Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Driven By Eternity - Day 8 - Repost

Scheduling a re posting of this old post of mine.  I really liked it then, and so did several readers.  I hope that this holds true.

Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, with teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

In other (my own) words, eternal judgment isn't just something some people have come up with based on some obscure passage or their own interpretation of the last little dash at the end of the line. It's not just real, not just relevant... it's elementary. In the book, in Chapter 4 (I'm skipping notes on the story of Affabel - I don't feel right about trying to condense it and I won't plagiarize. http://www.messengerintl.org/ Go to the website, order the Affabel series. It will be worth your time, I promise). Anyway, back to chapter 4... following that scripture, Rev. Bevere writes,

"One dictionary defines elementary as "constituting the basic, essential, or fundamental part." It's the essential part we must have right from the start to build upon; it's a foundation."

To me, this means that we can't move on beyond those basics until we get it. We may get tidbits - just as a baby occasionally gets a little morsel of mommy's food. But we need these foundations before we can truly move forward in our walk with God.

Maybe I'm unique, but I'm hung up the eternal part of this judgment. Judgment isn't necessarily bad... it can be good, too. As in the judgment to award someone compensation for a wrong done to them. It's not the judgment part that concerns me. God is just, He is Holy and Righteous. Of course there will be judgment. Our works aren't in vain. Or, rather, they don't have to be in vain. Some things we do here will be gold, silver, or precious stones in heaven. Other things, things that may not be bad or sinful but are still not for the Kingdom, will be wood, hay, and stubble. They'll all be tried by fire, and what remains will be purified gold, silver, or stones. The rest will be waste. I get that. I understand that. We need to remember that while we're here, because once we're there, it will be judged. The part that throws me, that concerns me, that keeps me awake at night, is the eternal part. While we're here, we can always say "Well, I'll get to that later." There's the notion that we'll have a chance to make it right, to do better. But once we get there... that's it. There's no more chances to do works that will yield a lasting reward. If we come through that fire with nothing but our lives, it is infinitely better than spending eternity in Hell.

But... we'll all find ourselves before Christ, wanting with everything in us to lay our treasure at His feet. As a way of thanking Him. For those who are saved but have nothing to show for it, they'll have one thing - a palm branch. A pitiful offering. I don't want to be one of those. And it's eternal. I've not seen any scripture that indicates that once we get to Heaven, we can do anything to earn more rewards or to change our status. That's the scary part... knowing that here on earth, I am choosing my eternity. Not just where, but how. And that's why I've only read one page of chapter four tonight. Because this is one of those things that keeps me awake. That messes with my head. That messes with my own theology and desires and beliefs.

The other thing that gets me is this... He is coming quickly. Come Lord Jesus. I want Him to come. But really, I don't think I actually get it. If I got it, would I live differently? Maybe. If I knew for a fact that in exactly one week He was returning, what would I do? What if it was one day? What if I knew it was in an hour? Would my sense of urgency increase? Would I be so concerned about offending people? Or would every second be spent warning people that He's coming. And it's not like if you're on the fence about it, you'll be given a chance to say, "Oh, wow, I guess that I should change my mind and follow Him" and then still get to come with us. It will be in the twinkling of an eye. We, the believers who are going, will have a brief warning - the loudest, most majestic trumpet blast we'll have ever heard. But the rest of the world? It's clear in scripture:

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
Matthew 24:36-41

See? That's what it will be. Nobody is going to CHOOSE to stay - the choice is made before hand. When you choose whom you will follow. We've been learning in church about how in the last days, it will become possible to see the difference between wheat and tares. In other words, instead of having a bunch of people who appear saved, and not being able to tell who is and isn't, it will be clear who truly belongs to God. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that as each day ticks away, it becomes more obvious who in this world has a relationship with my King and who is truly and eternally lost. And that, too, keeps me up at night.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Big Change

I am making some really big changes here.  I'll be back, but things will be... different.  Give it a couple weeks.  And yes, I saved the old posts.  They have been moved to a new blog, where I have begun removing anything that would link this blog with me specifically.

Sorry guys - but it's got to be done.

