but of relationships.Nothing, including me, exists by itself—
this is an illusion of words.I
am a relationship, ever
God has opened up so many doors recently; particularly after reconnecting with a friend from long-ago.During a two-hour conversation one night, both of us realized that perception wasn’t necessarily the reality during those bygone days.
Whether a lawyer’s daughter or a preacher’s kid, family dynamics were not always as perceived.During that chat, my friend said she thought I had it all together – “that I was cute, sweet, smart, lived in a lovely home and had great parents, etc.”Things were far from perfect in my house nor were they perfect in hers.We perceived one thing; reality was sometimes another.
It’s the same when I recall another conversation many years before.A brother and sister (two years apart in age), raised in the same home, with the same parents, viewed their upbringing through distinctly different prisms.He perceived one thing; her reality was another.
Family dynamics aren’t always like the Huxtables (Bill Cosby’s show) or Good Times on TV or since we’re much older, not like Father Knows Best or Julia either.There are many combinations.
Some of us may have put on a mask to shield our pain, hurt or discomfort from others, but privately we knew our reality.Some of us have worked through it, although those trying times remain etched in our brains.Someone else’s insecurities created a chasm between us and the person (or persons) who’s supposed to love you unconditionally.And, sometimes, others in the household are either oblivious or feel unempowered to change the circumstances.Or perhaps they’re getting their personal needs met, so the rest isn’t as important.After all, we were mere children…
Sometimes, we acted out or cried out, hoping to get someone to “hear” and validate us, but alas there may not have been a response – either favorable or unfavorable.We somehow persevered despite those difficulties…we found a coping mechanism, hoping that this too, shall pass.
Prayer:God, we are thankful You hear us.When no one else is around, we pray to You, we cry to You and we have risen above those times because You provided the means to do so.You have set many examples before us and we have only to read and heed Your word.
Our burdens are easier to bear because You are there in the midst of everything that we endure.We thank You for the struggles, because we have grown stronger and are closer to You.
Thank You for demonstrating Your unconditional love repeatedly and for reuniting friends from days gone by.We thank You for being there with us every step of the way!Our reality is strong in You!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, September 15, 2010
“I DON’T GET IT”
Two federal appeals courts since 1970 have ruled that "In God We Trust" on our coinage is permissible and does not amount to a government religious endorsement; in 1999, city officials removed the Christian fish symbol from the city seal after the ACLU sued; and, Ohio's motto, "With God, all things are possible," was declared unconstitutional in April, 2006 by the 6th US Court of Appeals. And on March 12, 2010 the United States District Court ruled that it is OK to say “under God” when reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
Is that a little confusing for you, too?I DON’T GET IT.Over half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were graduates of a seminary or a Bible college.They made their intent known when laying the bedrock of our government, yet Christians are still being pushed into the corner when we dare express our public faith.
I DON'T GET IT.But, there are many things about government which baffle me.Of this I am sure, however, it does not require the act of a federal judge or a District Court for me to know with certainty that I CAN TRUST IN GOD, and WITH HIM, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
GospeLines Prayer:Thank you, Lord, that my faith does not require a constitutional amendment to be real and that I don’t need permission from an elected official to pray.Thank you that your omnipotent power is not controlled by congress.And, I thank you that your Son, the everlasting symbol of Christianity, can never be abolished by a vote or the whimsical judgment of a court.Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Thursday, September 16, 2010
United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mark Brown of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command once said: "Our motto is 'until they are home.'‘No man left behind’ is a promise made to every individual who raises his hand."That's one of America's most honorable commitments and a proud military tradition to this day.
Bandleader Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight at a New Year's Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929 and another tradition was born.
Tradition… the word comes from the Greek paradosis, which means giving up or surrendering - surrendering your thoughts and ideas to those dictated by “tradition.”It's interesting that the Greek “para” means beyond and “dosis” means gift - beyond a gift.Since a tradition is a practice or custom that is passed down from generation to generation, it’s easy to understand why it may be seen as something precious - something beyond a simple gift; and therefore, something not to be questioned.
Michael Polanyi (1891 - 1976) was a Hungarian–British philosopher who suggested that we communicate valuable knowledge through tradition, often without conscious awareness of all the factors that influenced the development of those traditions.Traditions are assumed to be correct, unalterable, and deeply important; unfortunately, they may sometimes be rooted in things far less that "factual."
