My Testimony


My testimony seems bland and boring on the surface.  I don’t have a jaw-dropping testimony of how I was once this horrible person who did horrible things but now I am wonderful and doing wonderful things.

The surface of my testimony is this: I was born the fourth child to a Baptist preacher, accepted Christ as my Savior when I was around 5 years old and have lived the pretty-good-person life ever since.

But if you will dive under the surface with me for a minute, you might see that my testimony is actually jaw-dropping–but in a different way.

The key to seeing how remarkable my testimony is is to understand how holy God is.

The Bible refers to Him as “holy, holy, holy”.  That’s a way of saying He is the holiest that anyone could possibly be.  There is absolutely no unholiness in Him in any way, shape or form.

People might label me as a “goody two-shoes” (where did that saying come from, anyway?) or a “holier than thou” (and that one?) kind of person, but I can assure you, I can NOT claim to be “holy, holy, holy” in and of myself–not by any stretch of the imagination!  I’ve lied.  I’ve cheated.  I’ve gotten envious.  I’ve loved things and people more than I have loved God.

Well, I can’t list all my sin categories or I’d be here all day!  If I were to list my sins individually, I likely wouldn’t finish by the time I died!  So I am counting on you getting my point, and I’ll be moving on.

The bottom line is, Romans 3:23 says it best, “For ALL have sinned and FALLEN SHORT of the glory of God.”

God tells us in the Bible that we are to be holy as He is holy!  That bar is set out-of-reach high for all of us!  It does not matter if your goody two-shoesedness (I make up words sometimes) exceeds mine or not!  What matters is, your goodness does not reach up to “holy, holy, holy”.  Mine doesn’t either!  And by not reaching that bar, we cannot be part of the family of God.

But God loves us and wants us to be able to experience Him and enjoy Him, and be His son or daughter.  Therefore He provided a way for us to reach the “holy, holy, holy” bar.

This verse is one of many that talks about God’s plan to help us be holy enough to become one of His sons or daughters.  This is the amplified version of it: “But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness making us acceptable to God] {did you catch that???}, and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God] {and that???}, and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin].”

So, long story short, this is my testimony: God’s standard is “holy, holy, holy”.  *I* fell short of that standard.  *God* provided a way for me to reach that standard.

If that’s not jaw-dropping to you, then you’re not getting it!  It’s like this.  Say you walked up to the King of England and slapped him in the face.  We all know the respect that is expected of us towards a king.  We also all know that doing such a thing could be a capital offense.  (At least, once upon a time it certainly was.)  But the king, instead of demanding your life, asks his son to offer his life in your stead and the son agrees to it!  Then he asks you to fully acknowledge the wrong you have done but accept his son’s sacrifice in your place. Wouldn’t you find that jaw-dropping?

THAT’S what God, the King of the world, did for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And He did it for everyone!  He even did it for the chiefest of sinners–those on the other end of the scale from goody two-shoers.  Because all of us have fallen short–and falling short by an inch is no different than falling short by a mile.  The bottom line is, we miss the bar on our own.

If my testimony has piqued your interest, please follow this link  and read more about God’s plan for us. ❤

 

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A Clearer Understanding


“Out of the mouths of babes” is an expression that has come to describe those moments when a child says something profound that seems wise beyond their years.

This past week, I didn’t hear one of my young grandsons say anything particularly profound, but I did witness an action he was part of that struck me as profound.

My four year old grandson was playing a video game at an arcade near Dallas, TX.  His attentive mother was hovering nearby.

This little guy picked a video game to play that had him “riding” on a huge motor cycle while he maneuvered winding roads and various roadblocks and oppositions.  He was having the time of his life as he stretched his little body as far as it could go, resting his belly flat against the “gas tank”, in order to reach the handle bars.   I don’t think his feet were able to reach any pedals.

His objective was to play the game well–to win–but he had no idea he was way too young to do so.  However, that lack of knowledge didn’t stop him from trying and giving it his all.

