Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tear Down the Wall

In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul talks about how the Jews and the Gentiles are reconciled through Christ. I especially like verses 14-16 which say "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."

Yesterday, a friend of mine made a comment that hurt me. I could have decided to not say anything and just hold in the hurt, but I have learned that is not the best thing to do. Holding in hurt only gives the devil a foothold. He will cause that hurt to eat away at you, and a wall usually goes up between you and that person who hurt you. If you put up enough walls, soon no one can get close to you. That is NOT what God wants! There are always going to be people who disagree with you, and you will not always agree with others on all issues. God made each and every one of us and we are all different. There are definitely issues that are "hot topics" that people usually have passionate opinions on and won't be easily swayed to believe a different way. This was the case yesterday. I gave my opinion on an issue and my friend didn't agree with me. I admit that I was very hurt at first, but I knew I needed to address it with her instead of holding it in. I typed out a message to her and I really tried to make sure I didn't say anything to hurt her. After a little while, I hadn't heard from her so I went back and reread what I had said. I noticed that I might have said some things in a way that may have been taken wrong. I quickly wrote another note explaining that I hope I hadn't hurt her and I apologized if I had. My friend wrote back shortly thereafter and apologized as well. I don't think either one of us wanted this disagreement to harm our friendship.

There will always be something that you disagree with others on. How do you handle it when someone disagrees with you? What do you do if someone says something that hurts you? Do you confront that person or hold it in? If you confront, is it done lovingly or do you try to hurt them the way you were hurt? Holding hurt in builds walls, but so does constantly being hurt by harshly spoken words. Ephesians 4: 2-3 says "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Let's all work to build unity among others instead of walls. If you know you have built a wall between you and someone else, do whatever you can to tear down that wall. Go to that person and apologize. If they had hurt you, be honest about what they said and how it made you feel. Even if that relationship can't be saved, you tore down a wall that won't get in the way of another relationship. Don't allow those walls to be built!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is There Light in Your Eyes?

This morning I read Luke 11: 34 which says "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness." Initially, I thought of how there are certain people that I can just look in their eyes and can tell that they are "evil". There is such a darkness in their eyes that I can tell that there is something very bad about that them. I then thought of this question: What do people see when they look in MY eyes? I know I am not perfect, but I am a Christian so I am sure there is more light than darkness. I could have allowed myself to say "Of course people see light when they look in my eyes!" and felt pretty good about myself. God had a way of putting this into perspective though by asking me another question that really made me think. He asked "How brightly is that light in your eyes shining?" Ouch! Yes, there are things in my life that I am struggling with. God is working on areas of my life that He wants me to be better in. I truly believe that sin in my life dims the light that people are able to see when they look at me. I made a new commitment to God to do my best to ensure that the light people see in my eyes when they look at me becomes brighter and brighter. What do people see when they look in YOUR eyes? Is there a light in your eyes? How bright is that light? What can you do to make that light brighter?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Perfect Timing

Yesterday I was made aware of how amazing God's timing can be. My husband works as a security screener at a nearby airport and therefore he's an essential government employee. He came home from work yesterday and told me that if the government budget is not passed by Friday, he will have to work for free. If an employee doesn't show up for work, they will be fired. Any time off that they did have previously scheduled and approved will not be allowed until the budget is passed. After the budget is passed, they will receive all the pay that they are due.

If this had happened just a month or two ago, this would have sent us into a panic. For the most part, we live paycheck to paycheck. We are a one income family and depend on his paycheck every two weeks. So why were we not sent into a panic? We received our income tax return the other week and have enough money in the bank now for awhile. The beginning of every year is always a scary time for us as we hope that we get that check from the government before our money runs out. As soon as I heard my husband's announcement, I just had to breathe a sigh of thanks to God that this occured at the perfect time. We don't need to panic because we know we'll be ok, unless of course it takes quite a few months before the budget gets passed.

I had read about the budget not being passed on Tuesday and, to be honest, I was actually hoping that the Republicans don't sign the budget if they are holding out because they know Obama has stuff in the budget that isn't necessary. I have confidence that they are trying to help decrease the enormous deficit instead of continuing to increase it like Obama has consistently done. I had read about the millions of dollars the president wants to sent to other countries who will never pay us back, and I have to believe that there are some intelligent men who are voting to not pass this budget because they realize we should be helping our country get out of debt instead of going further into debt giving money away to countries who don't need it. That may not be a popular opinion with everyone, but it is my opinion. Since this is my blog, I should be able to voice my opinion...so please don't attack me! LOL! Thankfully, my husband shares the same opinion as me and we are both praying that the budget gets passed only when it is the best for our country. It is a scary thought to think that it could take a long time before the budget gets passed and we could run out of money, but God has given me a peace by showing me that this happened in His perfect timing so I don't need to worry right now. He's in control and He will continue to take care of us!

