September 27, 2010

The Much Requirements – Part I

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required…” Luke 12:48b (NASB)

I love a good movie. I love a good line from a good movie. Sometimes I love a good line from a bad movie! Good lines – make me think. One of my favorites, and I have so many of them, is from the movie “Ever After.”

In case you are unfamiliar with this particular flick, Drew Barrymore plays a “Cinderella” character, complete with wicked step-mom, who falls for Prince Charming. Go figure! Only in this version of the famous fairy tale, Prince Charming isn’t feeling so charmed about get married and taking over the kingdom from Dad, who really just wants to retire.

However, wisdom eventually prevails when the Prince is reminded of his position in life and that “with great power comes great responsibility.” I have to wonder if someone read Luke chapter 12 when they wrote this part of the script. Luke 12:48 tells us to whom much is given, much is required.

I did some serious thinking on that verse yesterday morning as I put the final touches on our Sunday morning Bible study lesson. I am still thinking about it because I believe God placed a new thought in my heart – at least new for me.

You see, I wonder how many of us think that we’ve not been given much, so our responsibilities are few. I wonder where we are looking to arrive at that conclusion. Are we contemplating our spiritual gifts or lack of them? Are we reviewing our checkbook to see if we’ve been given much? What would you look at in your life to answer the question, “Have you been given much?”

Let me offer you this: Each one of you have been given MUCH if you are a believer in Christ. You see, God gave Christ as a substitute for your (and mine) death in payment of your sin. Actually, God did this in behalf of the entire world’s population, past – present – future. In my book and God’s book – it is a done deal. Christ gave His all.

Now there are those who refuse to believe that and refuse to accept that marvelous work of grace in their behalf. Since God will not force Himself on anyone – although His desire is for everyone (II Peter 3:9), God cannot “give” them what they will not receive, therefore little is required of them.

However, to those of us who have accepted Christ and the work performed on our behalf, we have been given much. If we have nothing else in life, no job, no home, no bank account, we still have been given much!

Will you take this week and truly immerse your heart, mind and soul in the “much” you’ve been given? Next week, we’ll talk about the requirements.

Love you much,
Barbara

September 22, 2010

The Time is NOW!

“This is the day [Now is the time] the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (NIV) [reword mine]

Who knew I could learn something from Dr. Oz! While, I love certain television shows and don’t mind admitting to it, I am not a big daytime watcher of TV. I don’t watch soaps and I don’t watch Oprah or Dr. Phil. But last week, I backslid and watched Dr. Oz.

Now, it’s not that I’ve never seen these shows at all. I have, in tidbits, and only once in a blue moon. However life is full of exceptions. Last week was one of them.

What caught my attention were the promo’s telling me Dr. Oz was going to reveal the best time to cheat on my diet (Okay, so what diet!) and the best time to avoid dying. That got my attention, so I tuned in.

His information was based on a study called Biochronic’s – in my own words, a study of the body and its internal time clock. Apparently there are certain times of the day/week that are better than others to do stuff because of our body’s makeup and biological clock. Apparently, no one informed Doc Oz that my biological clock was a cuckoo! But I digress.

I know you are waiting with baited breath to hear what I learned so here are a few points worth mentioning, the best time to:

• Fight with your spouse is 8:00am
• To pay bills is 10:00am
• To exercise is 7:00am
• To vacuum is 4:00pm
• To get a flu shot is 11:00am
• To visit your dentist is 2:00pm

The best day to:

• Start is diet is Saturday
• Stop a bad habit is Friday
• Buy fish is Tuesday mornings
• Buy vegetables is Wednesday
• To boost brain power is Sunday

This is all very interesting information. The show aired last week (I think Sept 16) so maybe you can find a copy of it for more interesting factoids.

But did you know that we all have a spiritual time clock of sorts? Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that there is an appointed time for everything under heaven. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, we are told God created everything appropriate in its time and has also set eternity in our hearts.

So I present to you the following, regardless of whatever is happening in your life right now that today is the time to rejoice. “This is the day” that God made and we are to rejoice and be glad in it! But today is also the day of something else.

If you have never surrendered your heart to Christ so you can rejoice and be glad in today or any other day, your time is now. I believe the only limitations that God faces in working in your life and mine, are the ones we imposed upon Him. If you are not a “born again” believer – you have placed one of the biggest limitations on God that is possible: rejection.

Dear friends, I know I might be “preaching to the choir.” BUT if there is even one out there who doesn’t know the saving grace of Christ, I do not want to be guilty of withholding such valuable information. Or perhaps you know someone who needs to hear this today. I am always available to anyone wants to talk. I leave you with this:

“For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” II Cor. 6:2 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

Knowing He makes all things beautiful in His time, He did with me!
Barbara

Asking Jesus in come into your life is as easy as A,B,C:
A – Admit your sin (bad stuff) (Romans 3:23 and 6:23)
B – Believe in Jesus and His power (John 3:16 – all who truly believe will be saved)
C – Confess your belief and starting living a brand new life (Romans 10:9-13)

September 13, 2010

Finding God

"To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! .... So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He shall be gracious to us."  Psalm 123:1-2b

I have discovered a particular kind of computer game called Hidden Object games. When I can’t sleep or have a few spare minutes, I’ll pull one up. I tell myself I am sharpening my cognitive skills. Well, it could happen!