His mother’s compassionate heart wanted him to win, too.

Without his knowledge, his mother had her hand on the back of the bike as she watched the screen diligently and helped him maneuver the curves and obstacles by pushing and pulling the back of the bike so it would lean in as needed, allowing her son to navigate the course well.

This mother’s heart had nothing but good things in mind for her son.  She wasn’t trying to manipulate him.  She wanted him to win!  She wanted him to stay alive!  She wanted him to enjoy the journey he was on.  She allowed him to do everything he was able to do and she took up his slack–working with him to achieve the objective they both hoped for.

Isn’t that a neat picture of God’s sovereignty in our lives?

The Chirping Bird


This morning, I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast of English muffins, eggs and yogurt with Jesus, and I kept noticing a chirping noise. I’d take a bite of the English muffin and hear, “Tweet”. It was a cheerful sound and made me wonder what kind of bird it might be that was chirping in the middle of winter. Normally the bird sounds of winter around here don’t include such cheerful tweets. I wondered if spring was coming early and this sweet bird had become the first arrival, heralding that fact.

The chirp was happening fairly frequently, which made me wonder, “Was the bird OK? Why hadn’t it flown to another location by now?”

I wanted to figure out where, exactly, the chirp was coming from, so I could maybe find the bird and see what kind it was. Also, I had become curious to see what was going on. So I sat frozen–my hearing isn’t the greatest; I wanted to make as little noise as possible, including chewing my food.  It had seemed that every chirp had come when I couldn’t hear it perfectly clear.  I was eating or swallowing or sniffing–some other noise was interfering with my getting a good read on where the chirp was coming from.

I sat, and sat, and sat. Frozen.  Even holding my breath at times.

No chirp.

Isn’t that always the way? It’s like they have a sixth sense that they are being discovered so they clam up and sit still until they feel like the coast is clear.

I ventured a bite of my English muffin–tentatively, still giving moments to sitting perfectly still and not completing the bite, hoping I’d hear the chirp again, but to no avail. Either the bird had finally flown away, or it was on to me.

I completed my bite and began to chew, continuing with my meal and bemoaning the fact that I had gotten curious too late in the game to find out what that bird was.

“Tweet!”

Seriously? Now that I was making noise again, the bird decides to start his chirping again? What are the odds!?

Then my brain did its own cause and effect analysis and posed the question: “Does the chirping only happen when I move?”

I leaned forward and backward in my chair to test that theory.

“Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.”

Oh for Pete’s sake! The chirp wasn’t coming from a bird at all! My chair was making the noise!

Nice one, Lord! You had me going! I love Your sense of humor! ❤

Contentment


While taking a shower the other day, I was thanking God for the running hot water and thinking about how blessed I was to live in this day and age.  I pictured myself living as a Pioneer woman with no running water–having to tote it from rivers or lakes, only getting to take sponge baths or perhaps the occasional portable tub bath; perhaps being the last one of 8 children who got to bathe in the same water.  Yuck!  How did people live contentedly in those circumstances?  I saw myself being very discontent in such a scenario.

But then I realized that I would only be discontent because I pictured myself in that scenario knowing what I know now.  I had something to compare it to!  If I actually had lived back then, I wouldn’t know what I know now, so I wouldn’t have known there might be other options.

More than likely, those people were thankful for their tubs that held so much water! People before them hadn’t had such a luxury!

That’s when I realized that much of our discontent comes from comparing what we have to something else.

That’s where Adam and Eve’s discontent came from that got us all in this sinful mess. They compared all that they had been given with what had been withheld and concluded that what was being withheld was something they just had to have as well!

Living day to day, we have three options.  Two of the options will not cause discontentment in our hearts.  The other option breeds discontentment.

Option 1: Don’t compare our circumstances or belongings or what-have-yous to anything else!  Just practice gratefulness for what you have.  Period.

Option 2: Compare your circumstances/belongings/what-have-yous to those things that are less than what you have–and count your blessings that you have been given such luxury compared to those you see around you who would probably love to have your life.

