Friday, October 22, 2021

FMF: Still

Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
(Isaiah 65:24, NIV)


It’s been a while since I’ve been able to participate in a five minute Friday writing session. To be honest, I’ve been struggling with energy, depression, and the ability to set aside enough time to write for even five minutes each week. But when I saw the prompt for today and thought about it in context of the verse above, I knew I needed to write. More than that I knew I wanted to write because I wanted to proclaim to anyone who might read this that God answers prayer.

It’s not a topic that I’ve often felt so strongly about. In fact, about two weeks ago I found myself confessing to a friend that even though I believe in prayer, my actions are such that it appears I don’t. Simply put, I don’t pray nearly as much as I want you.

A few days ago, on a dark, cold Monday morning, I found myself struggling to get out of bed and get ready for my class. I finally did, however, I didn’t realize I was running about 20 minutes late. I got in the car immediately and began to drive as quickly as I could to my school. As I drove my prayers were more than just a request that God would get me there on time. I believed that God would get me there at just the right time. In fact, I believe I uttered those exact words: I trust that You will get me there at the right time.

When I pulled up to class I was surprised to see everyone standing outside of our door. For reasons we did not yet know, the door would not open. The professor had called security to open it. When they were finally able to, we all discovered that maintenance had been doing work on the door and had removed the batteries from the keypad lock. Long before I even utter my prayers to God, He had set in motion events that would ensure I got to class at just the right time.




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This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Becoming

Last night I became my father.

I found myself eating toast with jelly as a late night snack with the lights turned down while I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. Tomorrow I may have a bowl of Cheerios with my coffee and become even more like him. Maybe I’ll even watch the news.

Of course I have not actually become him, but my actions reveal his likeness. By living in close proximity, his way of doing things has become my way of doing things even without trying.

It happens. We joke that people begin to look like their dogs. If you doubt me, just do a quick internet search and you’ll be entertained.  Similarly, I’m sure you’ve known couples who have started to talk like their partner after being together a while. It’s why I came home from Canada saying, “eh?” Psychologists call this the Social Proximity Effect. Sadly, our mothers were right: if your friends jump off a cliff, you probably will too.

Inluence is powerful.  When we learn good traits, the results are amazing.  When we learn bad traits, it can seem impossible to overcome. There is probably no place this is more true than in our faith. In scripture we read John's words stressing the importance of it:
We know that we have come to know God if we obey his commands. Suppose someone says, “I know him.” But suppose this person does not do what God commands. Then this person is a liar and is not telling the truth. But if anyone obeys God’s word, then that person truly loves God. Here is how we know we belong to him. Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6, NIRV)
Scripture is clear that believers must live like Jesus did, but let's be honest, it's doesn't always seem like they do. It would be easy to dismiss this as a failure resulting from our human nature - and, yes, we are all going to fail from time to time, but that answer isn't sufficient for me.

The Person is a New Believer
I believe in immediate salvation, but I also believe that we spend the rest of our lives becoming like Christ. We will always struggle with a sinful nature, though those struggles may change over the course of our life. Sometimes those rough-around-the-edges Christians are just spiritual babies. They are still drinking the milk of their faith (Read 1 Peter 2:1-2 HERE).

The Person is Distracted
Distraction can occur in one of at least two ways. We don't spend enough time with Him or we spend too much time with others.  In the first case, we aren't practicing spiritual disciplines: praying, reading the Bible, participating in a faith community.  In the second case, those spiritual disciplines are being drowned out by the other voices in our life: unbelieving friends, the internet, or personal activities. Our faith is being choked out by life (Read Mark 4:1-20 HERE).

