Sunday, November 30, 2008

Star Power 2008

As the earthly wealth and corporate executive positions lose their luster in this changing economy perhaps we saints can see the poverty of riches. Today I am presenting the fourth resolution of Jonathan Edwards in this series of observing this man's personal discipline of affirming these resolutions every week of his life.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

GLORY is a quality importance which a person, group, or nation has and which another recognizes. "To give glory" is to praise, to recognize the importance of another, the weight the other carries in the community.

It's easy for us to see the glory Madonna and Tiger Woods receive from worshippers throughout the world. But the Bible is clear no one will receive God's glory and thrive.

Many great Christian thinkers have been concerned over the "hero" worship of people in the Western cultures. Most disturbing is Christians giving glory to men and women evangelists, pastors, and performers. As an event planner for Christian organizations I learned early on it's easy to fill a room with a well known Christian celebrity. But I have found the greatest moments in my Christian life have not come through the "rock stars of Christianity," but some profound humble folks surrendered to God as Jonathan Edwards speaks here....these folks cared more about God's glory than anything else in their lives.

As life as usual is swapped with the new times carved out by the economic crash of 08 may we all be aware of our own sin of giving glory to anything or anyone but God.

James 1:10 calls on a rich man to "glory in his humiliation," indicating a glory that does not mean riches or power or great aesthetic or material beauty. The glory of man is the beauty of man’s spirit, which is fallible and eventually passes away, and is therefore humiliating—as the verse tells us.

But the glory of God, which is manifested in all His attributes together, never passes away. (J.L. Packer, Knowing God)

This week I helped someone out who truly needed it. I spoke out loud in the bank making the transfer, "Oh, I wish I were a rich woman. I would have so much fun helping people in true need." The teller and a stranger smiled and looked at me with funny looks on their faces. I laughed as I left. I don't know if I have ever wished to be "rich" before. The money and riches are not the problem with anyone. If we trust the riches they are a problem. If we trust God and give Him all our praise and recognize His glory never fades or diminishes; we will thrive.

The only people God can trust with great wealth are the ones who understand like Jonathan Edwards who resolved to...never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

"God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

As Psalm 19:1-4 says, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands; day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world."

What are your thoughts of tending to the glory of God?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Welcome New Ways To Be All I Can Be

Jonathan Edwards wrote profoundly on how to thrive and live abundantly in Christ. Today is the second in a series on the Resolutions he wrote for his discipline. He read these resolutions once a week throughout his life.

2. "Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things."

My thoughts on this resolution: I have to admit if things aren't broken I rarely do anything to seek change or innovation. That probably explains why I am still battling some issues in my 64th year of life.

Now for this to be clear I must repeat some of Edwards resolution 1: I Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.

Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

My musings: Imagine it; he writes the resolution, he disciplines himself to keep the resolutions fresh in his mind and then he resolves to seek whatever he needs to invent or learn to best be successful in making these resolutions reality.

3." Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again. "


Imagine that this was written centuries ago and I must admit I do fall and I do grow dull. Oh, yes when I come to myself I need to remember all my sins so that I can repent and avoid those issues now and in the future. I especially like the term, "come to myself."

You know I want to hear from you. I recall a friend telling me we Christians are like facets in a diamond; each one giving that special ray of light reflection with just the hint of color and light bouncing off. I need your "facet" thought as I reflect on the glory of God in my life. Shine here on Thrive Christians and I will be blessed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Relax God Is Still In Control

In crisis we Christians need to continually recall Who is in charge of this country, this world, all things: God. A little time with the daily news reporting the latest "pink slip" announcement and what the experts predict for the near future can shatter the strongest saint's foundation.

Thanksgiving was delicious and calm for my family. All of us have secure situations for the present. But we all shared concerns for people close to us knowing their jobs are phasing out or their small businesses may not make it.

So, today my heart is identifying with those folks. You would think a physician never has to be concerned about such things. But I remember many years ago my husband had too many Medicare patients proportionately in his family practice, and we were very concerned how we would make it. I've been involved in marketing for many years. Together we developed some educational workshops and the result attracted many younger patients. Eventually my husband's office was in great shape and stayed that way until he became ill.

I remember that frightening time. It was like I couldn't breathe deeply and my back felt bogged down. During that time I found I had to continually fix my mind on God. I had to see Him as sovereign power over all things and He loved me and my family. The doomsday fear thoughts would try to worm in and destroy my peace.

One of the greatest writers on this subject was Jonathan Edwards. In 1723 he developed resolutions to keep his mind focused on this truth. For the next few weeks I will give some of these resolutions each day. Bear in mind, Edwards affirmed these each week of his life. No wonder he died as president of Princeton University after writing many books and serving as pastor of several churches.


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.

Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever. "

I love this closing..."how many soever, and how great soever." Oh, yes, Dr. Edwards, I know some soevers and some of mine have been great soevers.

Got any thoughts on this first resolution? Got any "soevers?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogging: Thanksgiving Tribute

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things today, but let me zone in on blogging. I am amazed at the joy and fulfillment blogging has given my life. I love sharing my thoughts and experiences here on Thriving Christians; but reading others' blogs and having them take the time to read and comment on my blog is wonderful.

So to one of my dear blogging friends, Beth at Power of your Love ; I will complete a questionaire from a blog tag she sent me. Beth has a heart as tender and loving as I have ever seen. Delight yourself and go to her blog.

The tag quesionaire: 6 random things about Kay that you probably didn't know before:

1. I love adventure and I always wanted to be a detective chasing down the guys hurting vulnerable folks and messing up peaceful living. That's kind of funny, because now I am working with prison ministry helping the offenders get their life back through the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. I never meant to marry. My mom and dad had a tragic, destructive marriage and I saw my mother as so much more than I saw myself; so I assumed I could not have a strong marriage. God had different ideas and when I met my husband we fell in love so deeply that living a day without him was worse than my fears of marriage. We had a real marriage with many issues, but through God we made it 43 1/2 years with true love at the point of his death with his hands clinging to me as he breathed his last breath.

3. I had difficulty getting pregnant and when my precious daughter was a reality within me I was euphorically happy. To be mother to her and our son is one of the most fulfilling parts of my existence and I believe she is the greatest woman and he is the greatest man on earth. Now, that could be overstating things, but don't mess with me...I am their MOTHER!!!