Option 3: Compare your circumstances/belongings/what-have-yous to those that seem better somehow than what you have.  That’s a sure-fire way to breed discontentment.

Which option will you choose?

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

Loving Involves Getting To Know


The idea for this blog post was born just after hearing a testimony from a female friend about how she was treated by some men in her church leadership–how they basically made some assumptions and some decisions affecting her life, based on those assumptions.  My mind went on a huge rabbit trail about how “all men” do that to women.  They don’t understand us, but rather than asking questions and trying to understand us, they write us off as stupid or silly or in some other way “less than” how they see themselves.

Then I realized, after I calmed down a little bit, that, first of all, not “all” men do it.  Second of all, it goes both ways.  I’ve seen wives roll their eyes at something their husbands say or do, rather than taking the time to understand what their husband’s were thinking.

Asking questions and trying to understand doesn’t always bring about the desired results–we still might be perplexed.  But when we don’t understand, does that give us the right to dub the other as “less than” in any way?  Are we so sure that our understanding is that spot on?  How prideful!

Jesus’ second commandment was “love your neighbor as yourself”.  I heard one preacher give a reason for the importance of that commandment: all people are made in God’s image.  All are sacred.

Part of loving a person involves getting to know them–not banking on your assumptions about them.

Next time you notice yourself thinking less of a person because of an opinion they have or an action they took, pause for a minute, back up, and ask them some questions in order to better understand them, and therefore start loving them more completely.

Men: stop doing this to women.

Women: stop doing this to men.

People: stop doing this to each other.

And while I’m at it: stop doing it to God, too!

Just stop with the assumptions and get the facts! (I’m including myself in this admonition.)

End of rant. 😛

My Young Earth Arguments


This blog is going to reflect my belief that the earth was created around 6,000 years ago and each day of creation represents a 24 hour period.

Before you come to a point of thinking you have wasted your time reading this, let me tell you up front that I am not a scientist.  I don’t have any credentials to offer you for reasons you should put any stock in what you read here.  I only intend to share with you the things that have me convinced our earth is young, based on facts I know about from reading books or my own observation.

There are four things that come to my mind that I’d like to record here.

First: The old earth view is a relatively new theory.  Up until a few hundred years ago, it was dogmatically believed that the earth was young.  I know that, in itself, isn’t great proof.  Some dogmatically believed the earth was flat for a time, too.  (And there are those who still believe that despite evidence to the contrary.  😦  )  So the majority believing something to be true shouldn’t be convincing evidence.  (Wow!  Sure wish people today would grasp a hold of THAT truth!–But I digress.)

Second: The Biblical account of creation lists creation this way: Day 1–earth, space, time and light; Day 2–atmosphere; Day 3–dry land and plants; Day 4–sun, moon and stars; Day 5–sea and flying creatures; Day 6–land animals and man.  Based on the laws of science, I do not understand how plants made on day 3 could survive for thousands of years without the sun that was created on day 4.

Third: The Jewish calendar this year is at 5777.  Their calendar claims to be in sync with when the earth was created.

Fourth: And this is the most compelling reason for me: God is all about faith.  All through Scripture you read how important trusting in Him is.  Adam and Eve failed the test. Rather than trusting what God said, they leaned on their own understanding (persuaded by the devil).  What if God created the earth with the appearance of age?  He created Adam already “old”.  What if–now stick with me here–what if God in essence is saying to us, “Are you going to believe what you see, or are you going to believe what I say?”  Are we going to believe our senses or what God says?

Faith is “…the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Deterrents


Our tandem bike broke quite a while ago and we have not been able to fix or replace it, so I have had to ride my regular bike “alone”–only, I am never “alone”, technically.  God is always there.

We’ve been given some excellent riding weather, lately, so I’ve gotten to go out on my bike almost daily.  I have a favorite bike route that I frequent, and I usually spend the time listening to Christian music and talking to God.  It is healing to my mind, body and spirit.

