What Christians Get Wrong

So, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. For those of you who identify as a Christian you might be alarmed that I would suggest that Christians are not doing everything right. On the other hand, some of you might be reading this blog and are thinking “Yes!, see I told you they were a bunch of hypocrites” And I’m sure you probably have a long list of the wrongs.

I am also convinced that there are still others like me, those who have been a member of the faith community for some time, and that you completely understand just how flawed Christians can be and are not surprised, nor alarmed by my suggestion.

I pray that you all bear with me for a bit and let me explain what I mean so that all those of different views might better understand each other. I really believe that is what is missing at times, honestly. Just a chance for Christians to admit what they get wrong, while helping unbelievers, whether, agnostic, atheist, identifying with another religion, or whatever, see the positives of Christianity.

It is a tall order to be sure. We definitely misunderstand one another. So, it may take a series of blogs to address the issues, but I believe that one of life’s and faith’s challenges ( the focus and purpose of moving4ward) is dealing with differences of worldviews and how to not get it wrong when explaining our Christian worldview. Too often the explanation is muddled by well meaning, yet flawed Christians.

The first thing Christians get wrong is assuming they are in a fight with those who have a different worldview. It is not a war against each other. All mankind are created in the image of God. Christians are not special people in terms of creation. I am not a Calvinist and therefore I do not believe in predestination. All men have equal opportunity to embrace Christianity and receive Christ as Savior. All men can either choose to accept the hope of Gospel or to reject it. All men have freewill. And please note, when I refer to men, I mean mankind, both male and female to be clear- I don’t want any misinterpretations here.

Christians have at sometimes looked at those who do not believe in Christ as savior, as the enemy and are convinced it is an “us” versus “them” mentality. I admit that even I have had this view before in my early walk with Christ. It is something that Christians kind of, or at least should, grow out of over time. But, I really see this as the biggest problem that can cause someone just exploring Christianity to reject it.

As an apologist, I have studied formal arguments, that is rational and logical arguments, from the philosophical point of view and there is a place for these discussions. There are many intelligent Christian apologists who can carry on very sophisticated and academic level discussions. But, most Christians are not in such a setting and often times begin to argue with their neighbors or coworkers, mistakenly believing that they can argue the other person into belief.

This is hardly the case. It is not our business to save anyone through arguing our point. One comes to Christ through hearing the Gospel and responding, but more importantly, this is the work of God through the Holy Spirit. For those who don’t know anything about this, it is like that still small voice that directs your thoughts. When you hear about Jesus and His offer for salvation, the Holy Spirit, that small convincing voice, makes it clear what Jesus is offering. He also convicts us of what we have done wrong, but yet He reminds us of what Jesus has done for us. It might sounds confusing to you, but it really is that simple.

However, I know there are some instances when a well meaning and even thoughtful and caring Christian can come on too strong and argue with those who are just trying to figure out if Christianity is true and real or not. It looks more like coercion than coming alongside someone and helping them understand what Jesus is offering.

The Apostle Peter, writing to a group of Christians in the middle of the first century offers this suggestion; “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1Peter 3:15). It’s a popular verse amongst apologists, but sadly way too often interpreted wrongly. To interpret it correctly, you need to consider the situation at the time it was written, who it was intended for, and who wrote it and what their intention was.

We can’t as Christians just apply a meaning to it, quote it, and use it to proof text our way into making our point. The words reason and defense are used interchangeably, but I prefer the New International Version Bible use of “reason” when understood that Peter was writing this during a time of intense persecution by Rome during either AD 62 or 64. More specifically by Emperor Nero. Nero was crazy and ordered Christians tortured- as human torches along the streets of Rome at night. They were also forced into animals skins and allowed to be mutilated by dogs.

What these early Christians faced is nothing like what Christians in our times, at least in the West, are facing. Their lives could be over at any moment, simply because they were Christians and were Nero’s scapegoat. They were considered strange at first for not believing in Caesar as god. They were even considered immoral, because they refused to worship the Roman gods. But, they did not fight back, or argue, but remained faithful until the end. Refusing to deny their faith, despite the risk they were taking in identifying as a Christian. Peter offered them hope in that difficult time. He didn’t tell them to form a militia, or a political party, but to offer anyone who asked them, “Why do you have this hope in Jesus?” “Why aren’t you crumbling in fear?” And most important of all Peter told them to be gentle and respect the other person.

