What’s The Point?

For a little while now I’ve been struggling a bit with the idea of heaven.  Specifically, what is the point of Jesus coming again if we all go to heaven and live with God when we die?  I mean isn’t heaven…well…heaven?  I’ve kind of put that thought at the back of my mind and figured I’d get around to it eventually.  I was reading Paul’s second letter to Timothy this morning and verse 9 said “this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  And I got to wondering about Jesus, what really did he teach?

So I decided to go back to Matthew, chapter 4, and then I started wondering what the “gospel” or “good news” Jesus came down to earth to share with us really was?  I wanted to really understand it.  So far I’ve gotten the idea that he preached the gospel/good news that the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God was at hand.  He called his listeners to repent and believe.  At this point he wasn’t saying anything about grace.  So then what does it mean when he says the kingdom of God is at hand.  Looking at the world we live in, it doesn’t really feel as if God’s kingdom has been established on earth to me.

I believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again.  I believe that he said he is the way, the truth and the life.  I read one site that said you can only get to the kingdom of heaven through grace.  But I feel as if I need to really understand this to take the next step in my spiritual growth.  Maybe when I really understand this I’ll also have an answer to my question about heaven, and Jesus coming again. I’ll keep you updated as I go.

God bless,

Meredith

The Un-Facebook Version of Me.

It’s so easy to get misdirected and caught up in things that don’t matter.  It’s so easy to turn mole hills into mountains and as a result fail to see what’s on the other side. I’ve had a few things lately that have been causing me some degree of anxiety/stress/worry.  Sometimes it’s easy to turn to God with those problems, sometimes it isn’t.  When I was injured I could absolutely turn to God and pray for strength and patience throughout my recovery.  But what if what I’m worrying about is petty?

Do you sometimes feel restrained in the things you bring before God because maybe they aren’t big enough?  Maybe they aren’t Godly enough or you think that your worries don’t come from a place that would be acceptable to Him?  I have absolutely been feeling that way about one of my worries.  I mean really, it’s a problem of having too much…

So this morning I did my bible reading.  And while Isaac was working on his reading I picked up my phone.  I have to admit to not always noticing the daily message I get from my bible app.  But today, it came up as soon as I picked up my phone and it read… “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Now I read that passage in Philippians a week or so ago as I’m working my way back through Paul’s letters.  And I’m on 1st Timothy at this point.  But there it was, looking at me, compelling me not only to read but to understand the message…to write it in my heart.

BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!!!  Think about that…God is telling me, he’s telling you to stop worrying about what you are bringing to him…to stop guarding your heart from him.  He doesn’t want a carefully curated, Facebook perfect version of you.  He already knows exactly who you are, the REAL you.  He knows your heart’s desire and wants, even if you feel ashamed to admit it.  And he tells us what to do with those desires… in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  If you want a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, to get in better shape, to be better.  Whatever it is, give it to God.  Give him EVERYTHING!!!!

The next verse is where the really important part comes in…and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus”.  This verse doesn’t say that you’ll get everything you ask God for, but it does say that if you give him everything, then he will give you something that surpasses anything you could possibly have desired…peace.  Just sit there for a moment, right now, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel it…really feel it fill your heart and your mind…the peace of God.

There is no physical possession, no award or accolade that can give you the lasting feeling of peace that comes from knowing God and maybe even more importantly…from being known by Him.

Today God reminded me to let go, to give him everything in prayer and supplication and to be thankful.  Thank you Father for allowing me to be my uncurated, unadultered, mostly broken-down self.  And thank you for never tiring of reminding me just how much You love me, for giving your only son over to a death that he freely accepted…all so that my faith could be enough.

God bless you all, have faith, be brave.