But my bike route starts with two ginormous hills.  OK.  Perhaps that’s a stretch.  But they both tax my leg muscles, even when I have my bike in the lowest gear possible.  (Which is 2, because my gear shift won’t go past that.)  Neither of them take me more than a minute or two, I suspect, to get up.

Sometimes, though, those two hills have been a deterrent to my going on my bike ride.

I *think* I have finally realized how ridiculous I am being when I let them keep me from riding, though.  (I say it that way because I have only had a week or so of success in overcoming the negative thoughts that once hindered me.  That’s not quite something to bet on, yet. IMO.)

Two thoughts spur me on: 1) They are just two hills! Once I get over them, most of the rest of the ride is a breeze!  (And I only face one hill at the end of the ride on the way back.) 2) I LOVE that sweet time with God!–away from all distractions; hearing birds chirping, seeing squirrels and such scampering around; listening to edifying, uplifting music–it’s heaven on earth for me.

When I am in the middle of the ride, my heart is so full of joy–I’m in a different world for a while.

Remembering the absolute delight of the bulk of the ride, gets me to put those two hill deterrents in their proper place–the delight of the ride that follows, far outweighs the dread of those two hills.

How often do we allow “hills” in our lives to keep us from enjoying “the rest of the ride”? How silly we are!

Today I had a really cool thought while I was on my ride, too.  A thing in the road caught my eye, so I kept starring at it while I sped up to it and past it.  As I was going right past it at a good clip, I first thought it was a squished animal.  I thought I saw a tail and some paws and it was belly-side up.  My initial thought was “Ew!” and I scrunched up my nose while I mouthed the word.

But then my brain caught up with what my eyes had actually seen, and it was just a small portion of a leafed tree branch that was “squished” in the road.  [:)]

I laughed at myself.  Then I pictured God laughing at me–delighting in me, like I have delighted in my children when they are “tricked” by something in a humorous way.

That was all followed by the thought that God knows all things.  He knows past, present and future.  He knew about that moment in my life before it even happened.  So all of that made me wonder if He could truly be delighted with such things.

Here’s where my really cool thought came in!

I started thinking about how I have some favorite movies that I watch over and over again.  One of my favorites, almost 100% of it, is “Enchanted”.  Another is a movie called, “Facing The Giants”.  I know what’s coming in those movies, but I *still* wait with anticipation for those favorite scenes and smile or cry or what-have-you when I see them–even for the 20th time!

I bet God is like that.  Only.  I think all His children’s lives are His “favorite” movies.  And I think each moment in our lives are delightful and special for Him.

I’m glad I didn’t let those hills deter me from today’s ride!  I might have missed out on that special thought if I had!

Vineyard Parable


Recently, while reading A Lifelong Love, I gleaned a new perspective on loving God’s way.  Here is the author, Gary Thomas’s definition: “True love is found in absolute benevolence, which is a state of the heart that is bent toward loving someone’s highest good, regardless of the person’s actions or character.  It is the disposition to do what is best for the other…to serve this person’s best interests.”

This new perspective has caused me to look at other things through a love-lens.

During this morning’s sermon at our church, the speaker used the passage from Matthew 20, verses 1-16.  Here it is in full for your own easy reference:

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the workers on one denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.When he went out about nine in the morning, he saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. To those men he said, ‘You also go to my vineyard, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So off they went.About noon and at three, he went out again and did the same thing.Then about five he went and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him.

“‘You also go to my vineyard,’ he told them. When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.’

“When those who were hired about five came, they each received one denarius. 10 So when the first ones came, they assumed they would get more, but they also received a denarius each. 11 When they received it, they began to complain to the landowner: 12 ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’

13 “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? 14 Take what’s yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The speaker applied the usual “lesson” from this parable: that it shows God’s grace and generosity.  But it struck me that it showed God’s love.

As the quote above from Gary Thomas says, the owner of the vineyard (representing God) loved those men’s highest good (giving them their daily bread), regardless of their actions or character. (standing around “all day doing nothing”!)

