Saturday, February 24, 2018

Why Did God Do That?

This is a reprint of a blog post from Putting on the New, a group blog I post to every 20th of the month. But I just wanted to share this with those of you readers here as well. 

Working in a high school, last week’s topic was all about the tragedy in Florida. The kids talked about it. The administration called meetings about it. And we all thought about it.

It was interesting to listen to the students and even adults talk about their feelings. Naturally, you tend to hear the classic: Why did God do that? Or, Why did God allow that? Or, How can a loving God allow bad things like that to happen?

My pastor/hubby addressed this in his sermon on Sunday. There was a particular statement that stood out to me: God gets blamed for people making wrong choices or decisions.

This is true! We all have freedom to choose good or bad. Because there are those people who don’t follow God and choose evil, bad things happen.

God didn’t cause that young man to go into that school and shoot people, but He did allow it. Why? Again, we are given the freedom to choose right from wrong. And there are people who follow an evil path, prodded by the devil.

Yeah, some would say because I said that the devil prodded the young man on, I am crazy. But the devil is said to be one to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants nothing more than for someone to go against God. This is satan’s whole mission.

Even when someone does such an evil act, God picks up the pieces for His children.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Precious sisters and brothers in Christ, we live in a fallen world. But we have hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We may have to endure trials and tragedies, but God can bring good from it for His children. And ultimately, we know we have the hope of glory – heaven awaits us. And the devil already knows his destiny too. He loses. But we win!

So don’t be discouraged and think God doesn’t care. He loves us with an everlasting love. Don’t blame Him for the evil done by people. But do count on Him to comfort and be near and bring something good from it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Way

This week I finished the Nancy DeMoss book called Surrender. Here's some things that stuck out to me.

"Jesus said: 'Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?'" Luke 6:46

"In other words: Why do you claim that I am in charge of your life but you run your life as if you were in charge? You don't ask me what I want you to do, and even when you know what I want you to do, you still insist on doing it your way!"

OUCH! Anybody else get their toes stomped on with those two quotes?

Ultimately and in many instances, I do allow Jesus have to control. But there are those times when I pull back a bit. It's like I don't fully trust that He has the best for me and what is in my best interest.

Suppose His best for me right now isn't comfortable? I might need to go through a trial of some sort to learn the next lesson He has for me. However, in my humanness I would prefer to avoid that which might cause me any kind of pain or uncomfortable feeling.

As I typed those words, admitting them, I realize just how pouty that sounds. Jesus endured much for me in the areas of pain and uncomfortable moments. I will never have to endure anything close to what He did for me.

And yet, here I am still holding back sometimes like I could "test" and see if I really want to jump all the way into surrender. Nope, that ain't it. Yes, I just said ain't.

DeMoss says, "the will of God is exactly what we would choose if we knew what God knows." But I don't know. That's where the trust and faith come in.

Surrender is bowing the knee to God. Not compromising or holding back. Giving Him all of me.

Praying that God will help with total surrender to Him and His way.

How about you? Do you find yourself hesitant or resist in some ways? Share in the comments. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Trust or Tyranny?

Here's the newest hit-me-between-the-eyes quote from DeMoss' Surrender book:

"Trust the promises of God or live under the tyranny of that which you will not surrender."

DeMoss states that God wants us to experience provision, pleasure, protection, and personal relationships - but these are to be sought in Him.

The author also states that God doesn't want us to settle for substitutes for the real thing.

My dear friends, I so want to be able to get the real things when it comes to these areas of my life. But my trust wanes sometimes.

PROVISION - Will He give me things I think I need? Will He provide the way I want?

PLEASURE - Will He let me enjoy the things I want to? Will He make me give up things I don't want to?

PROTECTION - Will He allow sickness into my life or the lives of those I love? How is that protection?

PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS - Will He make me pray His total will be done in the lives of my family?

Did you see how often the word me appears? Yep, that was an eye opener when I reviewed what I just typed. But it is so true. If I hold on to control of these things, they will end up controlling me. These things can also drive a wedge between me and God. This is the whole point - to be closer to Him and give Him all the control.

