Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two Very Different Words

It is very easy in this information age to become calloused to the constant droning of voices we hear reporting the news.  We live in an age of information overload.  I know things about people that I wish I didn't, private things that are splashed on the front of newspapers and magazines, or on teasers for the nightly news.  I know terrifying things that cause my heart to race and cause me to look over my shoulder.  I know nonsense things that aren't really news, but on a slow day anything is game.  And occasionally, we even hear about sweet and wonderful things that make our hearts happy.
These last couple of weeks the word that comes to my mind for the news being reported is SELFISH. The dictionary defines the word selfish as: a person, action or motive lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.  I know most of us can probably conjure up a few names or scenarios right now.  Traveling within the quarantine period after being exposed to a contagious disease?  Not taking measures to contain a problem to the fewest number of people? Misrepresenting the facts to manipulate the public?  Over and over this week my mind keeps asking, "Why?"  "What is really going on?" "Is there anyone with common sense and compassion for people left?"
There is another word that looks similar to SELFISH but has an altogether  different meaning.  The word is SELFLESS.  Selfless is defined as: concerned more with the wishes and needs of others than one's own; unselfish.  I can think of names and scenarios for this word also.  The healthcare workers who were unprepared, but cared for the first Ebola patient in the US, who by the way lied to be able to come here for medical care (selfish).  The airline workers, including flight attendants, pilots, baggage handlers and mechanics who are working on planes that may have transported ill travelers who were cleared by the CDC to travel.  People who are just being faithful to do their jobs, believing that someone, either management or government, is looking out for them.  Unfortunately, and obviously not true,
I have a similar, although much less frightening story from my own life.  When I was in HS I contracted hepatitis.  I was very sick and had to be quarantined.  My family members and co-workers had to take shots to prevent the spread of the disease.  To this day, over thirty have passed, I still warn medical care professionals about my history with hepatitis.  I don't give blood.  I don't get tattoos.  I don't want to do anything that would possible infect another person.  I am blessed that my hepatitis has never converted to Hep C.  Isn't that what I should do?  Isn't that common sense?
God's word is clear on this.  If we say we love God but neglect our neighbor we are a liar.  It also says we must not think too much of ourselves; to treat our neighbor as we would like to be treated.  Today, take a few minutes and pray for those in authority over us.  Pray for those who are directing the decisions being made re: protecting our nation.  It may be your loved one who is exposed.  But regardless of that, pray for God to expose selfish motives in each of us and to change us into selfless believers.   Pray for each of us to speak the truth to each other.  And pray for the health and safety of those who are battling on the front lines.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Decision

Last weekend I ran into a friend and we chatted for a bit. He and his wife were having a difficult time in their marriage and things looked very bleak in the natural.  He spoke some words to me that I carried with me.  He told me that he made a decision to love his wife many years ago and that the situation didn't change that decision.  He may not have the "warm, fuzzies", but he still loves her.  He told me that because of his decision to love, the affection came once, and could come again.  Those words have resonated in my head and my heart.
A couple of days ago a young couple we are friends with asked for prayer for each-other and their marriage.  The past few months had brought many changes in their home and recently they had dealt with more than their share of heartache,  I promised to pray (and did) and encouraged them with the truth that the times they were in would not last; the tough times would be gone, but their family could endure.
This morning during my work commute/prayer time I was able to reflect on the words my friend had spoken and the truth of them in my own life.  My marriage has been a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, and now is like a bench under the shade tree in the amusement park.  Kevin and I have seen the best of times and the worst of times; we have endured, survived and thrived.
Twenty-six years ago we said these words to each-other: have and to hold, forsaking all others, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.  I really thought about those words this morning.  They are powerful.  They are a commitment.  They are not to be taken lightly.  And, sadly, I have never thought about them after I said them till today.  Thankfully, they are still in force.  But it would probably do me good to remember from time to time.
I realized how blessed I am.  Kevin and I made a decision many years ago to marry, though many probably thought we shouldn't, and it has been one of the best decisions of our lives.  Kevin still puts a sparkle in my eye, and he can give me butterflies when he looks at me.  The love that I see in his eyes is priceless.  He makes me feel like a million bucks even on my worst day.  I hope he sees the same love when he looks in my eyes.
We feel that way because we choose to.  We made a decision to love and honor each other.  That decision became the foundation for every other decision in our lives.  We choose to be passionate about each-other.  We each choose to put the other first.  We choose be honest, even when it hurts.  We choose live our lives loving instead of losing.  Because any other way just won't work for us.  We are all or nothing.
Proverbs 18 says he who finds a good wife finds a good thing.  I think the same could be said for she who finds a good husband.  It also says that person finds favor with God.  Wow, a great spouse and favor from God.  You can't beat it.  So glad we made that decision.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Dying Breed