4. I have a call of writing on my heart, but I struggle with the process. Rarely do I believe the written words express my true thoughts and heart cries. I'm believing I will one day "write" as Holy Spirit directs and His words will come through.

5. People need to laugh in this harsh changing time. I am hoping to start up a comedy troupe with a few of my proteges. We all need some extra money and I am believing as silly as all of us can be at times we are the ones to bring a little laughing rx for a fee to a world that must laugh to survive.

6. I have an "A" thing as far as places I've always wanted to visit: Alaska, Australia, and Arizona.

In blogging tagging goes on and on. So here are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.

2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).

3) Write 6 random things about yourself.

4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.

5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

My math is poor...I couldn't decide who to pick; ya'll are all tagged: Dorothy Laura Kathy Joyfulsister Pamela Karen Angela Jhunnelle Nicki Marilyn

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Audacious Belief Can Be Expensive

May I introduce you to one fabulous "real" Christian young woman, Laura. Trip on over to her new blog and to get to "know" her in cyberspace.

God has blessed me with many relationships, but few can even come close to the value of being connected to Laura. A few years ago she asked me to mentor her spiritually. The greatest joy for any mentor is to see your protege progress to a level that exceeds all you've ever known personally. Laura is that for me. Now, we come together as peers. Only occasionally does she call on me as mentor; but oh, how I enjoy the honor of her being my dear, dear friend.

For a couple of years we have been working on helping her find her voice in writing and public speaking. We have a dream that is still unfulfilled that we will do a comedy routine to help young people and novice business people with etiquette. We feel comedy will be needed to hold the attention of young people and help them transition through their necessary changes for "protocol with ease." We worked for over a year developing this "business" and after much marketing research we decided the market was not in place for us to be compensated for the cost to operate "Protocol With Ease." Now, we offer it to ministries as our time allows. is a preview of Audacious Belief Blog:

The idea of blogging has intrigued me for some time. I'm not sure what has taken me so long.

  • Busy work schedule?

  • Hectic home life with kids?

  • Attention Deficit Disorder?

  • Fear? Ouch(that one hurt)!!

Whatever the reason, tonight I felt compelled to BEGIN THE BLOG.I've actually been mulling over the name of the blog for months. Nothing seemed to quite fit. I even plugged in a handful that came back "unavailable".

I then decided to let Holy Spirit direct my fingers and "Audacious Belief" is what came out. What?! Where did that come from?! I must admit I hesitated for a minute and then surrendered to "Okay God - whatever??!!" (Yes, I talk with Him like that).

So, Audacious Belief, it is. Let's see where this journey takes us.


This is Kay again, make my day and check out Laura's blog. She is an amazing young woman who is utterly surrendered to our Lord. I chuckled when she told me about the title, and I told her that God will give her adventures that demand audacious belief. Daring to write "Thriving Christians" has been expensive; I can only imagine what "Audacious Belief" will demand in life experiences.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Praying For Eyes that "See"

When we can see all that is gift and promise we are naturally thankful. But sometimes we get spoiled and feel entitled to much ... then whatever we have is not enough to satisfy us. May we pray for eyes and hearts to "see" those things that bless us this week of Thanksgiving in America.

There is an old counseling joke:
"Two little boys were each given a key to a room. Johnny unlocked his room to find it filled with beautifully wrapped gifts. Jimmy unlocked his room to find it full of manure. An hour or two later Johnny had unwrapped all of his gifts and looked gloomy, "Is that all there is?" Little Jimmy was humming and ditching that manure, "There has to be a pony here somewhere, I just got to keep digging and looking."

Pretty crude, eh? I think I've loved that story for many reasons. I am an optimist...I admit it, but I can get down and not see my way out of things. When that happens I have a habit of looking and praying for "eyes" to see all my blessings. Sometimes it is a breath taking view as I'm driving along a road, a sunset with gorgeous colors, a baby's laugh or a song that brings back wonderful memories.

I'm digging deeply into the second chapter of Ephesians, and I am asking God for eyes to "see" the miracle of God choosing me for salvation. In the first verses Paul explains that I was DEAD...not wretched sinner, messed up, making, he says it's all that, but worse... I (we) was (were) DEAD. This blog is dedicated to focus of thriving as Christians. Well, getting from DEAD to living has to be the first step before we can thrive. As I said yesterday, Just give me Jesus...otherwise I'm the dead walking (according to the Bible; Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2).
I love Charles Spurgeon's writings...see what he says about Ephesians 2:
When I was coming to Christ [as a young man of 16] I thought I was doing it all myself. [But when I learned differently, when I learned that everything that happened to me was God's doing and God's gift] I felt that I had grown in a sudden from a babe into a man - that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God.

More on Ephesians 2 tomorrow....but today may we come alive in Christ and "see" all the riches and blessings God has for us in our lives now!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just Give Me Jesus

Jesus ... Just give me Jesus. No matter what, I can make it when I have Jesus. I recall years ago a cd included in a book by Ann Graham Lotz where she lamented, "I don't want a miracle, a prophetic word... just give me Jesus." Ann's parents, Billy and Ruth Graham, had both had serious illnesses that year, her son had fought off cancer, her husband's office had burned and she had to complete two major publishing projects on deadline. At the end of all of that there was nothing that could meet her needs but Jesus Christ.

This has been one of those years for me. In fact in the last 24 hours I've had another jolt concerned with ministry. I will go on, in spite of disappointment and knowing there will be major changes that don't suit my feelings; but like Anne, "...just give me Jesus," is all I can say.

So to answer my own probing questions:
What does Jesus mean to you? He is my life. Years ago I made an exchange when nothing in my life made sense. I remember that moment better than any other moment in my life. I had been trying to be a good Christian for years, but I hit a wall. I cried to the Lord and gave Him my everything then and for all time. Life burst in me at the moment I cried out; and that life is still the essence of my everything. Jesus Christ "PAID IN FULL" all my sin debts. I see a courtroom where all my wrongs, sins, mistakes, stupid judgment calls are read as crimes against me and Jesus walks up and says "Try Me instead." The Judge says, "She's free!" Instead of giving me license to live any way I want ... I live in gratitude and awe of such love. I am because I AM loved me, chose me, redeemed me and guides me to Thrive....forever. Just give me Jesus.