The heart of the matter truly is: Can I trust God? Will I trust God?

My "head" answer and the expected one is, "Of course, I trust God." But the proof isn't in saying it. The proof is daily trusting Him in all areas. Yeah, that's full surrender.

Oh, precious sisters and brothers in Christ, I'm still working on it, but I don't want to settle for anything less than His real thing.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Daily Surrender and Sacrifice

"Our initial surrender to Christ was the launching pad for a lifetime of continual surrender and sacrifice. Now on a daily basis we are called to live that out by responding to various circumstances and choices in obedience and surrender to His will."

"Realizing that every act of obedience is significant in God's economy and that it is all for Him will add a sense of purpose and joy as we bring our sacrifices and offerings."

I think I've often felt that on the day I was saved that was my surrender, but that was just the initial surrender in a lifetime commitment to continue this action.

Daily I have to decide to obey His leading. There are times I yank back that control in my ignorance. This might be a momentary feeling that I know what needs to be done next. Or sometimes this is a reaction of fear about what God might call on me to do or say or be.

However, when I successfully stay in a posture of surrender to His will, there is a sense of purpose and even joy.

Specifically I feel God would want me to:
Give my best at my job, working as unto the Lord.
Shine His light in the darkness, being salt and light.
Be sensitive to the Spirit in me and what He might urge me to do, say, or act.
Just love, seeing others as Christ sees them - worth it.

Here are the roadblocks I have to be careful of:
Nobody cares if I do a good job. Why should I try?
I'm just one person. What good is my little light?
Others won't respect what I might say or do?
"Those" people are hard to love.

Lord, help me bust through the roadblocks to do what You would have me to do.

What has God called you to do or say? Have you held back?

(Quotes from Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Bond-Slave

This week in the Surrender book by Nancy DeMoss, she talks about a bond-slave.

Bond-slaves were described in the Old Testament.

"This was the act of a man who voluntarily said to someone he had come to know and love and trust, 'I am yours - I belong to you, and I want to spend the rest of my life fulfilling your wishes.'"

DeMoss goes on to say that though this bond-slave relationship is spelled out, there are no recorded instances of one who surrendered to this.

Isn't that interesting? God spelled out in the law how a slave could do this voluntarily when it was time for him to be freed. But there are no known bond-slaves recorded. No one was willing to surrender to this lifetime of serving their master.

However, I don't think we could truly understand what a bond-slave looked like until we had an example. This is what Jesus did. He was a bond-slave to the Father.

After Jesus set the example, Paul and Peter both wrote about being bond-slaves to Christ. How often we read Paul's words in which he says things like he is no longer his own.

Leonard Ravenhill wrote:

"Lord, engage my heart today
with a passion that will not pass away.
Now torch it with Thy holy fire
that nevermore shall earth's desire
invade or quench the heaven born power.
I would be trapped within Thy holy will,
Thine every holy purpose to fulfill,
that every effort of my life
shall bring rapturous praise to my eternal King.
I pledge from this day to the grave
to be Thine own, unquestioning slave.
Lord, grant that this prayer shall be our own. Amen.

The more I read through Ravenhill's words, the more meaning I see.

How I want to be able to wholeheartedly say the same, which exudes full surrender.

What thoughts do you have on being a bond-slave and on Ravenhill's soliloquy of surrender?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

My Surrender to the Stomach Bug

Oh boy! Can you say, I got run over by a truck? This is the reality I've lived during a big portion of this past week.

Having worked in Pre-K for four and a half years and still working with germy high school kids, I have a pretty tough immune system. I don't normally succumb to the illnesses around me. But this time the stomach bug must have found that one weak spot.

But you know, laying in the bed, not feeling like getting up because of lack of energy, can teach you a lot about surrender.

As you know if you follow this blog, that's my word for this year - SURRENDERED.

For those of you who just rolled your eyes and shook your head, whispering under your breath, "Is she crazy or something?" - I didn't choose this word for myself. God impressed this word upon me for days and I finally had to do my first act of surrender.