Not argue a point. Not try to be right all the time. Not tell people they are bad or evil. Not ignore people with a different view. But, in gentleness, respect and love share why you are still a Christian. Why does it matter to you? How did you know it was real? How did you come to follow Jesus? This is what we can and should do.

Offer hospitality to those who don’t yet understand. Hold our tongue instead of arguing. Show them Jesus in our actions and our lives, and when they are ready to hear, share our stories. Share our own doubts and questions too. We probably don’t have all the right words to say, but just say what Jesus has done in our lives. Be real. Be approachable. Be fallible. Admit our shortcomings. Don’t argue for Jesus, but be the Jesus people can get interested in and hopefully, find the answers they are looking for. God Bless- Nancy

The God Who Sustains

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.- Psalm 3:5- New International Version

Are you an observant person? If you answered yes, then you are also probably a very wise person. The wisest people I have met are those who notice the world around them and find that God is in it all. From the smallest detail to the largest and most obvious. We just have to stop and see.

As I mentioned, sometimes it is in the smallest details, that God displays the greatest lessons for us. At least I have found that to be true for me. God is always teaching me more of His ways through what I see around me. He calls attention to the small things.

This happened to me recently, and although it was no small detail that He showed me, it was from the smallest and newest member of our family. It has been from my new little granddaughter. She is barely two days old, and I can already find a lesson from God for me from observing her.

And no it is not in the admiration for God’s beautiful and skillful workmanship, or from the amazement at her perfect little fingers and toes. No. It is from her temperament. Well, all newborns’ to be more clear. They cry, fuss and demand. They are not happy and want to shout it to the world around them. Sometimes they do not know what they want. Sometimes they want to just be held and comforted. Other times they are hungry. Other times they want to have their mess they made cleaned up. We wrap them up tightly, swaddling them, and they want to break free and not be wrapped up. They basically want their own way, when they want it.

After watching all this unfold these past few days and how my daughter and her husband are adjusting to this new boss in their lives, I have realized that is how we all act.

We are not sure what we want, but we do know we want someone to figure it out for us. We want God to fix whatever is broken and clean up messes we have gotten ourselves into. We are hungry for more, but we don’t always take what God provides; we fuss trying to get something other than God. We want God to comfort us, but we still want to be free to do our own thing. We want to be independent, yet dependent on Him. We complain to Him when He doesn’t give us what we want or when He takes too long.

We are all fussy children who continue to question God at times, but He is always sustaining us, just as the Psalmist wrote. We sleep and we wake for God sustains us. We don’t understand it all, but we can be secure, just as my granddaughter is, that she is loved and cared for. She will not be forgotten or overlooked. She fusses and cries. She demands, but she also is beginning to understand that she will be sustained. May we learn that for ourselves.- God Bless You -Nancy

Trust First

So, I’d like to think that I am a trusting kind of person. I admit there have been times that I can be overly cautious around some groups of people or individuals. But I also have made the mistake of trusting in others too much and have been hurt.

But I wonder if that has affected my ability to trust God. I know you might be thinking “Wait, like trusting God should come easy for a believer” And I agree with you; it should. But can you actually admit that sometimes you might struggle with trust?

What I mean is that we all have at one time or another told God that we had the best way to go. We asked bold prayers for God to answer, in our way of course. Not necessarily in God’s way, or in His timing. And we were probably let down. We struggled to understand why our heartfelt, fervent prayer wasn’t answered. At least not in the way we had expected.

I have also found that when I am seeking to understand and find answers to the whys in my life, God always challenges me with the same Bible verse. Does this happen to you? Or is it just me? There a couple of verses that just seem to bring out guilt. Actually, its more of conviction from the Holy Spirit than guilt. But, it troubles me, none the less.

One of the verses is Proverbs 3: 5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart
  And do not lean on your own understanding.” (NIV) It seems pretty straightforward. Except I always feel bad for the second part- leaning not on my understanding. I know I do that more than I should. I am a person who tries to figure out everything. And plan everything out.

