The Road to Success

What is success? It has many varied definitions depending on who you ask and in what context. Getting out of bed in the morning can be a success to some, while taking that next breath is a success to others. Most people like to place the label success on an amount of money one has made in a year or a lifetime, but who determines that amount? How much money is enough? Some call success having large houses or nice cars, but how large is large enough and who determines if a car is nice or not? Some ‘nice’ cars can have engine troubles like the rest of them. Truth is, if the car gets you from point A to point B, isn’t that a success?

My daughter is graduating in a couple of weeks, and that is a success! One of many in her life, I would hope. She still has her whole life ahead of her with many possibilities. Many will want to judge her success as how much schooling she accomplishes, what kind of job she gets, who she marries, and where she lives. My opinion of success for life will be whether or not she lives for God to the best of her ability and makes it to heaven one day.

You see, I was in her shoes at one time. I had a whole world of possibilities before me. My time in school was spent achieving top grades and academic awards. School came easy for me because things just made sense. I thrived on the attention I got from making good grades and this help fill the emptiness in my life left by parents who chose not to make my siblings and I a priority. Due to my academic success, other family members and members of the community were the wind beneath my wings believing that I could ‘make something of my life.’

I set goals and had a course set for my life, but I have learned that the best made plans are meant to be interrupted. See, although I was achieving great success in the life people could see, I was drowning emotionally. I knew God and was struggling to find my place with him. I loved him and was thankful for his hand on my life, but I wasn’t allowing him in to heal my brokenness. I was trying to build a new life right over the top of the pieces. Any attention I received from people, good or bad, was never enough for me. I felt empty, almost starved. I could never get full. This is a horrible feeling.

Thankfully, God never gave up on me and was patient to teach me anytime I would look to him for instruction. For a while I would do pretty good, but when new people came into my life, I again would thrive on their attention. My pastor and his wife, friends, boyfriends, only two, extended family members, and teachers were sources of joy for me. This is where the trouble begins. The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, that the ‘joy of the Lord is your strength.’ There is a place in your life that can only be filled by God and nothing else will satisfy.

I had been on the road to success for some time when the Lord really began to reach out to me. I look back now and can see that He was trying to save me from building my house on the sand. I was trying to ‘patch’ the holes in my life on my own. All along He was wanting to heal me. One summer, after my second year of college, I knew that something was missing. God had been a part of my life for most of my life, but I had not given myself to Him completely. You just can’t live for God part-time. Your life will be in a constant state of tension, trust me. That summer I remember saying, ‘I’m going to church camp because I need one week of JUST God and nothing else!’

I also had to make clear choices. The boy I had dated for the last four years, who began to drink heavily after his brother died tragically, was clearly not wanting to make God a priority in his life. I knew all along that it wasn’t going to work, but kept holding on to the chance that he would eventually give his life to God. I had to say good-bye. Being the control freak that I am, I went to camp, praying that God would somehow change his mind while I was gone. The very first night of camp, Bro. Jerry Jones preached ‘Not my will but thine be done!’ That night I repented and released my hold on my will for my life. And as it always happens when you make a decision to live for God, things got worse, and that’s all I will say on that because that’s a whole other story. What I will say is by Thursday of that week I was introduced to my future husband. I watched him in the services and he would worship with all of his might. I knew that this would be a good place to begin building a foundation for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately for Eric, my family and friends didn’t know much about the inner struggle I was having and blame him for the choices I made shortly after meeting him, but only God knows that I was beginning my journey on the road to success. Putting God first in every part of my life. I chose to become a wife and a mother. To me, this was the real challenge of life. Doing, every day, what must be done. I’m not done yet, but I know my life has had more meaning and fulfillment on this road.
I don’t know who appointed certain people to ‘measure’ success, but I’m pretty sure they were self-appointed, and I failed miserably in their eyes.

Success comes in different forms and in different degrees. A journey is completed by one successful step after another. Every day we must set goals, some short-term and some long-term. Some days success is eating three meals and accomplishing daily hygiene. Other days we look back and see the home and life we have provided for our families, and this is success. Success for me will always be seeing my children make choices to make God a priority in their lives, because I know the rest will fall into place.

One day I want to hear the Master say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of the Master.’ Matthew 25:21 I pray one day that everyone else would put away their measuring sticks and concentrate on their own lives. If we are busy helping others instead of pointing fingers, we might see more of a success rate! God gave us all a measuring stick and it was shown in example when he walked among us as the man Christ Jesus, and we have His word to help us every day.

