Friday, June 16, 2017

Sometimes You Have to Fight When You’re a Man

“Coward of the County” was playing in the store the other day and I got caught up in the storyline. The “coward” was caught between his father’s hard won wisdom and what to do about the gang rape of his beloved Becky. Ecclesiastes says, there’s a time to fight and a time to abstain from fighting. But which is which?
Compare this to the violence we see every day in our world. Blows and bloodshed erupt over trivial issues. This is not manhood, but hatred, pride, immaturity, and a lack of self-control.

The kind of men who deserve honor on Father’s Day, or any day, are the ones who can distinguish between a just and unjust cause. Jesus is described as meek. He wasn’t passive, but a man of passion and power. In fact, the true meaning of the word meek is “power under control.” He knew His real enemy and when to fight. He didn’t fight when falsely accused, spat on, and nailed to a cross. He suffered everything so He could conquer Satan once for all.

Real men fight: 
For the Weak and Oppressed
Scripture tells the people of God to fight for those who, for one reason or another, can’t fight for themselves—orphans, widows, captives, the elderly—anyone unable to stand up for themselves. “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psa. 82:3-4). 

This means testifying on their behalf, providing for their needs, showing compassion and hospitality, righting wrongs, and showing them honor and respect as fellow human beings.

For What is Right
This requires a pause for discernment. Is this right according to me, or according to God? Right is eternal and brings ultimate good even if momentary discomfort, but so many times we get embroiled in battles for short-term solutions or selfish gain. 

Paul’s words to his young protégé Timothy are, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim. 6:11-12). What is right honors God, His people, and the commands He has given us to walk in passion and integrity.

In Prayer
Men who are able to stand when things get tough are the ones who spend time on their knees. It may not be their literal position of prayer, but the attitude of their hearts—knowing their own limitations and humbly seeking help from the One who has none. Spiritual warfare is only for the strongest of men, who fight to serve their Commander and not for their own glory or comfort.

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18). Real men pray for: 

·         Strength to resist temptation
·         Courage to speak truth
·         Passion to share God with others
·         Forgiveness for those who hate or mistreat them
·         Holy Spirit power to overcome demonic forces

Against Their Own Demons
Every one of us has demons, thorns in our flesh, that trouble and tempt; distract and discourage us. Whether it’s chemical addiction, lust, depression, greed, pride, workaholism, or selfishness, it is a battle each man must fight himself. No one can fight his demons for him, apart from Christ.

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart  who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” Luke 8:14-15). Seeds are sown in fields. Real men seek out other men who are fighting the good fight. They encourage one another with honest and sincere hearts and keep each other accountable. 

I bless and honor all Fathers who know how to fight. So many battles are unseen, but reap eternal rewards. To my dad, my husband, my sons, and the godly men I know, I applaud you. You are the real men in our world.

Happy Father’s Day!

#fathersday #whenisitoktofight #bullies #meeknessispower #sometimesyouhavetofightwhen #menofcourage

Monday, June 5, 2017

Precious Lamb

If you’ve seen “The Two Towers” from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the word precious might remind you of Gollum and his purring obsession of the ring. He loves it for the power it holds. He strokes and worships it. He killed to get the ring for himself, and its evil influence changed him from a happy go lucky hobbit into a haunted, emaciated beast. Yet he refers to it as “Precious.” He will do anything to get it back, even as it destroys him.

Contrast that with The Precious Lamb of God.

The word “Lamb” throughout the book of Revelation actually translates as “pet lamb” from the Greek, a term of endearment. It first appears in chapter five:

I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders” (emphasis mine). 

John hears the exciting announcement that the Lion of Judah, the Root of the kingly Davidic line has saved the day and looks up to see…a lamb…and a slain one at that! How can we reconcile all Jesus is with a word that means a cherished family pet?

The point is not to make Christ less than He is, but to highlight how precious and worthy He is because of His sacrifice. That’s why this word translated “Lamb” is not the same word as in the rest of Scripture, where it refers to an animal sacrifice or member of the flock. 