How has He changed your life? We don't have enough time or space to answer this, but briefly He gave me honor and respect. In Him I have no reason to live with shame, hopelessness or defensiveness. Humbly I realize I am intentional in His Eternal Kingdom and I don't have to prove myself to anyone else. I can look to others because I have no need to prove my worthiness...He's already done that. I am free to listen, care for and focus on others before myself. Recently a friend going through a traumatic chronic illness called me about nightmares. She's hanging on the edge wanting her way and a "bit" of Christianity for Hell insurance. I told her she had hit one reason I am so strongly vocal in my faith. I had nightmares every night until I married my dear husband. Then they were less frequent. When I committed all to the Lord, I have never had another nightmare. one day overwhelming trauma to a little girl was relieved and nightmares were no longer necessary to deal with unbearable feelings, etc. That's one of many, many ways my life is forever changed wonderfully by Son of God, Son of Man Jesus Christ.

How do you live out Christ in your life? I live my life with the "knowing" of the presence of Christ in me every moment of every day and night. Since I am aware of His presence my speech, my actions are significant that He is pleased. In fact, that is my major question at all times in all things, "Lord, does this please You?" I find what I sense with my Bible study instilled in me, what pleases the Lord does not always please all men. When I am rejected because I choose His way and that conflicts with someone else's wishes; it hurts, but the pain of rejection is not enough for me to choose other than what I believe pleases Him. So my life is not my own, thank's His. Christ in me lives out a thriving life through my body, my personality and all the glory is His. Strong gentleness is how I see Him; I pray I am strong and gentle in all ways at all times.

Just Give Me Jesus

Friday, November 21, 2008

Want to Know Depth of a Christian?

The answer to these 3 questions tells much about the depth of a Christian:

  1. What does Jesus mean to you?
  2. How has He changed your life?
  3. How do you live out Christ in your life?

I'd love to read your answers. I will post my answers tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

FUN FRIDAY: Wordless Fun

Pain A Gift?

How can author/speaker, Philip Yancey see pain as a gift?

In an article for Christianity Today he describes a horrible car crash and how he came to this truth on February 25, 2007.

I was driving alone on a remote highway, curvy but not too hilly, at about 65 mph. A curve came up suddenly, and I turned to the left, perhaps too sharply. I tried to correct, but as best as I can reconstruct what happened, my tire slipped off the edge of the asphalt onto the dirt. That started the Explorer rolling over sideways, at least three times and probably more. Amazingly, the vehicle stopped right side up.

All windows were blown out, and skis, boots, laptop computer, and suitcases were strewn over 100 feet or so in the dirt. I tried my hands and legs, and they worked fine. I was able to unbuckle the seat belt and walk away. Within five minutes a couple of cars stopped, and their occupants, Mormons on the way to church, called for help.

I had a lot of minor cuts and bruises on my face and limbs, but except for a persistent nosebleed, nothing serious. I did have intense pain in my neck, though. When the ambulance came, they strapped me into a rigid body board, taping my head still and immobilizing it with a neck brace. It took almost an hour to reach the town of Alamosa in southern Colorado. …

Alamosa has no radiologist on duty over the weekend, so all images had to be modemed to Australia (where it was Monday morning, a normal work day) for interpretation. The images are so dense that the high-speed transmittal takes an hour, and then the diagnosis can take another hour.

After the initial batch, the doctor came in with those prefatory words no patient wants to hear: "There's no easy way to say this, Mr. Yancey … " I had broken the C-3 vertebra in a "comminuted" fashion. (I didn't know that word either; look it up, and the dictionary says "pulverized"). The good news was that the break did not occur in the spinal cord column itself. If it had, well, C-2 is where Christopher Reeve's break occurred, so you get the picture of what can happen up there. The spinal column has three channels, one for the spinal cord, and two for arterial blood supply, which is where my fracture occurred. The bad news was that due to the splintered nature of the break, a bone fragment may well have nicked or penetrated an artery.

"We have a jet standing by if needed to airlift you to Denver," the doctor explained. "We'll do another MRI, this time with an iodine dye solution to reveal any possible leakage from the artery. This is a life-threatening situation." …
I went in for the iodine-dye scan, and then was left alone to wait for the transmission to Australia and the results.

In all, I lay strapped onto that body board for seven hours. The emergency room was quite busy that day, mostly crying babies. I had plenty of time to think. I've done articles on people whose lives have been changed overnight by an accident that left them paraplegic or quadriplegic. Evidently I had narrowly missed that fate; and I mean narrowly—my break was about one-half inch from the spinal cord. However, if my artery was leaking, an artery that feeds the brain, or if it threw a clot, well, a fate worse than paralysis awaited me. …

As it happened, thank God—oh, yes, thank God—the results were far better than either of us could imagine. The MRI revealed no arterial leakage. I was released within half an hour of my wife Janet's arrival, fitted with a rigid neck brace that will keep my head from moving for the next 10 weeks or so. If all goes well, the vertebra may heal back appropriately on its own; if not, I may need surgery down the road.

Nine weeks after his car accident, Yancey was invited to speak to Virginia Tech students in the wake of the tragic campus murders committed by Seung-Hui Cho in mid-April. In the midst of his sermon, Yancey reflected on the accident and offered these words of insight, putting pain in perspective:

I'm wearing a neck brace because I broke my neck in an auto accident. For the first few hours as I lay strapped to a body board, medical workers refused to give me pain medication because they needed my response.

The doctor kept probing, moving my limbs, asking, "Does this hurt? Do you feel that?" The correct answer, the answer both he and I desperately wanted, was, "Yes. It hurts. I can feel it." Each sensation gave proof that my spinal cord had not been severed. Pain offered proof of life, of connection—a sign that my body remained whole.

In grief, love and pain converge. Cho felt no grief as he gunned down your classmates because he felt no love for them. You feel grief because you did have a connection. Some of you had closer ties to the victims, but all of you belong to a body to which they belonged. When that body suffers, you suffer. Remember that as you cope with the pain. Don't try and numb it. Instead, acknowledge it as a perception of life and love.
Philip Yancey, "I'm Okay! Honest."

