Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Sermons

I am taking a Bible Study on Monday mornings, Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I am both loving and hating it. Just like the sermon this morning it reminds me of what I need to be set free of and the enormity of it. One of the biggest and most deceptive giants that I need deliverance from is denial and its companion avoidance. They like to hang around me and they are lousy company. Denial lets me know part of my problem while shielding me from the rest. Pastor Sean told a story about when he was a new believer, how well meaning people would point out what he needed to change about himself. He told the story about wearing a Tasmanian Devil tie and a lady telling him it was a devil tie. That story instantly brought memories of a group of my friends and myself visiting a friends home, he had just gotten saved, maybe a month old in the Lord if that, and we dropped by to "cleanse" his home of the bad stuff, you know beer, "bad" music, etc. That story cut through me. I wanted to apologize to PS because who knows what I would have done if I had met him as a baby Christian. I have believed the lie that I am kind when I am proud, too quick to see the speck when the log is protruding from my eye. It was a hard sermon to listen to. I have the High School group on Wednesdays and wonder if I have painted the wrong picture of God to them. I wondered a lot of things today. I prayed much today. While studying for Bible study for tomorrow the subject was legalism which went well with today's sermon. All I could say to God was, I am so sorry, I am so so sorry. I am. I told God again how deeply I love Him and gave Him permission to root it all out. So hard, but so good. Too often when the small voice of conviction comes on me I stamp it out, I turn on the TV, read a book; I have even picked up the Bible. Sometimes I want to avoid my logs. I would rather concentrate on others specks but no more. I have asked God to show me all, to root out every speck that sparks of legalism, every spot that is less than love, every root of pride that needs to go. I do not doubt that the battle will be lifelong but if we are to reach those around us to Christ we cannot avoid who we really are. Sundays are my favorite day of the week but this one was a hard one.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


"So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength to weep. " 1 Samuel 30:4. David and his men had come back to Ziklag and found that their wives and children had been taken captive. Filled with sorrow and probably with fear they reacted with tears. It was only when they had no more strength to weep that it says that David took comfort in the Lord. It was after the reaction, after the tears. Sometimes I think we feel we have to stifle our reaction to the grief and sorrows of life. We feel we need to be triumphant even in the pain we experience. When we go through our worst we feel like we need to put on a front. But I know that if David, a man after God's own heart, a man of both frailty and strength, wept, and not only wept but wept until he was spent, that it is okay for me not to put on a face or try and be something I'm not. Lately I have been trying to not be quite as dark in my thoughts or in my writing. It is a losing battle. So many that I love are trapped in captivity. Today I was challenged to bring more people to the Lord and I felt this wave of pain come over me. I do not do enough to bring people to Christ. Most weeks I fail to present the gospel clearly. I am grateful that I have opportunity each week to love on and know unbelievers, but I am making so little progress. Tonight I talked to a dear friend who is in deep pain. She does not want to hear about how God loves her, she is beyond weary, she feels disappointed by life and overwhelmed by her life. All I could tell her is that I will not give up on her and that I will be with her through this. What I wanted to do was bring her rest, give her answers, assure her that things will get better but I could not do any of those things. I don't know if things will get better. Earth is such a toss up, and I don't know what her life holds, situationally. I know God loves her. I have seen Him in her life but I don't know how to help her know that. I love her and that is what I can do for her right now. I wish there were more hours to know people, I wish I took hold of every opportunity, I wish I had the eyes and ears of God so I would miss nothing. I wish I understood the reasons for what we go through. One thing I know. If God had not stood with me, I would surely perish, I would be lost and blind, terrified. But God is my fortress, He is my refuge, He has not left me and He speaks to me. I also know that this can be true for all of us. Our circumstances may tell the world that we are not worth effort and are all used up but God does not see us that way. We may walk a path of difficulty and pain but we are not alone, I am not alone, you are not alone. There may be few on earth that understand or know, but our Savior was tempted in every way we are, He was rejected, He was used and left without friends. We can weep over the sorrows and captivity of life but we must trust in the God who saves us to an eternal Kingdom, where weeping will be no more.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Yesterday I talked about how I learned to love golf and a little about the Masters. Today I want to talk about love. It is so inspiring, and gives one sweet pause to see a husband love his wife. I think that is because we too seldom see such unselfish love portrayed in public. Too often what we see is disappoinment, failure, lust, and betrayal played out in the media. But The Masters this weekend gave us a picture of what a marriage should be and seldom is; how sweet love can be and is to watch. Phil Mickelson loves his wife. This year his wife and mother found out they had cancer. Phil immediately withdrew from golf for an indefinite period. After some time had passed his wife told Phil to get back on the course, as any wife who has had a husband at home for too long would. He decided to play at The Masters, a fairly family oriented event. He and His children played at the par 3 game the day before the tournament started but his wife was not there. In fact, she spent the week in bed, still struggling with the treatment she is receiving. On the last day Phil played the game of his life making two very difficult shots and one nearly impossible one to win. His win was sweet. With tears running down both of their faces Phil embraced his wife who was able to come out to watch him on the last few holes. Their affection was obvious and their emotion deep. It was a beautiful day of sports, one fit for a storybook. An almost miraculous round of golf, a loving family, a man of deep conviction and solid values. We need more Phil Mickelson's in this world, who love God and love their families; who know what is truly important and are willing to sacrifice what they love for the greater good. He is a man whose testimony speaks loudly, one whose words are gracious and whose actions speak volumes. Sunday was more than a golf game, it was a picture of life the way God desires it to be lived and I daresay that their will be many in heaven who saw God in a game of golf and a man named Phil Mickelson.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Masters