There are things we don't have control over "surrendering" to, like stomach bugs, or what family you're born into, or what you look like and who you are. I mean, I had to basically surrender in defeat to this stomach bug. I had no choice. I felt awful and basically couldn't get out of bed for a couple of days. There was no use in fighting and saying, "You won't get me down." I was down for the count.

Then there's the issue of the family you're born into and the person you are. You may as well surrender to those things because "it is what it is" - to use one of my hubby's favorite quotes. But don't we sometimes still balk at these things like we could change it?

Now on the other hand, there are things we can choose to surrender to or not. We can surrender to self pity, bitterness, or even anger. Yes, because all of these are choices.

We can also surrender to peace and you know where that comes from? God. But to have peace means to unconditionally surrender to Him.

In most wars and battles one side is called upon to surrender so peace can come.

Guess what? We're in a battle. God calls on us to surrender to Him and His will and then we can have His peace.

In Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss she says, "Our initial surrender must be followed by an ongoing process of working out the reality of our surrender in practical, day-to-day ways."

With my stomach bug, I had to succumb to resting and doing what I needed to get over it. I couldn't defy it and keep going. Nope. I had to surrender to what I needed to do to get better.

Sometimes in this day-to-day surrender with God, I have to be willing to do the same. He might call me to surrender to a new job or a new attitude. These are things I have to surrender to and then work through what that means.

Well, I have now conquered the stomach bug, but the daily surrendered thing? Yeah, that's gonna take a little bit more work. Good thing God gave me this whole year to study it. I think I'm gonna need it.

Do you struggle with surrendering all unconditionally to God? Share.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gotta Be Ready

Have you heard that verse quoted? You know the one about being ready in season or out of season, being ready to always give an answer as to where our hope comes from.

That message reached out and grabbed me this week at school.

The students were working on a community service project, making blankets for the animal shelter. They were sitting in small groups working and just chatting. I was reading, still available for my hard of hearing student, in the event she needed sign for communicating.

All of the sudden I hear them discussing religion and God. I sat up especially straight when one young man said, "Well, the way I see it, all the religions will eventually lead to God or heaven or whatever." Some of the others agreed or posed other questions. I was biting my tongue, feeling they would never think to ask my opinion.

Then the young man looked at me and said, "Mrs. Mowery, what do you think?"

My heart skipped a beat. My philosophy is that if a student asks me about religion or God or my spiritual life, I will answer. I don't force my opinion in and am not supposed to, but if I'm asked, then I go for it.

I heaved a deep breath and started with, "Now, I have an answer. But let me warn you that my husband is a pastor and I am a Christian." They urged me on with nods.

I proceeded right there in the middle of the computer classroom to tell them that not all religions and beliefs lead to heaven or God. I clearly stated that the Bible says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. That means believing that He died for my sins, accepting Him, and living for Him.

One young lady said, "So, those other religions will mean those people go to hell?"

I had to chuckle under my breath. She didn't pull any punches.

I answered, "The only way that God made for us to go to heaven is through His Son which He provided out of His great love for us. Since that is the only way God says we can go to heaven then any other route won't lead there. So, yes, I believe that anyone who doesn't follow God's way will go to hell."

Heavy stuff for freshmen computer class that day. But I was just glad that they were searching and willing to hear what someone else said.

One of the young ladies was wearing a necklace with a cross on it. She stated some things about Jesus. I didn't get to ask her, but I think she actually mentioned going to church.

Oh my! If she is still that confused about God and eternity, I gotta get busy!

I want to give a warning that I have given to my couples Sunday school class: Don't assume because you bring your kids to church that they "get it." There's more to it. We as parents have to be more intentional about making sure our kids understand what they're hearing at church. We have to support it at home and live it out in front of them, so they'll know for sure what Jesus has done for them.

Though I'm a bit nervous, I hope for more opportunities to speak into these young lives. In just three more years, these young people will be venturing into the world to become the next leaders and parents. I want them to know the Truth.

Have you had an instance where God has nudged you into talking about your faith? When and where?