Again, success depends upon where you have set your goals. I choose to set my goal on heaven above and not in the things of this world that only bring pleasure for a season. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ Matthew 6:19-21

I don’t regret one day since I’ve been on this path. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m used to difficulties. The difference is, on this path, I have help from my Father above. He is just as close as the mention of his name. I have found that truly:

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only he can change your heart and make you whole.

He’ll give you peace, you never knew.

Sweet love and joy and heaven too.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

– Lanny Wolfe

In His Hands

In the last year I have seen five dear people, that I have been privileged to call my friends, enter into eternity. They were all uniquely different individuals. Some male, some female. Some old, middle-aged, and young. They varied in their financial and social statuses. Their hobbies ranged from hunting and fishing, to poetry and plays and their professions ranged from students, to factory workers, from medical professionals to multi-faceted business owners. What they all have in common, though, is by whose hands they were created and in whose hands they are in now.

Our creator allows our entrance into this world. He gives us choices in how we decide to live our lives. You know how it is when you give your children choices and you want them to feel like they are making the choices on their own, but you word the choices in such a way that if they pick the choice that is wrong, or against your wishes, that they would be obviously foolish for doing so? That is how I can imagine God is. He says, in so many words, if you choose my way you will have life and peace, but if you choose another way you will only find trouble, even death. This is not because he is a control freak, it is only because of his great love for us. Again, as parents we can understand this. Most of us do not want to just control our children’s lives, but instead we give them rules and boundaries because we want only to protect them and to see them be successful.

A time of death brings a time of questioning. Why do some die from car accidents and illnesses and yet others are miraculously saved from the jaws of death? The only answers to these questions are in His hands. God is sovereign in His decisions and he knows best. The other questions that arise are, if I would die, would I be ready? What would people say about me if my number was called tonight? What sort of impact have I made in people’s lives and what footprints have I left behind? These questions can be answered by placing our lives in His hands. We must make our calling and election sure, or other words, we must decide where we are going to live eternity and make all of our decisions and actions reflect our choice.

The five people I have recently lost have left very positive imprints on my life. They brought me smiles and laughter. They gave me hugs and words of encouragement. They took the time to participate in my life and for that I am truly grateful. These people are gone now and instead of merely finding people to try to fill these voids, my life has been challenged to make a conscious effort to give encouragement to others. I want to pattern my life after these people, and ultimately after my God, the Creator, my Saviour, Jesus!

There was a time, not too long ago, that I had allowed years of bitterness to consume me. I’m sure I’ve hurt many people in the process, and this is something I wish I could go back and erase, but time doesn’t go in reverse. We only have today to work with. About a year ago I began a journey of healing. I’ve experienced help from various sources over the years, but these crutches allowed me to merely survive. But I wanted more! I wanted to experience a complete healing, I wanted to live before I died. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. Has everything changed and become peachy-keen?…no. Have the people I hurt forgiven me? Not all of them. Do they trust or have they seen my changes? Only if they are looking and want to see it. What I have learned, though, is that in my hands, my life is damaged and a total mess. But in His hands, He is able to make all things new. He is the healer, the creator, the author of my story, but only when I make the choice to put my life in His hands.

By His Wounds

About a week ago our kids had invited the youth group from church to come to our house on Sunday evening.  On Saturday, the day before the event, it began very peacefully and most of the day was spent relaxing and doing some laundry. I thought I’d just wait till Sunday after church to really do a final cleaning. Plans have a way of changing. After running into town Saturday afternoon, we returned to find the whole utility room floor covered in water. Something had went wrong and although we try to keep most things up off the floor in the event that something like this would happen, we had several boxes of yard sale ready items stacked up in the middle and they needed be removed immediately! Everyone went into action, pulling out everything that was wet or in danger of becoming wet and started stacking it all in the family room side of the basement. My son manned the shop-vac, my daughter got the mop, my husband was investigating where the water was or had been coming from, and while busy, I began to feel myself fall apart.