But, quite often I will find whenever I am seeking God for direction in decision making, this verse will pop up. It might be from a daily devotional, or from a sermon, or just the verse of the day sent to my e-mail address. And it trips me up. I begin the question which understanding is mine and which is God’s. Which way should I go? Am I trying to figure it out on my own?

Well, this week it happened again and once again, my favorite verse came up. Except this time I began to look at it differently and wonder if God was trying to tell me something other than to not lean on my own understanding. Maybe I had been thinking of this verse all wrong.

Maybe I should break it into two parts. First, trust in the Lord, than not lean on my own understanding. I was trying to avoiding leaning without doing the trusting first.

It was if a light bulb went off in my mind, and I understood. I needed to focus on the trust. And I have to ask myself, “Am I really trusting God in this situation?” Or am I trying to figure it all out?

It is similar to following a recipe. If you are a baker or cook, than you know that there is a list of ingredients first, than the directions for assembling the dish. If you randomly combine the ingredients, the recipe won’t work. You have to follow each step in the order listed.

So, in my case with Proverbs 3:5, I was trying to jump ahead and focus on not leaning first- something like jumping ahead on a recipe. So, I struggled with the verse, and felt bad, for not being able to avoid my over thinking.

It sounds simple, but consider whether God has been speaking to you through a particular verse. Does it have different parts to the verse? Try focusing on the individual parts and consider the meaning.

In my case, I am trying to focus on the trust part, knowing that God has my best, that is HIS best interest at heart, for me. I am not God and only have a limited ability to understand what lies ahead for my life. There is so much out of my control. So, first things first; trust. Than the more I learn to trust Him, the less likely I will panic and over think everything. God Bless -Nancy

Constant

Do you like change? Or do you like consistency? I admit I am torn between the two. I like to travel and visit new places, but I still resist changes to my schedule or to my comfort zone of my home town. I enjoy new shops and restaurants, but do not like to see the land cleared to make room for these new places. I like the wooded empty lots with the beautiful shade trees. I like my smaller easy to drive back roads instead of the newer widened streets with too much traffic. I like my routine, but at times I get bored and want change.

But, one thing I have learned with all the change from the past two plus years, as the world has been reeling from one crisis to another, I need some change, but also crave the known and consistent. I cannot take too much change. I feel uneasy. I feel anxious. I know the world keeps moving forward, but I need some kind of constant. Something familiar to comfort my anxiety.

It is at these times the Holy Spirit reminds me of the unchanging nature of God. He does not change. He is constant. My relationship with Him is constant. I need not fear His ever abandoning me, or leaving me to fend for myself. He holds me in the palm of His hand and no one can snatch me away. He loves me despite my errors in judgement. He has called me His child. I am His daughter.His perfect love drives out any fear.

The fear that originates in my own mind that somehow I don’t measure up. When my prayers aren’t answered in the way I want them to be answered. When He is silent. When He doesn’t seem to be listening. When He doesn’t see how all these changes to the world, my world, has made me anxious. Or when I want Him to change a situation, that He could easily change.

But then I remember to trust. He does see and know all the turmoil around me. He knows my anxious thoughts. He knows my fears and says “Fear not”. He has called me His own. His child. His sister. His friend. Not because of my goodness. Not because I am special or better than anyone else on this planet, but because He loves me, just as He loves the whole world. He sent His Son to reconcile my broken relationship with Him. He sent someone to tell me about the awesome good news, that I did not have to fear of whether or not I measured up to His standard- I don’t- but that He would take on all my missing the mark, and make payment. He loved me enough to take on my sentence and allow justice to be served. I am free of trying to pay for it myself or worrying whether I have done enough good, or whether the good outweighs the bad.

I trust Him, not myself. I am His. I am now a daughter of the King. And although my world is full of changes that make me anxious, I can relax and know He has this. All of this. He has a plan for this world that is still being worked out, that in the end will set all things straight. He is an unchanging God who knows it will all work according to His plan. -God Bless You – Nancy

A Little More

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ– Paul to Timothy, 2 Tim. 1:2

Have you ever felt like you just needed a little bit more? More strength, more energy, more peace, more time, more money, more health, more patience, more trust, more confidence, more love, more mercy. The list could go on and on I’m sure with whatever the “more” is that you think you need.

