Obedience Posts

The Annoying Christian

The Annoying Christian

We who believe we have ‘arrived’ have the potential to be critical of those who are finding their way.

Do you remember what you used to be like before you were a believer? Do you remember the lifestyle you thought was appropriate until you learned what God had to say about it?

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Yes, you’re different now, but it didn’t happen all at once. Those qualities that used to define you have been scraped away by God, by the circumstances he’s allowed in your life, in my life, to refine us into becoming a more knowledgable, obedient soul.

But have we grown equally in compassion and wisdom?

Lord, may I remember my own rough-hewn condition, the person I was when you called me. When I look at other Christians with annoyance (How can he do that? How can she act that way?), may I remember how God planed me and sanded me in my own journey.

Far from having arrived, I must never forget that God loved me before I knew him, and loves me now, in my imperfection while he hones me.

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My task is to love others, all others, on their journey. If I wait until they arrive before I accept them, I’m going to be a very lonely, ineffectual Christian.

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Lord, help me see everyone through your eyes.

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What can I do for you today?

What can I do for you today?

Has your kid ever come up to you and said, “What can I do for you today? How can I help you?”

I asked one mother that question and here eyes grew big. What a concept!

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I’m someone’s kid too. Should I be asking God what I can do for him?

My first thought was, How arrogant. He’s God. What could I do possibly do for him?

My next thought (maybe from him?) was; You won’t know if you don’t try.

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I’ve been blown away.

Here are some of his requests that I’ve recorded in my prayer journal.

  • Be loving to all I meet (act it, even if I don’t feel it.)
  • Set frustration aside and concentrate on the multitude of blessings God’s provided.
  • Rest in God’s peace.
  • Ask God before I act on something.
  • Rest in saying ‘no’.
  • Love deeply.
  • Love with compassion.
  • Accept myself. (This brings tears. Thank you Jesus. I am acceptable in your sight. I need to be acceptable in mine as well.)
  • No judgment of others.
  • Stay present.
  • Watch and take in the action.
  • Hold Jesus’ hand so it’s not so scary.

It’s been startling to feel how powerfully each statement fills my heart. Yes, these are things God seeks from me. And if I did them, how different my life would be!

In carrying out what he asks, I feel as competent as a 4 year old trying to make her own bed. But I know God sees my efforts, my heart, as I seek to please him, so I will accept myself, as he’s asked, and keep growing.

Have you ever asked the Lord what you can do for him today? Ask now. See what he says!

 

Why God’s to Blame

Why God’s to Blame

God made the mess. Now I have to fix it!

A friend called me in tears. His son, just three years old, had pulled a hot pot of tea off the table, spilling the scalding liquid on his bare feet. Now, in order to prevent debilitating scars, dead tissue had to be removed daily – a frightening, painful experience for little Jake. Each day my friend held his son in his arms as staff in the burn unit debrided the wound. Each day this father subjected his little boy to a frightening, painful experience. Dad knew the life-long ramifications if the treatment wasn’t done.

“I would do anything to take his place,” this father sobbed. “What I don’t understand is that when each treatment is over, Jake snuggles even closer into my shoulder. He still trusts me, even after I’ve allowed him to be subjected to such pain.”15953607370_326beb5686_n

Debriding a little kid’s burns, pulling away that which could cripple the child for life, is the father’s job.

Trusting Daddy, even when he doesn’t understand, is the child’s job.

Children seem more willing to accept this than adults are.

The devil, the world, our natural sinful self try to break our trust in God through lies, temptation, and subtle coercion. We buy into the pretence that we deserve health, wealth, and happiness.

These lies lure us as a hunter lures a deer – tricking her into thinking this is someone who cares, who wants to give her what she desires.

Not so, God, though. No subtlety, no trickery from Him. He doesn’t mince words.

You will have trials and tribulation.

You will be rejected.

There will be pain.

It won’t be fair.

His ways are not our ways.

When it comes to the big things, the serious things, the life-altering things, like little Jake, we probably won’t be able to understand. We’ll simply have to trust.

Trials can be like a rider breaking a horse. The rider knows what he wants for the horse, what he can give the horse once the horse submits.

But the horse has no idea. Until he gives in, subjects his own will to this force that keeps challenging him, the horse can’t know the depth of relationship, care and provision that will come when he chooses to trust the master.

God doesn’t force himself on us the way a rider does with an unbroken horse. But he does make us aware.

Are you refusing to be broken? Being broken? Or are you riding into the sunset with your Master?

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When God Appears to Drop the Ball

When God Appears to Drop the Ball

What’s going on when we do everything right, and bad things still happen?

“What do you want from me, Lord?” we cry. “I’m doing the best I can. Isn’t that enough for you?”

A single mom whose family is struggling for every dollar tries to be faithful, prays, forces herself to have good thoughts about those who have harmed her. And then her work hours are cut.

A man who has experienced grief and loss now advocates for those suffering in his community. And yet his advocacy is ineffective when his own family is in need.

In our home, a day came some years ago when my husband and I were in this position. We’d lived by the adage, “God helps those who help themselves,” but things just kept getting worse.

We’re trying, Lord, I cried. What are we doing wrong?

I searched scripture for that verse, but it wasn’t there. In fact, I found the opposite.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

Tithe, Christian FinancesFor us, trusting God was a last ditch effort. To be honest, we didn’t cast our cares on the Lord because we believed he’d sustain us. We did it because we had no other option. Unable to find decent work, having to use the food bank to feed our kids, my husband and I were broken.

We knew what scripture said when it came to finances.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3

Test God? Fine. We’d take him at his word. Still, I fully expected our next step would be to lose the house, and prepared myself for that.

I don’t know about hubby, but I came to our agreement like the widow in 1 Kings:17 who said to the prophet, Elijah, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah told her to go home and make him bread from what she had, to serve him first, then make something for herself and her son with what was left.

Tithe, Christian FinancesSo we did the same.  We began to pay tithe to our church, taking 10% off the top of hubby’s E.I. income and $4 a week from the $40 I made cleaning a neighbour’s house.  Space doesn’t allow me to describe all that happened in the ensuing months and years. Suffice to say we didn’t lose our house. We never used the food bank again. Ten years later we had an emergency fund, RRSPs well underway, and decent vehicles to drive.

We would not have taken this seemingly foolish step had we not been brought to the end of our own resources. It was only in giving up, giving in and doing it God’s way that we discovered God could be trusted.

Do you trust him?

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How does God pay the bills?

True story.

In November, a few years ago, a church had their Annual General Meeting. The hot topic was the need for an Associate Pastor to support the many new families with kids and teens who had joined the church.

“We need to put out a call now, if we want someone for the new year.”

“But there’s no money in the budget.”

“Aren’t we supposed to step out in faith and trust God to provide?”

“Well sure, but we should make sure he’s going to provide before we hire someone.”

“Where’s the faith in that?”

Back and forth, back and forth, until finally the Chairperson called for a vote.

Not quite sure how or why, a majority voted in favour. In faith, the church would hire an Associate Pastor and trust God to find a way to cover the salary.

Flashback two years. A family in that same church suffered a terrible accident. With great distress, resulting disability, medical issues, and a whole passle of struggle, the dad in the family made a quiet decision. He didn’t know how long it would be before the court case was settled, but in his heart he promised the Lord that when the insurance money came in, he would tithe his portion to the church.

God’s timing? January 2nd, the same month the new Associate Pastor began his job, that dad placed his tithing cheque in the church collection plate – enough to cover the first 9 months of the pastor’s salary.

True story. Make of it what you will.

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