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Great Love.

You might remember this post from a while back.  After a lot of reading and praying and looking carefully at what is actually being done by each program, our choice was narrowed down to one region, one center.  At that center, we chose a child to sponsor through Compassion.  I have said before that they are excellent stewards of the funds they receive.  I've looked at a lot of sponsorship programs, and Compassion stands out as making a tangible difference, with a focus on enabling the children and their families to be independent.  And they stand out in consistent expenditures.  I've seen programs where as little as 40% of what is donated goes toward anything that actually impacts the child.  Compassion is, and has consistently been, much higher than that.  When you look for a child to sponsor, you can read what it's like where he or she lives, as well as see what, exactly, will be provided by their local program.  It varies at each location. 

Back to our child.

We chose her region, her center, because they provide basic food supplies, medical procedures, exams, and treatments, school supplies, and tuition.  All of that... but most importantly, they teach her the Word of God.  They will tell her of His love, of His provision.  They'll teach her, as she grows, to be able to support herself.  They will help her family, too, to be better able to provide.

Our child's name is Marpendo, which means Great Love.  She is beautiful, and I love the meaning behind her name.  In the way she holds her body, face pointing at the camera but eyes averted, an empty smile... she seems so love-starved.  I don't believe her family is depriving her of love... but if she's not had His love, she's starving.  We'll get that fixed.  She reminds me of my Rico that I sponsored so long ago... he had that same face, the same expression.  Over that first year, her smiles started to get more genuine.  Light appeared in his eyes.  I loved seeing that change, and I am so excited to witness (and be a part of) that same change in Marpendo. 

I pray that Marpendo would grow in stature and wisdom and knowledge of Him.  I pray that the love of God would be undeniably present in her life, and that the ministry she will be receiving will overflow to the family member who takes care of her.  Marpendo's parents are no longer living on earth.  I pray that my God would help to heal her wounded heart.  Fill her with hope and expectation... that she'd learn that He has plans for her, good plans, plans to give her a hope and a future.
I'm just so excited and feel so peaceful, choosing to finally go back through the door God never closed.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Anna Day.

Today is Anna Day.  If she had been born on her due date, this would be her fourth birthday.  Four.  People say that it gets easier with time.  They are right, in some ways.  It doesn't hurt as often as it used to.  But there is a distinct quiet in our house... a lack of tiny footsteps and giggles under covers.  I know where she is.  I know she is okay.  And we are okay.

But we do wish we had her here with us. 

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stars. And Him.

Last night, I spent some time with a good friend and my husband.  Then my husband went home and I got to chatting with said friend and ended up staying pretty late.  Then I had the 35 minute drive home.

It was so quiet... no other cars (I saw one, in 35 minutes.  A county sheriff on patrol who followed me for the last 5 minutes of my trip.  I assume to run my plates out of boredom.).  The sky was so clear, with little patches of steam and smoke rising up from houses.  No lights other than in the one tiny town I went through. 

The stars were so bright.  It was so cold and so still that they didn't really even twinkle.  Everything looks bigger that way.  And there were meteors.  Lots of them.  Just as I reached the top of the final hill, a particularly large and bright one flashed into view and trailed further than usual.  It was one of those rare moments when you look up at just the right instant; one of those moments that burns vividly into memory and can be recalled at will.  Or maybe you need to think in pictures for that to happen?  Regardless, it did.

I got to spend those 35 minutes worshipping and praying.  "God time" is the most special time... to be able to communicate with the One who created the entire universe is just so... humbling, and beautiful, and amazing.  It is a time when I can express myself, yes.  But more than that, and better, is that He can communicate with me.  Peace.  Joy.  Hope.  Assurance.  Correction.  Rebuke.  Love.  Most of all, love. 

Do you know how amazing that is?  That One who can created everything, Who knows all, sees all... that that One loves me?  It is something that is irrevocably true, and yet... and yet, I cannot wrap my mind around it.  HE loves ME.  Wow.

Psalm 8
LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


Actually, I am pretty sure it's impossible to be in a bad mood with Tabi around.  Tabi (short for Tabibito) is our 10 week old kitten. 

