Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 66 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families) with a third girl on the way. I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Word Is God Giving You?

The word I'm getting for this season is, "LISTEN." I am now restored enough to know when I'm hearing His voice, and I know He wants to speak.

After my run-in with a stroke over 4 years ago, it was hard, sometimes nearly impossible to fellowship with my Lord. I was hurt physically (my speech, driving, typing, eating, swallowing, and right side were all affected and are still healing), mentally (my comprehension and retention speed are still being reworked), emotionally (lost my sense of humor, my sense of self and felt totally worthless-getting healed more here too), financially (am still on temporary(?) disability with a very low income) and spiritually (I believe totally in divine healing and divine health--how could this happen? and what am I doing wrong?). 

My biggest obstacle with the Lord was feeling betrayed. I also felt I didn't have faith for healing after the stroke. My blood pressure took a couple years to stabilize, and I would wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I was dying. Fear filled my heart over anything and everything. I didn't know if I'd ever speak intelligibly again, or be able to write blog articles or work on computer in general. I started with 1 or 2-line sentences, staying at that level for over a year. I had no idea if I'd ever drive again. (I do in a limited fashion now and there continue slowly to be little improvements.)

It has taken all this time for my faith to rise. The good news for me and for all of us who are trying to touch the hem of Jesus' garment, is that my God has been working on my behalf even when I felt faithless. If my healing depended on faith actions all along the way, I'd be much less healed now than I am.

Now I'm beginning to rise up, but it truly is God who is at work in me (us) to will and to do of His good pleasure. The healing that's continuing to come is truly of Him and I could not and can not MAKE it happen. Any healing I (or any of us) receive is for His purposes in the earth. So, it isn't, "This should have happened <i>by now</i>, but <i>by faith</i>--first by the faith of Father God, and as we get better, by our  faith echoing His will cause what He wants in our lives to bring more of His will on earth as it is in heaven.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stones of Religion or the Bread of Life?

This article was also written in 1999 - but if anything, it's even more true today. I pray it speaks to your heart.

After training at our local Crisis Pregnancy Center I was turned loose! Yes, I finally became a counselor. Now I began to concentrate on message a bit more than methods. - I learned the methods, but they don't rule. The Holy Spirit rules. He shows me as I seek Him how to use the methods He inspired to minister life.

Now I am able to come up for air and "check out the lay of the land." One thing I have been observing is the background of the clients we serve. Many of them had considerable exposure to church as they grew up. In fact, many of them go to church now on a regular basis - some once a week, some more than that. Also, many of them go to conservative, evangelical churches.

This brings up a question: Why are so many churched young people coming in to see if they are pregnant? - Are they familiar with the concept of sin? Yes. Do they have consciences? Many seem to experience guilt and discomfort when we talk about their Christianity in relationship to their actions in the sexual arena. So what's wrong? Why this great gap between knowledge and action? Something's missing in the "diet" they are getting in these churches.

As I seek the Lord, asking Him what each young person needs, there is one thing that stands out above all others - many of our clients don't see their Lord if they are saved, or the Lord if they aren't, as pertinent to the situation they are in. They have been gnawing on religious stones instead of bread. Few of the churched youth I see view Him as the Bread of Life, that is, their best friend in the war against sin - if anything, they see God as an absentee rule-maker who has left us to flounder around.

In light of that, some think what God desires of us is unrealistic today considering what they are up against. They have the morality right, but they don't have support and a plan in place to enable them to say no. Others feel what God desires of us makes Him their adversary, yet they don't want to admit this because many of them have just enough "religion" to know they'd better not charge God with being unfair, even if they think it. Then again, still others feel the religion they were taught as children does not apply to them now - they have been hurt by life, and feel since God has let them down, well... . These things and more they wouldn't dream of speaking out in the church - that just wouldn't be Christian!

Brothers and sisters, this brings me to another question. Do you know what the young people in your church are feeling about the things they have been taught? It is one thing for an eight year old to agree to the truths of the faith, and it is quite another for our teens to agree and act on what they know.

In the context of the young people you know, let's examine things. For starters, do your young people know why God said not to have sex until they are married? - All I can usually get from my clients is that God said it was wrong. Teens today need to know more than that. They need to understand it is wrong because God has a plan for families. He wants them to be solid - parents loving each other, having their priorities right and their marital foundation secure, and working toward common goals. This will be the best climate in which to raise secure, loved, God-fearing children. God says in Malachi 2:15 (New Living Translation) "Didn't the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. ..."

Today because of the breakdown of society, many of our young people don't understand what you just read. They don't have the foggiest idea of how to make their marital foundation solid. They don't even think of God's "rules" in this light, much less know how to solidify their relationships. They don't understand that for a boyfriend to want sex before marriage shows a fundamental disrespect for God Himself, His institution of marriage and family, and the girl he is with. They don't know that God doesn't want women to be used - and that sex before marriage is using a woman (or a man). They don't know that God's purpose for families is to "raise up godly seed" as King James puts it. They also don't know what real love is. Yes, they know Bible verses about love, but they have little understanding. This is why they often don't understand what "using" someone means. They have been trying to swallow stones instead of the Living Bread.