We all experience these seasons of drought in our lives. Those times when we feel like we are lacking in an area. Maybe its an area of trials and struggles. We all have them. And in those times we either want the trial to end or we just want a little bit more to get through the trials.

Sometimes it isn’t really a trial and it just appears as if it were when in reality we have just become too complacent. We want something new and we believe that if we just had more money we would be able to buy that something new that seems to be the answer to all of our problems. Until a few weeks later when it becomes just another old item to us. We often impulse buy because we think we need what someone else has, when in reality it was more of a want than an actual need.

Or maybe we are dealing with a difficult person a want more patience and peace, except maybe we are the difficult one, not the person we believe is causing us impatience.

Our view on life can make us think we are lacking when in reality we are not. We have everything we need. We have the strength, peace, patience, money, grace, mercy, time, health, love, confidence, etc.

When the apostle Paul was writing to Timothy, the pastor of a church in Ephesus, Timothy was struggling. There were people in the leadership of the church who were trying to change the message of the Gospel. There were power struggles and some of these leaders were even causing Paul trouble with the Roman government, leading to Paul’s arrest. Young pastor Timothy was discouraged and intimidated by these power hungry false teachers. He probably was feeling like giving up. Paul mentions Timothy crying in this letter, so he recognized the depth to Timothy’s despair.

I’m sure Timothy was wanting a little bit more; more strength, more wisdom and more peace in dealing with these rogue church leaders. Paul gave him something better; he gave him encouragement.

We all need people like Paul in our lives to remind us that in Christ we have everything that we need. In Christ, we have grace, mercy and peace. We have patience and love. We have wisdom and strength. We have a provider. We have a comforter. We have someone who understands the struggles of this life. We have a companion who is always with us. In Christ, we have it all, we do not need a little bit more. May we be reminded of this today, as I was, and pass it forward to encourage one another. -God Bless, Nancy

Imago Dei

Do you think you are beautiful? Has anyone ever told you that you are beautiful? Do you think of the beautiful person that God has created in His image; Imago Dei, in the image of God, as you?

Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. Maybe you are struggling at this very moment to believe that you are beautiful. You feel ugly. You believe those feelings and you start to think along with being ugly, you quite possibly are unlovable. Maybe even God is disappointed in you. Others are beautiful, desirable, lovable. You might believe the lie that somehow even God doesn’t love you.

Maybe your parents even told you these lies. And you can’t help but find plenty of other people to hold up as the beauty standard; the lovable standard. The magazine covers and social media post that unashamedly use filters that are the goals according to culture. Maybe you were abused or objectified. You thought it was love, but it was just a short- termed lie. It left you feeling worse about yourself.

It probably started while you were young; when the people closest to you made comments that you took to heart. Comments that you believed about yourself. Or maybe it was abuse and you turned on yourself, hating what God had made. Your prettiness. Your handsomeness. You felt the blame fall upon you and maybe you tried to harm yourself. To make the pain and hurt go away.

I feel you. I get it. I’ve felt it too. The ugliness that I believed about myself. That I was not worth love. I was scarred from an accident as a child. It left me different than the others girls. I was also born with a birth mark. I hid my body. I was ashamed. I certainly did not think of myself as beautiful. I never heard it from my parents. Just once I remember overhearing a conversation my mom was having with someone and heard her say I was beautiful on the inside. Was that a complement? It’s hard to register as a middleschooler going through that awkward stage. it took me years into my adulthood before I could look into the mirror and declare that I was loved by God. The hurt and the wounds were deep.

What brings me to write this today was an article I read online from a Christian author. It was her opinion that we should stop telling women they are beautiful and focus on how we are all so fortunate that given our miserable state as sinners that God should even offer us salvation. She also added that we should stop telling the women at women’s conferences that they are special and loved by God. That to do so is all wrong and we should shift only to the spiritual elements of Christianity. This is not word for word of what she said, but the idea of it. She believed we are not so special. We should not feel we are. But, wait just a minute. Then why does the Bible speak so much of beauty?

