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Just Say No

August 1, 2014

Sorry, but sometimes, I just have to get it off my chest and so I turn to writing. Feel free to listen in if you’d like…

One of the most difficult things about the “new normal” is just saying no. I was blessed for many years to have some flexibility in my schedule. Kathie was home, so if there was a need, church-related or otherwise, I could often break away from business for a little while to go take care of this and that. Over the last year and two months, I have tried to maintain staying flexible, and to be available to others, whether in business, extended family or to the church. I have said yes to some, no to others; the result has been stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, neglect of the kids, irritation and frustration, the house being upside down, spending money I didn’t have going out to eat because I didn’t have time to cook, and the kids’ schoolwork suffering. I know this will surprise a lot of you, but let’s face it, I’m not “Super Dad.” I can’t do it all, not even close.

One of the things I have learned is that just because something is a good work to do, it may not be the work for me to do. I’ve had to do some serious readjusting of priorities. Things that were at the top of my priorities have drastically slipped to near the bottom to the point of neglect… and feelings of guilt.

I had previously been in school working toward a degree in Christian Counseling. I had one more class to take, then the final 15 practicums (practical application sessions with clients) to complete. Once that was done, I would have completed my Bachelors. I tried a few months after Kathie’s passing to take the final class so I could get it done and behind me. I never finished. I could never seem to find the time; but more than that, I could never seem to get my heart into it. Just too busy and my focus was simply in other places. I still do not have the heart, nor the time, to do this.

After listening to my whining about being overwhelmed, one of my daughters told me straight up that I’ve got to learn to say no. Well that sounds mighty harsh. I apparently have a tough time doing this, but I now know that is my biggest issue when it comes to time. It hurts to tell others no or “I just can’t.” But I’ve had to back up and just say it on occasion. I will have to say it more and more, especially this next school year. I’ve got to stay with my kids’ schooling.

But I have also learned that it is okay. I’ve got a primary mission; I’ve got a job to do: It is called raising children. Next to my relationship with the Lord, Himself, they MUST be my priority. I simply cannot do them justice and not be there for them. They need their time with me. They must experience my examples before them and my example must be one that exhibits the Lord in my life. But possibly more than that is the literal, hands-on schooling that must be done. Janessa will require undivided attention as will the others to a good degree. God has called me to dedicate myself, my time and my energy to them. They deserve it. This does not mean ignoring other things or other people, but simply doing what God has entrusted me with first. This is the priority He has given me. What have I accomplished if, with all the good I may do in this world, I lose my children to the world? So, our focus in ministry will be more of what we as a family can and should do, not what Leland can do.

So, bottom line? This coming school year, I will simply be unavailable during the daytime. I’ve got to back off from all the running around. I have to say “no” to other things, and “yes” to my family. I only get one shot with them. I refuse to lose that battle.
It’s taken me awhile to settle into this “new normal.” I don’t particularly care that I have been thrown into this; it’s not the road I would have chosen, but it is the path I’ve been given. I will take it with grace, gladness, thankfulness, and praise to my God. I will devote myself to it wholly, and commit to my God my heart, my soul, my body, my children, and all our work. May the Lord receive all glory and praise in my life.

April 4, 2013 – Receiving the Holy Spirit?

April 4, 2013

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”Luke 11:13

It is evident that the Holy Spirit is/was available to those who would ask.  Jesus said the Heavenly Father wants to give Him to me if I will but ask.  Have I asked?

I know that God’s Holy Spirit is present in the rebirth of each Christian, as is evident in the Bible.    

John 3:5-6  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

This verse tells me two things that are crucial to the doctrines of Christianity. One – I must be born of the water. Two –  I must be born of the Spirit.  There is no spiritual rebirth without the Holy Spirit.  This same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit that raises me up to walk in a new resurrected life for Him.  More on this later.

Peter told those on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit would be given to those who would obey the Gospel.

Act 2:38  “Then Peter said unto them, 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.”

I have not only gained salvation, I have been given the Holy Spirit. Why? For what purpose?  Am I responding to Him? I will discuss this more in the next few posts.

April 3, 2013 – He Arose and I Can Too

April 3, 2013

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” – Romans 8:9

He’s alive! He rose from the grave victorious over sin and the tomb! He’s alive.  He is alive today and He is alive in me as a believer.

What does that mean to me?  Does it have any significance to me today beyond the fact that He arose.   Does the awesomeness of this event mean anything to me today beyond recognizing the historical fact?   What part does this event play in my life today?  This same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave is the same Spirit given to me as a Christian.

Jesus, following the resurrection, spent the next 40 days with His disciples, then just before He ascended, he told them to go to Jerusalem and wait there until they were “endued with power from above.”  This happened in Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost.  This single event confirmed everything for them.  They knew that He was alive.  Do I have this same confirmation and can I also know, beyond any doubt, that He is with me as He was with them?

The same Spirit that was active in the creation of this world; the same Spirit that was active in Jesus’ ministry; the same Spirit that was alive in the works of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost and throughout the New Testament; the same Spirit that inspired the writers of the Bible to put pen the God’s Word; this same Spirit that raised Jesus from the tomb is alive and well in the Church today.  The question is, “Am I listening to Him?”