I think that is absolutely beautiful!  God’s love is amazing!  *GOD* is amazing!  I am so thankful He wants to be known, because He sure is delightful to know.

 

A Book Recommendation


I just finished reading A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas.  This is the most excellent Christian self-help book I have ever read.  It is promoted as a book about marriage relationships and growing in intimacy, but, in my humble opinion, it is a book every Christian should read, married or not.

He argues, with Scripture-backing, that our most important need is not to BE loved, but to learn to love.  In the process of fleshing out his argument, he inspires the reader to surrender more fully to God and His ways.

I have the Kindle version of this book and wish I had a hard copy.  This is the kind of book I like to be able to underline and highlight in for quick reference over and over again.  I know Kindles are set up for that kind of thing, but my aged brain finds it hard to navigate electronic devices.

However, that didn’t stop me from making 119 notes in this book!  That is more than I have ever made in any other book–testimony to how good this one is.

This man has a heart for God that shines through in pretty much everything he says.

I used to highly recommend another book by him called Sacred Marriage.  But this one is going at the top of my list now.  This one deals a little more than Sacred Marriage did with abusive situations–leaving no question about how he feels about such things.  Here is one quote from him on that subject: “When we assume that God hates divorce more than He hates domestic violence, it shows how little we understand His passion for His daughters.”

He includes emotional abuse in his definition of “domestic violence”, too, as it should be!

Here are a few more quotes from his book that I found especially profound: “When you try to serve your own interests in marriage rather than the interests of Jesus, you are likely to find that your marriage is making you less holy and, I would argue, eventually less happy too.”

“If you want to overcome the natural limitations of your marriage, you need to believe in the supernatural power of God to change.  You need to have the attitude of being more than a conqueror.”

“If you are in a solitary marriage, you have to get this down–learn to shop every day at the farmer’s market of God’s provision.  So let’s tap into this divine resource.  We’re not alone in our marriages, even in our so-called solitary marriages.  There may not be two engaged humans, but there can be–with your initiation alone–two engaged parties: you and God.”

“True love is found in absolute benevolence, which is a state of the heart that is bent toward loving someone’s highest good, regardless of the person’s actions or character.”

He goes on to explain that in cases of abuse, it is “best for your husbands not to hit you; so if the only way you can stop them from doing that is to remove yourselves from their presence, that’s what you do.”

“The pursuit of a sacred marriage is the pursuit of God in marriage–seeking to experience His love (not our desire); His presence (not our happiness); His glory (not our selfishness).”

I’ll end with this one: “Some people talk of holiness as a burden to marriage–holiness is a burden to marriage as laughter is a burden to conversation or a loving caress is a burden to skin.”

The book is packed with wisdom and encouragement, but I’ll stop with those.  I hope that was enough to intrigue you to buy the book and read it for yourself.

Thank you, Gary Thomas, for writing this book and thank You, God, for laying it on his heart to do so!

What Is Your Name?


God’s Word has so much more going on in it that often escapes me, until some wise preacher shares the insights with me.  This time the wisdom came from Ravi Zacharias.

He was retelling the story about Jacob wrestling with God which you can read about in Genesis 32.  I’ve heard the story multiple times since I was a little child, but I never heard anyone make this connection before.

In verse 27 we read that God asked Jacob, “What is your name?”  Ravi points out that the last time someone had asked him that question, Jacob lied.  Years earlier, Jacob’s aged, blind, father was planning to give the blessing to his oldest son, Esau, as was the custom. But Jacob’s mother came up with a scheme to trick the ailing man into blessing the younger son, Jacob, instead. You can read about that story in Genesis 27.

Jacob went along with the scheme, which involved lying to his father after his father asked him who he was.

When God asked Jacob his name, I wonder if Jacob made the connection.  Nothing gets past God.

I also wonder *how* God asked Jacob that question.  I like to think it was with a twinkle in His eye.