I have always been an in control person, or at least attempted to be.  Chaos and mayhem are just things I have issues with. I don’t like feeling out of control.  I always thought that with age I would reach greater levels of serenity, after all, I have memories to build on, trials that I have overcome, lessons that I have learned. Nevertheless I feel like such a failure in trying times these days. Somewhere along the line I’ve allowed obstacles to block my spiritual connection that reminds me to trust in the Lord and to take every thing in stride. Or perhaps with age, I’m dealing with changes in my body, or I’m just worn out by the hectic pace that my life is requiring at this time. Whatever the case, I began to pray and go in search of peace.  

The following scripture came to me and I saw it in a new light. 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. I reread the words: the chastisement of our peace was upon him. Wow! chastisement? Doesn’t that mean correction? He was corrected, or disciplined, so that we might have peace. He was punished for our wrong-doings in order for us to have peace. Peace is ours to have at any time. He paid the price.

The God of heaven did not just hand out gifts from the abundance of his power. Instead, He chose to bring us these gifts by robing himself in flesh, experiencing pain and suffering, and ultimately paying the price for our wrongs with his death so we could have life, healing and peace. God already owned all of these gifts, but our actions required payment. We did not own them. Our sins made us debtors. His actions took away our debt.  I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe.

The original sin in the Garden of Eden brought us death, but Jesus sacrifice on the cross brought us life. Adam and Eve were created perfect but brought imperfection into the world by their transgression. By His stripes, healing was made available to us. He took our punishment upon himself so that we could have peace.

The price has been paid. These gifts are ours, all we have to do is receive them.  After ascending back into heaven, Jesus completed the life package by making his spirit available in the form of the Holy Ghost. On the day of Pentecost, when  Peter was asked, ‘What shall we do?’ he answered them by saying,‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’  Acts 2:38 When most of us receive a gift, we accept it whole-heartedly! Why is it any different with the gifts that God has given to us?

Although I’ve always desired to be a naturally, graceful person full of faith, what I am learning from this study is that any thing I have need of, He will supply, all I have to do is ask and receive.  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 Scripture after scripture reminds us of His love and provision.

Most of all, how can we allow all the pain and suffering that Jesus endured to be in vain. He went to great lengths to make these gifts available.  If you watch the movie, Passion of the Christ, just once you will begin to realize just how great a price He paid.  Money could never buy such gifts; only blood from a perfect sacrifice had the power required for our deliverance.  I don’t want to foolishly neglect what God has for my life. Jesus said, ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ John 10:10

By His Wounds (Written By Mac Powell and David Nasser)

We are healed by Your sacrifice
And the life that You gave
We are healed for You paid the price
By Your grace we are saved
We are saved

He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds we are healed
And by His wounds, by His wounds

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Nothing New Under the Sun

It’s a New Year and the time when people make all sorts of New Year’s resolutions.  People are looking for new ways to lose weight, get rich, have more time, keep the house organized and have better relationships. Unfortunately, what they are really looking for is a short cut or magic formula to do these things with the least amount of effort. 

This is just our human nature. We are born selfish and lazy. From birth we have been set on the course of discovery. How? Why? Where? What? Who? As we grow, it is our parents, teachers, and other mentors’ responsibility to instruct us to look outside ourselves, not to be so self-centered.  They help to instill important life values such as hard-work and determination is what it takes to accomplish goals. Spiritual instruction points us toward our Creator and all the wise instructions included in scripture. In a perfect world, all these things would help mold individuals into stable adults.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Circumstances beyond our control often removes key people from our lives. Death or divorce can separate us from parents and grandparents. Illness, either physical or mental, can handicap the adults in our life from being able to fulfill their role in our lives to the intended level of responsibility. Basic sins and imperfections such as pride, selfishness, bitterness, and insecurities also steal away our role models and we are often left to find our own ways to achieve goals and learn lessons. Life has a way of teaching us lessons through raw experience.

The bookstores are filled with books instructing people how to live a better life. T.V. shows from health to home-improvement are rising in popularity; we don’t just want to be entertained anymore. We are looking for answers. Why didn’t life come with an instruction manual? But wait, it did.

At one time, instruction was given to man through conversations with God.  Adam had conversations with God personally each evening. Later God spoke to leaders such as Moses and prophets such as Elijah to talk to His people. Priests would offer sacrifices to God on behalf of people to push their sins ahead.  God came to Earth as a man, died on a cross for our sins, and made Himself available to us in the form of the Holy Ghost. All these things were recorded in our instruction book, The Bible. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9,’ That which has been is what will be,  That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.’  A few things can be concluded from this scripture. Many think that they are unique, almost to the point of unusual, and that there is no one that can understand us. There is nothing new under the sun. Many strive for new ideas, a way to stand out in the crowd. There is nothing new under the sun. Many are looking for new ways to achieve goals. There is nothing new under the sun.

