Posted in Uncategorized

“United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

This phrase came to mind today as I was reading a book by Andy Andrews, The Traveler’s Gift. In the book “The Traveler” has an encounter from the past with Abraham Lincoln (if you want to know more, get the book, it’s great!) and it was at the time when Lincoln was preparing to give his, now famous, “Gettysburg Address”. The speech is quoted in the story and as I read it, it brought tears to my eyes.

You see, the speech was written and delivered in the midst of the Civil War, when our nation was divided, North and South, Democrat and Republican, families divided and brothers fighting against brothers! There was so much hate among men.

I thought about how our nation is not so very different now! Yet, inspite of that, I found encouragement in President Lincoln’s message. The war ended after many lives were lost but the country slowly but surely, began to heal and people began to care about one another again and together we built back our nation, not perfect but we were blessed by God in the work.

It gives me hope for our nation now. I know there are still problems in our nation, big problems, but I still believe it is the greatest nation in the world and I believe, God being our help, we can bring and end to the hate and division again; to forgive and rise up to be the nation we were created to be.

I hope you will be encouraged, as I was, as you read the Gettysburg Address with a fresh look. It is posted below:

And may God bless America!!!

Posted in character study, faith stages, music, Promises, responsibility, Weary encouragement hope, Work

“This Old House”

 

old house

 

If you are a DIY TV addict like me you will more than likely remember, first a magazine, called “This Old House” which in more recent years is better know by the TV show of the same name.

Having a large family and a pretty small income our family lived most of our years in two story fixer uppers. I attribute the start of my DIY addiction to those years. However it didn’t start during those years. All that time I had been hoping to have a new home one day that didn’t need any work done. After all the kids left home I finally got my wish  and we were able to build a new home with everything on one floor, functionality, comfort and all new, just the way I wanted it!

Yet something was missing ?

After several years the new house began to show some wear and the realization of how much work it was going to be to keep it looking new hit me. I thought back to the old fixer uppers. Once they were new, functional for their day and comfortable for large families. But over years of wear and tear they needed to be taken care of and updated in order to keep them that way for the generations who would come to make a home there later. Some of the work we tried to do by ourselves but when we were in over our heads we had to call in the experts.

The stress of many seasons of wind and weather were evident on the outside of each house but the foundations were still strong.  The old houses had a lot of character but also needed a lot of care and updating to return them to at least some of their former beauty. But a closer look revealed that it was in the aging of the house and the wear and tear it carried that it’s  character was built. And I realized it was the character of the house I was missing most in that new house.

Although, in the process, the houses sometimes changed in their form and function  they remained faithful in their purpose, to provide a safe and comfortable home for our family.  We put a lot of time and energy in those old houses in order to keep them functioning to meet our growing needs and though they continued to creek and groan at times they remained true to their purpose.

As we moved from one house to the next, only to start the work of fixing and updating again, the house we left behind would be taken up by another who would continue to care for and update to meet their own needs. But as long as the house was cared for it remained stable,with it’s foundation strong and ready to continue in its purpose for yet another season, another generation.        Related image

I turned 70 this year and I was awakened to the similarities between myself and those old houses. As I have moved from one season in my life to the next the wind and storms of this life have left this old house weary and worn at times, but along the way they were, unknown to me, building  character in me. As I moved from one season to the next another generation would come and build on, repair and update the foundations I had left behind.

This old house was once new as well, created by God in my mother’s womb with a purpose. The care and maintenance of this house was taken up by my parents from infancy through adolescence. Their care began to mold me and shape me, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes not so much. But, as a young adult the care of this house and the work of maintaining it fell to me.  At first it was exciting. I had it all youth, energy and freedom to make my own choices, There were those times of struggles and uncertainty but after 19 years of marriage, having 5 children and having a good job, I had arrived, I had all I wanted.

But something was still missing!

The house and all that was in it began to deteriorate and life and maintenance as usual was no longer able to keep it together. I needed help. I needed the expert builder and restorer of broken things to come in and do a complete “gut job” and remodel  on this house.