The last game I played involved maneuvering through a castle, locating certain objects to restore time and save the world and I don’t have to kill anyone to do it. The game included some crafty puzzles to solve for clues. The largest part of the game centered on different levels of finding hidden objects.

For example, I’d walk into one room and it would be full of stuff. The items weren’t related and purposely difficult to find. (I am sure you’ve played this kind of game before.) A list would appear and I would begin to locate all the items on the list.

I can be pretty good finding stuff most of the time. However, on occasion I had to use at least one computer hint to find one particularly well hidden object. Well, so much for sharpening my cognitive skills, because the hint always revealed the object right in front of my face. It was a case of not seeing the forest for all the trees, or in my case, stuff!

Now hold that thought and let me share two others. Earlier this year I was at a Women’s Retreat where I ran into a very sweet Christian woman. She was a former Muslim with a daughter still in a Middle Eastern country. Her son died fighting in Afghanistan. She was so excited to be a believer and had no problem sharing her faith with great enthusiasm. Yet, she was quick to offer her thought that women in American were spoiled. I had to admit she was right. We have so much stuff available to us that we take for granted.

Fast forward to this past Sunday where Kay, our fearless teacher, was sharing about a spiritual retreat she attended. During the retreat, a certain woman shared about a missionary journey she’d previously made. This woman, who lived a blessed and comfortable life, takes an overseas missionary trip every year. Her most recent trip proved very exciting as she joined a group of village people living in small huts with hardly the most barest of necessities. Yet, they joyfully received the message of Christ. When it was time for the missionary woman to return home one of the village women told her that while they were so excited that she had come to speak to them, they also felt sorry for her as she returned home.

Obviously, these were odd parting words to a person who came to share eternal life with them. When the missionary woman asked, why they would want to feel sorry for her, the village woman replied, “It must be so hard to find God with all your stuff.”

Stuff! We all have stuff and you know something, I think the village woman has a point. We have stuff and more stuff. Dare I say we are stuffed with stuff! We are so dependent on our stuff. We couldn’t imagine living without our stuff. We think our stuff will solve all our problems, or does it only create them? How often does God get lost, like a hidden object, in all our stuff?

What’s worse, we are happy to live like that! After all, we do have God – we’ve just put Him up with all our other stuff. But let us need Him to save our world, and we can’t even see Him for all our stuff!

Now there is a flip side to this “stuff” coin. Yes, we have material stuff but we also have mental stuff. Maybe today, your stuff is your circumstances. You have too many burdens, too many worries and too many uncertainties. There are too many issues to think about and worry over. God can get lost in that kind of stuff as well.

Here is some closing stuff. Sometimes, when I want to save something important – I try to put it in safe place. Unfortunately, I usually forget where that safe place is and my stuff becomes a hidden object. With all that said, I have learned that the most important things I need in life in plain sight – where I can keep my eyes on it or HIM! This brings us to an important question to ask ourselves, “Has God become just another hidden object in all our stuff or is He the object that transcends all of our stuff?”

Overstuffed, but trying to declutter,
Barbara

September 05, 2010

Prayer: Your Forever Floatation Device

“The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and His song will be with in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8 (NASB)

Bobby and I have a very special friend. Actually we have many very special friends. But John is more than just a special friend. Today, John is a special friend with special needs. John has recently been diagnosed with cancer. He is also smart enough and in-tune enough with his Savior to know he needs prayers. Lots of prayers. So I am asking you to pray for John.

Now John is not the only special needs person out there. Maybe you too, are a cancer patient. Maybe you are a depression sufferer. Perhaps you are wearing the label of divorce or death of a loved one. Job loss. Financial struggler. Dare I say we are all people of special needs carrying the burden of some sort of “cancer?” If you are not today, then count yourself blessed and get ready – it could be your turn next.

I say this not to strike terror into anyone hearts, because God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind. (Refer to II Tim. 1:7) It is more a call to prayer.

Now back to John. Our faithful friend has starting using a blog as an outlet for emotions and a way to communicate to all his friends. This is good because I know it can get tiresome to repeat details to everyone all day long. Writing as outlet for emotions is good as well. I highly recommend this method of therapy! (Can you guess why?)

But therapy for us often turns into therapy or encouragement for others. So I asked John for permission to share his website with you. He granted it not because John wishes to draw attention to him although I know he’ll gladly accept your prayers. But John wants to draw attention to God, in hopes this might help to someone else.

