Saturday, June 27, 2015

Winning isn't Everything-My 100th Post!!!

This is my 100th post on Sincerity and Hope.
I had a different blog I was typing. And, though I may still post it, it's mostly a thought-collector for the 1,000 thoughts in my mind regarding a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yes, each thought needs to come out of my head so I can make sense of them, but it may just be for my own sake.

As I was typing that one, the title of this blog hit me with some truth.

The original post was going to share the goings on at home when my daughters and I played checkers with each other at bedtime. I outlined it, but never got back to filling in the details, and the moment has been lost.

With each decision in a court, there is a winner and a loser. I can't think of any time that I've wanted to win and been happy that I've lost. The more I care about the outcome, the harder it is to accept a losing decision for myself. (Not that I've actually been to court. I have prayed with friends facing court decisions and experienced their reactions and my own with wins and losses.)

At the heart of the feelings surrounding this decision is that sense of winning and losing.

Over 2,000 years ago, some other people also had a sense of loss, of defeat.
Their answer to all that was bad in the world was tried, convicted, and condemned to death. He was brutally tortured before his death.
And? His followers kept hoping for that moment when he would reveal himself, call down fire from heaven and consume his enemies, and take the kingdom by force!

Imagine how they felt when he stated "It is finished." He gave up His Spirit and died. Actually died. Full death. The soldiers checked. He was buried and sealed in a tomb, guarded by soldiers, whose own lives were at stake if the body was removed from that same tomb.

And his enemies? The spiritual ones? They were rejoicing! They had won! Total victory!

We know, though, that it was not the end of the story.
Jesus rose from the dead.
He has not died since then. He is ALIVE!!!
He Lives!!

So, regardless of how large a decision seems to be and how saddened you are at being on the "losing side", perhaps you are in the same place as the disciples right now. Perhaps there is still a comeback from God's hand. We don't know what comes next. But how we react can be telling.

I can understand your disappointment that this did not go "your way". I can understand your concern about the impact of major decisions. I was disappointed, and I am concerned about how this will affect our civil rights.
I cannot understand that if we, who are mere mortals, become antagonistic and offended and offensive, how we can use 1 Corinthians 13 as the "marriage chapter" when we are faced with a different definition of marriage.
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
Though we do not have to be in agreement with others, we also know that a gentle answer turns away wrath. For me, I want my testimony as a Christian to be an extension of God's love. He is the Savior. He will save those who want to be saved. I want to be an instrument He uses to lead others to salvation. I don't want to be a roadblock.

Ultimately, God holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives. "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future, 
and life is worth the living, just because He lives."

I'll leave you with this song by Rich Mullins. It's based on John 16. "That where I am, there you may also be."

John 16:33 (NIV) 33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Friday, June 26, 2015

Dream: Five Minute Friday

Another week, another chance to write on a one-word prompt for only five minutes. We set timers, type quickly, and let it flow without criticism. Then, we link-up our posts so we can read others' posts and they read ours and we have a community that grows from one word each week.
Five Minute Friday.


This week's prompt is "Dream".
"A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep..." ~Cinderella, 1950 Disney

I equate the word dream with "vision".
Joel 2:28 "[ The Day of the Lord ] “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."

This year, I have seen this pouring out. I have seen young children praying for their school, their community, with fervor and sincerity.

After reading "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson, I have a challenge for you. What is your dream? What is your vision? If Jesus stood in front of you right now, what would you ask Him for? What is your God-sized dream?

Mine was huge, once I considered the question. And it was something aligned with His will. But, it will take time to see it through.

I have had visions and dreams in the process leading to that final goal, and perhaps it will take my lifetime to see it through, but when you delight yourself in the Lord, the desires of your heart that He gives you are also the desires of His heart. (Psalm 37:4)
One of the visions I had in the larger part of my dream was of all our students praying together, hands joined. Unified praying for our school and our ministry.

It happened! And we closed with the song, "I have decided to follow Jesus."

My devotional from Christine Caine this morning contained this verse:
Proverbs 29:18 says, Where there is no vision, the people perish ... (KJV).

We must have a goal, a dream, a vision, a purpose. Then we will pour what we are given into that dream.

Some of my other dreams? I dream of my children following Christ. That they would lead others to Christ. That when I am done on Earth, that He will tell me "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Timer sings, time to stop.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fear: Five Minute Friday

Another week, another chance to write on a one-word prompt for only five minutes. We set timers, type quickly, and let it flow without criticism. Then, we link-up our posts so we can read others' posts and they read ours and we have a community that grows from one word each week.
Five Minute Friday.