Absence of pain seems the best option over experiencing suffering and pain, but as Yancy shows us there is a purpose for pain. Pain indicates life. Numbness can be a sign of no life. Jesus Christ suffered; He wept; He was angry without sin; He loved ardently; He lamented the state of Israel...He showed us Life lived Best; and He showed us how to suffer in ways that please Father God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tragedy? Strike up The Band & Dance

You Gotta Keep Dancin' by Tim Hansel came into my life early enough to over-ride some old tapes I'd developed from hearing much self pity. Tim can't remember the last time he woke up without pain. This great athlete fell off a mountain more than 30 years ago. He ended up with a permanent injury that compressed his spine.

A Christian, Hansel prayed for healing "hundreds and hundreds of times". You may be thinking that he must be depressed and forlorn. No, one of his friends described him recently as "the most cheerful man I know". In his book I mentioned earlier he writes that no matter what your circumstances, you can choose to be joyful. I remember when I read his book, You Gotta' Keep Dancin' the light bulb went on for me. Seems this new light made me a troublemaker to the "normal" conversations at church and family gatherings. I was no longer an "amen" backup to "ain't it awful....?"
"I don't want to celebrate pain, but more deeply understand the dignity of what can happen in it, through and because of it," Hansel wrote. "Sometimes life is not so much to be understood as it is to be lived out. Some of us spend more time analysing life than we do living it. While pain is unavoidable, misery is optional."

Hansel is calling us not to be paralysed by life's challenges. He calls us to embrace all of life and not fear living. Hansel says God has given us such immense freedom He will allow us to be as miserable as we want to be. I awoke to wanting to thrive and have all the joy God had for me.

When the tides of life shift - through broken relationships, layoffs at work, death or just the passing of seasons - we might have to re-evaluate where our security is based.

"Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human," Hansel said.

The Jewish Bible prophets give a great philosophy of life: live one day at a time. Don't live looking backward and grieving over the past, which is gone. Don't be troubled about the future; it's not here yet. God's name is I AM. Live NOW; and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.

The writers of the Psalms asked:
  • Whether God was good
  • Whether He loved us
  • Whether He let us suffer sometimes.

Their conclusion to all three was yes.

Suffering is sometimes a gift. Hansel said his accident had stopped him experiencing a trivial life. "God finally healed me of the need to be healed . . . I had discovered a peace inside the pain. Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith."

We have the right to choose what to do with our lives. We can choose to live and love honestly, or to live in fear. Making peace with pain and suffering are key to knowing how God means for us to thrive in our lives.

I'm looking for your viewpoints. Tell your stories or offer your honest questions on suffering.


I do want to keep dancing with You. Tune my spiritual ears up to your rhythm and beat. I pray to keep step with You and live and be! But most of all I pray that You lead. AMEN

Too Long Too Much On a Blog Post is a Pain

Pain got to me. Writing about where is God in my pain got to me. I wrote and I wrote....and I had a plan for those huge piles of words. I saved them in sections for each day this week. As I had time I would edit and rewrite and save them for publishing later. But yesterday I accidentally published two huge posts on the same day.

My question is why is this so huge to me that I break all my own blog writing rules about length of post etc? Not many pastors get down to the core of this subject in sermons. Well, it probably doesn't sit well with any of us that God meant for the book of Job to be written just the way it reads and Habbakkuk is not a misprint, "If the fig tree never blossoms...
For me my faith became worth everything when most of what mattered in my life was threatened; and I still chose God above all that. I didn't lose everything, but it looked like I could. When our daughter was in a perilous circumstance with brain tumors this understanding of God in my pain was critical to my survival.

You can't suddenly fill up your pipeline of faith and wisdom on the day a train wrecks your world. Scripture and great saints like Elisabeth Elliot's words were etched in my mind and spirit before great tragedy rocked my world. For any of you reading this week, just know an older woman was writing here the best of the best that sustained her faith when there was no logical reason to want to live anymore, much less thrive. Sharing what is working in my life is part of my goal in blogging.

I've written this week out of a heart of thanksgiving that God anointed great men and women to be transparent in their writing and speaking so that I can live through pain and still have faith that God is who He says He is.

Read some in the last few posts when you have the time: it'll be good for you. Don't live another day with an imbalanced concept of God and pain. That is not healthy for your overall well being. God is love. You were intentional in His mind for all of creation. He is trustworthy. He can be depended on always. He will get you through all things; and in Him you will thrive.

You may have pain; NEVERTHELESS....though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food....Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habbakkuk 3

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making Sense of Pain: Elisabeth Elliot

Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? is probably every one's questions at some point in their lives. Elisabeth Elliot helped me make sense of life's complexities and put these questions aside.

Elisabeth: The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our own stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our independence. To be "crucified with Christ" means what Oswald Chambers calls "breaking the husk" of that independence.

If we reject this cross, we will not find it in this world again. Here is the opportunity offered. Be patient. Wait on the Lord for whatever He appoints, wait quietly, wait trustingly. He holds every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year in His hands. Thank Him in advance for what the future holds, for He is already there. "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup. (Psalm 16:5)" Shall we not gladly say, "I’ll take it, Lord! I’ll trust You for everything. Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

Born Elisabeth Howard in Belgiumto missionary parents. The family moved to Pennsylvania when she was a few months old. She studied Koine Greek at Wheaton College, where she met Jim Elliot. The two went individually to Ecuador to work with the Quechua Indians and married in 1953. Their daughter, Valerie (born 1955), was 10 months old when Jim was executed by the Huaorani Indinans. She continued her work with the Quechua for two more years until she learned the Huaorani language. In October 1958, Mrs. Elliot went to live with the Huaorani with her three year old daughter Valerie and Rachel Saint until she and daughter Valerie returned to the U.S. in 1963. In 1969, Elisabeth married Addison Leitch, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Leitch died in 1973. In 1977, she married Lars Gren. In the mid 1970s she served as one of the stylistic consultants for the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) committee.

Sharon Andersen gives this great interview with Elisabeth on her website:

Elisabeth EE. In the first place it is a mystery how God apportions suffering. Most of us would agree that the most holy people we know seem to be required to go through more and more deep waters.
From a psychological standpoint I would think that people who are highly sensitive and have more vivid imaginations suffer more than others. I remember lying awake at night imagining the things that would happen to my second husband after we learned of his cancer. These thoughts were in themselves a point of suffering. I think that's what Jesus was getting at when he said, "Take no thought for tomorrow." He was not saying it's wrong to plan. He was saying, "Do not assume the burdens of tomorrow." But that is a continual temptation for some of us whose imaginations work overtime.

