Posts Tagged Christian
I feel nostalgic on holidays, birthdays, rainy days, and yes, even Mondays. My mind retreats to bygone days and simpler times. I especially remember the “firsts” in my life. There is something remarkable about “firsts.” I believe they are precious and Divinely inspired. “Firsts” happen only once and are irreplaceable.
I particularly remember my first love. I was 10. My heart pounded when I thought of him. I couldn’t wait to see him—hear his voice. We’d talk for hours about nothing in particular. I loved this feeling and I wanted it to last forever.
There’s something remarkable about first love–it is not sexual or sensual—it is sacred and pristine. It is like what the old Ivory Soap slogan promises, “99/100 percent pure.” There is an innocence about it that makes it beautiful. In first love, we give our hearts totally, trust completely, and hope fully. There is no second-guessing—we simply love and are grateful for love in return.
But somehow, we get caught up in the external trappings of life and love is lost—leaving us with a huge void in our hearts that causes us to wonder what went wrong with what we thought was perfect and real, and we spend our days trying to rekindle the feeling of first love.
The Church at Ephesus was enthusiastic in the beginning. Their hallmark had been their love for Christ and for one another. They loved to worship, they loved to fellowship, they loved teaching and being taught. Then their love waned, the thrill of service diminished, and they abandoned their first love.
As Christians, we can never forget our first love and the way we loved at first. We must always remember when we first saw the light; recall when we first believed; and, that the heart of the God that loved us first — anxiously awaits to take us back!!
“Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Job 28:20 (KJV)
I never liked school when I was growing up. I was very shy and introverted. But strangely, I realize (three academic degrees later), that I have always loved learning. I soaked up every word my teachers and professors spoke and I thoroughly enjoyed my writing assignments. Acquiring new skills and learning new ideas fascinated me. I can’t explain it–learning was my “thing.”
As the years progressed, I thought age, education, and maturity were somehow connected and intertwined. Not! I thought the older you “got” the smarter you “got.” I believed what you learned in books would automatically cause you to “know better” and to “do better.” After all, I was “bright,” as my professors used to tag me. More importantly, I had lots of experience, and as the kids would say, “I had been there and done that.” “Experience is the best teacher.” Right? No one could tell me anything. (Not even my beloved grandmother). I thought I knew it all! But someone wisely said, “it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” What is it that makes children think they know more than their parents? What is it that makes us think wrinkles and grey hair equal common sense? What is it that makes us think because we meet a certain age that we suddenly become wise? Ever heard of “an old fool”? What is it that makes the creäture think he is greater than his creator? What is it that makes us think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and that growing old is growing up?
It was not until I was better than half of a century old that I truly understood the essence of wisdom. It has nothing to do with age, in fact, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” 2 Peter 3:8. It has nothing to do with making our own way or ways, when plainly the scripture says,”He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8. But wisdom has everything to do with knowing the one who is omniscient and knows everything. None of the lessons I have learned was written in books. My mistakes and failures were my life lessons. My painful experiences were the teaching moments that made me stronger, wiser, and that drew me closer to the Lord.
I always thought I would be retired by this season of my life until I finally understood that with God there is no such thing. What I now know best is what was written years ago,”Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 Gratefully, I no longer think of retiring, I am too busy sowing seeds for the plentiful, spiritual harvest that awaits far too few laborers. Clearly, Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach was right, “In youth we learn — in age we understand.”
“But by the grace of God I am what I am . . . .” 1 Corinthians 15:10
I was a plain Jane, living on a street the length of one block that was only large enough to be called an “alley.”I am the eldest of four siblings who at the age of 5 was the only one of the children to be rescued by my grandmother from the threat of foster care. I have no delusions about who I am today or about how I got to this place in my life. God has indeed been good to me. I have been “allowed” many amazing accomplishments that can only be credited to what I respectfully call the “G” word the (“Grace” of God)!!