Since that day when I surrendered this house and all of it’s rooms to Jesus Christ, He has been doing an amazing repair, and update on me. He is making me new inside and outside. He has assured me that what will change on the outside is actions and reactions that come from what He is changing on the inside in my heart and mind. He is using all the bumps and bruises and all the wear and tear over the years to build His character in me. Though my body is wasting away my spirit is renewed day by day!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4:16)

My foundation has remained strong because it is built on Jesus Christ. Over the years my form and functions have changed (especially my form) as daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and now great grandmother. But my purpose has not. From the day I was born it is to love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, body and strength and love my neighbor as myself. I have not always been faithful to that purpose but the purpose was always the same and God has remained faithful to me.

I still like to watch “This Old House” on occasion but now I live in a nice mobile home that needs little maintenance. Now I am looking forward to that new body and a mansion in heaven, neither of which will ever see decay from the cares of this life.

What an amazing journey living in this house is and I wouldn’t trade one day of it because of where it has brought me and where it is yet to take me. I have been changed in times of blessing and even more in those times of struggle. And the character that is being produced in me is the very character of Jesus.

By faith, like Abraham,  I dwell in this land, an heir with past, present and future believers who have the same promises from God, the same promises that are available to all who will trust Christ. I am now waiting for my purpose to be fulfilled and to go to my home in that city “which has foundations whose builder and maker are God! ”   (see Hebrews 11:8-10) But until it is His time for me I will continue the work in and through this old house for God’s glory and praise!

Posted in accountability, character study, Discipleship, faith stages, humility, Light, Promises, responsibility, Weary encouragement hope

Why We Serve Matters

Image result for serving others
Serving is generally the action of helping or doing work for someone. It could be at a job or just doing a favor; a kindness; a good turn or giving a helping
hand.
Ever since I was a small child I have found pleasure in serving others, making them happy, helping them out. I wanted everyone to be happy. But I later found that, because of my own insecurities, what I really wanted was for everyone to like me; to be happy with me.
In the last several years I’ve become more and more aware of what motivates me to serve and I have to say it has in some ways been a pretty rude awakening.
The desire to serve has afforded me many blessings and opportunities in many places and ways, some by choice and some by chance. In some situations there were blessings reaped but some went on without any notice or recognition at all. And I would say to myself “It doesn’t matter.” but underneath I was hurt and I let it define me in both situation.
In part, I believe there is genuine concern for people, especially those who are what some call “down and outers” and probably because, at least in my observation at the time, that was my own social status most of my life. The other side of it isn’t quite as noble.
Recognizing several years ago that my service, though I did enjoy helping others, was born of a deeper desire to be liked, accepted by others, and to be significant in some way in this life . In other words, to feel better about myself and get recognition and confirmation from other people.
At times there would be brief feelings of superiority over those “down and outers”  After all  I was doing better now, more educated and yet willing to help them. Wasn’t that grand of me? When I received the kudos, ata girls and pats on the back for something I had done pride would sneak in. Oh, beware when pride comes in, it takes over and it is followed by a great fall!
However these feeling of superiority were short-lived Soon I would be beating my self up for feeling prideful and it would confirm, in my own mind, that I really wasn’t worthy of the love and acceptance I was looking for. I couldn’t win on the superiority or the humility stage.
In this bodies of flesh we are prone to serve not necessarily seeking but expecting something in return, maybe a gift, a favor in return or recognition. However the old saying,”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” does not apply in serving others in Jesus name. It is often difficult to recognize what our motives are and even more so to address them. But as we ask God to search our hearts and show us any wrong motives He will. And He will also change move and work in our hearts so we recognize the right motives, the same motive Jesus had for serving us, LOVE!
We can write our own script and rehearse it for the applause of men, playing to the wrong audience for sure! Not realizing God has written the Script-ure for us to read that reveals our part in His plan and that part is for the audience of only one, God himself.
God will reveal to each of us that real significance doesn’t come through the accolades of people; how much we do; or how much we have or know. It comes through knowing Christ and who we are in Him. We are His children and therefore  loved and significant in His eyes. Recognition isn’t gained through how much or how many are served. It doesn’t come from the approval of men and women. As His children, who have accepted Christ and His gift of salvation, we are free to serve out of the love He  pours into us. That love is unlimited. We can love others without conditions and it doesn’t take anything away from who we are in Christ but instead enhances our lives and our love of others and Him.
As for me, I’m learning that I can and should use the gifts and abilities God has given me to serve others; to make people smile and to encourage and maybe even make life a little more bearable for them in some way. But I must follow God’s script, His part for me. With regular prayer and self-examination regarding the motives of my heart and remembering it isn’t about doing, it is more about my being. I will serve less out of compulsion, to meet my own need to be needed or guilt. And more to be who God made me to be. Then the motivation to serve will be out of God’s love for me and His command to love and serve one another.
God’s Word tells me and He shows me daily that I am significant to Him and loved by Him all at all times. He makes me aware that He is a good Father and leads me in what He would have me do to be His hands and feet in this world. I need only to let Him lead.
Like Paul says in the New Testament, I have not arrived but “I press on” to make sure that my purpose in serving is to show the love of Christ to others as He has shown love to me and with the expectation being that my life might be an example of God’s service, love and mercy and to direct others to Him, doing all things for the praise of His glory.  (Philippians 3:12-14)
We don’t always get to choose where, how, or who we serve but we always have the choice of how we serve. Sometimes our service matters to many people, sometimes to only a few or may go unnoticed all together. Whether we serve those who appreciate or those who don’t; when it benefits us and when it doesn’t; when serving hinders us or even hurts us or if no one even notices. What matters is obedience in serving and the motivation of the heart that drives us.
I’m not saying it is wrong to receive blessings when we bless others for that is God’s blessing to us, but the key is that we are to bless them not expecting anything in return. Serving even when we know the other person can not give anything back. Our return on our investments will be paid out in huge dividends when Christ returns. And don’t you know we are blessed daily in the here and now whether we are able to serve or not.  Our service is for our good, the good of others and for God’s glory.
Our motivation and our purpose in all things is to serve out of love, sincerely and “to the praise of God’s glory.” (Eph 1:13-14) then there will be joy in place of self centeredness in the service, whether serving at work, play, in relationships, in learning, in teaching; with friends and enemies and in times of blessing and trials. For men may look at the service and the benefits, but God is more concerned with our motivation, purpose and expectations. He looks at our heart attitude. (1 Samuel 16:7) NIV
What motivates you?
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,    1 Peter 4:10-11  (NIV) (emphasis mine)