The Person is Unaware of the Impact of their Actions
This is a tough one for me. I strongly believe that our faith is meant to be lived out with other believers.  In fact, I recently wrote about that idea in my Friday writing group (Read it HERE). In practical application, this one is easier said than done.  I have a friend who on more than one occaision has reminded me that sometimes the way I speak does not convey a friendly tone. Oof.  It's always awkward for both of us. The first time I was told this, my immediate response was a defensive manner. As I calmed down I realized that he was right, and I have tried to change my actions accordingly. However, it's not always appropriate to confront someone.  You must have a loving relationship with them and pure motives.

These are a few of the things I've been thinking about, but I want to know from you: Why do you think Christians are sometime so unlike Christ?  Leave me a comment and go be like Jesus!

Friday, September 10, 2021

FMF: Rescue

“There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else…”
(Judges 18:28a)


I stumbled across this verse a few weeks ago.  It is one of those little verses that one might be tempted to skim over, as I was at first.  But the words lingered in my mind...

No one to rescue them.

No relationship with anyone.

As much as my husband and I dream about our future retirement locations - that remote home in the middle of nowhere - there is one thing I always remind him: we need neighbors.  He loves the idea of being so far from the next home that we might forget they exist.  I am slightly more practical.

As much as people annoy me, frustrate me, and perplex me, there is no denying that God has created us to live in relation with each other.  It's like the Bible writer penned, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17)

Yep, people are hard to deal with sometimes, just like we ourselves are hard to deal with.

I recently had to write a children's lesson on Psalm 133 the same week I faced serious issues with an another believer.  How could I teach about the blessing of living in unity when I was in a situation that I could only imagine being resolved by removing this other believer from my life? Yet it was that opportunity to reflect on God's word that gave me the same insight I share here today: We need each other.



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This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
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Friday, September 3, 2021

FMF: City

“Also tell this to the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: I will let you choose to live or die. Anyone who stays in Jerusalem will die in war or from hunger or from a terrible disease. But anyone who goes out of Jerusalem and surrenders to the Babylonians who are attacking you will live. Anyone who leaves the city will save his life as if it were a prize won in war."
(Jeremiah 21:8-9, NCV)


Surrender!  This was essentially the message given to the believers in Jerusalem from God.  I'm sure it must have made little sense to them.  Why would God want them to leave their city?  This was the land that God had given to them.  It was where they had raised their families, and where generations before them had also raised their families.  It was where the temple was, and so it was where God was.

But God told them to choose: stay and die or go and live.

God sometimes presents us with options we don't like.  They don't make sense and, sometimes, seem totally counterintuitive.

Like those early believers, God is destroying old ways for new ways.  The coming exile would help the believers refocus their beliefs.  If you read the other prophetic writing from this time, you will learn that the believers weren't behaving the way they were supposed to.  In fact, at one point, God tells them they are worse than their non-believing neighbors.  Ouch!

So what are the cities that God is asking me to abandon in my life?  What things I have always done that somewhere along the line warped into something ungodly?  I'm sure I can't fully investigate that in the five minutes I am spending here today, but I pray God always give me enough wisdome and faith to choose life.



* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
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Friday, August 27, 2021

FMF: Desperate

“Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.”
Psalm 79:8-9, NIV

At some point we've probably all felt we were in desperate need.  While that sentiment is subjective, it's pretty easy to agree with the psalmist if you read the entirety of Psalm 79.  He and his people were in desperate need.

But there is something that stands out to me about his cry for help.  Not only does he ask God to "deliver him" as most of us would, he also asks God to forgive him. It's a beautiful moment of responsibility: I'm sure I've done something wrong, God, but only you can make it right.

The other thing I notice is that his cry for help is not for his own sake, not even for the sake of his people, but "for [God's] name's sake." It reminds me of Moses reasoning with God in the desert: Everyone's going to think you brought us out here to kill us.

I don't know about you, but too often I ask God only for the things that benefit me.  Help me pay this bill so I can later spend money on something fun.  Help me lose ten pounds so I can look really good when I go to that event.  Help me do well on this project so I can seem important. May I learn to look at things differently.  May all things I do be done for the glory of God.



* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
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