I call it the “G” word because preachers don’t preach about “Grace” anymore. No one speaks about God’s gift of love. No one boasts of God’s unmerited favor towards fallen human beings. That is why I echo and re-echo it throughout my Blog and have included it in my pseudonym. It is because whenever I revisit those places of growth and pain in my life I am reminded of who and whose I am. And that I am what I am because of Christ. I give honor and credit where they are due. I readily admit that what I have accomplished is not because of how I look, what I have, or my intellect, but because God willed and allowed it to be so. Were it not for the hand of God, I could have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or simply lost everything, at any time. I know whatever I am is not because of any goodness of my own it is all because of God’s Grace.
The thief of our souls came to steal, kill, and destroy, but God’s love and “mercy said no, I will not let them go.”We can never pay for the gift of life, but we can continually praise the Giver throughout our lives. Thank you Father for the Gift of your Son. Thank you for your amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me. I will continue to write, boast, teach and preach about Grace to let the world know that I know I never could have made it without you.
Nothing in this life is by happenstance. Everything is intentional, on purpose, and because of the Grace of almighty God. Were it not for that “G” word — Grace — God’s unmerited favor in the sacrifice of His beloved only Son, where would any of us be? From my grandmother’s knee and all the places in between, I am certain there was an unseen hand that kept me. I know, without a doubt, I am what I am by the THE GRACE OF GOD!!
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
These are indeed testing times in and out of school settings. During this season, the young people are stressed–everything they have learned since the beginning of the school year will decide their next move. Even the brightest students seem concerned. On this day, the building is eerily quiet as the students complete their examinations. Shortly after, they learn their grades. One group of students asks a young man his grade. He replies, “a 70” and they laugh. He immediately responds, “at least I passed.” Isn’t that really what’s important? That you make the grade. That you recall everything you have learned and have done your best?
Admittedly, these are difficult times for everyone everywhere, but why are we surprised? Jesus warned His Disciples that times would be hard and that their faith would be tested. Tests, even for Christian believers are hard, but they are necessary to check and assess our spiritual growth and to measure our faith. In essence, to prove whether we truly believe what we profess or simply profess that we believe.
Through the years, I have discovered that God works best in difficult times. I have found too, that no matter what I am going through, God has already made a way for me. I have no doubt that I have been anointed to finish my course and I will never quit. In fact, I have been through too much to give up now. Friends, storms will come, so you might as well prepare. I am sure we would prefer they didn’t, but it is not our destiny for God to remove obstacles from our lives. That’s our desire. Grace is our destiny. The One who allows our tests also proctors and grades them. And one thing I can tell you with assurance is that not only is our God fair but is faithful!
Tests, trials, and especially storms, are to strengthen our faith in the One who controls all things. Strangely enough, there are lessons in every painful circumstance, situation, and trying moment. Life is a grand classroom of learning experiences. We must be attentive and study, study, study because there will be no makeup exams or “do overs.”
Once we know something, we become accountable for what we know and at various points in life we will be tested on that knowledge. The grade will not matter. What will matter is that we have done our best on the test. “Testing times” are times to realize that the God who brought us through one test, if God wills, can bring us through the next and the next. And if we have faithfully done our very best, then we can look for the greatest passing grade — Well done!!
The “enemy of our souls” told Job (one of God’s great men of faith), “I am going to break you with your test,” but God said, “No, I’m going to make you with it.” Job excelled to the end, graduated with Honors, and assures us with his enduring testimony, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NIV)
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“He replied, Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25 (NIV)
Have you ever experienced things that are just too wonderful to explain? Things that God has done in your life that the usual descriptive words were inadequate to express the magnitude of God’s magnificence? I’m not even talking about trying to depict the greatness of His creation — I’m talking about personal experiences. I even tried plugging different words into online Merriam Webster and unbelievably the message appeared, “the word you are searching is not in the dictionary.”
I have had extraordinary years. Things have happened in my life that I never could have imagined and cannot now explain. As the kids would say, “OMG!” So, this will be one of my shortest posts because there are just no words to reason, interpret, or depict what the Lord has done since I have truly come into His will for my life. I feel like Job when he said, . . . “I have uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” (Job 42:3 KJV). And I feel like the Psalmist when he said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalm 139:6 (KJV).
