Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Baptism Day

2016-07-03 10.28.21I usually consider myself to be technologically savvy, but for some reason, when it comes to recording things on my iPhone, I’m completely inept. Last month, I failed to get a video of Sam’s modeling debut, and today I almost failed to get a video of his baptism. I missed all the nice things Tony said at the beginning, but thankfully, I noticed my phone wasn’t recording just in time to get the actual baptism. (I noticed Trevor videotaping the whole thing, so I’m hoping it will be posted on the church’s facebook page where I can share the whole thing with everyone.)

I am incredibly proud of Sam! He has given his heart, his life, and his musical talent to God; and his only desire is to live the rest of his life to bring glory to God and to advance His Kingdom.

Being human as I am, I would love to take the credit for the transformation in his life, but I can’t. I’ve made many mistakes along the way; I am far from being a perfect parent and role model. The one thing I did right was to pray for Sam and to enlist my friends to pray for him as well. God answers prayer!

In the picture in the upper right corner, Tony is talking before baptizing Sam. Here is a picture of Sam stepping into the baptismal tank:

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And, here is the video…

A Mama’s Prayers

prayerGod is so good! Although I am totally unworthy, He has listened to this mama’s prayers and actually answered them. I’ve been praying oh, so fervently, for Sam for quite a long time. Despite being raised in church and being inundated with the Bible, he chose to go his own way for a time. He is a person of extremes, all in or all out. So, while he was running from God, he was very far from Him. He said and did some things that made me fear for his safety and even his life. (For example, he once told me that he didn’t need God because he WAS God.) I have prayed and cried for this man-child of mine so hard at times that it felt like something was about to rupture, and I asked some of my friends to pray for him as well. I’m so happy to be able to say that God has answered our prayers. Last week, Sam got saved!

He made a profession of faith when he was about four years old, and he has known practically his whole life how to be saved and why he should get saved. Finally, one evening last week, while I was at work and he was alone in his room, he decided to stop resisting God, and he accepted Christ as his Savior. He told me that he knows FOR SURE now that he is truly saved. I know it, too. He is a totally different person! Old things are passed away, and all things have become new.

All he talks about now is God and the Bible. He is seeking to surround himself with people who will help him grow in his faith and serve God to the fullest. His dreams and goals for the future have drastically changed. He is even talking about going to a Christian college (maybe Milligan), which he would never even think about before. His number one goal right now is leading his best friend to Christ. He spent a few hours talking to him yesterday and has drawn up an outline of what he wants to say next time he gets a chance to talk him some more.

I am completely overcome with emotions, which is why it has taken me a week to write this blog post: I couldn’t get my ecstatic thoughts organized enough to write anything coherent before now. As elated as I am, I know that God did this in spite of me, rather than because of me. It has been a very humbling experience for me to see God work in our home despite my failings and unfaithfulness to Him. So, if you’re praying for someone, even if you’ve been praying for them for quite a while, don’t stop! He is not willing that any should perish, and He has promised to answer prayers that are according to His will.

Through It All

When I was a little girl, there would occasionally be singers who would come to our church to minister. There was a couple who came whose names I can’t remember. Dad bought their 8-track. (Yes, I said 8-track. Yes, I’m that old.) This song was on that album, and it was one of my favorites way back then. The other day, the song came to mind as I was thinking of some of the tough times I’m been through. As I thought about the words of the song, I realized that it could have been written about me and my life. Well, except for the fact that sometimes I don’t think I’ve quite learned to trust God like I should. Through my trials, I have often failed to trust Him, and I’ve made some huge mistakes. However, because of those trials and even the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned that God has never once failed me, and as I go through the rest of my life, including the bad times, I know God will be there to help me through.

