter into worship with uncluttered hearts and distracted minds.  She had developed well this habit - the discipline of full focused attention on her Lord Jesus Who loved her and gave Himself for her.  She would sometimes comment about those who didn't eagerly embrace church life, 'Well, they just aren't Gospel Greedy.'  I have often reflected on that phrase - we think of greed as negative.  But for her it was an appetite that couldn't be fully met - her hunger to reflect on, to live out, to revel in, to nurture her soul upon the Gospel was a primary drive in her life.  Her heart was centered on the Gospel.  We would do well to follow her in this.

She loved her family, and I'm sure they felt it.  I can't speak for them, but I know she loved me.  She made every effort to come see us when it was too much for our family of seven to trek down to Florida - even though it was difficult for her.  I remember her holding Hannah after she was born.  She was only able to come for a few days and that is the last time I saw her.  She impressed on me the great privilege and obligation I now had to care for these 5 gifts from God.  She loved to teach children - and the strongest point of her teaching ability came from her deep, warm-hearted love for each child.  She diligently prayed for us and reminded us of her love and care.

I will miss Aunt Lydia - selfishly, I will miss being loved by her.  I will miss that I can't see or talk to her anymore on this earth.  She is in a better place, but we are the poorer for it!  Each deposit in heaven reminds me yet again that this world is not my home - I travel as a sojourner - a stranger on earth.  Every goodbye to loved ones forces our attention heavenward - and calls us to live with that in view.

Here is a song-link for the hymn 'Satisfied'.  I believe it describes Aunt Lydia's hunger and love for Jesus:

Satisfied



Friday, May 30, 2014

How Much Should a Wife Submit?

This is an anonymous posting from a trusted Missionary Pastor that I know.  He teaches the Bible to many, and often has occasion to teach on marriage from a Biblical perspective.  I will share these with you for your edification and growth.


THOUGHTS ON SUBMISSION

QUESTION:  In light of these verses (see below) is the submission of husbands and wives supposed to be  50 – 50, or 60 for wives and 40 for husbands, OR some other combination such as 90 – 10 with wives submitting 90% of the time or should wives submit 100% and husbands not at all?


From Ephesians:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the
husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the
church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church
submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their
husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and
gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having
cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he
might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or
wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own
bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated
his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the
church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "Therefore a man
shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the
two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am
saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each
one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she
respects her husband.




It seems clear from 1 Cor. 7 vs. 2 - 4 That in some areas of marriage there is complete equality between husband and wife!  

"2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife
and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife
her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the
wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.
Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but
the wife does."


1 Cor also says,
"11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not
independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from
man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God."

Back to Ephesians 5:16:  IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW GOD’S WILL.

Again, let's ask the question, “Who submits most in the marriage relationship?"
In Ephesians 5:22 – 24 it seems very clear that Paul is stating that the wife here is a picture of the Church and the husband a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no argument that the Church should submit to the Lord Jesus in every respect, but so far as I am aware, no local Church has done this completely, and therefore the universal Church has not done so either.  This is not to excuse wives from submitting to their husbands, but to point out that since we are all still sinners, we will fail at times.

On the other hand, as the husband represents the Lord Jesus in the marriage relationship, I think that it is important to look at His life and see how submissive He was/is.


The Lord Jesus came to earth for the express purpose of dying for sinners.  All who believe in Him become part of the Church.  How did the Lord submit?

1.    He always did the will of God.

2.    He gave Himself 100% for the Church.

3.    He took all of the punishment we, the Church, deserved and forgave us for all we have failed in before and after we believe in Him.

4.    He has chosen to not remember our sins.

5.    He submitted to taking our sin, shame, and reproach and demanded nothing more than that we accept His gift of eternal life. 

6.    He forgave Peter's denial, Paul's persecution, Thomas's doubting, and all our failures.


Now, I ask again, in the marriage relationship, who should submit more - the husband or the wife? 

Do I, as a husband, forgive as God has forgiven me in Christ?  (Col 3:12-13) (Eph. 4:32)


In Matthew 18:21-22 the Lord instructed Peter to forgive.  There is no thought that the offender must apologize or grovel in any way.  The duty to forgive is on the person who is offended. 

As a husband, I must strive to be like the Lord Jesus and love my wife as He loved the Church, and I must be willing to forgive all and to give myself 100% even if my wife fails in her duties.  If I can show my wife love as Christ loved the Church, she is much more likely to respond the way God wishes her to.


References Below:
 Ps. 81 Especially vs. 10 – 13
Romans 8:5 - 8
Romans 10:3
Galatians 5:1
Ephesians 21  17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand
what the will of the Lord is….21 submitting to one another out of
reverence for Christ.