Sunday, October 27, 2013

Struck Down, but Not Destroyed!

It's a drizzly, cold, Sunday afternoon and my heart is heavy.  I'm sad, frustrated, angry, and a million other adjectives I don't want to take the time to type.  Being a christian isn't hard.  Being a christian who wants to impact the Kingdom, is though.  It's one of the toughest things I've ever undergone.

The Lord doesn't promise us it will be easy.  He promises us we will be blessed if we endure.
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor's crown, the life God has promised to those who love him."  James 1:12

It's not the non-believers who frustrate me.  That's like getting angry with a democrat for not being a Republican.  They simply don't know any better :) (I couldn't resist the political metaphor).

The believers are the one's who test my patience, try my soul, and push me to the edge of a veritable insanity.  Why?  In a nutshell, lack of commitment.  Commitment to God and His Body of believers anyway. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I was taught that your word was a sign of your integrity.  If you said you were going to do something, you did it.  Yet I'm perpetually surrounded by people who apparently did not grow up with this same teaching.  Sure they tell me with their mouths that they'll be responsible and dedicated, yet their actions say differently.

The natural man in me wants to grab them around the throat and scream, "You made a commitment.  WHY is it so difficult for you to follow through?  If you didn't honestly want to take on the job, why did you tell me you would?"  But the Still Small Voice encourages me to simply reply, "It's all right if you can't be there.  We will be glad to have you on the days you are available."

And then I walk away, and I'm bitter, and I lash out......or write a blog post :)

So to my believing friends and family who read my blog (all 3 of you), please be in prayer for me.  I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle and I know it's a spiritual battle.  The harder I try to guide my children in the Lord, homeschool because of Godly convictions, and serve in leadership capacities within the church, the more I feel beat down by the devil.  I know I should take heart though.......

.....we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Snap Shots 2013!

Patiently waiting for me to finish getting ready for church so we can leave.

Conned into posing for a few photos before church.  I love the black and white!

My pretty girls!

Love them!

As usual, Autumn had a hard time being serious.
A day at the lake......late summer 2013!

.....because my friend Mary insisted I be IN one of the photos instead of on the other side of the lens.

My favorite person!

Did I mention how much I love these two?!
Chuck doesn't care where we're going, as long as he gets to come too :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not Forsaking the Assembling...

I began attending church when I was about two weeks old.  Yes, you read that correctly, two weeks.  My parents faithfully took me to church each week on Sunday and Wednesday, and pretty much any other time there was anything else going on.  I went to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, GA's (Girls in Action), Acteens (for teen girls), Centrifuge, youth choir, youth play practice, church training (from the time it was called training union), Sunday evening services, Wednesday Prayer meeting, Revival meetings (even once when I was deathly ill with bronchitis - the speaker was THAT captivating), Sunday morning worship service, children's church, visitation, and the list goes on.

I went when I was well and I went when I was mildly sick.  I went in good weather, bad weather, and was even in church on May 18, 1980 when mysterious ash started raining down on us during worship service.  (We would later learn that Mt. St. Helens had erupted on the other side of the state.)  I went when family came to town to visit, I went on holidays, I went on pretty much any day the doors were open.  And they were open a LOT.

I was never allowed to attend Brownies, or Girl Scouts, or play sports because all of those things involved practices, meetings, and games on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Does this make me a better person?  Absolutely NOT.  But it does make me someone who had parents who knew the value of the church and our amazing God, and did not for one second, want me to miss anything that might edify my knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know my mom firmly believed that I could fill my time with things of the world, or I could fill my time with things of the Lord, and in her wisdom, she directed me toward the things of the Lord.  And while I didn't understand it so much as a child, I definitely understand it as a mom.  As a mom, I want nothing more for my children than for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want them to hide God's Word in their hearts, and I want them to know that if they died tonight, Christ is not going to be concerned with how many equations they can solve, how well they can kick a ball, or how proficient they were on the debate team.  He's going to be concerned with their heart.  ".....Man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart" 1 Samuel 16:7.

Nearly 70% of evangelicals walk away from the church after high school and only half return roughly a decade later.  That statistic came from a website I read, however, I have formulated my own ideas as to why it happens:

To put it bluntly, we (Christians) are not making God important.  Ouch!  We're not making him an integral part of our daily lives.  Instead, we're making Him a Sunday or Wednesday thing, if that.  We're making Him convenient when it suits our schedule for school, sports, extra curricular activities, and when Christmas doesn't fall on a Sunday.  Instead of making God our life, we're making Him a part of it, and only a small part at that.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9 instructs us, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."  The Word is telling us to teach our children to know and love God daily, not just when it works for us.

Looking back, I'm so thankful my mom didn't let me miss out on church.  I'm thankful she didn't let me miss out on knowing God.  Just as she didn't let me choose whether or not to go to school, she didn't let me choose whether or not to go to church.  She made church, and having a relationship with Christ, fundamental and integral as part of my upbringing.  What seemed at times as something I HAD to do, became something I long to do.  I want to be in the company of others who believe similarly.  I want to be surrounded by those who will encourage, support, and pray for me, and I want to follow the Word when it says, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhort one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching" Hebrews 10:25.

Will my children always remain in the church?  I don't know.  Will they always long for a relationship with Christ?  I cannot say.  Free will is a powerful choice God equipped us with, and just as we're not His puppets, my children are not my puppets.  I will do everything in my power to instill in them a love for the Lord, and I will continually pray for God to handle the details and draw them to Him.