Sunday, March 25, 2018

God's leading vs. Man's leading

Our family has moved around a lot. We have been sort of like a military family in that respect. Sometimes it's been a year, sometimes it's been 2, and almost 3.

People don't question those in the military who move, because they have the government telling them what to to do, when, and where.

It's ironic that we being in ministry have had more criticism for moving even though our leading has been from someone much bigger than the government. God has been our leader, and He has been the one to direct our path.

Most people don't believe this. Most people think, we just like moving around.

No, we really would love to stay in one place. In ministry, people do tend to move a little more because many times pastors start out as assistants or teachers before moving on to being a pastor.

Our life has had a different direction though. Things have not been typical, but we have always prayed for God's leading and gone where God led. It would have been wonderful in many ways to be like some in ministry who go the most expected way, but in many ways, I think we would have missed out. In the difficult positions, we have learned our weaknesses. We have seen our strengths as well. We have not stayed stagnant, because God has continually showed us new things. No one is free of mistakes. It's unfortunate that so many have this opinion of people in full time ministry.

Through the ten years of marriage that my husband and I have had as of this July, we have been on a roller coaster in many respects. We have experienced all sides of ministry, from being in leadership to being under leadership. We have seen the good and the bad. We have seen the proud and the humble. We have been the proud and the humble. We have been loved, and we have been ignored. We have been judged, and perhaps that is the hardest of all. In all these times, we have been led by God.

Due to our circumstances with our middle son, there are things we can't do. We can't ever go to Africa and be a missionary. I doubt God would allow it. And at this point in our lives, I can't be the caretaker on my own of this son, so it necessitates my husband being home with him. What does this mean for a "call to ministry?" God gave us our son, and God has continually led us away from ministries we have gone to, so it must mean that this is a full time ministry. For the first time, we are looking at a non-paid ministry with me being the main money earner. It is different, but it is how God is leading.

Today, our family listened to a message about Moses and how he and the Israelites wandered for 40 years. They made a lot of mistakes, and the ones who made the initial ones never made it to the promised land. Moses made a lot of mistakes as a leader, and he never made it, but in those 40 years, there was a lot of learning that went on. Moses accepted His fate to lead a group of ungrateful people through a wilderness, and perhaps that is how some pastors feel today as they lead their church. For Moses, it had to be about an eternal perspective. The generations after the initial Israelites, had to have the right perspective as well. They were moving constantly at the direction of God. God was taking them on the route He had for them to reach the Promised land. There were many lessons along the way. Without all of the moving, they would have never been what they needed to be.

So as our family continues on the path God has for us, I pray that we will always follow God's leading. We are the first to admit our imperfections, but we are thankful that we have the Lord as our ultimate guide. James tells us that the wisdom that comes from God or Godly people is pure, peaceful, gentle, reasonable, merciful, full of good fruits, stable, and non-hypocritical. We strive to follow this wisdom. We understand that only God knows our hearts, and God says that man looks at the outside, so sometimes this makes it difficult to be understood.

Going back to the military vs ministry analogy, may we each follow our leader and remember that God is the the ultimate leader and director of our paths.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Coffee for the Caregiver- The Misunderstood

Caregiving is something that has become more well-known in the last few years. People are not as likely to put their loved one in a special facility unless they are absolutely not able to care for them. Home care is becoming more popular and allowing families the freedom of staying close to loved ones going through health problems or that are aging.

This change has made family caregivers more common. Unfortunately, this does not mean that they are an understood group of people.

Many people who look at someone who cares for an ailing loved one probably believe that it's where that person belongs. It may be that this is true, but it does not make this person's situation an easy one. Some may look at a caregiver and wonder why that person never joins in on the fun anymore. They might think it is easy to find someone to step in so that they can get a break. Some might think to themselves that so and so's appearance has really gone down hill.

All of these thoughts are from someone on the outside looking in. It is an easy place to be. On the inside, you might feel misunderstood. You might look in the mirror and see the extra wrinkles, weight gain from stress, and sad eyes. You see your friends go out and have fun, and they ask you to join and look disappointed when you don't. Eventually, they just stop asking.

It is difficult to be misunderstood, and if you have been a caregiver for any length of time, you understand this fact. How can you make it through? How can you deal with the people around you who don't understand and who don't see that the choices you make are the best ones you could make?

As a caregiver myself along with my husband, we have learned after years of trying to just make it, that we are different. We live outside of the normal box. We learn to explain our situation and hope that others will understand. Not everyone will. Not everyone understands that roles change in a situation like ours. Not everyone understands how being a team is essential when you are a caregiver.

Some of you that are caregivers are only one person caring for your spouse or a single mom or dad caring for a child. The pressure and stress has to be insurmountable, because I have felt it so with two of us. How do you make it?

You don't make it. You need someone, and you have someone. The One who always understands and is always on your team is an essential part of you job as a caregiver. If you don't know the Lord, then you need to meet Him. He is the only way to get through your difficult situation in one piece. He says that His yolk is easy and His burden is light. Accepting His death for your sins and His resurrection for your life is the only way.