The profound and simple truth that God is God. When my husband Jim died, the Spirit of God brought to my mind the words: "I am the Lord!" Things which sound like platitudes become vital, living and powerful when you have to learn them in the bottom of the barrel, in dark tunnels. The lesson: "I am the Lord" ought to be one that we learn without going through deep waters, but apparently there isn't any other way.

SA: Why does God choose suffering to mold us?

Elisabeth:EE: To give a complete answer to that is impossible because we are up against a mystery. But He has given us at least 18 scripture verses, and I have them listed in my notebook, that explain some of the whys. For example Romans 8:28 gives us a pattern; verse 29 gives the reason. I Peter 4:12 and 13 are favorites of mine.
We live in a fallen world and therefore where there is wrong then Christians must suffer wrong, like everybody else. You can't get to tomorrow morning without going through tonight. The child cannot be born without going through the straight and narrow gate which is the birth passage and the mother can't give life to the child without suffering. It is the rule of the universe this continual cycle of living and dying.

It is a mystery how God apportions suffering.

We can see this rhythm most dramatically in nature. The apple seed produces the tree which then produces leaves. When the leaves fall off there's death, then in the spring there's life. But those beautiful blossoms have to fall to the ground—to die—or no fruit will be produced. The fruit has to rot in order for the seed to be released which must fall to the ground to make the tree. Then the cycle begins all over again.

I have often tried to imagine what kind of a world it would have been without that cycle of suffering and death. Was there a sense in which death was a part of God's original design, or is it the result of a fall? We can't even imagine life without death.

That's a very intriguing thought. What about those Christians who must deal with a great deal of pain? How can they prevent themselves from seeing God as an ogre?

EE: Look at the cross. That is the crucial point; that is the crux. If you could see God hanging on a cross as victim and lamb, then you could not possibly believe that he's an ogre. What image could he have chosen that would be less threatening, more meek, more helpless than a lamb that looked as if it had been sacrificed?

A: When you address groups on the topic of suffering, you tell them to give Christ their "place of need." What is your place of need?

EE: Most of the days of our lives are quite ordinary days. Not many big things come up—we get into traffic jams or somebody says something snotty little picky things which to me are reminders that God will not allow us to settle down here. What He wants is to draw and move us always toward heaven. There's nothing perfect here.

You have said that Christianity is the only religion that deals with suffering.

EE: I picked that up from C.S. Lewis and others. Buddhism and Hinduism both have an idea of nirvana--a sort of oblivion to reality and desire. You won't suffer because you will get rid of all your feelings and you will desire nothing. And when you desire nothing, then you can't suffer.
Christianity deals head-on with suffering because Christ Himself suffered. This symbol of our faith is a symbol of suffering.
When someone tells me a story about someone's horrible suffering and asks what to do, I can only say what I say all the time. God is there. He has a loving purpose. He will turn it into joy if you offer it to Him.

Of course I have not experienced many kinds of suffering. I haven't been abused by my husband. I am not blind. But the same God who meets me in my dark valleys and deep waters is the God who meets other people in their dark valleys and deep waters. He has been there. Accept suffering, thank God for it and then offer it up to Him.

SA: What about those of us who have different temperaments or more vivid imaginations? Perhaps you just have a stronger inner reservoir for hope.

EE: It can't be a question of temperaments. Like my brother, Tom, I'm a champion pessimist. Tom says, "I'm the kind of guy who dials, 'Dial-A-Prayer' and they hang up on me." I'm like that. I really believe what I say. And God is mercifully helping me to see things from His viewpoint I do know that it works, but God has to teach it to me over and over again.
When my husband, Lars, and I left the television studio after we recorded my lectures, he told me some things I had done wrong. I was just devastated by that. He's the one person in the world that I want to encourage me. My instant, normal, human reaction is to say, "You get up there and do it!" I didn't say it, but I did think it! God always puts His finger on that sore place in my life, that place of need. I can't get up there and pop off to somebody else and say, "Offer your feelings to God," and then go home in a seething stew of resentment about my husband and not offer that to God. He says to me, "OK, you dish that out to those people—how about doing it yourself right now?" I couldn't get to sleep until 2 o'clock the following morning. My only reservoir of strength is Christ. I must continually come to Him for help.
There are certainly times when silence is the only thing you can do.
People sometimes ask me, "How did you get rid of your feelings?" I tell them I didn't get rid of them. I offer them to God, and I have to offer them again, and again, and again.
One of Satan's master tricks is to say, "You big fake, you hypocrite. You didn't mean that. You're just nothing but a hollow mockery." And I say, "God knows I did mean it. Get behind me, Satan." But I'm still a sinner, I'm still subject to feelings.
I tried to be stern with myself after my first husband, Jim, was killed. I made myself get rid of all his clothes. Then six weeks later I found a pair of his shoes in the closet. There was the shape of his feet just as plain as anything, and I was in a state of total self pity again. So again I had to offer up those emotions to God. I think every grieving person goes through this kind of thing, these little reminders. l open a book and here's his handwriting, just one little word on the page. I think about his hand once being on that page. I do my best to let people know I've been there and that I am there.
SA: Who are the Christians that you admire?
EE My father. He was a great model. My mother, too. Amy Carmichael—the missionary—is certainly one of my primary role models. I have had five or six spiritual mothers. These women set visual examples of the shape of godly womanliness.
SA: How important is a sense of humor in the midst of suffering?

EE: It's very important. If we could ever realize the dimensions of the gap between where we are and where we want to be—God's standard of perfection an where we are now—we couldn't help but see ourselves as comic figures. We're laughable.

The Christian ought to be the person with the sharpest sense of humor because we have congruity in our world and life view. You cannot discern incongruity if there is no congruity. If it's all chaos and chance there is really no basis for humor at all. This must have been in the backs of the minds of those who designed the cathedrals in Europe with all these weird looking faces looking down and laughing.

SA: How do you respond to this quote from theologian, H.A. Williams, in his book, Tensions: "If our beliefs are cut and dried it means that we have anesthetized ourselves against nine-tenths of reality. A faith which is life-giving and effective, a robust faith, has to be prepared to take doubt on board."