This week there was this big golf tournament, The Masters. I have learned to love golf over the years but that was not always the case and one of the strangest tournament in my way of thinkng was this one. First off, they play for this hideous green jacket. I mean, that is just crazy, playing for a jacket, and a fairly ugly one at that. Another strike against golf was the lack of teams. I like team sports and the whole individualist aspect of the sport bothered me. It seemed slow paced and devoid of much excitement at first glance.
While it is slow paced I have learned to appreciate the game and I have grown to look forward to The Masters. First, there is so much history involved in this particular tournament. You can't even buy a ticket to it. You have to be on a waiting list, which was formed in 1972. The list is full and no one is being added at this time. A person has to die for another person to be able to get a ticket. Crazy! The course is beautiful, full of flowers, and there is a holiday atmosphere to it. The day before the tournament starts the players take their kids as caddies and play a 9 hole, par 3 course. It is fun to watch and yes, there is a lottery to get tickets to that round. Not quite as exclusive as the Masters, but pretty close.
One thing I love about golf are the outfits. Since they don't have uniforms, and they don't get dirty, the players all look nice while they play. I often tell my husband when one of the golfers is having a bad round it is becuse he picked a bad outfit. Yes, it is slow paced, which is perfect for a Sunday afternoon nap. It lulls you to sleep and even the announcers have hushed tones. You can watch one hole or all eighteen but I guarantee you will rest. Not everyone appreciates having a sports announcer following them. Once, I accompanied my husband on a round of golf and pretended to be the sports announcer, describing his every shot with those same hushed tones. For some reason I was never invited back.
While the game is not exactly spiritual I have been amazed at the sheer number of Christian's who play professional golf. It is a game that takes tremendous discipline and steady nerves. It is a game that is deceptive. It seems like it might be easy. Put the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. But that simple premise sounds easier than it actually is. It is not like miniature golf. The greens slope and break differently. There are traps everywhere. Rather than being a reaction start, you have a static start. You can't just roar back and hit it, you have to have your stance right and hit in a way that is unnatural to the body. Wait, maybe it might be just a little bit spiritual, in my walk with the Lord there are traps everywhere. The walk feels unnatural and I cannot trust my instincts. My stance, how I do things and approach my day and life are perhaps just a little like some of the difficulties of golf.
The craziest thing about golf? The Master's winner got over 1 million dollars today. We are used to high pay days in sports but here is the kicker, the men tied for 18th place got over 94,000! I have never seen a sport that rewards losers so generously. It is with great difficulty that one becomes a pro golfer but once you get there the payday isn't bad. Of course the expenses are huge also. The Masters may not be named after God but it always reminds me of my Master.
I love that even the weakest of Saints gets heaven as a reward. I am thankful that even when I fall into a trap that I can ask my Father to pull me out. I don't have to try and hit myself out of it. In fact, that doesn't work too well in my experience. I am grateful God gave us sports. I know I hit on them a little hard in my last post, along with a lot of other things, but that was a crazy moment. I love that God gave us so many good things to enjoy, that He loves us enough to give us blessings and pleasures on earth as well as heaven. He is so good to this child.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Talking to Myself

Last night I was having the strangest conversation with myself. I can always tell when I've had too quiet of a week by how much I talk to myself but that is another subject! It started with me telling myself that I wish drinking were a sin. I don't but I wish I did. I have seen far too many Christian alcoholics in my years. I went on however. I wish that butter, flour, shortening, pasta, heavy cream, cheese and except for small amounts for my tea, sugar were also sinful. Frankly, I am addicted. You may have noticed I did not put chocolate on the list. I think chocolate is good and I get sick when I eat too much of it. I also wish it were against some sort of law to be unkind and that lightening would strike when people tell lies. Not on them, of course, we would all be dead! I wish the computer were never invented. It astonishes me the evil that happens through it. I wish it were sinful to watch television, go to the movies, and be vulgar in music. I wish we could do away with sports and get rid of most school activities. I also, in this conversation, decided that disrespect and anger should also leave. I can't stand what people do to each other and to themselves, especially me. I hate that I get so distracted, by the televison, the computer, a ballgame. I hate that I set my standards so low instead of aiming for the mark God set for me. I hate that I too often worry more about the success of my church rather than the salvation of souls. I want a way to get rid of every distraction and every ugliness that I see. I want a world where children and adults aren't damaged and where I worship God all of the time. I long for heaven, yet live so far from it. I prayed and asked God to forgive all of the wasted time, to set my heart and affections on Him alone. I wanted to say it wouldn't happen again, but could not. I have not written much lately. My heart has been heavy and I want to walk in joy and confidence. Part of me was just kidding about the things I'd get rid of and some of it I was dead serious. I wish my distractions would just vanish instead of just having to deal with them. It would be easier if eating cake were akin to commiting murder. Maybe I could quit or maybe I am just fooling myself. I feel like I love God so much but I see how flawed this love of mine is. I am so glad for new mercies every morning. I am so glad I serve as flawed among the flawed. I am so thankful that God uses the weak because I fit that description. Amazing Grace.