Meredith

I’ve been thinking a lot about judgement lately.  Sometimes it feels as if it’s what life boils down to.  We judge how well our kids are doing in school, in sports, how social they are or aren’t.  How “normal” they are or aren’t.  We judge what kind of parents we are, and we judge how well those around us parent too.  We judge how well we are doing at our jobs based upon our peers, how successful we are, how successful our friends and family are.  From a very young age we are taught to judge; whether people are good or bad, if it’s safe to cross the street.  We make judgements every single day of our life.  Sometimes those judgements keep us safe, but sometimes they are a means of building ourselves up on the backs, or failures of others.  And it’s because we are all guilty of that type of judgement that the word has taken on a negative connotation.  The word judgement has become synonymous with condemnation.   We can make good “choices”, but we “judge” people.

I think it’s that word that becomes the excuse so many people need to reject God.  It’s easier to not believe than it is to believe in a God that will judge or condemn them.  What an awful job we have done as his children to share who and what he is.  We have all been the victim of someone else’s judgement at some point in our lives, and I for one, have not found it the most enjoyable experience.  So then why would I want to join a church, or worship a creator who is going to subject me to those same feelings of judgement and rejection?

It makes me sad that the people who share the biggest truth about Jesus Christ and God are the ones we most easily classify as crazy.  They are the people who stand on the street corner or  wave signs at football games saying John 3:16.  And you all know what I’m talking about.  You give them a wide berth if you encounter them, maybe even cross the street.  But I think that their message is the most credible, the most powerful, the most truthful.  “For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  That message that those “crazy” people are trying to share with you…with the world, is one not of judgement, but of LOVE!

So what’s my point?  I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop spreading messages of judgement with our lives…with our faith…and we need to start sharing more messages of truth…more message of love.

Do I believe that God will judge us all according to our actions.  Sure, but I’m at a far different place in my walk with God than someone who is just starting out, and everyone’s journey is different.  I can’t claim to know God’s will in this world, so I do my very best to let him make those calls, and instead I try to make good “choices”, good “judgements” about the way I treat the people in my life.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.  But at the end of they day, God loved me enough to give his only Son, and all I have to do to bask in the glow of his love is believe!!!!!

Just believe.

God bless,

Meredith. (I feel like this song really speaks to the heart of what I’m trying to say)

An Object in Motion.

I think on some level we are all inherently lazy.  Some of us just have an easier time pushing through that inertia.  We all run on Newton’s first law.  An object or person at rest, stays at rest. An object/person in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.  Have you ever heard that expression, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room?

This past week I’ve been reading Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.  There is so much good stuff in those short letters that speak to this, to respecting those who work hard and warning those who are idle.  Here are a few of my favorite verses and why.

“Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:12.  I love the reminder in this verse to respect people who work hard, and for us to take criticism.  I think we all have a much harder time these days listening to the opinions of others, especially when they dare to tell us that our actions might not be okay.  We forget that we learn from failure as much or more than from success.  And maybe some days we need to be told to get moving, or to work harder.  I know I certainly do.

“Live in peace with each other…warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”  1 Thessalonias 5:14-15.  Be patient!!  Words that I sometimes struggle to live by and it is through my lack of patience that I sometimes find myself in conflict rather than peace, or I forget to encourage or help others.  But I always find those times when I can step back, and try to understand why someone is reacting a certain way are the times I feel the closest to God.

And then in 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you to keep away from one who is idle… for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule:  “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” …”And never tire of doing what is right.”  

I know that I’m always much happier and more relaxed the busier I am.  There is nothing more guaranteed to make me feel drained and exhausted than spending a day on the couch.  And people who don’t do anything want you to do nothing with them.  It makes them feel better for not accomplishing anything.  Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for rest.  Even God took the seventh day off, but you can be sure, he worked hard the other sixth.   And it’s when you work hard that you can rest on that 7th day, look around and say “it is very good”.

“…be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” 

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, test everything, hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil.”