EE: Doubt has to be embraced by faith. I love what George McDonald says, "The man that feareth, Lord, to doubt, in that fear, doubteth thee." I think there is a place for an honest "why?" which is very different from the challenge of unbelief. The challenge that was thrown at Jesus "Come down from the cross" was the challenge of unbelief. The person who is truly seeking to know God and to understand His ways can legitimately ask why as the psalmist did and as Job did. God never chided them for that. In fact God said that Job had spoken the truth and his friends had not. Job said some awful things, look at Chapter 16!

SA: What are some awful things that you said to God?

EE: I don't really have the guts to do that. I was raised to believe that you had to be very careful about what you said. But I am aware that God knows my thoughts before I think them, so I might as well say them.

A: Is God's love sufficient?

EE: It is sufficient. It's not all I want, it's not all I think I need, but it is enough. But there's no sense in imagining that God's love takes the place of every kind of earthly comfort. If the air conditioning goes off, the love of God is not going to air condition us.
I lived in a house in Ecuador with no walls, and I didn't particularly like that. I'm a person of great reserve and privacy, and I like solitude. I had Indians in my house all the time hanging over my shoulder, going through my stuff. "What's this? What's that? Where did you get it? What's it made of? Why don't you give it to me, you've got two of these?" I had two changes of clothes. One on and one that I had just washed. I would just get tired of having company all the time. But I can look back and remember what the Lord asked the disciples, "When I sent you forth, lacked ye anything?" And they said, "Nothing." God's love is sufficient. We can't expect Him to satisfy everything we think we need. It is in heaven where we will be truly satisfied.
SA: What advice do you have for those of us who have to watch somebody suffer?

EE: Much of what I have said in my seminars I tried to say to my second husband when he got cancer. He was a great theologian and he had written a book on suffering—his last book written before we found out that he had cancer, entitled This Cup. It's really one of the best things I've seen on the subject outside of Lewis's, The Problem of Pain. In the last months of his life I would occasionally read to him from that book and he would just look at me and say, "Did I write that? I didn't know what I was talking about."

SA: Why did he say that?

EE: Because he had never suffered to the degree he was experiencing then. He had not suffered much physically, though he had gone through some horrible emotional traumas. When the cancer struck he would be in such pain that he screamed. He went from 225 pounds down to 125 in ten months. It was a devastating experience.

Throughout the ten months of watching him disintegrate I prayed for physical healing which I knew would have to be a miracle, and if that wasn't possible I prayed that the Lord would give him peace. I really believe that God can give His peace no matter what the situation. And as far as I could tell God never gave him that peace until the last week of his life.
I can remember trying to dish out to him all these things which I was in the process of learning myself. The night before he died I stood at the end of his bed and just implored him to let go of his burdens. When I finished, he didn't say a word at first. He just looked at me. Then all he said was," Well, that was quite a sermon."
I want to give people this gospel, yet some have ears to hear and some haven't. When Jesus preached some believed, some mocked, some didn't believe. There are certainly times when silence is the only thing you can do. Often all I can say to a person in terrible pain is: I don't know what you are going through, but I know the One who knows

SA: You often refer to suffering as a gift.

EE: I know that sounds preposterous. It has taken me years to begin to comprehend this truth, which I believe is scriptural. Jesus spoke of the cup the Father gave Him. Paul said to the Philippians "It is given to you not only to believe but also to suffer." I began to see my own widowhood as a gift in this sense: there was nothing I could do to change it. Only God could change it. If He didn't, obviously He meant for me to receive it, accept it. And as I did that, I found peace. I found that I could glorify Him in the context of widowhood, and—much more—it was because of my losing my husband that God gave me the gift of Himself, of the knowledge of who He was, in a way I could not otherwise have experienced.
We might compare it to Daniel's time in the lion's den. Surely he learned some priceless things about his God there. Shadrach and his friends would not have known what they knew about God without the fiery furnace. Isn't the den a gift, then? Couldn't we say the furnace experience was really a gift of mercy and love? "There's No Coming To Life Without Pain" An interview with Elisabeth Elliot by Sharon J. Anderson

If you're still here, you can see why God could use this saint to prepare me for some most trying years. In the darkest moments I would remember hearing this beautiful woman calmly speak of hearing of the cannibal tribe killing (and worse) her husband as she held their baby girl. Reporters asked her what she did in those moments after hearing of his death. She said she was reared to always "Do the Next Thing..." in a crisis. "The next thing" was whatever was next on your duty list before hearing of the crisis. She said there were needs on that mission field that she had responsibility to attend to and she immediately got on to "her next thing" on her task list.

Thank you Elisabeth.

Making Sense of Pain

God, Where are You? ... in my pain? my suffering?

Suffering and pain may mystify us when we are living close to God, but the Bible and many saints call us to hold on...don't give up...there is every reason to hope.

This series on "Pain" has to be God's idea. I would never devote a week of my life to pursuing the understanding of pain in the Christian life of my own choosing. Let me remind you that I'm not new to the Christian journey. I well remember Dr. Jack Taylor coming to the podium at a conference many years ago, "I should of known when I agreed to speak on Where' s God in Our Pain? that I would have a new fresh experience with pain." Poor man had a kidney stone and had passed it the day before. Miraculously he had recovered enough to fly from Florida to North Carolina in time to speak to us at his appointed time on the program about pain.

I haven't passed a kidney stone, but I have had some fresh pain as an intercessor with family and friends. I won't have to try to remember the feeling of a turkey flying down my throat and an elephant flopping on my, I have been with sufferers who brought me right back to that feeling.

I've read much in a short time to hope to give honor to this serious topic. This has even become painful!!! Hopefully at the end of this week God will shed some light to overcome your darkness where you suffer. I sense that one measure of good out of our suffering is that God ignites us to be light in our worlds. Probably the kindling of that fire is our carnal or human stuff that is not in alignment with God's Kingdom. So my prayer today is for Jesus to shine! May He shine through each of us....our world needs His light.

I surely do not have the wisdom for this subject so I'm bringing you the best of the best from all I've read.:

Tim Hansel is one my favorite authors and he writes in The Hidden Adventure:

"The Christian life is not difficult. It's downright impossible. It's designed that way. If we could do it through achievements, we wouldn't need the grace of God."

