Sunday, June 30, 2013
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:18-21 NIV)
I am at a point in my life where I feel hopeless. There is a goal that I greatly want to attain, but no matter how hard I try for it, I fail miserably. Every time. To overcome my temptation takes more willpower and determination than I possess of myself. Have you ever been there?
Abraham was there.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't make a child happen with Sarah. At one point, they take matters into their own hands, and Abraham has a child with Sarah's handmaid, Hagar--and look at how that changed the course of history forever...
So I've been tempted lately to take matters into my own hands, and traverse the "shortcut" offered by the world. I know that it's wrong, and that it's not a solution, just a further complication. But it's hard to believe, when I'm in the middle of failure that I am what God says I am.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5)
So what am I to do to become an overcomer?
It's time to renew my focus. Not on the problem, but instead on the solution. I know that by God's strength I can overcome. I know that if I put my trust in Him, He will deliver. He has never failed me before.
So why is it so hard to do just what I need to do?
Sunday, April 21, 2013
How is it possible to go to church every Sunday and not see Jesus?
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)
These two people had walked and talked with Jesus before the cross. They knew Him once. They heard of His crucifixion, and had even heard of His resurrection. He was standing right in front of them. And yet, they didn't know Him.
What kept them from recognizing Him?
[Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25)
Lack of faith.
They heard, and yet they didn't believe...much. They sort of believed. Likely, they wanted to believe completely, but reason held them back. So Jesus reasoned with them.
In the World, Satan has perpetuated his lies and made them the standard of intellect. He claims Christianity is not a reasonable faith. And yet it has more evidence to back it up than the "theory" of evolution. Although I am not an apologist, and cannot argue with an atheist nearly as effectively as C.S. Lewis or Ravi Zacharias, I can not hide my head in the sand, either.
How is it possible that someone can work side by side with me everyday and not see Jesus in me?
Am I ready?
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)
Am I actively reading the word?
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
How can I walk the walk and talk the talk if I'm not letting Christ rule in me? Being a nice person is not enough. I have to understand God's purpose in my daily life, in each and every moment. I need to breathe Him in so I can exhale Him out. Only then will people see Jesus in me. Only then can I give the reason for my hope by the words He gives to me. And I'm not talking about beating people over the head with my faith. I'd hope that anyone who knows me would know that I wouldn't do that. BUT I'd also hope that they know that I am a follower of Jesus.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
For a Christian, writing novels is like teaching Sunday school—the writer or teacher always learns more than the reader or student.
What I learned while writing my latest novel is that in order to fully enjoy the plans God has for us, we need to first go through a sort of funeral.
I can hear the gasps. Please let’s not talk about funerals. Let’s talk weddings instead, which are so much nicer. Here in the west our brides wear white, while in the east they wear other colors to show their joy, usually red. The color white in eastern cultures is for wearing to funerals.
Yet, people around the globe want the same thing—to experience the joy which weddings bring.
As a Christian, I’m looking forward to when Christ calls His followers home and we have that grand wedding celebration when the Son of God claims His bride, the church.
But in order to fully enjoy that wedding we need a funeral first.
Oswald Chambers in the devotional book My Utmost for His Highest explains that as Christians we must have a sort of funeral for our life, our ambitions, our plans. We must wear the metaphoric white funeral garments. Once our life is dead and buried, we can allow Christ to live His life through us. But can we trust God to give us joy when we give up our dreams, and say “Thy Will be Done?”
What if He asks me to give up the work that I really love, like my writing career, and do something else? Gasp, what if He wants to send me to the mission field or a life of singleness?
What I’ve been learning—and sometimes the hard way—is that we can trust God’s plans. He will use our lives for His glory in more marvelous ways than anything we could ever devise. Even if it hurts for a while. Even if we have to put our preferred work on the shelf to obey the Lord’s schedule for our day.
You might be surprised after your funeral what God will do in your life. You may find to your surprise that dying to your dreams may eventually become a dream-come-true.
Romans 6:4 “Buried with Him…that…even so we also should walk in newness of live.”
Christine Lindsay writes historical inspirational novels with strong love stories, but she doesn’t classify them as straight romances. Nor does she shy away from difficult topics such as spousal abuse in her debut novel, Shadowed in Silk, or the sex trade in Southeast Asia in Captured by Moonlight. Christine takes pride in her Irish roots. Her great grandfather and grandfather worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard. One of the ships her ancestors helped build was the Titanic. On her mother’s side it was stories of ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India that seeded Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj and became the stimulus for her Twilight of the British Raj series. The Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle, is Christine’s home where she lives with her husband, David, and they enjoy the visits from their adult children and grandchildren.