To dismiss that we are created in the image of God is an affront to God. Read the first chapter of Genesis. God said His creation was very good. Body shame and the need to cover up came after the Fall, (Genesis 2:25, 3:7).

After the Fall, Adam and Eve looked at themselves and knew they were naked. They felt shame. They wanted to hide. This was the beginning of body shame and the beginning of death. Our bodies fall prey to old age and disease. And if you are older like me, you know this all too well. But we still try to cover up this aging process and look to make ourselves beautiful by the world’s standards.

I think that is what was troubling the writer of the article I read. Too much focus on the outward appearance and not meeting the world’s standard. But, for some people, myself included, we need to hear that we are loved and beautiful. It is not a sign of weakness. We all should be reminded that despite how we look, God finds us beautiful. He creates us and knits us together (Psalm 139). Some of us have scars. Some of us are born without limbs, or hearing, or sight. But. We Are Beautiful. And our physical bodies should not be treated with any contempt.

When we die, we will be resurrected in real bodies. Not floating, wispy, cloudy images. Jesus resurrected and has a real body. Read the end of the Gospels. He still ate with His disciples.

The Romans believed the body in its physical sense was evil. Women’s bodies were deemed worse than a man’s. It was a real shock for the early church in Ephesus to read Paul’s words that “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies” Ephesians 5:28, NIV. Paul added that the husbands should care for wives as the husbands cared for their own bodies. The body as Paul reasoned was not bad and would be resurrected to new life, a belief the gentiles did not hold to.

Should we treat our own physical bodies as if they do not matter? Should we ignore the millions of people who want to hear that they are loved by God? That God has created them with beauty and they can look into the mirror with confidence that they are beautiful, despite their less then social media perfection bodies. and that they can agree with God that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and He declares it very good.

We should celebrate and Praise God for freeing us from sin and shame, even body shame. And celebrate that He did love the world so much that He sent His very Son to redeem it. We are in the world. He loves us. He declares that the physical body is worth redeeming along with the spiritual body. It is not bad; it is beautiful. You are beautiful. – God Bless You Nancy,

Hills And Valleys

My morning song selection seemed very fitting today. As soon as the song began it brought me anxious thoughts for this day as well as memories from long ago. It was Tauren Wells singing “Hills and Valleys”. It is a great song that reminds us that God is always with us in those lows and highs of our lives.

This morning had been one of those low moments after my mother in law called with news about my husband’s younger sister and her medical emergency. She was okay now, but it was a very unexpected event. The kind that could have gone very badly. Thankfully she is better now, but it definitely put everything into perspective. Life is so uncertain and we never know when we will go from a hill top to a valley.

I grew up in northern New England. Its an area of the United States, named after its mostly English settlers and is known for as being part of the Appalachian Mountains. These mountains were formed from glaciers that melted and dug across the area, leaving behind tall mountain peaks and deep valleys below. Many of the towns are either located in valleys or along the sides of the mountains. The terrain is not flat between these mountains but is more rolling with hills and small level spots that were build able along the rivers and lakes.

As I was thinking about Tauren Wells’ song this morning, I was brought back to a time in my childhood when my mom started a 4- H club for the community youth, mostly farm families, in our home town. The young farm kids learned good citizenship, good animal husbandry skills and team work. But, because there weren’t that many farms in our actual hometown, many of the kids who belonged were from the neighboring small towns. Towns that were scattered along the valleys, mountains and hillsides.

To start the club, my mom needed to give it a name, and as all the adults were brainstorming for ideas, I, as a younger than the official age to join the club, made a profound realization and I spoke up, “Why not call it Hill and Valley” since that describes the variety of places the kids were coming from? I may have been too young to join, but the adults, including my mom liked it and the name was officially chosen. So shout out to anyone back in my hometown who knows if it still is going strong as a 4- H club. I know it was for a while.