“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” [Isaiah 48:10]

I've suffered with such excruciating pain that I questioned everything. Sometimes the pain would come so greatly I would cry out, "God are You here? I cant' sense Your presence....God, where are You?"

Some of you may not have hurt that much. I understand that...but when your only daughter at 26 is diagnosed with an acute brain tumor and the tests don't look hopeful at goes in hyper drive. I will never forget all that went through my heart and mind and soul that day.

Chuck Colson had a similar sense when his son and his daughter were diagnosed with cancer within a short his pain,

"Faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and walk into the darkness with complete abandon. Faith is not really faith, is it, if we always hear the still voice of God cheering us on? The gift of faith is most real when we trust even when every outward reality tells us there is no reason to do so. In times of trouble, evangelicals need more than the cheerful tunes and easy answers. And we can find it by digging deeply into the Church's treasures to find the reality of what it is like to worship God--not because of our circumstances, but in spite of them. This year, I've realized that God is not just the friend who takes my hand--which He does so often--but the great, majestic Creator who reigns forever."

I shudder to imagine how I could have made it through our daughter's brain tumors before she was totally healed and wonderfully restored had I not been a follower of Elisabeth Elliot. I listened to her radio programs daily, I read her books and I made a way to attend her conferences whenever she spoke near my home. Briefly: Elisabeth Elliot Gren, Christian author and evangelist. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Huaorani of eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. Returning to the United States after many years in South America, she became widely known as the author of over twenty books and as a speaker in constant demand.

Tomorrow I will dedicate the post to this great saint, but in closing may we all be blessed by her expensive wisdom and understanding:

"Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering....
The love of God did not protect His own Son....
He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process."

Elisabeth Elliot always defined suffering as,
"Anything you have that you don't want, or anything you want, but you don't have."

I tremble as I speak on a subject so controversial. I don't wrangle over words, but many of Your children do. I ask You to come to each of us in our pain and show us what You want each of us to see at this point on our journey in life. My heart is tender to the ones who may be reading here, and I ask for light to shine in their lives. In the name of our suffering Saviour, Jesus Christ, who endured everything we may ever go through. AMEN

You know your comments are welcome and your view point gives life to this blog.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Say, But God Says....

I Say .................... But God Says

Impossible................................. All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

Weary and tired ........................I will give you rest. (Matt 11:20-28)

Nobody loves me....................... I love you (John 3:16)

I can't go on, I'm done................My grace is sufficient. (2 Cor 12: 9)

I'm baffled; I can't figure things out... I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I give up; I can't do it............ You can do all things through Christ. (Phil 4:13)

It's not worth it; this is too much to ask.............It will be worth it. (Romans 8:28)

I cannot forgive myself for all I've done........... I forgive you. (I John l:l9)

I cannot make it; I can't manage................... I will supply all your needs. (Phil 4:19)

I'm so afraid.............................. I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2Tim. 1:7)

I stay worried, anxious and frustrated.............. Cast all your cares on ME (l Peter 5:7)

I have no faith to live the Christian life................ I've given each one a measure of faith. Rom12:3)
I'm not smart............I give you wisdom (James 1:5)

I'm all alone...........I will never leave you or forsake you. Heb. 13:5)

Source unknown

Fun Friday Laughter is Healthy

My world is full today,so I am borrowing some items for you to enjoy. Thrive Christians blog encourages Christians to seek the abundant life the Bible promises us. Seeking good health emotionally, physically and spiritually is a part of the thriving life. Laugh...and line yourself up for plenty of laughs so that you can thrive. The Bible encourages us to have a merry heart.

Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke

Stress-relief benefits from a belly laugh

Laughter's health benefits are no joke. A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.

Laughter can:
Stimulate your organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension and stomachaches. Laughter can also ease digestion and stimulate circulation, which helps reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects

Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long haul.

Laughter may:
Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.

Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make difficult situations a little bit easier.
How to have — or gain — a sense of humor
Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — funny bone? Developing or refining your own particular sense of humor may be easier than you think.
Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips, that elicit a chuckle from you or others. Then hang them at home, in your office or even on the visor of your car.

  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away.

  • Think positive. Look for the positive or the humorous in every situation and surround yourself with others who do the same.

Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library's selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.

Know what isn't funny. Don't laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren't appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.

Laughter is the best medicine
Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you've had your hearty chuckle, take stock of how you're feeling:

  • Are your muscles a little less tense?

  • Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant?

That's the natural wonder of laughing at work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's Pain Got To Do With Thriving Christian Life?

"Writing isn't difficult; I just hang over the keyboard and wait for a drop of blood," lamented a writer. I read that years ago and identified with him in my struggle to communicate in written language. This week I got real and felt that I opened a vein and bled my real me.

Some of you could identify with my difficult birth home. But for some of you this was tough reading. Sometimes I sense that we love our comfort... getting our way....seeing our dreams come true....being happy.....having an easy life; more than anything else. If God loves us, with all of His power surely He will see to it I don't hurt because I've given up all my sinful aspirations to live for Him....won't He?

Whenever I speak to a group I have had some come to me and urge me to speak of an easier life. I am finding His strength that meets all demands is preferable to looking for "easy" and convenient. I believe God expects total forgiveness of others, honorable submission to His authority and to those He has placed in authority over us; and He is our number one priority over all else. Oh, I've made peace with being considered fanatical. I can handle hearing Him say in in Heaven, "Kay, it didn't take all that. You went a little overboard in witnessing, focusing on Me." But I shudder to think I could hear, "If only you had....."

I believe that our loving God will guide us on our best journey that may well have pain, betrayers, disappointments, etc., as well as delights, joy and wonderful friends and encouragers all along the path. I hate physical and emotional pain more than anyone I know. In fact, I'm convinced I came to Jesus in full surrender because the pain of living "my way" was intolerably painful to me.

"Be Happy," and may my children always and forever "Be Happy" is just not Christian Bible based wisdom. The possibilities of our new economy make this an ideal time to discusss pain and where it fits in Christian thriving life. Painless utopia probably isn't His Will for our best. That would be a human kind wish, but a loving all wise Father God hopes for more for His children.