The one who calls you is faithful…”

What a recipe for the life we are called to live as children of God.  So often God is portrayed as self-righteously looking down from on high and judging us.  But this letter from Paul so beautifully sums up the life that God wants for us.  To be joyful always, to work hard and be respectful and peaceful and to be kind to each other.  Instead of turning away from God, we should be turning back to him.  We should be stoking the Spirit’s fire instead of putting it out, we should pray continually…thank God for that parking spot, that break in traffic, that green light.  Newton’s law applies to your faith as much as your physical activity, so keep moving, and keep praying.  Be an object in motion.

God bless,

Meredith

 

God Bless the Children.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

Having a relationship with God isn’t always easy.  There are lots of times that I feel as if I’m not strong enough for the things he’s asking me to do, for the challenges I’m facing, and believe me, this year I’ve had my share.  But I have come to learn that God will always be there for us, we just have to choose to let him. And often times those moments that seem the darkest, turn out to be our greatest blessings.

As the parent of a child with significant special needs, and a drive to seriously hurt himself, there are many times when I have looked up and cried out to God, “why”?!  My heart breaks every time I’m not fast enough to stop Hayden from punching himself or when I hear from staff that Hayden has hit his head again.  (There’s a reason he wears a hockey helmet.)  But if I have learned anything these last 18 years, it is that Hayden’s life has purpose and it isn’t always about me.  By choosing to let go of him, by allowing other people into his life to help him, I know that God has used him to change lives and I’m sure he will continue to do so.

I read an article this weekend about how God measures productivity.  Many of us live with the mindset that we need to get as much done as possible in as little time as possible.  I am no exception and especially before my accident, I would often feel guilty if I wasn’t going at full speed. But, the point of this article was that maybe sometimes we need to sit in traffic, to be late, to not get something done.  It isn’t always given to us to know how the actions and events in our lives ripple out to affect other people.  That’s part of trusting in God.

When we are children, it is the responsibility of our parents to guide us and protect us from things that we aren’t cognitively or emotionally aware of.  Don’t you think it’s possible that God does the same thing for us? Maybe he’s protecting us when we are waiting at that red light or we get delayed in the drive-thru. If there is a God out there capable of creating the universe and everything in it from a vast emptiness (and I sincerely believe that there is) then he is more than capable of being able to love and care for each one of us individually.

It isn’t always given to us to know why bad things happen in our lives, but if we trust in our Father (just as we hope our children trust in us) then I know it is possible for him to make everything for our good. And, just as we are there for our children, giving them strength through their hurts and disappointments, there is nothing we can’t do, or get through with Him who gives us strength.

God bless,

Meredith

The Weight of the World.

We all have times in our lives when we feel anxiety and stress.  Times when the obligations and worries of the world, and our lives seem to pile up and become overwhelming.  Times when we feel as if we are not strong enough to carry the weight that is on our shoulders.  I’ve been feeling that way recently.  That there is so much to be done, and not enough of me to do it all.  There are people in my life for whom I have a great deal of fear and worry.  In the past, when I’ve had those feelings, I have often struggled to drag myself out from under the mental and emotional pressures I have placed upon myself.  I have felt like a failure.  I have railed against God and the challenges he has laid upon me and those I love.

What makes this time any different?  Trust.  In those times when I begin to feel my burdens pulling me under, I have a lifeline that I can reach out and grab.  Jesus.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to repeat “Jesus help me” over and over again.  Sometimes I  plead for a miracle, but trust that however God chooses to answer my prayer, he loves me and those whom I pray for, and this is all part of his plan.  And I remind myself that my Father in heaven has my back and he will not give me anything I can’t handle, as long as I take His hand and believe that he is with me.

Doing all those things doesn’t mean that the feelings of panic go away forever or completely, but they lessen. My relationship with God has grown to a point that I will not, can not help but turn to him in all times and in all places.   Even in my struggles, I see the blessings and joy his has given me.  He will walk through the valley with me, and when I know I am not strong enough, he is my strength and my shield.  He will carry me when I can not walk the path on my own.

Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith