Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Not for a Select Audience

I just posted a day or so ago, so I'm sure readers are wondering why I'm posting again so soon.

I started this blog in 2009, and for a couple of years I just posted on the blogspot site without putting a link to it on Facebook. I guess I wanted to hide away safely, letting this blog sit there in the background, and trust God to lead people to it. It made me feel more secure, knowing I wasn't "out there" on the internet for anyone to read.

There was just one problem with that. There was no way of knowing if anyone was seeing it. I was convicted that I was "hiding my light under a bushel," as the children's song goes. So I dealt with that for a while.

The Lord continued to deal with me to make my writing more public. After all, He gave me a desire and ability to write for one primary reason: to be an encouragement to others who might be going through some of the same trials and battles I have been in during my life, especially after I became a Christian. 

But I was not sharing it nearly enough. Then I started a couple of years ago posting a link to each post to my Facebook page, and I felt better. 

I felt somewhat safe; after all, only my friends could see my Facebook page, and therefore, only my friends could find their way to my blog.  A few times I noticed it got shared, so that took it outside my friends' list, which was great. I am always blessed when someone shares one of my blog posts to their wall. However, for the most part, it was still only a select audience. 

Jesus didn't die for a select audience; He died for everyone. And then there's the Great Commission to "go into all the world" with the Gospel of Christ. Yeah, there's that. Hmm. What am I doing with that?  

So, lately I've been feeling the pangs of conviction again. Even though my spiritual gift is encouragement, I still am responsible to share the Gospel, too. Oh boy. I do have some work to do.

Therefore, there will be some changes on the blog in the next few days and weeks. I have to get the plan of salvation on here where it can easily been found, in addition to the encouragement I hope to bring in the blog posts.

Getting out of my comfort zone for sure. 

So, with fear and trembling, I am going forward with this. In addition to the improvements on the blog, I will now be posting it to my Twitter feed, which is set up to automatically post on my Facebook wall. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is completely public. This scares me, but as Joyce Meyer says, sometimes you have to "do it afraid."

And so I press on.

"I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness."  Psalm 40:10 NLT

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Defense of the Quiet

I woke up on my own this morning, which is a rare treat for me. Normally I am rudely awakened by a combination of an alarm clock and my cell phone alarm (it's hard for me to wake up). For work I have to get up about six in the morning, but this morning it was almost seven when I opened my eyes.  That doesn't seem like sleeping in to many of you night owls out there, and it really doesn't to me, either. In days gone by, this self-proclaimed night owl has been known to sleep until nine or ten, after being up until two in the morning.  However, as I have grown older, I have noticed it harder to sleep past seven or sometimes eight, and I have found it increasingly difficult to stay up for very long past the ten o'clock news.  I attribute this to the many years of having to get up at six for work. We'll just go with that and leave the joys of aging to another post.

Yesterday, the cold temperatures finally got the timing right and coincided with the arrival of precipitation in our area and the result was: SNOW! I am home today on a snow day, and enjoying it immensely. I love snow, as I have written on here before. However, that's not what this post is about. I am merely setting the stage for something that I observed this morning in the few minutes after I got up.

As I always do when I am home on a snow day, I went to the door and opened it to look out on my street and marvel at the beauty of the fresh snow. Why do we do this? The snow didn't melt or disappear during the night. It was still there, and I knew it was, but I opened the door and looked outside for a moment just the same.

I noticed it as I was about to close the door on the beauty of it, with its 25 degree temperature that caused me to shiver. The quiet. There was absolutely no sound. I opened the storm door to listen better. There was a hush in the air, a stillness that probably always comes when it is early, and cold, and people are not out and about yet. I just hadn't taken the time to notice before. I stood there for a minute more, just listening, straining to hear something. There were no sounds of cars driving by, even on the usually busier street a block away. There no sounds of children on the playground at the nearby school. There was not even the sound of a dog barking or a siren in the distance. It was just so SILENT.