    I think my husband and I are part of a dying breed.  We are Christians who don't drink alcohol. If I would have made that statement ten years ago it would have sounded ridiculous.  Now, not so much.  Sometimes I look around myself and wonder, where am I?  And I realize, like the Bible says, I don't fit in; I don't belong here.
    This has concerned me so much that I spent several months studying and praying and even discussing this with other believers.  I must say, my conversations with others only added to my distress.  I found that I have been totally disillusioned and that many of my friends and colleagues have a very different view of what 'not drinking' is.  When I say Kevin and I don't drink, I mean ever, for any reason.  Not 'when the kids are asleep and the neighbors are out of town', not 'only in the privacy of my own home', not 'when I'm on vacation', not 'only socially'.  None.
    My time studying has taken me all over the Bible.  I had to start my study with an open mind, willing to change my stand if that was what the Word proved to me.  But it wasn't.  The most compelling verses to me were Proverbs 31:4 which says kings and princes should not have wine or strong drink, coupled with Exodus 19:6 which tells me I am part of a kingdom of priests.  The other verses which convinced me to continue abstaining were Titus 2:2, 1 Peter 1:13 and 5:8, which each call us to be sober.  
    My time in prayer was mainly a time of reflection.  A time of remembering my past, and all of the many situations I put myself in with alcohol.  Disastrous decision and lots of heartache.  Oh yes, at first it seemed fun, but somehow it usually ended in tears or angry words or worse.  I can honestly say that most of my worst decisions were made when I drank.  And, not to mention the destruction that alcohol and drugs have played a part in many friends and family.
    I know every argument that people use about why it is okay to drink.  Jesus turned water into wine...if He didn't want us to drink, he wouldn't have made wine.  Breaks my heart, and I bet it breaks His too.  Why can't we see the true miracle in this? Jesus took something common (water) and made it something uncommon (wine).  Or, the miracle of provision, there was a need and it was filled.  But all we see is an opportunity to drink.  And, my other favorite, all things in moderation.  I think how this should be written is, all things I want in moderation.  Sorry, just one's not against the law.  Well, soon smoking pot will probably be legal and same sex marriage also.  Are we going to do that too?  Paul said all things are permissible but not all things are good.  If we use the legal system to decide as believers what is right and wrong we are in big trouble.
        My final, and hopefully most compelling reason, is my ministry.  When God spoke to me about beginning the singles ministry at our Church I know it was a 24 hour a day commitment.  I am not just a small group leader from 9:45-10:45 on Sunday mornings.  I am a get dressed and come to your house at 10 pm on a Thursday night cause you called and were scared and going to have a seizure leader.  My husband is a get on your roof and find your leaks on his Saturday off minister.  We choose to be ready in season and out of season.  Sober and clear-headed.  We believe that is the only way to be a leader.  That is the kind of leader I want to follow.  And I do.   
    You don't hear much preaching any more on living a sober life.  Oh, we are all on the bandwagon of stamping out prescription drug use and meth, but when the rubber meets the road, don't mess with my Saturday night 6 pack or my martini at my business lunch.  We are all for healthy bodies, but my wine after dinner, step back. A cloudy mind is a cloudy mind, no matter what produced it.  A clear mind always knows what it is doing.  My sister-in-law Carol and I had a good discussion about drinking and Christians.  Her words of wisdom: Once you make a decision to drink, it only brings up more questions and decision to make.  When am I going to?  Where am I going to?  Am I going to do it openly, or hide it?  How much?  How about these questions: Why do I even want to?  What good purpose is it  going to serve? Who might get hurt? Is this something I'm bringing into my new life with Christ that is really from my old life without Him?
    I know My thoughts and my convictions are just that, my thoughts and convictions.  Just thought I would share.  Maybe there are a few more of us than I think.  I hope so.