He Was Wounded

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Christ beatenI read that verse in my daily devotions yesterday and thought about it all day. As I was reading it, I could see, in my very vivid imagination, Jesus being beaten. As the scene unfolded, I realized that each time I sinned, regardless of how big or little the sin was, Jesus received another lash of the whip. I’ve known practically my whole life that Jesus died for my sins, but it wasn’t until yesterday that it dawned on me that He died for ALL my sins, even the ones that I may consider small or insignificant. The white lies, the harsh words, the unjust thoughts of others, the poor use of my time and/or money, so many “little” sins. The thing is, to God, they are all just sin, not big sins or little sins. And, Jesus was beaten for each one.

Pondering on this all day made me realize how wicked I really am and how loving God is. It made me more aware of every action, every thought, every motive. It made me ashamed of those things which I consider small but which caused Jesus pain. It was a fitting passage for this week, with Easter right around the corner. I pray that even after Easter has passed, the realization of Jesus’ sacrifice will stay with me, making me aware of what each of my sins cost Him.

What Would Jesus Do…If He Were a Mama Bear?

mama-bearI’ve written a couple times (here and here) about how I’m re-reading In His Steps by Charles Sheldon and asking myself “What would Jesus do?” before making decisions or taking action. Well, tonight I’m having a tough time with that. I want so badly to lash out at someone, but I’m fairly certain that wouldn’t be Jesus’ course of action. But, my baby is hurting, and I’m a mama bear, after all.

Sam is a more-sensitive-than-usual young man. He both empathizes with people more and feels his own emotions more deeply than the average guy his age. When other people reject him and his offer of friendship, it cuts him to his very core. And, being his mom, it makes me angry at the insensitivity being portrayed by the other people.

Sometimes, I really want to tell other people that I think they are cold and heartless, and that I wish Sam would just move on and forget about them because he does not need the negativity they bring into his life. But, is that what Jesus would do? No, probably not.

Instead, I try to help Sam see things from the other people’s perspective. I try to hold back my feelings of distaste toward them and tell him that maybe there are reasons or circumstances that we don’t know about. I let him sleep on my bed while I spend the night in my recliner (not sleeping) just to make sure he actually gets some sleep instead of staying awake all night fretting over people he doesn’t need in his life anyway. I watch him all night to make sure he doesn’t do anything everlastingly stupid in a moment of temporary grief.

What else would Jesus do? I’m really not sure, which is why I am also spending much of the night in prayer, asking for wisdom and the right words to say in the morning. Although Jesus never was a mama bear, I do know that He is on our side; and He will defend us, fight for us, protect us, and always love us more than any of the shallow people we may get our hearts set on. I intend to do that for my son.

Choosing God’s Way

2016-03-12 19.09.11As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m re-reading In His Steps by Charles Sheldon and endeavoring to live my life with the question “What would Jesus do?” as my motivation for everything I do. Having grown up in Christian home, attended Christian schools, and generally been inundated with the Bible since birth, you’d think I would naturally be doing well at this already; but you would be wrong. Surprisingly (appallingly so), I didn’t realize how off the mark I was until I conscientiously considered my life in light of that question.

Naturally, changes have been made and continue to be made: some small, some big; some easy, some very difficult; some affecting only myself, some affecting everyone around me; some readily accepted by others, some questioned. One decision in particular was huge, very difficult to come to, will affect multiple people, and has not been unanimously praised by my friends. In fact, I have been told that I’m making the wrong decision and that it will end in disaster.

I’m not going to go into the details of the decision at this time, but I do want to explain how I came to it. (Curious minds will be indulged at a later date, I assure you.)

First of all, this is something I did not want to do. I have spent countless hours praying about it and searching God’s word for guidance. I did not make this decision lightly or flippantly. As I was on my knees, praying about it, I had the thought that maybe now I can, in a small measure, understand how Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine.” The short answer as to how I came to this decision is that I believe 100% that it is what God wants me to do.

