Monday, July 26, 2010

It's All About Perspective

Last week was rough for me. It was one of those weeks where my emotions were haywire - work was difficult, the kids were fighting and I didn’t handle it well. I’ve had weeks like that before, and yet came out of them closer to God and more determined and faithful. That was not the case last week. Still in my funk, I grudgingly went to church yesterday only to have the veil pulled back from my heart, and my soul enlightened.

Sunday’s sermon was taken from Matthew 5:10, where the Bible says, “10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The pastor went on to talk about many modern day martyrs and Christians in more than 20 countries who are being persecuted in horrific ways because they profess Jesus as Lord. I walked out of church sobered and grateful for the opportunity to repent of my selfishness and ingratitude.

Last night I was taking a few minutes before bed to contemplate my heart and where it had been heading. I thought about the book of Philippians and Paul’s authorship of this book from prison. His attitude is nothing short of astounding, especially considering the extremely barbaric conditions known to have existed in prisons during this time period. More than likely, Paul was shackled in heavy chains, given very little to eat and was kept in a space filled beyond capacity with other prisoners. Under those extremely difficult circumstances, he sang hymns to the Lord and wrote the book of Philippians.

Philippians 4: 4-9 says, “ 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Though I was anxious – worried about my kids, work and my place in church ministry - verses 6-7 really struck me. I had to stop my anxiousness, fill my spirit with gratitude and then God’s peace would supersede any situation and guard my heart. If only I had read the Word and “put it into practice,” as Paul says in verse 9, then maybe my mindset might have been different. With a different mind, peace may have guarded my heart - and I could have been rejoicing instead of weeping.

I do not know what this week will bring my way. I seriously doubt it will be much different circumstantially. I am praying though, that it will be much different as I keep my blessings in perspective and “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Time Alone Can Do

Have you ever gone through a period of time where you were alone a lot or perhaps you just felt alone? My children are gone for a few weeks visiting their Dad in another state. My house is very quiet and I have discovered that being alone for long periods of time is very telling about who I am at a heart level. I am more tempted to sin when I’m alone, after all, who would know? And yet, as I’ve spent days here by myself I’m coming to see the benefit in this solitude and not just as a source of temptation. I am not forced to do anything out of the need to be a good example, or because it’s expected – what I do now is what I desire – be that good or bad. My true heart is exposed, and all because I’m alone.

Exodus 2:11-12 says , "11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand."

If you look closely at verse twelve it says that Moses was alone, and glancing around to make certain of that fact, he then made the choice to sin. As it turns out, Moses’ choice wasn’t a secret and it became known that he committed this murder, so he fled to the desert. There was a span of 40 years between the time Moses murdered the Egyptian soldier, fled Egypt, and when he heard the Lord speak from a burning bush. A lot of changes took place in Moses’ heart in that time period. The Bible says that Moses was a shepherd so we know that he was probably alone most of the time. Apparently that solitude changed him because he went from being a murderer to an obedient servant of God.

Deuteronomy 34:10-12 says, 10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

I’ve had to make a decision to turn to God in the solitude and choose not to sin. My heart’s goal is to walk closer with Him when I’m alone or when I’m feeling isolated like Moses did. Moses’ time in extended solitude changed him into one of the most amazing leaders in the entire Bible. It says in Exodus 33 that God spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” I long to continue to have that same “face to face” connection with my Father. Maybe time alone is a good thing after all.