Years ago my older cousin, Charlotte, and I discussed the moral decay of America. I lamented that my generation would go down in history as the worst parents in America. She argued, "No, my generation will be held responsible; because we began the decline. Up until my generation began embracing Dr. Spock's philosphy of keep your children happy at all costs, American parents instilled discipline and responsibility into their children. They were diligent in istructing children to see to duties, betterment of community, etc. and then they could play and have fun. When happiness is the main focus; irresponsibility and narcissism develops." That discussion occured over a decade ago; and I still think she won the argument. I'm in my sixties and she would be in her eighties if she were alive.

Charlotte is one of my heroes. She reared a large family on a working farm in the NE GA mountains. She had a college degree but dedicated herself to home management par excellence. She was well read and most intelligent and a strong Christian. She knew pain up close and personal: her only son died in a car crash due to speeding; one daughter was a registered nurse and married a driven entrepreneur and overdosed because she couldn't take the pressure(but they rushed her to the hospital; she lives with a damaged brain; husband abandoned her; Charlotte and family have had to care for her). Charlotte was diagnosed with stomach cancer years ago. The doctor laid out the plan of treatment and Charlotte asked pointed questions about the quality of life she could expect. "Oh no, I will not put my family through that ordeal. If you do nothing how long do I have to live?" she asked. When the doctor told her six weeks she responded, "Oh, that's all the time I need. I only have a few things to attend to." She loved children and she began a fund in those weeks for a playground on the grounds of her tiny church. Every time I go to that church I smile looking at the magnificient playground that speaks: Children Matter Here. "Way to go, Charlotte!"

Next week we will dig into pain and how our loving God trusts us with a measure of suffering. May we think on the difference in soulish kindness and true love as God loves?

Thanks for reading here. I never get over the privilege to read, hear and learn from others. But the awesome privilege that I can write and speak and someone will read and hear my thoughts is always humbling to me.


Please work in Your people throughout the world in these fast changing times. Tune our hearing to Your frequency. If we ever thought we could make it on our own, we know now that we can't. Guide us, change us, reveal Your best to us. If we whine when we don't get our way, be merciful and help us through to seeing things Your way. Forever we will praise and thank You for saving us eternally. AMEN

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thrive in Crisis

Yesterday's blog Hard Times Sharpen Viewpoint of Value stirred up some discussion in the comments section and among some friends at lunch. I like stirring up folks, but I used yesterday's blog to make me and you think beyond what's happening even if things are wretched. I ranted on ways we could be betrayed or let down by others. All those things haven't happened to me, but some of them have.

Writing biographically has always been a challenge for me. I want to share enough of my traumas to lay down the pain, but it's my story, not the other players in those scenes. Because my childhood was painfully dysfunctional I have had to pray for years how to tell any of those stories and still give honor to my parents and others. After much work in prayer and counselling I have totally forgiven everyone. I haven't avoided revisiting those scenes; I don't sail down de Nile (denial) anymore. I honestly believe the pain I bore and bear were never intended toward me; some troubled adults got pushed (or were impaired by substances) to making decisions that ended up hurting me.

I have written in code in my journals for decades. I use a code because I never want anyone to be hurt by me writing out my prayers or journal entries that could be read by someone else. As I write here at Thrive Christians I will be careful to more fully spell out when I am writing in general or about me. Honoring and respecting others filters everything I do.

As I write this today I have to admit that God has trusted me with more betrayals from birth on than many people I meet. I learned about God trusting His children with tough situations from the Bible: Job, Joseph, Jesus, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Leah...just to name a few. But a young beautiful talented woman named Gigi Taylor gave me my greatest lesson many years ago. Her mom, Frenchie, is the mentor I mention often on this blog.

Gigi and her husband have been committed Christians since their teens and nearly twenty years ago their first child was born with cerebral palsy (some complications during birth); and a year later their second child was born with even more severe cerebral palsy. This talented successful graphic artist committed her life to overseeing the construction of a home with a central elevator and design that would accommodate two wheelchairs rolling and a bath would that let her care for her youngest, Will. He amazed the doctors by living until he was twelve, but he could not see, talk, walk, feed himself or hold his head up without help.

Gigi and Doug knew God trusted them with these precious wonderful children. They considered it their honor. Their daughter is a genius and an incredibly talented singer. She is a college freshman with scholarships for excellence. I can only imagine what she will do in her life. Gigi became so frustrated with the issues of red tape in dealing with everything she had to do to care for the children that she wrote letters of complaint accompanied with possible solutions. She ended up being appointed a position by the governor and she led sessions to educate social workers, nurses, doctors, etc. on ways to better work with parents. She and her husband have counselled hundreds of parents to help them navigate the waters of red tape in medical, educational, and endless issues that go along with cerebral palsy children.

So.....I've got stuff, "issues" and I'll only tell you enough about them for you to believe I have first hand knowledge with loneliness, feeling abandoned, rejection, fear of losing it all, and wondering if it's all worth it. I personally sense that those are part of the human experience. But know that I agree with Gigi. When you did nothing to bring some great challenge into your life; know that God trusted you with it. He will actually use the situation to define you and make you eternally significant in the Kingdom of God.

Paul Billheimer's book, Don't Waste Your Sorrows, says "Why, God?" has been asked by Christians from all levels of spiritual maturity throughout history. It is not the mere presence of suffering but how a Christian reacts to it which determines one's spiritual growth through sorrow and pain.

I know this post is long.....sorry. I'm full and want to write. Yesterday a Jewish friend who I love dearly shared with me that this year during their high holy days he honestly laid his whole life before God in relinquishment more fully than he has ever done before. Ever since that day life has been more difficult. I don't think I offered him any relief. I'm convinced we think this thriving life is about being happy and getting our way. I believe we're here for far more eternally significant reasons.

To sum up this ever running post. Trust God, enjoy what is working for you, and know that God has a way through whatever you find in your lives now. It's a high adventure time in the world. The economy has wiped the "Rules of the Game" slate clean. Even the experts are saying "I don't know."

I recently purchased a tag for my car with In God We Trust on it instead of the typical SC car tag. I've never had a Christian symbol on my car before because I didn't want my car to be less than a great witness. I figured my driving, or it being dirty would be a poor image for Christianity. But I live by that slogan and today I want to encourage everyone who has read this far (wow...I'm impressed if you're still with me) that nothing is too big for God. He can be trusted; I don't know about anyone else, but He can be trusted.

In God We Trust
© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.