Oh, too often, I am afraid I do not listen to him. I have been given the Spirit for many reasons, yet I do not listen to Him as I should.  Over the next few days, I will investigate this subject and challenge myself to walk after the SPirit more than I have in the past.  Come along and study this with me.

2013 – February 14 – I Say He Is the Son of God

February 14, 2013

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Mat 16:15-16 (ESV)

Thoughts from a Bible discussion today…

Prior to this question, Jesus was teaching His disciples beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, but they didn’t get it.  He then told them that they had very little faith and went on to explain to them what He meant.  Then He asks this penetrating question.

This question was asked of His disciples, but still rings applicable today.  Who do I say that Jesus is?

I say He is the Son of God.  But what do I really mean?  I mean He is the power and the means for my salvation.  He is the power by which I can conquer sin in my life. He is the power whereby I can walk in the Spirit and in freedom. He is the Way, the Truth,
and the Life (John 14:6)  “…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

So if this is what I mean, then what is my response?  I will fully surrender to His will.  He is my Lord.  I am subject to Him (His
Lordship), therefore, I will obey him and allow Him to lead me.  If so, then nothing in the world – not possessions, not things, not entertainment, not even family will get in the way of my service to Him.  Lose the world, gain Heaven.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” – Mat 16:24-26

Is it possible for me to give enough for my soul?  No.  But Jesus did.  And I am called to give my everything.  All I can do is give all I have in service to Him.  I give up myself in exchange for my soul and my salvation, therefore, is up to You.  Thank you, Jesus.

January 29 – Hands that Shed Innocent Blood

January 29, 2013

“…the LORD hates… hands that shed innocent blood…” – Proverbs 6:17

I was in a discussion today which prompted these thoughts.  Two wrongs do not make it right.  I’m speaking of extenuating circumstances around the issue of abortion.  As horrible as rape is, to abort the baby has proven many times over to add much worry and heartache to the mothers who chose this path.  This may not be true for all of them, but it certainly becomes an issue to any who have a conscience.  The baby is completely innocent and should not be punished for the evil acts of its father (or mother).  (There are rescue and adoption outlets, etc. to help if necessary).  But aside from the political aspects of the issue, Scripturally, how does God really feel about it?

Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb.  We are uniquely formed to be our own person.  How could anyone discount that life as though it were nothing more than a blob of tissue?

Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb.  Choosing to end that life is to interfere with the work of God.

Exodus 21:22-25 prescribed the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder.  This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult.

For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1).

Never has there been a more innocent subject completely at the mercy of human hands.  God, have mercy on me for doing little to stop it.  May I pray for direction; may I be willing to stand up for them; may I be a voice for those who cannot be heard.

Their silent cry is heard in Heaven.  Surely the angels weep.

January 24 – Cart before the Horse

January 24, 2013

“Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” – Mat 26:74-75 

Peter was a fisherman by trade.  Rough exterior.  Big mouth.  He was always putting the cart before the horse.  When Jesus needed a friend the most, Peter denied he even knew him and hid.  That’s our beloved Peter.  I can relate to him!  So many times I fail to do the things I really need to be doing.  He was always saying and doing things that would no doubt embarrass those around him.  I know this had to be true.   If I had been standing there when Peter spoke to the Lord on a few of those occasions, I would have wanted to say, “Peter!! What are you doing?” or “There he goes again, will he ever just be quiet?”  I realize I’m reading between the lines here, but that’s what I would have said.  However, I also could have been the one who was opening my big mouth.

Despite Peter’s outbursts and jumping ahead of Jesus’ plan, he was loved and he was used on the Day of Pentecost as the primary spokesman where 3000 people came to obey and to know the truth of the Gospel of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and were baptized into His kingdom.  Peter from that time on was a mighty man of God, a man once so full of pride, and then changed by the love of Christ into a very humble servant.  If you don’t believe me, you go and read Peter’s writings in 1 & 2 Peter.  He speaks very clearly to the issue of humility and God’s grace.  If there was ever a man in the Bible that had to learn humility, it was Peter.  I’m sure he knew what he was talking about.  Jesus saw in Peter what man did not see in him, and God made him an able minister of the New Testament.

Can the Lord use me? I have to believe that He can use whoever or whatever He wants to accomplish His will.  The real question is… Will I prepare myself to be used by Him? Will He choose me? I think I should humble myself and become as clay in the Potter’s hands to be molded to exactly the vessel He chooses me to be.

I surrender.

January 23 – Bringing Up Children in the Lord

January 23, 2013

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” -Eph 6:4
I was in a Bible study recently discussing the teaching and training of our children in the church.  One Brother made this observation (and I thought really profound) regarding the raising of children.  He said, “exposure is not equal to training.”  Simply taking them “to church” is surely not enough.
So many parents wonder what happened to their kids when they no longer go to church, yet may have never actively sought to teach and to train them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, leaving it only for the church to do it.  A parent should diligently train their children in both word and in action; and to be involved as a family in the church, as well as family ministries.  I’m not convinced that simply “taking them to church” is fulfilling this scripture.   Just thinking out loud…
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