Even those spotless sacrifices could not pay the price for our sin permanently. They had to be offered again and again in an endless, bloody procession that was only a temporary fix. Until Jesus, the holy Lamb of God willingly gave up His blood on our behalf. That’s why He is so precious and beloved and the center of adoration in heaven; cherished and surrounded by worshipers from every tribe and nation and tongue. He is the only One worthy to save us.

But here’s where it gets even better. The same word translated as “pet lamb” in Revelation is found one other time in Scripture. In John 21:15 Jesus gives Peter his assignment to lead the Church. “Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’”

Who are His lambs? He’s talking about us! All who will believe in the name of Jesus are His precious pets. We’re cherished lambs of the Shepherd who guides and protects us from evil. 

Are we precious to Him because possessing us will increase His power, like the lord of the rings? No. Jesus already has all power. We are precious to Him because He made us and loves us beyond anything we can possibly comprehend.

Do you know how precious you are today? Are you God’s little lamb? Do you love Him because He was willing to face rejection, torture, and death for you? Do you worship the Lamb of God because He bore the weight of your sin and shame? 

He paid the sacrifice for us all, and rose as victorious conqueror over death and hell. No wonder we worship the Lamb who was slain! He is most precious.

#lambofGod #youareprecious #lionandlamb #Shepherdandlamb #Jesustreasuresyou #Easter #spotlesslamb

Friday, May 12, 2017

Moms of All Kinds

courtesy of Sela Photography

Moms come with a variety of personalities, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. We have stay at home moms, career moms, creative-artistic moms, logical-analytical moms, moms who bake and others who buy readymade. Some moms love the Lord and are compassionate and nurturing, others are gruff and distant. But every mom, no matter how dysfunctional, is a blessing in some way or other. This Sunday is a day to thank God for who they are and how they have blessed us—even if only for the gift of life.

My mom was not a stay at home, cookies and milk mom, but I remember experimenting with my Easy Bake oven and chattering away at her while she made dinner. My mom was a well educated, high powered career woman, and busy at church. But she was always approachable when I needed to talk, and I had fun helping in her three year old's Sunday school class as a teenager. 

She didn’t tell me I had to read the Bible every day, but she always tucked an age-appropriate devotional into my Christmas stocking. When I was in high school I began going to the family room where she read her Bible each morning. Her example was one of JOY in the Word of God. So I started drinking coffee like her and reading my Bible every day. Since she was a reference librarian and lover of books, she always brought home other delightful books and magazines on whatever each of us were interested in.

When I had babies she didn’t ask to babysit or keep my girls overnight, but she always had toys at her house—Fifi, the milk wagon, assorted books. She stopped by our house often, and has developed relationships with each of her grandchildren, loving and praying for them daily. Now she is also Mom to three son-in-laws and her granddaughters’ husbands. She’s establishing relationships with great grandchildren, and is “Mom” to a host of missionaries and others who look to her for wisdom, prayer, and kindness.  

There was a time when I didn’t see or appreciate all this about her. I had a picture in my head of what a mom should be. I selfishly wanted her at my beck and call, not taking into account her passions, needs, and giftings. Now that I’m a mom and grandma, I treasure all she is and all she’s poured into my life. She continues to bless me and a growing throng of others. I’m grateful God gave me just the right mom.

I’m also grateful my daughters, sons in law, step kids, and grandchildren show understanding and appreciation for who I am, not who they wish I was. I am free to be myself—creative, quirky, a lover of God and nature, a bookworm, baker of sweet treats, and a bit of a neat freak.  Their acceptance frees me to love them to the best of my abilities, even if they might sometimes wish I was a little more of this, and a little less of that.

I encourage you to shower love and appreciation on the moms in your life this Sunday, and beyond. God created them to be one of a kind, unique, and beautiful. Tell them what you love about them and how they have blessed and continue to bless your life. So many of us have insecurities about all we are not; it’s wonderful to hear some things we’ve done right.

Happy Mother’s Day!

#mothersday #appreciatingmom #whatkindofmom #iloveyoumom #whatsgoodaboutmothers