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.   2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

 


 

Posted in communication, humility, Promises, responsibility, self-examination, Weary encouragement hope

“The Road Back”

writing

I don’t know if you have you ever felt a call from God to do something that ignited a passion in you, but I got that call several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get a phone call from God or even hear an audible voice. However, I am convinced it came through a series of things orchestrated by God.

Through a class on writing using the book Write His Answers – by Marlene Bagnull and taught by Lori Hoose; as well as prayer and conversations with trusted Christian friends and writers, I felt confirmation that God wanted me to write. Not just write, but to write for Him. I had done some writing; college papers, a eulogy, and daily in my journal and I liked writing. So, starting with a great deal of enthusiasm and feeling sure this was the place in the world where God meant for me to minister, I decided to become a writer.

The little writing I had done in the past had brought some good feedback, but nothing big for sure. Since writing words of encouragement that directed others to seek God and His call on their lives was the goal, I started a blog in order to reach a larger audience, which resulted in the one I’m writing from now.  It was well received and there was much encouragement and even some positive feedback.

But then there came some bumps in the road along the way to fulfilling that calling and I began to wonder; “Was I mistaken?” “I don’t feel inspired today.” “Not as many readers this week or positive comments?” “Was it just wishful thinking  or misplaced enthusiasm?” Doubt began to creep in and soon it became a dreaded chore instead of a passion. Now what?  I had told everyone it was God’s call and it appeared I was failing and losing my desire to continue. Gradually the work of writing declined until there were months that would go by without anything happening at all.

Yet all this time thoughts of writing kept knocking at my door.

In the meanwhile, I decided I must have made a mistake and chose to seek a different ministry. As a matter of fact I tried multiple ministries, including a year and four weeks in Georgia working at a children’s home. Let me clarify that the work at the children’s home was definitely ordained by God but had a double purpose. My husband and I were blessed serving there and I would do it again. It afforded a lot of time evenings and weekends to walk the campus in quiet meditation. It was during that time that God began to reveal the things I needed to see and hear. I was taken to the woodshed for correction but also taken into His lap with His arms around me for comfort and love.

I began to realize I was really just keeping busy so I could say “I am too busy, I don’t have time to write. After all, there are my family obligations and my church obligations.” Then, “What about my friends and housework, laundry, groceries & meals, and the dog, what about the poor helpless dog, who is going to take care of the dog if I don’t! O, dear Lord you know how busy I am!!!” In reality now I believe that the underlying problem was the fear of failure and the fear of not measuring up as a writer. If I could just keep busy enough I wouldn’t be expected to write.