Perhaps that’s why Paul admonished the Colossians to “see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 - NIV)
Also remember that Paul praised the Bereans for receiving his message with great eagerness but then examining the Scriptures every day to see if what he said was true. (Acts 17:11 - NIV)
Should we consider all traditions bad?Heaven forbid!Our traditions are part of our cultures and many times help define the special uniqueness of who we are.However, as Christians, we must be careful - careful not to allow our traditions to become elevated to the level of Scripture.
New Testament believing Christians are not required by God to be circumcised as were Jews under the old law ("For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 - NASB).However, if a Christian chooses to be circumcised (for the sake of tradition) it is not a sin.As Paul said in 1st Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible for me" - but not everything is beneficial."
Circumcision is not forbidden to the Christian; but, it is no longer required.If a man chooses to be circumcised, praise God.If he chooses not to be circumcised, praise God.This is a dictate of tradition only - it is no longer a dictate of God - but following this tradition is not forbidden by God.
Like circumcision, many of the practices of today's Christian are based on tradition rather than any commandment of God.Most of these traditions are wonderful and should absolutely be continued.As said before, they are part of our Christian heritage and help define who we are.
However, failure to properly discern between man's traditions and God's commandments could cause us to give the laws and rules of man (our traditions) equal standing with the Word of God - and that would place us in danger of reaping the promise of plagues described in Revelation 22:18-19.Therefore, we must be like the Bereans and examine the Scriptures every day to make sure we understand the difference between the traditions of men and the commandments of God.Only then can we share the Gospel of our Lord and our wonderful and time honored Christian traditions with the world; because, only then will we be able to rightly divide the Word of truth.
≈ Devotional for Friday, September 17, 2010
Editor’s Note:Little Zachary, two years old, is one of the children our prayer ministry supports.Both of his feet were surgically amputated because he was born with bones missing in both of them, a condition called Fibular Hemimelia.Sharon Manning, known better as Zachary’s Grandmother, has shared a part of their journey.
“Achieving through Suffering”
Guest Writer – Sharon Manning
Have you ever worked so hard you wondered if you could go on? But then when all was done there was that feeling of great satisfaction at what was accomplished and it was worth it all. Wasn’t it?
Camp Elim scheduled Servant Leaders Training just before their 50th Anniversary Celebration.We wanted to get things ready for the hundreds of visitors who would attend, so we were each scheduled to work in certain areas, kitchen/dining room, maintenance, housekeeping, and office.By the end of the week we had training in each area plus sessions in counseling and worship.
Shawn wanted to get certain things done and in place before the big day. Well, this day I worked with the kids in maintenance, Shawn had us shovel piles of dirt into wheelbarrows and move it to an area that needed filling in. It was difficult work! When I was done I felt like I would collapse, and the next day my muscles ached in areas I never experienced before.
But it was so satisfying to level that pile of dirt and to see the results.It made me feel good to see what we had accomplished.
I thought of that experience this morning as I pondered verses in Isaiah and Hebrews, and I saw how it applied to our family and all the struggles we have been through lately.
In Hebrews 12:2 we see that it’s OK not to enjoy a difficult task:“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10
“When HE (JESUS) sees all that is accomplished by HIS anguish, HE will be satisfied. And because of what HE has experienced, MY righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for HE will bear all their sins.” Isaiah 53:11, 12
AMAZING isn’t it… looking ahead at what would be accomplished by HIS anguish JESUS endured suffering, even though HE hated the shame, HE was earning the way and leading and teaching us all at once. So that by one offering, HE could perfect forever those who are being made holy. Since we have to suffer to be made perfect, so HE (the Creator/Sustainer of all) suffered to complete (another meaning of the word perfect in the Greek) HIS work for us.
But as I read those words in Isaiah 53:11, “When HE shall see what was accomplished by HIS suffering HE was satisfied..” what I thought of was how I feel when others write and tell me that Little Zachary’s story, and the struggles Shirley and Richard are having will ultimately help them and encourage them to face the hard things in their own lives.
“All Praise to the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. HE is the source of every mercy and the GOD who comforts us. HE comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort GOD has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Once again we see that our present troubles are achieving eternal things that far outweigh the pain of today and know that we, like JESUS are to look ahead at what the troubles are achieving.”2 Corinthians 4:17.18