I admit, when I woke up to hear "scraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaape scraaaaaaaaaaaaaaape" coming from the office, I wasn't impressed.  Until I saw what he was doing.  He had his front feet in the plastic dish we gave him snow in (Derek's idea - Tabi loved it).  He was running as fast as he could with his back feet.  Like skateboarding.  Only different.  More accurately described as food-bowling, perhaps.  He was zooming across the wood floor like this, bouncing off furniture, walls... it was absolutely hilarious.  I brought him to bed with me - it was 5:15 AM and I was not ready to get up yet, especially on a Saturday.  I was almost asleep when I heard a little chirp and felt his rough but gentle little tongue - grooming my eyebrow.  I opened my eyes and he started to wiggle and purr.  So much for sleep... but also, so much for being cranky about the lack of sleep. 

Who could be cranky with this around?

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Friday, December 10, 2010

What I Want For Christmas

I was asked by my step mom (who I think is fantastic, by the way) what Derek and I want for Christmas.  Every year, that question is harder and harder to answer.

This year, what I want and what others can give me are very far apart.  And yet, so much of what I want I already have.  And what I need?  Yep - got that too.

Anyway, as I considered that question, I came up with the following answers.

I want a home, a good husband, and something meaningful to do in the world.  I have a home that is nearing completion... we'll have it done before spring.  I have a husband who loves God, who loves me, who works hard, and has done so much to make me proud this year.  Meaningful contribution?  That's there too.  And not in just one way. 

I am blessed.

I want to be able to pay off our debt.  All of it.  I really do not like owing money to anyone - be that a person or institution.  We're not in a position to eliminate our debt right now, but we've whittled away at it this year.  Finances are improving, and I am so thankful. 

I want to pay off the debt our church has (nothing bad, just a mortgage that's already paid years ahead of schedule; but there's still a chunk left). 

I want to pay off the debt a close friend has on the building he runs his business out of.

I want someone to rent the second half of said building.

I want to bless people financially, especially in these times when people are hurting so much in that area.

I guess what I want is lots of money... but not to buy things with.  I want it to give.  Since I don't have that... I will give what I can give - time, prayer, love, support; I can set my hands to work and I can do it cheerfully.

I want to be a mom.  Not going to happen before Christmas, obviously... we'd either have to be significantly pregnant or in the final stages of becoming a foster parent or in the very end stage of adoption.  None of those are true.  Besides that, nobody could give that to me.

But my heart?  My deepest longing, the thing that others can do? 

There are children everywhere who are hoping, praying, longing for love... and there are children everywhere who have given up on it completely.  They don't know what it is, they don't have any in their life.  Nobody has loved them, or it's been so long that they can't remember.  Nobody tells them about God.  They don't know who Jesus is.  They don't know what it feels like to be safe and warm and get a big hug.

I have no official connection, nor do I have any other motivation to promote, Compassion.  For years, I sponsored a little boy named Rico.  I do not know what became of little Rico; he withdrew from his program.  But in the years I sponsored him, I watched him grow so much.  From a shy, under-nourished and fearful child to a strong boy who wrote to me about his dad's job search, his adventures at school, and always included a tracing of his little (but growing!) hand on his letters.  I don't know if he moved or if his family's status changed; I don't know where he is or what he is doing now (he'd be 14).  I only know that he is a part of my heart for the rest of my life.  And I know that Compassion is a well-established ministry with proven results.  They are excellent stewards of the financial support that is channeled through them.  And most importantly, they are using love and the meeting of needs to show Jesus to children everywhere.

The Christmas gift I would truly like to see is this:  for each person who reads my blog and can afford the $38 each month to sponsor a child through Compassion.  That's less than $10 each week.  One trip through the drive through for a couple - if they eat cheap.  Would you consider doing that?  If you cannot - if it is beyond your means or if your financial situation isn't stable - would you consider donating once? 

As I said, I have no connection to Compassion other than the knowledge that what they do is good and the little boy that I sponsored.

That is what I'd really like for Christmas.

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