Dr. Oz is a popular show helping people be healthy and giving people new ideas about how to lose weight and get in shape. When you clear away all the hype, the underlying message is diet and exercise. The only real way to accomplish the goal of losing weight and being healthy is through diet and exercise. There is nothing new under the sun.

A popular broadway musical, ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’, the title alone illustrates our desire to get ahead using the least amount of effort. The lottery has become very popular because it plays on the hopes of individuals to obtain wealth with little investment. Gambling, whether done in casinos, or through investments, such as the stock market, plays on this desire as well. Let others do the work while all we do is risk losing some money.  How many times do we hear these stories ending up in disaster.  Life savings thrown away. Hard-earned money squandered on risky endeavors, all because of a few unbelievable stories that tell of happy endings.  The best stories are when you hear of people rolling up their sleeves and investing time and hard-work to get ahead. Some of our best role models are those who came from humble, meager beginnings and swore to make a better life by hard work and sacrifice.  Dave Ramsey gives the best advice when he says, ‘Spend less, save more’ or ‘Don’t spend more than you earn!’ These type of statements are applicable to everyone. They are tried and true pieces of advice.  It just takes time and discipline.

Time and discipline? The Bible is based on these values. In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19)  Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. (Proverbs 19:20) Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3) He must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

Good relationship advice is also found in scripture.

Friends: A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) 

Marriage:Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 

Parenting:Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.( Proverbs 22:6) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21) The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15)

Respect: Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)  Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

There is no substitute for hard-work and instruction, given or received. People waste so much time, money and energy trying to find a new way to accomplish their goals, but there truly is nothing new under the sun.

Where Are You Standing?

This summer I had the rare privilege to spend a couple days at Family Camp.  Eric and the kids weren’t able to go and besides, I was going to be working in the ice cream stand. The Indiana Campground is very dear to my heart because many years ago I took time out of another very hectic time in my life to go to Conqueror’s Camp. Life had gotten a little messy and I needed one week to concentrate on God alone. I was a young adult and found myself in the age-old battle of flesh and spirit. On the very first night the minister preached on ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’ I released my will to God that night and on Thursday, God brought Eric into my life.

One afternoon during a break from my duties in the ice cream stand, I was taking a walk collecting my thoughts, another rare privilege, and began to reflect on my life.  During eighteen years of marriage, life is sure to happen. Kids, jobs, careers, bills, people, tears, joy, laughter, anger, smiles, and frowns.  Faith is put to the test. On this sunny afternoon, the Elton John song came to my mind, ‘I’m Still Standing.’  Here I was standing in the place where I looked to God for answers and direction for my life, and with His help, I was still standing.

Camp was great and on Sunday we had a visiting minister. In his sermon, he made the statement, ‘If you have a promise, you have a glimmer of hope.’  I felt a ‘light bulb’ moment, but it was more like a light from heaven speaking to me.  During my journey, I had times where I felt like I had lost hope.  In the middle of the darkness, we had made some connections, through social media, to two individuals who spoke about waiting for hope. I lived this statement. I wanted so much to feel hope again.  Here is where I have found hope, in faith.  I couldn’t see answers, I couldn’t feel answers, I couldn’t hear answers, but I knew they were there, somewhere. Our family continued to go to church. I continued to read my Bible and pray. We did our best to stay faithful. This was the answer and He met us in our faith.

The promises are in His word.  ‘Every promise in the book is mine. Every chapter, every verse, every line.’ The promises of God are Yay and Amen!  Again I repeat the statement this minister said, ‘If you have a promise, you have a glimmer of hope!’ He also said, ‘The greater the promise, the larger the problems!’ I began to weep and then rejoice.  He went on to say that, ‘The enemy is afraid that you will live up to your promise.’  So this was why we had been through a ‘living hell’ the last few years.  God had given us promises.  The enemy was afraid.  The enemy forgot that, ‘greater is He that in within me, than he that is in the world’.