To keep updated on Christine, check her website: ChristineLindsay.com
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
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It's hard not to get caught up in all the rules when you start out and make a commitment to follow God more closely. It's hard not become a Martha, and get caught up in the work rather than being still.
Be still, and know that I am God... (Psalm 46:10 NIV)
I understand the weight that Martha puts on her work. It is important to her. It becomes her identity. She's not lazy, and doesn't want to be a freeloader. So she works. But when she falls short, she feels like a failure.
But God doesn't see things this way. He wants us to become Marys, not Marthas. We are to focus first on our relationship with Him. He is our identity. And the rest will fall into place. We cannot rush it.
Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:30 NIV)
What we accomplish is to come one step at a time. One minute of prayer at a time. One denial of temptation at a time. One word of Bible study at a time. Each step is a step toward the increase we need to take possession of God's promise.
Each step counts.
Monday, April 8, 2013
|Photo: © Jsternig | Dreamstime Stock Photos &Stock Free Images|
God has never done things the way I want Him to. He doesn't come when I snap my fingers. He doesn't let me have candy for breakfast, and He doesn't let me skip brushing my teeth before going to bed. Does this make Him a bad parent? Quite the opposite. He doesn't want spoiled, lazy disrespectful, self-destructive children. He wants the best for us, so we can be at our best.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:14 (NIV)
But He will help us work toward our goals by giving us the means of escape when temptation comes. The strength to defeat our enemy when he comes to tell us we'll never make it and may as well give up.
Do not listen to the liar, no matter how loud he shouts. Instead focus on the still small voice.
He loves you anyway.
He will never leave you or forsake you.
You can do this.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Walking through a valley, shadows on both sides
Surrounded by so many lost, confused, fear-filled lives
Faces downcast, forward moving as cattle, no one behind with a prod
Why do we continue forward without purpose, doesn't anyone find it odd?
Then I looked up and saw ahead a man determined to go the other way
He smiled and tried to convince others to listen to what he had to say.
No one seemed to listen or care. "Everyone else continues on this path,
Why should I change? Why ruffle feathers? It works for all the rest!" They ask.
As I near him I see he is dealing with pushes, grunts and bumps from the crowd
They curse him, step on his toes, but he continues against them, never crying aloud.
He still tells them all: "You’re going the wrong way, LOOK!" pointing to behind
but no one looks the way he’s pointing, ignoring, saying he’s out of his mind.
Curious to know what’s going on, I look ahead to see the familiar dark
But isn’t this the way life is supposed to be, don’t we always have to work hard?
How hard are we really even working, going with the crowd, carrying our load
I looked at those other men empty handed, only fighting against the flow.
I looked around and saw a few others who were also doing the same
fighting the flow, no burden, against the crowd with a common aim.
It did seem more difficult to fight against the crowd, angering others, and yet
they were smiling, happy, carefree, fighting for something they had to get.
So I, curiosity peaked, decided to stop and turn to look in the other direction
but shoves, curses, hatred, and glares from the crowd met my hesitation.
I went forward again, a few more steps, deciding my next move,
Should I try again or just forget it, and stay in this same groove.
I looked again at those fighting and saw them struggling, getting knocked down,
but getting up again, staying the course, committed to never turning around.
I stopped again, and was met with the same shoves and curses, but I turned anyway
And looked. A light shined so bright compared to the dark that was the other way.
I sheilded my eyes and blinked, squinting to see a man who simply said "Come!"
"Let go of your burden, this is the right way, do not choose the other one."
Pushed and shoved, sworn at, "Turn around!" somone yelled, "Keep Going!"
Suddenly my burden felt heavier, and I needed to catch myself from falling.
Decisions to make, I must make a choice. What if I turn back?
Will I ever find the strength to turn again this direction with power that I lack?
I see again the faces of those heading for the light, Joy and Happiness even though
they struggle, for they didn’t seem to mind fighting against this status quo;
Then the anger, the despair of the ones who continued to carry their load.
Even though there were two kinds of people, two directions, there was just one road.
Then I met one of the light finders on the path who spoke to me as I listened
There was so much joy as he walked with me backward and explained
a story of love so incredible, unbelievable, it was just so much to take in
There was a God in heaven, it’s true, who made a way to reconcile my sin.