As I shut the door, it occurred to me that all these sounds that are usually present because people are up getting their kids to school and going to work were not there because of the snow. The snow and ice on the streets had temporarily shut everything down. Many who did have to work were going later, when the snow had melted some.  

Most people are irritated at the inconvenience of snow and ice. It is considered a nuisance, breaking our routines and causing an interruption in our daily lives. I totally get that. As I said before, this post is not in defense of snow, per se. It is in defense of something else; a side-effect of the snow:

Being still.

This post is in defense of being quiet. "Be still and know that I am God," Psalm 46:10 says. I'm as guilty as the rest of rushing through my day and making sure all the important stuff gets done. However, I'm only shortchanging myself when I don't go to Him in the times when He allows something to slow me down. Strength and refreshing can come in those quiet times, when it seems that life is at a standstill.

Perhaps these inconveniences are in our lives at times so we will stop, just for a moment, and listen. Sometimes, in just a few minutes, the Lord can bring rest to our souls or healing to our hearts. Everything we need is found in Him.  

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul." 
Psalm 23:1-3 NIV

Friday, February 6, 2015

Love That Makes the World Go 'Round

Ah, romance.  Hearts, flowers, candy...this month is brimming over with all the mushy, gushy, "love that makes the world go 'round."  In fact, from a marketing standpoint, the Christmas decorations were still on half price when "pow!" Out came all the pink and red Valentine stuff.  

I have steadfastly avoided all the mush and goo for many years now, mostly because I was hurt, really really hurt in a very deep place in my heart.  The reminder that I was not in a loving, romantic relationship was just too much. I couldn't take it. So I asked God to heal me, and He has been doing just that--I'm a work in progress. In the meantime, though, while He works on me, the pain that is still remaining is buried, and I manage to forget most of the time that my heart was once broken and I feared it would never, ever be the same. 

Except during February.  During this month, the world will not let me forget. 

Valentine ads on TV scream, "You are a failure, you know. No one loves you." The card rack at the front of the store, an explosion of pink and red, whispers as I walk by, "There is no one special in your life that loves you."  Even Valentine banquets, couples' retreats, and marriage seminars, all very good things done with the very best of intentions remind me,"You are alone, so therefore, you are less valuable."

Can anyone relate?  I'm sure someone reading this is feeling alone and unloved and dreading the 14th of February, known to singles as "Single Awareness Day" because of what a good job that day does of pointing out to us just how single and alone--and therefore unloved--we are.

However, I don't feel that way anymore.  I am not unloved, and I am not less valuable, and I can prove it.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness" says my God in Jeremiah 31:3 NIV. 

So you are wrong, TV ads. I am not unloved.

The cards in the hearts and flower section may be saying "No one special in your life loves you," but God's Word says:

"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," Romans 5:8 NIV.

God loved me so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins. He went to great lengths to redeem me from my sinful state so He could have a relationship with me. So, I guess you are mistaken, Valentine cards.

If I listen to all the negative voices around me, I will be convinced that I am "unloved" and "less valuable." But if I turn to God when those voices start to get to me, I can be assured of God's love for me. In Psalm 66:19-20 it says, "God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, Who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!" NIV.

I may live alone, and not be in an earthly relationship, but I am far from alone.  God loves me more than I could ever fathom, and He is with me 24/7, never leaving nor forsaking me. He will never stop loving me, no matter what I do. I didn't deserve His love in the first place, and yet He loves me.  

I was praying and asking God to show me how to approach this Valentine season.  During our praise team practice this week, while my heart was turned toward Him in worship, He showed me. I am to put all the energy I have spent hating and avoiding this season into loving Him. In other words, turn my focus outward, away from myself.

He will show me as we go along how to love Him back.  For starters I can:

Love my neighbor as I love myself.

Really pray for others. It took some time, but I have formed a habit of stopping and praying right then when I tell someone on Facebook that I will pray for them.

And most importantly, tell the world what He has done for all of humanity to save us because He loves us and wants a relationship with each one of us.

"For this is how God loved the world:  He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NLT

Because love is more than just feelings.  Love is also an action.