The song also brought to mind the 23rd Psalm. About walking in shadows of the valley of death. If you follow the psalm it shifts to speak of the good things God does- anointing the head with oil, spreading out a banquet, goodness and mercy, dwelling in God’s house. It seems quite the contrast when you think about it. The valley of the deepest despair, when you think you’re going to die , to the point you can enjoy the full, over-flowing cup of God’s mercy and goodness.

We usually reserve Psalm 23 for funerals, but I’m not sure why. Whoever is dead is not passing through the shadows of death. They are already dead. But, it seems more fitting for this life. We will go through valleys. Through shadows of death. When we have despair. When we cannot see our way out of the valley. The mountains are too high. Our sadness too overwhelming. But God is with us. He has not abandoned us. He is there in the valleys as well as those amazing mountain top moments. The moments with the celebrations and banquets when our joy is over flowing.

We all like those moments. We wish that we had more. But what if what we think our valleys now, are really mountaintop moments?

I’m sure my sister in law, thought nothing of her routine procedure yesterday. It was just another thing on the schedule. Another evening like the ones before to come home from work, make dinner and sit down with her husband. We all do the same or similar. We wake, go through our days, spend time with our families, our spouses, our pets, our co -workers. And we have anxiety. We have stresses, We have high food prices, and high gasoline prices. We worry about measuring up at work or school. We know we should pray more, read our Bibles more, serve more, share more. But, in these simple moments- stressed filled and all, what if these are mountains? What if they aren’t the valleys we think they are? Life is short. Our days are numbered before they begin, but through it all, God. God is with us. Through the days when we think we are falling into the shadows of the death. When we are lifting our hands in praise to God for the awesome answers to prayer. He is there in it all.

I have been in those deep valleys, praying and crying in the hospital room while a loved one lay in a coma, dying. I have been on the mountains when the praise from the worship band was so amazing, Heaven came down, and the presence of God fell down. To the point at which the worship lead stopped singing and fell to his knees as I too stopped singing. There were no words that could describe His presence.

God was not any closer in that moment, than at the moment in the hospital as my own mother lay dying. He was there. With me. In the hills and in the valleys, -God Bless You- Nancy

Even though I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

Psalm 23:4-6, NIV

When They’re Gone

Her children rise up and call her blessed – Proverbs 31:28

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mother’s Day this year. I am amazed how difficult this day is for me. Oh, I am very happy when my own adult children and my husband remember the day and share their love and appreciation towards me. But, after almost 8 years since my mom died; its still really sad for me. I wish she were here.

I wonder when and if it will ever be just another day for me. Will there be a time when I don’t find all of the advertisements bothersome? This year, I thought I was handling everything so well. I could walk past the Mother’s Day cards without feeling sad. I even searched through the cards looking for one for our daughter, who is expecting her first child. I was looking for a card for “moms to be”. And yes that is a thing, in case you are looking for a similar card and sentiment. To me, a mom becomes a mom, the moment she is pregnant. She nourishes and grows a child within her womb, who is completely dependent on her. This definitely qualifies as mom to me, not just when the child takes her first breath of air. Just ask my daughter and she will confirm this very much alive child who is already keeping my daughter awake with her gymnastics in the middle of the night, is her baby and she is her mother.

So, as I was looking for the right card to give my daughter this year, in the dollar tree store of all places, I was suddenly overcome with memories of my own mom. The words I could hear her speak, and the image of her face, began to flood my mind. I found the perfect card, though, but I was doing everything I could not to completely break down in a full blown ugly cry right there in the store.

My husband was with me, but had gotten off to some other part of the store, so I quickly walked away from the rack of Mother’s Day cards, to escape to another aisle. And also went on a mission to find my husband so we could check out and leave before the tears fell. In a moment of relief, my daughter texted me and told me a present had arrived from us and how much she and her husband loved it. It was perfect timing and brought me a moment of joy, but also quickly turned to sadness as I thought about my mom, not being able to be a part of her first great grandchild’s life. That made me sadder , and also a bit angry, feeling like both my mom and me had been robbed of this opportunity.

