Thursday, December 17, 2009

What is your life? - James 4.14

"The way you see your life shapes your life."

What definition or metaphor do you use to describe your everyday life?

For me it as always been a roller coaster. I even remember standing in front of everyone at the FCA Leadership Camp summer before my senior year of high school talking about the roller coaster relationship I've always held with God. There are amazing ups, gut-wrenching down times, and so many twists and turns. But today I am letting that worldview go.

Rick Warren writes, "How you define life determines your destiny." So, while my view is not completely negative, it is not all good either. Warren continues saying, "To fulfill the purposes God made you for, you will have to challenge conventional wisdom and replace it with the biblical metaphors of life."

Romans 12.2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect."

"The Bible offers three metaphors that teach us God's view of life: Life is a test, life is a trust, and life is a temporary assignment. These are the foundation of purpose-driven living."

Life is a test: Absolutely nothing in our lives is insignificant. Everything counts. Our "character is developed and revealed by tests."

"Even the smallest incident has significance for your character. Every day is an important day, and every second is a growth opportunity to develop character, to demonstrate love, or to depend on God. Some tests seem enormous and overwhelming while others you don't even notice. But all of them have eternal implications"

Personally, I've never applied the fact that life is a test. I have spoken many times about being tested, especially when it comes to my headaches. I now realize more than ever that you have one chance to get life right or wrong, and every second counts. I picture myself in a classroom with a dreaded biology test in front of me; I have an hour but I know that there are 3 essays at the back of the packet - every second counts; every wrong answer is a step closer to failing.

1 Corinthians 10.13 - "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it"

James 1.12 - "Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

Life is a Trust: Everything, literally everything belongs to God; he has trusted us to take part in what is his. He has trusted us with decisions and belongings in order to see how we act around them, and how we act determines a lot when we get to Heaven.

"At the end of your life on earth you will be evaluated and rewarded according to how well you handled what God entrusted to you. That means everything you do, even simple daily chores, has eternal implications. If you treat everything as a trust, God promises three rewards in eternity. First, you will be given God's affirmation: He will say, 'Good job! Well done!' Next, you will receive a promotion and be given greater responsibility in eternity: 'I will put you in charge of many things.' Then you will be honored with a celebration: 'Come and share your Master's happiness.'"

What really hit me here is when Warren talks about money. It is both a test and a trust from God. "God uses finances to teach us to trust him, and for many people, money is the greatest test of all." He watches us to see how we treat money as a test to see how trustworthy we are.

Luke 16.11 - "If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?"

"God says there is a direct relationship between how I use my money and the quality of my spiritual life."

Obviously, this has struck a cord with me because I'm not doing so great in the money department. Michael and I have managed to rack up a substantial amount of credit card debt which we are now working very hard to pay off. It is my prayer that this is our one and only young and stupid mistake. I have never thought of money this way. In the last year I have definitely turned to God with our money issues and realize for certain that it is only through him that we'll ever be successful with any money.

"Life is a test and a trust, and the more God gives you,
the more responsible he expects you to be."
This writing is inspired by Day 5 in Rick Warren's 'The Purpose Driven Life.'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Uncle Arthur's Arms

Psalm 73.21-26

Thought for Today: The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33.27

When I was little, I'd visit Aunt Barb and Uncle Arthur. Every night I'd lie down at the foot of the stairs and pretend I'd fallen asleep. Uncle Arthur would 'discover' me there and pick me up and carry me to bed. We did this long after I was really too old for it.

Uncle Arthur lived into his eighties and was always healthy, strong and kind. He'd been a farmer, a school janitor, and a rug hooker, and he knew everything about flowers. He made me feel loved when he held me. I've met a few important people whom other people write books about, and they gave me memories I treasure. But I treasure most the memory of Uncle Arthur's arms.

We get too few hugs. At the end of my life, I'll lie quietly down. I'll close my eyes. I don't know if Uncle Arthur will be sent to carry me home. Maybe only Jesus' arms are strong enough for that trip, but I know whose arms prepared me to trust in Jesus.

May we live in such a way that someone can say that about our arms. No other honor is quite so sweet.

Prayer: Loving God, as you hold and carry me, teach me to hold and carry others. Amen.

By: Sheryl Stewart--Albion, New York
From 'The Secret Place' devotional book for Winter 0-10

This made me think of Debbie - Psalm 73 was used at her funeral, but beyond that many of the memories she leaves behind are of her hugs; her beautiful hugs that have helped so many through times of trouble and joy.

I am so lucky to have known her and her family. My prayer now is for her husband, Carl, and sons, Jonny and Richard. My praise is that she is no longer in pain. But God please be with the Olsons during this time of happiness because Debbie isn't hurting, but time filled with pain because she's no longer her blessing our daily lives.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Inching closer

In 35 days I go back to school.

There is this huge lump in my throat and a million pounds on my back. I'm so afraid that the pain will get really bad again and I will mess it all up over again. There are so many unanswerable questions about my health and I don't know what to expect.

I feel like a kindergartner headed off to her very first day. No scratch that - a kindergartner doesn't know any bad; they're able to be full of optimism. Whereas, I've experienced the headaches (no pun intended) and the trials, and I'm scared to death.

I keep telling myself that I'm going to do better than expected and pass with distinction, but I don't think that I can do that. I think I need to lower my expectations and just pass! A lot of my problems have stemmed from trying to be the overachiever. Now is the time to let go and enjoy this second chance that I've so graciously been given.

Dad, please lay your healing hands on me.
I am yours.
I'm a very nervous girl right now.
Calm me down please.
I am yours.
Only You have the ability to heal me.
I am yours.
Matthew 6.34 - "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."
Philippians 4.6 - "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flying Home





Left behind.




God's saving grace.

No more pain.

Free at last.

Flying home.

Debbie Olson - I will miss you so very, very much.
Went home on 11-30-09.