The site is: www.caringbridge.org/visit/johntalbert and you can set up a sign in and read John’s postings. Perhaps you want to share this with a friend going through a cancer in life. I have taken the liberty of copying his last post for you today. It will explain today’s message title:

• Thursday, September 2, 2010 8:04 AM, MDT by John Talbert, Denver CO

Today, I read Psalms 42 and 43. I love the way the Psalms show how prayer works in the gamut of human emotion—all the ups and downs of life. These two Psalms are tied together and reflect someone who is struggling with depression.

I am no professional counselor, so I am not up on technical definitions, but honestly, over the past several weeks I can say that I have not experienced depression. Now, I want to be clear: I have been down AT TIMES. I have been angry. I have been frustrated. I have cried out to God, “I just can’t do this.” But depression, I don’t think so.

Why? It is certainly nothing that I can take credit for because I am a prime candidate for it. I have struggled with depression in various forms throughout my life, but not now. Here is the reason why: the power of God at work through the prayers of God’s people.

And I have felt, literally and actually felt, the prayers of God’s people through all of this. It started in earnest before my first biopsy. I remember thinking, “This is scary. I could have cancer. My doctor and the surgeon are telling me I probably do. What if I do? Oh, no . . .” And I remember feeling that I was heading on a fast track down in the dumps, but Someone stopped me.

Here is the analogy that comes to mind: it feels as if I am floating on the top of water in a swimming pool on one of those inflatable cushions. When you lie on one of those, and one of your friends tries to push you down under the water level, they can do it, but only for a little while. Why? I believe you call it BUOYANCY.

The definition of buoyancy in Wikipedia (it is on the World Wide Web so it has to be accurate, right?): “an upward acting force, caused by fluid pressure, that opposes an object’s weight.” It goes on to say, “If the object is either less dense than the liquid or shaped appropriately (as in a boat) the force can keep the object afloat.”

OK, so there you go. Prayer is God’s UPWARD ACTING FORCE! As God’s people were praying for me, I simply did not, could not, and will not go under for good. He doesn’t allow it to happen.

When you add in the fact that as believers, we are less dense—Jesus lives in us—and we are shaped appropriately—we are in Christ--you can’t be in a better position! Right? Add those two huge things together and you get spiritual buoyancy.

Again, all of us are human. This doesn’t mean that you don’t go under. It just means that with prayer and Jesus, you don’t stay there.

And, in fact, the lower you go, the faster you shoot up because of upward acting forces. Try to push a beach ball far under the water and you will see what I mean. It shoots up out of the water with great force.

I am learning that this upward acting force is always more powerful than any weight—including cancer and all the scary unknowns that go with it--that tries to push me down.

This is reflected in the refrain of these two Psalms. It is repeated three times so it must be significant, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 43:5. I'm excited to see God's "upward acting forces" work today.  (end of John's entry.)

Me too John! We love you and are praying for you. – Barbara & Bob

September 01, 2010

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

“A time to give birth and a time to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2a (NASB)

Of course, you recognize the song made popular by Chicago, the group not the city, more years ago than I will bring to mind. I often forget to put on my watch, so there are times – I haven’t a clue what time it is. Time-it’s an interesting thing when you really stop to think about it. But who stops anymore to think about time, other than how much of it we don’t have.

Twenty years ago last week, I accompanied my then fiancĂ© Bobby Gobbs, to Montana. He was taking me home to meet his parents. Although I had a ring on my finger and wedding talk passed between us, he didn’t officially propose until that trip. We stood in an old log church with a large picture window behind the pulpit area that opened to resplendent view of Lone Mountain near Big Sky Montana.

Obviously, I accepted and a few days later I met Bob’s dad and said my first hello. Last week, exactly twenty years later, I stood in a small town church and walked behind an oak-wood casket, where I said good-bye to Bob’s dad for the last time.

The service was beautiful and the family is faring well, although we still covet your prayers. We seated ourselves in that beautiful small church where the men’s choir sang “The Old Rugged Cross” and where Howard Gobbs’ obituary was read. The pastor began to talk about Bob’s dad and then read from the Book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1 where the Word of God states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

After he recited that verse and several more that followed, he made some well spoken and comforting remarks. But then he asked everyone, “What time is it for you?”

My mind has mulled on that for days. It would take days to list all the things we could do with time. But time itself has an appointment with us. Today, what time is it for you?

• Is it time to let go of something that has been holding you back?
• Is it time to pick up something you need to hold on to?
• Is it time to forgive or time to forget?
• Is it time to trust or time to obey a word God has provided?
• Is it time to reevaluate or time to appreciate the people and things in your life?
• Is the time to hate over and now is it time to heal?
• Is it time to start a relationship with the God who made time for you?

I think one of the lines in that before-mentioned Chicago song asks, “If anyone really cares what time it is?” That also is a good question. I believe God cares and I believe time is growing short. There is time for everything under heaven. What time is it for you today?

Better yet, what time is it for me?
Barbara