Sound ridiculous? It is sad but true. Fear is likely the number one thing that keeps us from answering God’s call on our lives and busyness may be number two. When God places a call on our lives it isn’t a suggestion it is part of His plan and purpose for us. A perfect plan when orchestrated by Him.

I began that journey back to where I had taken a wrong turn, but still I couldn’t seem to get back on track. It is hard to go back when you have been gone so long! I lacked inspiration and motivation. After much prayer and counsel with a close friend I received a call from another close friend. She had just called to catch up on how we were now that we were back from Georgia. Then in the middle of the conversation she asked me, “Are you writing? I haven’t seen anything for a while on your blog.” I explained, “I haven’t really had time.” As soon as we were off the phone I felt convicted and that statement has stayed with me ever since, both hers and mine.

God reminded me He had not removed the call to write but if I chose not to be obedient He would call another, and I would lose the blessing of seeing Him work through this gift He had given me. Someone else would receive it. Another confirmation for me, that some may choose to write but for those of us who are called to write for Him, and don’t, it is not a choice it is disobedience.

So bear with me dear blogging friends and family. I am back and ready to share more views from the Bird House. With our family growing every year there are a lot of stories to tell and lessons to learn here and I will be sharing as we learn and grow together.

It is good to be back!

God has a plan and a call for every one of us. We only need to seek Him and He will reveal it to us and we can trust that He will supply all we need to answer the call. The road may not always be easy and we will have bumps and maybe even some bruises along the way but God will be with us to the end of the road. Are you missing out on a blessing because you have chosen to take another road?

He is calling you to use the gifts and abilities He has given you, whatever they are, “to the praise of His glory”.

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Therefore pray then, “that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”                                                                                                                2 Thessalonians 1:11- 12 (NIV)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)

 

Posted in communication, Uncategorized, Weary encouragement hope

You Never Have Nothing To Write

 

3/24/18communications 1

“You Never Have Nothing To Write”

 

I once read a quote, though I can’t remember where, that said, “You never have nothing to write.” As a beginning writer that made sense to me because after all there is always something you can write about. There are flowers, animals, jobs, weather, opinions (oh how there are opinions), politics, family, love, sorrow, successes, failures and so much more.

So here I am today sitting at my keyboard and my mind is blank. I have nothing to write!

I love to write and it brings me joy. I say that I believe writing is what I am called to do and I have had folks tell me I should write, but, I haven’t written since July. Maybe I have the dreaded “writer’s block”? Maybe I am not called to write?

Or could it be that I have always had trouble seeing myself as a writer. I love to read and there are so many great Christian authors out there already. What could I possibly offer that they haven’t. When I am sitting writing I often think of other things I feel I should be doing and scold myself for wasting time. How can I be called to write and have nothing to write?

Yet when I write it is always a worthwhile effort. Even if it benefits no one else but me, the writer.  There is value in writing; in sharing  thoughts and experiences both for the writer and for those who can relate to and learn from the stories shared. My goal in writing is to encourage others who may have had the same struggles that I have and to share how God has brought me through each one. And there are plenty of those to share.

Well, as I am pondering here on my laptop I have reached almost 400 words (love that word count). I will wind this exercise up by sharing my insight into all of this. It turns out that it is true, “You never have nothing to write” so just start writing. That’s what I did today.

So, I will write to practice the skill, I will write to share experiences, I will write to encourage others, and write for the sheer joy of writing. I will write because there is always something to write about!

 

Posted in accountability, Children, communication, enjoyment, faith stages, Family, humility, quiet, self-examination, Work

Lessons from the Front Desk and Beyond

926338625-canstock5690339 My husband and I spent the past year doing volunteer work at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For us this was an opportunity of a lifetime! Most of our lives we have been involved in raising children, six of our own and three foster sons as well as other foster children and at one time we had even talked of opening a children’s home of our own one day. But it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

We had been serving as volunteers at the Children’s Home for several years, first with church groups and later going there for two weeks each year with another couple, so when the option came to serve long term we gave it serious thought and began to pray and seek God’s direction. It took almost three years before the way would be clear for us to make a one year commitment. We set the date for April of 2016 to April 2017.