God who is perfect and cannot stand our wrong way sent Jesus his son to earth,
To be born in a small town, lowly and in a manger, the miracle of a virgin birth.
Healer of the sick, casting out demons, teaching the way, the truth, the abundant life
After a three year ministry, gave his servant life as God’s only acceptable sacrifice.
But he didn’t stay in the grave, to the dismay of the enemy, his story did not end.
After 3 days he returned to his people, proving life everlasting to all who are his friend.
What an amazing story, IF it were true, what action should be taken, should be done?
To accept relief from the burden, accept the gift everlasting from God, the only one.
I felt the urgency and had to turn, let go of my life and follow the direction of the voice
knowing it was true, all of these things, believing there was no other choice.
I would make my decision without looking back, no regrets, I was ready to fight
the opposition, knowing it would be worth it, deciding what I’m doing is right.
So I stopped again and dropped my burden, again met with taunts and shouts.
I ran against them hearing his voice, knowing this was the right and only way out.
I called to the others, shouting what I’d heard the other men say:
"Your heading the wrong direction, just trust me and look, this is the right way!"
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Seeing is believing. We’ve all heard the saying. But as with most twisting of truth that Satan plays on us, this is another lie. Our eyes often play tricks on us, so that what we believe to be true based on what we’ve seen could be false. In psychology, they have several eye “tricks” like the one in the picture here.
In this figure both the lines are the same length (81 pixels) but the bottom one appears longer because of the way the brackets are placed on the sides. This is an example of how what you see does not always prove that what you believe is true.
If you saw a fellow coworker searching the drawers of the boss’ desk when they were out, what would you believe to be true? Is the coworker a thief? Playing a practical joke? Or maybe getting something the boss asked her to get? Seeing does not prove anything, often it’s the interior motives that provide the truth of what is actually going on.
In Luke 11, the crowd grew around Jesus, wanting for a miracle or some sign that Jesus was who He said He was. He answered: “Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles.” (Luke 11:29 MSG)
How often do we look for proof that God is who He says he is before we’re ready to believe?
In John 20, Thomas had said that he would not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead until he’d seen and put his fingers in the scars of Jesus hand. After seeing, Thomas believed, but Jesus said “Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
Believing is seeing. The act of believing is an interior motive. It is what causes something to be true or false at least in our own minds. Jesus said in Mattew 21, “And whatever you ask for in prayer having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.” Are we supposed to believe that we got what we ask for before we get it or after? What would be the point in believing after?
So what are we believing about our God? Are we in a season of prayer right now, waiting for a miracle, but not sure if we’ll get it? Do we not believe in His goodness without seeing it? If we believe that God is good and that He wants our best, shouldn’t we believe he’ll give it to us?
“For we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor 5:7 HCSB)
God wants us to obey in faith, rather than waiting for a sign from Heaven. If you know that God would want you to do something (go on a missions trip, give more money to the church, volunteer in the nursery), don’t wait for a sign before you obey, before you “walk” in it. Prayerfully approach the project and if you believe it is what God wants you to do, do it. I’m sure you will “see” the results.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
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If you have to see before you believe, than you can’t call that faith. Faith is given before the event takes place, every time. You have faith that the sun will set tonight. You have faith that the chair you’re sitting in will hold your weight until you stand up again.
If your child comes to you in the morning and asks you to take them to the store, and you tell him that you will later, will your child have “faith” that you will take him?
If he went around the house all day depressed and saying, “Mom’s never going to take me to the store, why did I bother asking her?” Wouldn’t that show a lack of faith. Or if your child said, “Mom, I don’t believe you’ll take me to the store, will you take me now?” How would these two responses make you feel? Wouldn’t you want to make their belief a reality and not take them to the store because of their lack of faith in you, responding, “Well, I was going to take you to the store, but now I’m not.”
Now what if the child had faith in you and waited patiently? While he was waiting, he cleaned his room and mowed the lawn – walked by faith, showing obedience to the things he knew you wanted him to do, even if you didn’t ask. What if, even more so, he stopped in the kitchen just to tell you he loved you, and thank you for being willing to take him to the store. I know if that were my child, I might just give him a little extra money when I took him to the store, and I’d be more likely to take him to the store sooner as well.
So the question is: how is our response? When we ask God for something, are we walking in faith or are we murmuring and complaining? Do we thank God, or do we keep bugging him with our unbelief? Are we waiting to see what we ask for before we believe we’ll get it, or are we believing before we see?