A few times in my life, either during a sermon or in my personal devotions, God had impressed me to mark certain scriptures and claim them as promises.  I have them starred in my Bible and sometimes run across them.  They come alive and I receive strength from them.  Psalms 37 is one such passage of scripture. Our family has looked to this scripture for our very source of life.  Last night at a Youth Rally, the minister’s sermon passage took me to a page where I had marked another such promise. Psalm 126: 5-6, ‘They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall DOUBTLESS come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.’  I looked at the date and began to think of all that had happened in the last few years. The date was 6-26-06. I began to search in my mind, what was going on at this time? When was this? Had this happened yet? Had we went through that trial yet? On another day, in another blog, I may find reason to share our time of great trials, but for today, let me just say, this scripture had been given to me as a promise right before one of the hardest, longest periods of trial in my entire life and we are just now finding ourselves on the other side.  I can truly say, we are stronger, we are wiser, we are more humble, and we are more determined than we have ever been.

Yes, I’m still standing, standing on the promises of God!

 

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

R. Kelso Carter

Cherishing the Rejected

It’s that time again… Yard Sales! 

I have a love-hate relationship with yard sales. I love to go, finding bargains and interesting items, but I hate to have them. All that work and it’s a gamble whether your efforts profit much at all.  If you can just have the right person come to your sale and you just happen to have that one item that they need, it’s a match! The thing about yard sales, they are filled with items you no longer have any use for, they have been rejected; but someone needing that very item thinks they have found a treasure! Sometimes I can’t help but to look at trash or discarded items out on the curb.  It’s hard to believe what some people throw out! They no longer have a use for it and couldn’t find anyone they knew that needed it.  As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

A while back someone was preaching from the book of Ruth and pointed out a simple, yet interesting fact.  Ruth is one of two books in the Bible bearing a woman’s name. If this wasn’t enough, she also wasn’t a jew. How special a person Ruth must have been.  After losing her husband, a jew, she chose to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi,  back to her homeland rather than to return to her own people.  Naomi and her family had made such an impact on her life, or perhaps she had little to return to, nevertheless we find Ruth in the lineage of Jesus, a cherished position!

How about that man named David? Oh, sure, he has some very good qualities, but face it…he made some mistakes that would have most people cut off from society and put into prison, never to be allowed to join in the circles of society again.  He was home, bored, while his men were hard at it in battle. He glances out his window finding a woman taking a bath. Overcome with lust, he sends for her. Just so happens, her husband is one of those men fighting in the front. A one night stand leaves the woman with child. In an attempt to cover up his mistake, he brings the woman’s husband home, hoping to solve this problem. Unfortunately for David, this man has more character than his king and couldn’t think of having a night of pleasure with his wife while his countrymen are still in battle. Frustrated, David sends this man straight to the heat of the battle for the purpose of ending his life.  One thing David forgets, God is still watching the whole gruesome story. David takes the woman as his wife and the baby dies.  Nathaniel, the prophet, shows him the error of his ways indirectly by telling him the story of a wealthy man who steals the only lamb of a poor neighboring farmer, just to feed his guests. David is enraged at this story until Nathaniel reveals that the man is David.  In the end though, David repents and earns his place in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart, a cherished position.

Peter was a fisherman. One day a man named Jesus comes by and says, ‘Follow Me’.  Peter spent every day, from that day forward, following this man, listening to His teachings and loving Him more than anyone in his life.  Jesus spent hours giving details about the future of His own life and gave instructions for His followers.  Peter listened so well, that when Jesus asked Peter who he thought he might be, Peter never hesitated, yet answered, ‘You are the Christ!’ Jesus told him that he had answered correctly. Not long after, when men came to arrest Jesus, Peter immediately drew his sword, cutting off the ear of the soldier.  Jesus simply picked it up, healing him instantly, removing Peter’s guilt. Yet when later questioned if Peter knew Jesus, Peter denied him three times, even after Jesus had already told him this would happen.  Later, after Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, He showed himself to Peter, who repented. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom and gave the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost telling all how to be saved. What a cherished position!

Speaking of that man Jesus, He was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16) The world made by Him and they knew Him not. (John 1:10) He was the Stone that the builders rejected. (Psalms 118:22, Acts 4:11…also in Matthew, Mark, and Luke!)  ‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.‘(Isaiah 53:3)  He was rejected, but we as believers cherish His existence and every act of love He performed on our behalf! He is cherished!