The other day, I caught myself wondering how long things would be good between the neighbors and us. For those who may not know, we've lived here for 9 years and have had trouble with the one neighbor almost from day one. We have tried to be patient and kind, but it was not easy when the neighbor would consistently do stuff just to tick my husband off. My husband did lose his temper a few times, but he never hit the neighbor (even though he REALLY wanted to a number of times!). Most of the time, he'd come inside and gripe and complain to me about how mad or frustrated he was about something the neighbor was doing. I gladly listened and tried my best to calm him down. I was thankful I had a husband who was doing everything he could to protect his family. I understood his anger and frustration, but I also knew it didn't do any good to allow the neighbor to see that because it just made him try all the harder because he knew he was getting to my husband. Last year, the neighbor's mom fell and broke her elbow. She was laying outside yelling for help and I never heard her because she was at the back of their house and I was at the front of our house with the air conditioner on. When I finally did hear a commotion, I immediately went to see if there was anything I could do to help. It didn't matter to me that it was the neighbors who hated us. I simply asked "Do you need help?" Even though they had already called the ambulance and there wasn't anything I could do, it softened their hearts knowing that I had asked. Over the course of that week, I asked the son a few times how his mom was and he always spoke kindly to us. I brought them cookies at Christmas and the mom hugged me. My husband has been able to talk to the neighbor a few times in the last year and no arguing has occured. It startled me the first time I heard my husband talking outside and realized he was talking to the neighbor and no one was screaming or cursing (my husband doesn't curse but we sure have heard the neighbor use some colorful language!). Anyway, I caught myself wondering this week how much longer this friendliness between us would last. Yesterday, my husband saw an ambulance outside and I went to check what was wrong. I saw the paramedics at the neighbor's house. The son happened to turn around so I asked, "Is everything ok?". He told me his mom had fallen and hurt her leg. I said I was sorry and then went back inside. When he returned from the hospital, I went out and asked how his mom was. He said she had broken her femur near the kneecap and it would take about 6 weeks for it to heal. I told him I would be praying for her and he thanked me. I then went inside and thanked God for yet another opportunity to show our neighbor's that we care inspite of everything we have gone through with them.

This morning, I woke up and the first thing on my mind was how this situation with the budget and my husband possibly having to work for free for awhile was on my mind. I smiled as I again thought, "This couldn't have happened at a better time." I picked up my Bible to do my devotions and one verse really caught my attention because of one particular word in it: peace. Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." I am fully aware how painful a father's discipline can be! My dad believed in spanking, and all I can say is OUCH!! I then thought of the two situations I shared with you above: finances and our neighbors. We have struggled for years regarding our finances. Has it been pleasant? No! But we always tried to stay faithful to God and trust that He would supply our needs, which He always did. Today, God showed me that because we are now experiencing the peace mentioned in that verse because we have gone through difficult times and stayed true to Him. We have gone through difficult times with the neighbors and even though we may not have handled things exactly the way He wanted us to, we tried our best to display God's love and forgiveness to them. We now are experiencing peace in this situation because we endured those difficult times and kept trusting that God would see us through and keep us safe.

I am so thankful for God's perfect timing and for the peace that only He can give. It isn't fun to go through difficulties or discipline, but we have God's promise that better times are ahead if we stay true to Him and learn from those difficult times or those times when God needed to discipline us. He loves us. He wants the best for us. It may not seem like it when we are in the midst of a trying time, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that He WILL allow you to experience a wonderful peace if you stay faithful to Him.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Asking for Help

I don't know how I did it, but the spine in my upper back between the shoulder blades must have a bone or two out of place. Last night was when the pain started and nothing I have done since then has eased the pain. Picking up my head, sitting up, and even taking a deep breath all cause a tremendous amount of pain to surge through me. My husband is at work so I had my kids try to massage it and apply as much pressure as they could to the area in an effort to try and pop the bone or bones back into place. My son even sat on my back and rocked back and forth to no avail. I finally told them to stop and then proceeded to try and get up from the floor so I could start my day. Once I finally was able to get up, which took quite a while because of how painful it was to move, I decided to start by doing my devotions.

I turned to the passage in II Timothy 2:1-7 and began reading. I actually laughed when I read verse 3 which says "Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Yup, God has a great sense of humor sometimes. I finished reading the devotional and then picked up my journal to write. The first thing I said was how hard it was to concentrate on His word when I was in so much pain. I really thought I was just going to cry out to Him for healing so that my back would stop hurting, but He had something else He wanted me to realize.

He brought to mind that I didn't ask the kids to help me when I was trying to get up from the floor. They were both there and could see how much pain I was in. I know if I had asked them to help, they would have gladly done whatever they could have to help me. I don't even remember if one of them had asked "Can I help?", but I know my answer would have been "no" because I wouldn't have wanted one of them to get hurt or to feel bad if they weren't successful in their efforts to help me get up. I then had the dreaded "Why" questions pop into my head. Why had I not asked for their help? Why did I do it on my own and suffer with all that pain when I probably wouldn't have felt so much pain if I had asked for help? I'm sure you can see where this is headed too. God was using exactly what I was going through to teach me a valuable lesson.

Why had I not asked my kids for their help? I didn't want one of them to get hurt. I'm much bigger than they are and I don't know that they would have been much help anyway. Then God asked "Why don't you ask ME for help when you need it?" I certainly couldn't answer that the same way I answered the first question! God is so much bigger and more powerful than me. I realized though that there are times I do try to do things on my own and I struggle through it, when I could have had it so much easier had I just asked God for His help. That's when I realized that the second why question that had popped into my head could also be applied here. Why did I do it on my own and suffer with all that pain when I probably wouldn't have felt so much pain if I had asked for help? When someone assists you in getting up, your muscles don't have to work as hard and therefore the pain would more than likely have been lessened since my muscles wouldn't have been pulling on the bones that are out of alignment in my back and causing me pain. How many times have I tried to do things on my own and had to go through pain because I didn't ask God for help first? God doesn't want us to be in pain. He loves us! He wants to help us! WHY would I not ask for help from my all-powerful Savior?! Why would I choose to suffer and struggle to get through something when I could simply ask God to help me and lessen or even remove that pain?

I don't know what you are going through, but I do know that God is able to help. There is nothing He can't do. Don't struggle through it alone. Allow God to help ease the load. Be free from the pain that struggling through it in your own power causes. Feel God's power as He works. Don't be afraid to ask for help!