I know my mom is healed and happy, but it doesn’t mean that I still don’t wish she were here. She would love all the excitement around the new baby. She would probably make her a knitted blanket or sweater, or maybe even a quilt. She was amazing at handmade gifts. I still have many of the things she made for my own children when they were born. She would love the baby shower planning as well- she was amazing as a host and cook. She would make meals for anyone who stopped by her house at lunch or dinner without any stress or checking her schedule first. She simply served them and made it look so easy.

But, I have to admit, I did not always appreciate my mom and recognize the neat and generous ways she served others, including me. I thought the homemade clothes were simply just a way for her to save money, and I felt self- conscious at school around my classmates with store bought designer clothes. When I was married, she would send me past issues of magazines, old store coupons and school papers from my childhood. I thought she was just cleaning out her house and giving me what she didn’t want any longer. And at other times, we just didn’t agree on issues. I thought she was too old fashioned.

Sadly, it took me many years and her passing to realize just what a blessing I had. The old school papers she saved and sent, would have been lost and my kids would not have gotten to see my first grade class picture. The magazines were great for when my kids needed to cut up pictures for school projects. I used the coupons at the store. The homemade clothes gave me design and style sense, that taught me how to be creative, look for bargains instead of paying full price, and not conforming to cultural expectations- In other words, to think for myself. Her throwing meals together from simple ingredients, helped to learn hospitality.

And her difference of opinions, taught me how to listen to others, and to come up with counter arguments. However, the biggest part of my life that I appreciate the most is to provide an opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was her prompting to go to church, watching television church serves, and the gift of my first Bible that led me to my relationship with Christ. For this, I will always be thankful and praising God.

I just wish I had opened my eyes to appreciate her while I could have told her. I talked her while she was she was in her coma, but it just wasn’t the same. I hope she heard me.

But, if there is anything I would like to share with you as Mother’s Day is approaching- please, tell your mom you love her. Look for ways to show her. Look at the ways she has helped you become the person you are today. She may have made you angry, she might have made crazy requests, she might have been annoying at times, she might have not liked your choice of friends or politics, she might not talk with you, she might have disowned you or abandoned you, she might have hurt you. But, she is your mom and she gave you life.

If your mom is still alive, you have the opportunity to enjoy her now. But, I will have to wait until my mom and I are reunited in Heaven, but I can guarantee it will be amazing! It will be like the most amazing Mother’s Day ever. And will be able to thank her for my life and called her blessed. – God Bless You – Nancy

To Everything

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

The changing of seasons is an amazing thing. It displays God’s creativity in His creation and His careful arrangement of nature and weather. Here in the southern United States where I live it is Spring- more affectionately called by locals as Pollen Season. If you happen to visit the area during these months of our Spring from mid February to the end of May, you will encounter quite the scene. Sniffling noses, watery eyes, raspy voices, foggy minds and the “I just woke up and feel tired already” groups of people. It is like we have all just watched the saddest videos on our phones for all the sniffles and watery eyes you’ll witness.

And we all empathize with each other and compare our symptoms and the various remedies. We search out and Google every possible option for relief and seek the advice of complete strangers in the medicine aisle of the grocery store. The advice is as wide of a variety as the flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans- which means quite a number!

As one who suffers from these Spring pollen explosions of symptoms, I sometimes feel quite miserable. I find it very easy to get caught up in the whole “My symptoms are worse than yours” conversation in which we all try to describe in detail, how we are feeling. The real reason is of course to find out what the other person is taking for medicine to relieve their symptoms. To be honest, though, there seems to be no perfect medicine to relieve the allergies, just basically something to control the symptoms. Allergies must simply be endured until, the pollen of the particular flower or tree lessens. It is about the same time the humidity kicks in- about mid to late May for the South.

So, I have a choice to complain about the pollen and then switch to complaining about the humidity, or to find the beauty in it all. There will always be something to complain about.

After living all over the globe, thanks to my husband’s career in military service- I can tell you one great insight about places and weather- there is simply no perfect place in which the sun shines every day of the year. We all have rain- we need it- we all have seasons of storms, and if we have plants- we will have pollen season. We must take it all as a part of life, much like stages of our lives. We all go through various seasons in our lives, as the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us.