I thank God for all His awesome, wondrous, miraculous, staggering, astounding, sublime, stupendous, supernatural, mysterious works and ways towards me. And, I say with indescribable gratitude what ten thousand tongues could never say on my behalf, and what John Newton wrote and I humbly agree, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.”
“For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name. . . .” Isaiah 54:5 (KJV)
To favor means to show special regard or exceptional kindness to someone. It means to give preferential treatment in comparison to others and that the one “favored” receives generosity and goodwill far beyond what is normally expected. This is generally the favor that we receive from the Lord. One night, following an unusually challenging week, just before my evening prayers, to quote the old saints,”I looked at my hands and my hands looked new.” There it was–a startling sign of God’s Divine favor towards me!! On my third finger, left hand, was an unmistakable ring of color. Amazed, I thoroughly explored it, questioned its meaning, and tried to understand why I never noticed it until that moment. Then these words of Scripture echoed in my spirit: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you . . . .” (John 15:16). Suddenly, I understood what it truly meant to be “known (by God) from my mother’s womb.” I always knew my life was not my own. My heart raced and rejoiced to think that I would be so highly regarded with such a miraculous gift for all the world to see. Excitedly, I spent the rest of the night studying the meaning of the “wedding ring.” Needless to say, no wedding I ever officiated–not even my own wedding vows, prepared me to fully grasp the meaning of this miracle!! What a Blessing to be entrusted with such an incredible sign of personal covenant with God!!
As I continued to look at my indelible gift and to study the history of the ring and the “wedding ceremony,” I was even more amazed. The ring symbolizes love and love, according to I Corinthians 13, is the most worthy of all emotions. The wedding ring, in particular, is an instantly recognizable symbol of the joining of two in marriage. It is an endless unbroken circle of eternal love that continues its endless flow through time. It has no beginning and no end and returns to itself, like life. The roundness of the ring represents “eternity” symbolizing a union that is to last forever. The hole in the center is not just a space — it symbolizes the gateway or door that leads to things and events both known and unknown. Those in Antiquity, believed that a vein, or nerve, ran directly from the “ring finger” of the left hand to the heart, (the latin, vena amoris “the vein of love”). In the marriage ritual, the “engagement ring” is removed and replaced by the wedding band (symbolically meaning the wedding band is being placed closest to the heart). Finally, the wedding band signifies the last gift to the “other” sealing the union’s “undying” love.
I cannot truly say, I understand everything that has happened to me these past few years; I agree with Job, “it is simply too wonderful for me.” I admit, I never fully grasped “the why of” this skin disorder — this “thorn in my flesh,” until my ring of color reminded me that “God’s ways are not our ways” and God uses “simple things to confound the wise.” I feel honored and am sincerely grateful to think the Savior of the world would Bless lowly me in such a way! What reassurance of God’s constant presence and steadfast love. What a phenomenal way to show to the world that this broken, earthen vessel, is not only Blessed and Beloved, but Highly Favored!
“And he that sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new . . . .” Rev. 21:5 (KJV)
I never anticipated being so Blessed in the winter of my life when I honestly considered retirement. Instead, I have wonderful feelings of expectancy — of beginning anew — only wiser, stronger, and better. Maybe this is how Caleb felt in his 85th year when he said, “Give me this mountain.” No, I am nowhere near 85, but I’ve done a lot of living, been many places, and seen many things.
I always thought I was the perfect Christian, but it was not until God removed all the perks and props and brought me to my knees, that I really began to “see the Lord High and Lifted Up.” I learned that when you have nothing left but God, you discover that God is enough. With every trip to my knees I arose more trusting in the God who truly “knows my frame.”
I don’t know why God spared my life another year when many I loved and who loved me, passed on. I just know, I thank God for letting me live on, when I thought I wanted to die. Today (December 31) is my birth day and I thank God for every nano second of the gift of life, and for every precious day above ground. I praise Mahatma Gandhi, who in his wisdom has said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Today begins a brand new day to “Be” — free of worry, regret, guilt, hate and self-absorption. I have been Blessed with a new day to live without apology — with precious time to live with gratitude, courage, hope, love, discernment, vision and faith. For years, I preached God’s Word — I will spend the rest of my days Being God’s Word!