I have a Fear. A fear of failure. As a perfectionist type A firstborn daughter, I want to do everything right. The first time. No mistakes. No do-overs. (So, God is teaching me about Grace.)
And? My good-old fall-back sin is Pride. Pride and Fear battle each other for prominence. Proud of success, Fear of failure.

Enter parenthood. Oh yes! God has a big plan and did not give me children who would puff up my pride, but instead would humble me and send me crawling to Him on my hands and knees, weeping. Failure became my first thought, until I began to listen.

If we want to conquer fear, we must face fear and name it. What are you afraid of?
*My child will never be able to control their emotions and will throw tantrums in adulthood.*
Okay. Let's say that comes true. Now what?
*I was ridiculed and don't want their ridicule.*
The root issue? I have a fear that my children will be hurt as I was by peers.

The answer? The truth of God.

Psalm 34. So good. I won't quote the entire chapter, but I should. There's not a word that isn't worth reading, that won't speak life to you.
Paste function? I thank you for keeping me to the five minute limit.

Psalm 34:1-22
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
(I did. I couldn't leave anything out.)

We may not understand how the Lord delivers us. We are afraid of dying, of separation, of "the end", but for those of us in Christ, it is actually "the beginning".
I want to make the most of every waking moment I have on Earth, but also to live in the freedom of purpose of following God's plan for my life instead of the plans others have put upon me.
My children will experience pain, sorrow, disappointment and heartache, and though I long to spare them, it is in those times where they will find God for themselves. It is my job to point to Him as best I can (and shepherd them so the falls are on grass instead of glass). It is their job to choose.

Timer lets me know that it's time to go.

Be encouraged!

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before Your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
~C.S. Lewis, "Til We Have Faces"

Thursday, June 11, 2015

World: Five Minute Friday

Another week, another chance to write on a one-word prompt for only five minutes. We set timers, type quickly, and let it flow without criticism. Then, we link-up our posts so we can read others' posts and they read ours and we have a community that grows from one word each week.
Five Minute Friday.


Okay, I admit. I took time before I started typing (and my timer) to read some passages on "world". God loved the world and came not to condemn it but to save it. (Remember that John 3:17 is part of that wonderful 3:16 verse!)
Still, many New Testament passages warn us to distance ourselves from the world—yet we're commanded to go into that same world and bring the Good News.

What role do we have in the world? What in the world are we to do? I found John 15 to be my central thought. (cut and paste, friends!)
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]

So, as there is increasing pressure to accept our changing world's embrace of non-Christian ideals as "normal", we experience great hatred if we do not do so.
Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (World?) :)

Our role is pretty simple. To let God do the speaking. The moving. The leading. We may be hated by the world for looking like Christ Jesus, but if we are moving out of His leading, by His Spirit (verses 26 & 27 of John 15), then we will be motivated by love and righteousness.
God put you in the world exactly when and where He thought you would best be suited for His plan and His reach to hearts not yet reached. Don't discount for a moment where you are and who you are. It is His master plan and you are His handiwork!


P.S. If you visit me from FMF, would you be a dear and tell me which # you are in the linkup? That way I can find you and comment back and read your posts! :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Gift: Five Minute Friday

Every Friday (or Thursday night for those of us who can't wait), a group of us gather together and take five minutes to write on a one-word prompt without worrying about spelling, spacing, or anything else but just pouring our hearts out. Won't you join us? Here's the linkup for this week's prompt: Gift.

Immediately, the word in my mind when I heard "gift" was "Time".

I wrote this week for the BraveGirlCommunity on "Being There". And, due to being with my family and all the end of the year fun, I have not been online much. Last night I was bookkeeping instead of blogging and the sweet Susan Shipe @Hopeful50 sent a tweet telling me she'd missed me.
Even that she took time to do that was a blessing.

"Father of Lights, you delight in your children. Every good and perfect gift comes from you, Father of Lights." That was a praise-and-worship song in my college days that still edifies me. (based on James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." )

By being present, by looking at our kids with our eyes instead of through a camera lens, we risk losing the surface memory, but instead it penetrates our minds and hearts.
Are you focused on whether or not your lens is in focus? Or are you focused on what is happening in front of you?

My parents gave us the gift of their presence for my daughter's kindergarten graduation. (400 miles for a Tuesday night program!) And? Due to their gift (and sacrifice) of time, they were there at breakfast when she lost her first tooth, they saw her little sister's preschool program (which their own daughter directed), and they saw their daughter receive a Pillar of Character award which was a testimony to the legacy of faith they'd presented.

I truly appreciate the gift of my parents' presence at almost every major event of my life. When they didn't or couldn't make it, there was an effort to reach out to me.

Love is a choice, love is a gift, and I can live in love of others because of the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The other gift I'm learning this year is grace, but my timer is telling me to save that for another week. :)