There are times when we are growing and sowing in our lives, when we feel pretty good about life. And then there are seasons of harvest when we are content and happy. And then there are seasons of sadness and mourning when we let go of someone or something. There are season of hardship and difficulty. Seasons of uncertainty. But in it all, we can find the beauty of God.

As I have mentioned many times before, life is constantly moving forward. Our lives and are faith are always moving forward and growing and we will be challenged at times. We have the choice to look for the beauty in what God is doing or remain bitter and see only the difficulties. I can look out my window and admire the beauty of the flowers as God could only create their intricate blossoms. Or I could only see the pollen floating in the air and complain about Spring. Without the pollen, the bees and butterflies could not survive. The honey that sweetens would be missing if the bees could not harvest the nectar from the blooms. The fruit trees producing their delicious fruit of late Summer could not bloom without the help of the bees and the Spring winds blowing the pollen from tree to tree.

In life we will have problems, the pollen of our lives, so to speak, but it can bring the fruit and growth later on that we can enjoy. Pollen season is a brief time. It doesn’t last all year- thankfully- There is a season for everything- we must find the beauty in the season we are in- even if it means watery eyes and sniffles. -God bless you- Nancy

Why Not Jesus?

As I’m writing today it is the beginning of Holy Week, the week when the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Prayer and arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, the trial, the crucifixion, burial, the Resurrection, and the discovery of the empty tomb are celebrated by Christians worldwide. The celebrations look different, depending on the church and country, but for all it is a time to reflect on the enormity of what Jesus did.

For some people, it is just another holiday to celebrate. In the US, most people attend church on Easter with their families, enjoy a large dinner and fill Easter baskets for the children with chocolate bunnies and toys. Candy filled plastic eggs are hidden for a search by the eager youngsters. Often these Easter egg hunts are hosted by community organizations with no ties to any religion. We’ve gotten so used to celebrated holidays that the real religious significance is overlooked, much like Christmas.

Last week, I was sorting out some books in my office and came across one entitled “Why Jesus?” It is a great book written by the apologist Ravi Zaccharias, but it made me ponder for a moment the question; “Why NOT Jesus?” I mean, why not believe in Jesus?

As some of you know I am a Christian apologist, as well as a writer. So, giving answers like why NOT Jesus is right up my alley. That is, after studying for my Masters in apologetics, I really can not understand anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Savior, who died and rose again. The history, not just from the Bible, but other historical sources, is just too true not to believe. Yet, many still continue to resist the idea. Its like believing the earth is still flat, despite the evidence to the contrary.

I suspect, the reason why so many resist Jesus is because of their encounters with His followers, not with the evidence for the historic Jesus. Or it might also be that they like it when they agree with one of Jesus’ teachings, but not all of them. They like to pick and choose which ones to follow and which ones to ignore. It’s like they enjoy the chocolate Easter candy, I mean who doesn’t?, but they do not like the Easter story. It’s too complicated. They fear that they are not good enough, like God won’t love them or approve of their life choices. Or they fear they might have to give up one of their bad habits, you know the stuff God calls sin.

So , they enjoy celebrating for the chocolate, the food and the party, but do not commit to Jesus. Sadly, they miss that Jesus died for those sins, the ones they think God doesn’t see or is mad at them. They miss the big picture of what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t die for perfect church going people, He died and rose for those who fall short- way short- like me. His death demonstrates just how much God, Yahweh, loves us and the lengths He will go to redeeming us, coming down from Heaven and taking on the physical body, dying a real physical death, but defeating death by resurrecting. Jesus is not in the tomb, He is living. Christians do not follow a dead guru, like other religions, but a living God.

Or maybe they let the fear of change keep them from trusting Him completely. Instead they want to continue in this tension between trying to live this life on their own, without the secure knowledge of what happens after we die, and with the letting go of their trying and uncertainty and trust Jesus’ death and resurrection for themselves.

This world has enough tension already, so why live in this tense state? Why not trust Jesus this Easter and experience your own death to life spiritual transformation, instead of coming to the party just for the chocolate?

The writer of Hebrews offers this hope; “So also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:28, Berean Study Bible)

And the apostle Paul adds; “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, NIV)

So, let me ask again what are you waiting for? Why not Jesus?- God Bless – Nancy