I have been rejected by many.  I have been rejected by my parents because of their own cares and concerns. I have been rejected by family members because my choices about my life did not match up with theirs. I have been rejected by my peers sometimes because of choosing to follow God in the path of a separated lifestyle. I have been rejected by church people when making mistakes that were contrary to the teachings of the Bible. I have been rejected sometimes because of the bitter attitude that I allowed to grow in my heart because of unhealed past hurts. I’m sure all of us could testify to being rejected at one time or another, justified or unjustified.  This fact is what is so wonderful about God.  He loves us unconditionally, and when we take the time to repent of our unrighteous ways, He not only accepts us, but He loves us! What a cherished position to be in!

Reminds me of a classic song:

So I’ll cherish the Old Rugged Cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

-George Bennard

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139 “Fearfully and wonderfully made”

Vs. 1-6 GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!

Vs.7-12 There is no place that God isn’t.

Vs.13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Vs.23-24 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

It seems as if we are born with a need for affirmation in our lives. We want reassurance of our worth almost daily. Some need this more than others, depending upon their experiences in early formative years of childhood. All through school and even in the workforce, we find ourselves comparing our own checklists with those of our peers. From appearance to abilities, we start sorting out our strengths and weaknesses looking for ways of improving or hiding any scruples that we find. Unless you’ve had strong coaching from authority figures in your life in how to appreciate the way God made you, this can be a daunting task. Many don’t have this support. On the contrary, whether actually heard audibly or assumed due to the neglect of others, many are deeply wounded and have had their worth taken from them.

At almost 40 I’ve spent 20 years making mistakes and 20 years trying to move past those mistakes. People have hurt me and I’ve hurt people. My parents abandoned me. Step-parents were less than to be desired, to say the least. Relationships were difficult and I was left untrusting, craving affection, full of ungrounded emotions, and a yearning for peace. We aren’t paying attention when our lives begin to form knots and tangles then when we finally decide to try to sort it out, the task before us seems impossible. Along the way though, God did send gems and jewels into my life. People who kept my head above water and helped me get my feet back to shore each time the tides of life tried to carry me away from the shore of safety. These people I could never repay and I’m sure I was never able to fully express what they have meant to my life.

At the beginning of my 39th year, my New Year’s resolution was to “Let go of hurt and love more.” I can’t change anything, and everything I’ve experienced up to this point is part of who I am. The old saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’ is so true. Also, it’s important to concentrate on the strengths that God gave us instead of questioning whether God made a mistake in allowing us to exist. Sometimes we create the messes we find ourselves in, but God is faithful to help us the moment we ask for help. We may still have to face consequences, but God has a way of transforming mistakes into blessings in disguise. I’ve learned a lot, but still have a lot to learn.

Forgiveness of others, important. Forgiveness of self essential. Unforgiveness is a prison sentence. It doesn’t hurt the person you are upset with; in fact, they rarely even know that you have a problem with them. On the other hand, the hurt is kept inward and can poison you emotionally and physically. The stress of unforgiveness is such a burden. It’s understandable that we feel like we deserve, at least, an apology for the wrong that was done to us, but sometimes we will never get one. Sometimes we have to step out of our situation and try to see it from another angle. Perhaps the other person never intended to hurt us. So many factors are involved in motivating our actions and decisions and when you have interactions with others doing the same, the probability of conflict is inevitable. Sometimes we only afford forgiveness after we find ourselves guilty of making the same mistake that was made against us. Ultimately, if we want forgiveness from our heavenly Father, we must forgive those around us, even if they never ask for it.

God created Adam and Eve as a template, so to speak. Each one of us is a unique individual with varied abilities and endless possibilities of accomplishments. God doesn’t make junk and He loves us all equally. ‘Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”’ (Acts 10:34-35)  God loves us, we are his children. The enemy is always trying to convince us that we are worthless and weak. When we are actively following God and trying to live by His word, repenting daily of our shortcomings, God forgives us and loves us without reservation. His love for us is unconditional, but we decide our fate. Just as we receive rewards or face consequences here in this world for our actions, there is coming a judgement day where our eternal address will be determined. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. What we do with what we are given is up to us. We must also take time to recognize and acknowledge the worth of those around us. No man is an island and we all need each other.

Next 20 years: The Best is yet to come, which reminds me of a song:

The best is yet to come, when I walk through heaven’s gate.

 The first time I see Jesus, I can hardly wait.

 He’ll show me to my mansion, say child this is your home.

 I have this feeling in my heart; oh the best is yet to come.

Jack Campbell