It has been difficult enough with two of us, and we have the Lord on our side. Being misunderstood brings tears, and it can bring bitterness and anger-neither of which can stay if we want to make it. The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

When you as a caregiver feel misunderstood and feel like you have "beat a dead horse" when it comes to explaining, leave it in the Lord's hands. Don't let the understanding of others determine your joy in your circumstance.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Our Responsibility and God's Promises in Suffering

1 Peter 5:6-10 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

So many times we separate this passage reminding ourselves to be humble, to give God our cares, to resist the devil, but it all goes together, and with the entire Bible, it's so important to take it in the context.

The section is written to those who are younger, who don't have as much experience yet are obviously being tried. These truths are important for any stage in life though. Humility in trials means that we are to rest under his hand, let Him take care of us, let Him take our anxieties. During these times, we are especially susceptible to the the devil because we are struggling. We may be weaker than normal, but under the care of Jesus, we can be safe. Even in his care, though, the passage tells us to resist, be firm in our faith, and to remind ourselves that others throughout the world are in this same position.

The realization that we are not the only ones suffering is an important one. It's a selfless realization that can carry us through trials with the Lord's help. He wants us to remember other believers. He doesn't want our focus to be on self. A self focus can cause anxiety to worsen, and ultimately, it is pride.

In the end, our suffering in the whole scheme of things is just a short time. God promises to restore us, confirm us, strengthen us, and establish us. I believe that these things will happen on earth or for some it may not be until heaven. Either way, in comparison to eternity, it is only a short time of suffering. We must keep our eyes focused on the truth of eternity as we go through difficult times while resting under the hand of God and trusting ourselves to His care. We must not forget in all of this to keep our heads and be sober minded and watchful, so that we never let down our guard letting Satan get a foot-hold during our suffering.

Ultimately, this passage shows us our responsibilities and what God promises in our suffering. We must accept our responsibilities and trust God to follow through on His promises.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Coffee for the Caregiver and the Christian

Everyone needs their coffee for the day. When I think of coffee, I think comfort. For others it might be a cup of tea that brings this comfort, to others it might be a piece of dark chocolate. We all have things that offer comfort when we need it. Physical comforts are necessary as are spiritual comforts.

As a Christians, we have the Comforter- The Holy Spirit living within us. We have the comfort of Jesus who is Emmanuel and offers the comfort of "God with us." We have the Father, who by this very names is a comfort as to many of us, our earthly fathers have brought and bring us comfort.

There are times in life when we need comfort. As a caregiver, comfort is something that I often need. The knowledge that someone understands is a comfort. As caregivers to our son, my husband and I have needed comfort. Man has not always provided the comfort that we have needed as most people do not understand unless they have been there themselves. We have been so thankful for those who have tried to understand and who have done everything they could to understand and help us in times of trial as caregivers and parents to a child with special needs. There have been times though when we have felt alone. In those times, I know it is important for us to remember that we are not alone. We have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, whether a caregiver or not, we have these three. There will be times where our decisions will be unpopular, but what is important is that you know you have made the right decision based on your relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In these times when you feel alone, once again, you are not.

As we begin our day, whether it's with a steaming cup of coffee or some other comfort, remember the Comforter who is always with us.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Good News

I wanted to share a quick post for those who follow me around the world.

We had a high risk ultrasound today to see if our new baby has any birth defects. We are so thankful for the Lord's mercy, that this baby looks healthy. He has a perfect heart (according to the doctor), he has two normal sized kidneys, and he has been swallowing fluid and filling his stomach. Each of these things mean something to us, because our youngest had problems in these areas, and they ultimately were signs of CHARGE syndrome.

A great burden is lifted after this appointment. God is good no matter what, but I'm so thankful He chose to show us mercy in this way.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Purpose in Affliction

As I was headed in 2018 on New Years Eve, I began reading in 2 Corinthians. 

Some of my past posts have been on trials and suffering and thoughts one why we go through these things. Although, God likely has many reasons for what we go through, I love it when He points out specific reasons. 

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, we see that "if we are afflicted, it is for your (others) comfort and salvation." 

Our afflictions are for the purpose of comforting others and bringing them to salvation. 

We see that Christ's afflictions were for the same purpose - our comfort and salvation, and now as Christians, our purpose is the same. 

There will always be afflicted people with afflictions bigger than ours or less than ours. We need to keep in mind this purpose of God's in our afflictions. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7, "3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in [a]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are [b]ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

More Than Salvation

John 10:9-10, "I am the door: by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

The offering of Christ in this passage is so much more than salvation. Salvation is just the beginning. We enter in to His fold and are saved, but then after we have trusted Him for salvation, we have something else.

We have freedom in Christ. We can go in and out and find pasture. As a member of Christ's flock, we are able to stay in the warmth of the fold or go out and feed on the pastures that He has provided for us. In both places, we are protected as we are under the watchful care of the Shepherd.

In contrast to the door of Christ, we see the thief in verse 10. The thief's sole purpose is not freedom. It is death. Christ reminds us, however, that He is come that we might have life and an abundant one at that.

Our salvation and freedom in Christ offers us an abundant life spiritually both in this life and in the next.