As I was praying and pondering over this decision one day, God brought to mind the story, from Daniel 3, of the Hebrew children who were thrown in the firey furnace. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the city of Jerusalem was taken by Babylon, and the brightest and best of the children of Israel were taken captive. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, built a huge image and commanded everyone to bow down to it or be thrown in a firey furnace. Three of the Hebrew children: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow down. When they were brought before Nebuchadnezzar, their response to him was: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Dan. 3:17, 18, KJV)

Nebuchadnezzar was angered by this to the point that he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, and it was so hot that the flames killed the men who threw them into the furnace. Miraculously, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not hurt by the fire. In fact, they were walking around in the furnace with a fourth man whom Nebuchadnezzar said was like the son of God. They were called to come out of the furnace, and they didn’t even smell like smoke! God saved them just as they knew He could.

Since God is the same today as He was then and has always been, I know that, as long as I am doing what I believe He wants me to do, with no other motive than pleasing Him, He will take care of me as well; and hopefully, others who see me will see God walking along beside me. Although I must confess some nervousness about my decision, and although I am aware of some potentially disastrous outcomes, I know that the God whom I serve is able to make everything come out even better than I can imagine. All I have to do is trust Him, and that’s what I am doing.

So, when I finally reveal all, I sincerely hope I won’t receive a backlash of negativity from my friends and family. Even if you don’t agree with me, I hope you can see that everything I am doing is in an effort to follow what I believe is God’s will for my life. I’m going into this as positively as I can, and I am counting on positive moral support from all of you.

(For those of you who just have to have a hint, here it is: Sam and I are moving. By the end of next month, we will be all settled into our new/old home.)

What Would Jesus Do?

In His StepsI’ve been re-reading Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps, which was the original catalyst for the “What would Jesus do” movement. (You can get the Kindle version for FREE here.) I read it for the first time over 20 years ago, and I’ve read it a few times since. Every time I read it, I’m overwhelmed with my responsibility, as a Christian, to study the Bible so that I will know what Jesus would do in almost any given situation and then to purposely do what I believe He would do.

Although I am sincerely committed to this lifestyle, I know I’m not perfect and never will be. Sometimes, figuring out what Jesus would do is a no-brainer and is what I would probably do anyway. Other times, it’s harder to know what He would do, or, what frequently happens, I act or react before asking myself the question. In cases of hasty actions or reactions, I almost always conclude that I was not being very Christ-like.

A couple days ago, I got in an argument with Sam and reacted in a non-Christ-like manner. He stunned me by asking, “Is that what Jesus would do, Mom?” That stopped me in my tracks, and I had to admit that no, it was not what Jesus would have done. I apologized to Sam and thanked him for reminding me of my commitment. He informed me that he, too, is trying to live his life with that question at the forefront, and we agreed to help each other stick to it.

Today, a real challenge presented itself. I don’t watch a lot of television, but the shows I typically choose to watch are ones that are intense with in-depth plots and lots of intellectual content for me and Sam to discuss. Unfortunately, most of those shows also contain elements that I have decided are not things Jesus would approve of, and I’ve had to make a decision about whether or not to continue watching them. Today, the new season of “House of Cards” was released on Netflix. Sam and I have been eagerly anticipating its arrival. Then, I dropped the bomb…I told Sam that I don’t think Jesus would watch “House of Cards” or some of the other shows we enjoy.

Sam is heartbroken! One of our favorite things to do, generating some of our closest moments of bonding, is discussing all the plot twists and turns on those shows. To be honest, though, I have always felt a twinge through some of the racier scenes, and now I just don’t think I could even get through an episode without feeling that I would be very embarrassed if Jesus walked in on me watching it.

I know some would say that it’s a small area of my life, so it’s not a big deal. However, I remembered that Jesus said that even though we keep the whole law, yet offend in one point, we are guilty of all. While I am well aware that I will never be perfect, and I will sometimes do or say things that Jesus never would, I feel like it would be wrong for me to willfully do something that I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t do. That’s why I’m giving up some of my favorite tv shows and who knows what else in the future.