Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Newsletter

Isaiah 6 Ministries 2010 Newsletter

Babbie Mason and Eddie Carswell wrote a song entitled “TRUST HIS HEART”. I have enclosed some of the lyrics in hopes they will speak to you as they have to me this past year:

“All things work for our good. Though sometimes we don't see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two, sometimes blind us to the truth.
Our Father knows what best for us. His ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim, and you just don't see Him
Remember you're never alone.
God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand, when you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart”

These words carried me through a year filled with highs and lows. If I had known last year what the coming year beheld, I may have just skipped the whole year. I certainly would have missed out on some major blessings. Growth is often painful. Yet it yields abundant fruit if we submit to the One who desires to grow us into His likeness. Two words – longevity and brevity. My mom went to be with Jesus at the ripe age of 91 after being in Hospice Palliative care for eight months. Longevity. My daughter and son-in-law delivered a stillborn at six months. Brevity. These two events happened within eleven weeks. Through it all, I saw God’s graciousness. Both of these loved ones needed to be with their Creator more than they needed to be here. Trusting this conclusion came after tears flowed heavily. Sandwiched between these two events God shipped me to China to teach at an underground church and seminary. When I got there I was told by my host family that I needed to stay underground too. Almost any option I decided on could very likely wind me up in prison. Once again I was glad this was not foreknowledge! So I asked God should I go back home for safety or hide under blankets in the back of a truck (in 90 degree weather) to travel to and from my destination. What if communist guards found me? They seemed to be everywhere I went. As I prayed all night that first night, God showed me if my faith wasn’t worth dying for it wasn’t worth living for. I thought of all my supporters. Could I go back home and tell them the mission was too risky so I just became a tourist for nine days? I was reminded of Eugene Peterson’s words, “We do well to remember that God has created us not to be tourists who seek instant and intense gratification, but to be pilgrims on a long journey.” So I decided to be a pilgrim. Then God rose up a Chinese believer who offered up an empty apartment where both I and the students could meet daily without suspicion. ( No hiding under blankets!) He is too wise to be mistaken! I will never forget God’s provision and protection. I had just written a new Bible study entitled “Running from God, Reflections of Rebellion.” To have left the work undone would’ve been disobedience (rebellion). So for 2011, I pray to leave no work undone that God has already mapped out for me. Please pray for me and with me that He finds me, us, faithful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Attractive Addiction

I was just perusing a certain website when a pop up appeared on my screen for a site called "Attractive Addiction." The site was for bargain deals on all sorts of products. I have no clue as to whether the company is aware of the schemes of our adversary, Satan. One thing I know for sure though is, that Satan makes everything that lures us into addiction very attractive. Rarely do we buy items that are ugly or make us look bad. Most of us don't keep eating food that tastes rotten or looks like canned dog food. We are drawn to the ads for items so wonderful, life would seem pitiful if we didn't own at least one. I find myself thinking,"I really need that" or "That would make tasks so much easier." There's nothing wrong with a "That would be nice!" but when the thought turns into a desire that has to be satiated every time it raises its hand, then problems begin to arise. The bar, the bakery, or the bargain barn can lure us by being attractive. The repeat trips can lead us into temptation and addiction. Advertisers are very aware of this and play on our weaknesses. The devil is very aware of our weaknesses as well. He shoots his arrows into our soft spots, or unprotected places. He whispers, "Just this once!" How often I have fallen for that lame line!
Recently there have been ads on television called "Don't Try Meth Just Once." They are frightening and very sobering. An individual sees them self saying they will only try the drug just once. Next they see the progressive destruction after taking the drug. The ad is so powerful as to how harmful attraction can really be. I really want to applaud that ad developer as most ads are designed to appeal to our wants. This one discourages the"want" factor.
The truth is - addictions start off as attractive, never destructive. Just one look, one bite, one drink, one swipe of the credit card can lead down a slippery slope.
Ephesians 6:11 "Put on the full armor of God that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Efficacious Love

Recently I attended a wedding where the pastor challenged the couple to love each other efficaciously. That's a mighty big word and I had no idea what it meant. The dictionary defines efficacious as the power or capacity to produce a desired effect. The couple was being challenged to love in such a way that the results would be manifested in building the other person up, in making them a better person, a better spouse. The one loving efficaciously would receive proportionately to the degree they poured in love. This sounds great and many times efficacious love works to the benefit of both parties and the glory of God. Yet, there are those times when one person loves as efficaciously as they can, but the recipient just can't receive that kind of love or takes advantage of it. I guess that would be a love gone wrong song for sure.
What a blessing it is to love and be loved efficaciously. I have experienced this kind of love in my marriage. It has made me a better wife and partner.
I have experienced this kind of love by God. He has loved me unconditionally. His efficacious love has produced a life in me, and around me, and for me, that I would never have known. His love has caused me to love when I didn't want to, help when I didn't want to, take hurt when I didn't want to. There is not enough space here to fill what God's efficacious love has done in my life. People often love to get something back. This is a self centered love. But God, He loves because that is Who He is. When God loves efficaciously the power and the effect is more than we can fathom. His love for us, and in us, and through us, has the power and effect to change lives in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches...
Who will you love efficaciously today?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Inheritance Informer

Perhaps like me, you allow your mind to be the cinema of many make believe stories. One I have crafted over the years is the scene where I, the leading character, hear a knock at the front door. Upon answering I am greeted by a short man who proceeds to read a lengthy legal document. The pages inform me that a long lost deceased relative has bequeathed a huge sum of money to me. I feign a bit of sadness but can hardly conceal the elation I feel at collecting this untold wealth. When do I get to collect? What do I need to do? Is there any proof I need to bring to collect? I just want to grab this little inheritance informer and hug his sweet self! At last I come out of my cinematic coma and into real life. No inheritance informer is at my door and I haven't received anything huge lately except a property tax bill.
Wait just a minute! I am sadly mistaken. I remember the day that an inheritance informer came my way in the form of a preschool director. While interviewing me for a teaching position at a church program she asked me if I was saved and going to heaven? My answer was that I was a sinner going to hell. Just months before a priest in the confessional booth had told me my plight with no way of escape. Trust me, I had searched for ways to escape doom but no one I met had the answer. My informant, a.k.a preschool director, told me of a Savior who died for my sins. There was a forgiveness that took away my sin. The Savior, Jesus Christ, secured me an inheritance of eternal life collectible upon admission of sin and acceptance of pardon.
In the theater of my mind little attention is given to the inheritance informer. In my real life story without the informant I would have remained ignorant of my heavenly inheritance and my earthly delight.
I have to ask myself these questions, "Who am I trying to inform of their inheritance? Who needs to hear about the riches that belong to those who are in Christ? Who needs forgiveness and pardon?" Quite frankly I meet people who fit in the category of my questions every day. I have already received my portion of the inheritance. I need to become an inheritance informer. Acts 28:18 says," To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Christ)."