This lack of understanding I'm running into says to me that we adults have dropped the ball. It is our job to communicate our faith in such a way that our youth can "catch" it. What are these young people missing? They don't understand God's relevance to every part of their lives. Why? Relevance comes from knowing Jesus not just as Savior, but as Lord. Our youth must see our lives as He becomes our best friend. Then we will naturally model to our young people dependence upon Him when we don't know what to do and when we are tempted to sin. They will see us dropping our religious facades and getting real - with God and with ourselves. This in turn will have an impact on their lives, because they will see firsthand how to find the Bread of Life.

You may say, "But we have regular times of training for our youth. We have videos about dating and marital and family relationships by Joshua Harris, Garry Smalley, Dr. James Dobson, and Chuck Swindoll. We try to encourage our youth. Surely what is taught is plain. Are you trying to say that isn't what we should be doing?"

No, I think those things (and others I haven't mentioned) are a good start. However, we as the Body of Christ need to recognize that for our youth to walk in righteousness, holiness, and repentance, we ourselves must be doing no less. Instructional videos aren't enough. Our churches must be filled with interested God-fearing adults who are willing to model lives of humble submission to Jesus' lordship, or all our youth will see is religion.

When they look at us, do our youth see self-sufficiency or broken, humble dependence on God? Do they see us seeking God regarding our priorities or "adding God" to an already full life? Are we more concerned about "doing" or "being?" - If we are "being," we will find our eyes will be more open to the gaps in understanding our young people are experiencing today. If we are "being," we also will find our young people themselves will become more aware of the difference in quality between "religion" and true faith, and they will be more open to input. Then these types of instructional materials can be used with great effect.

Friends, the only way our faith, and that of our youth is going to get practical enough for living in today's world is to ask Jesus to be our Lord in every area of our lives. As we do, He will teach us lessons He wants us to impart to our youth through our speech and our conduct. Remember, not only are we responsible to have faith - we also are responsible to impart it. Are we feeding ourselves and our children stones of religion (Mt7:7-11, Lk11:9-13) or the true bread of life? - It's a choice for which we will be held accountable.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

That question rings down through the ages, ever since God asked Cain the whereabouts of his brother Abel (Gen 4:9). Cain's response to God's confrontation and subsequent punishment also echoes down through the ages. What was his response? Gen 4:14 says he was still concerned about self.

As we walk the corridors of time, we see God continuing to take issue with Cain's defiant question which was never fully settled on man's side. In fact, God was so concerned about this that when His Son Jesus came to earth, He addressed it:

Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)

God further spoke through Paul: Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (KJV)

Looking at the world today as Christians we must ask and answer that same question. If we are to be in obedience to our Lord, we will answer in the affirmative - Yes, Lord, we are our brother's keeper. What our brothers and sisters in Christ do and are going through is to some extent our business.

I have heard it said recently that some churches believe that we are to take care of our own and let other families take care of their own. The feeling is that we are butting in if we are concerned for others. While it is true that the Bible says we are not to be busy bodies or gossips, it also says (in Gal 6:1-2), Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (KJV)

In view of this charge and the fact that the Lord says we are to love our neighbor and to do good as we have opportunity especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal 6:10), what we need to be asking ourselves and more importantly God is, "How are we to do this without becoming gossips and busy bodies?"

The beginning of the answer is to realize who we are not. We are not Christian thought police, or our brothers' and sisters' saviors, consciences, or Holy Spirit. We do not have all the answers for them. Some Christians who believe we are our brother's keeper come at it from the wrong angle and end up hurting their brothers and sisters in Christ. This can give care and concern a bad rap.

Next we must realize who we are. We are blood-bought believers who are redeemed from sin. We are those who die daily to sin and selfishness. We are standing on the ground bought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are now His bondslaves. We stand carefully, taking heed lest we fall. Keeping all this in mind, we look around us prayerfully, asking our Lord whom we are to "consider to provoke unto love and good works" (Heb 10:24). Once we hear of those whom we should be involved with, we must ask the Lord what, how and when He wants us to do for them.

As we ask, God shows us what He wants to do for them through us. Often it first means lending a listening ear. It can mean building a relationship and praying. It can mean giving of our finances, time, talents... . Eventually it means earning the right to be heard through our compassion. This is where the Scripture comes in: Prov 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (KJV)

Friends, there are so many troubles both in the world and the church today, that if we are about the business of our Lord, we will not be islands unto ourselves. We will become involved. We will, however, become involved as servants of Christ rather than as people who know the answers. We will be humble, meek, and compassionate. We will share as we've received (which also means if we've not received from the Lord, we have nothing to give others): 2 Cor 1:3-4 Blessed be God... 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (KJV)

Make no mistake about it. - This kind of compassion will take us into sticky situations, but it will be worth it. God can use us to push back evil as we share His light. The world today still asks with a negative twist, "Am I my brother's keeper?" As God's people answer a loving, resounding "Yes!" and listen to God for ways to implement that answer, the world and the church will have evidence that there is a God who cares.

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