We are both thankful for the opportunity and glad that we took this step in faith to serve God for that year at Hephzibah! Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner when we were younger and in better shape.

This past year has been an experience in faith, faith for strength to serve, faith for good health while we served, and faith for God to watch over our family that we left 950 miles behind for a year. And God did not disappoint!

There were many great experiences during our year of service. Experiences in learning new skills, in meeting new friends, and seeing new places. But the greatest experiences, for me, were the lessons learned at the front desk of the administration building where I spent many days filling in the gaps for the regular receptionist and as an interim receptionist between the permanent receptionists.

Now I will have to admit that it was no secret that this was not my favorite assignment while I was there. My favorite assignment was working in their donation center where I did sorting, organizing and distributing necessary items to the children and staff. This work gave me instant gratification and “felt” important and appreciated. And I worked alone a lot of the time so I could work at my own pace.

But the most valuable lessons are always learned in community with other people! I often felt that my contribution as a receptionist was small because I “just” answered the phone and greeted people directing them to where they needed to go or who they needed to talk to. Not exactly earth shaking work but as time went on and I had the opportunity to interact with many of the kids, staff, other volunteers and even the vendors and service people and I found fellowship, blessings and enjoyment in the work.

It is sad but true that it wasn’t until the last couple of months when we were completing our year and preparing to return home that I really began to realize the learning experiences God had blessed me with at that front desk as I interacted with the Hephzibah community. Not only did I learn the skills I needed to do the work but also some lessons that are still ongoing today in changing my life!

I learned what it is to accept people where they are and that everyone has a story if we are willing to listen;  that everyone needs encouragement (even those who may seem to have it all together); lessons in being accepted just the way I am and accepting encouragement as well.

In the area of communications; lessons about when to speak and when to be still, and especially about when to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I mess up the proper sequence.

My husband and I learned some things together as well.

God blessed us with time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a blessed but busy life. And after 52 years of marriage, six married children, three foster sons, fifteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren, friends, church, and community, we had built up a lot of hustle and bustle back home.

We had more time to pray and listen for God, to stop and smell the flowers and to enjoy new experiences, make new friends and create new memories. We were often able to minister one-on-one to staff, kids and other volunteers whenever and wherever God gave us the opportunities, and we learned to accept the ministry of others to us.

Other lessons learned: 

We can live with less

Our children and grand-children can survive without us (they knew that but I didn’t)

We can still work five days a week but not as fast as we once could

We can still be useful even though we are retired

And solitude is not necessarily a bad thing

But for me the best of all was that our year at Hephzibah gave us the opportunity to serve God and do ministry together in a place we love. A place where we were blessed and hopefully blessed others. A place where we worked alongside some amazing people who often face struggles and many of the challenges that every ministry experiences, yet they remain faithful and passionate in serving at risk teens and children who have been neglected and abused, and they share with them that they are loved, that they are the King’s Kids!

For most of us “baby boomers” retirement offers many great opportunities for travel, winter homes in the south, and cruises and all that is great. We have been blessed with some of these opportunities as well.

But for my husband and I, we will always be most thankful for this opportunity.

It’s been a great year!

Posted in Darkness, enjoyment, faith stages, Light, Peaceful, Weary encouragement hope

“Let There Be Light”

light vs dark

“People who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:3

As a child, and even into adulthood, I had a very real fear of the dark. Sharing a bedroom with my sister was a great comfort to me at bedtime until I was seven and we moved to a larger home where we four children all had our own room. My sister and brother were ex-tactic, but I was horrified.

It was great during the daytime to have my own space but I dreaded bedtime. For awhile my sister would let me come in at night to sleep with her but it wore thin pretty fast. She was three years older than I and wanted her “privacy” so she complained to my folks, who then said I needed to stay in my own bed. Oh, they tried to console me by assuring me there was nothing to be afraid of because they were right downstairs if I needed them but this was little consolation. Downstairs was a long ways off for a little girl afraid of the dark. It didn’t help that there was a big maple tree outside my widow and after dark, especially when the wind blew, its shadow moved in front of my window. My imagination ran wild and I was certain there was a witch in the tree, looking in my window and just waiting for me to fall asleep. I would not get back up for any reason until morning because I was afraid if I put my legs over the edge of the bed the witch or something else would be under the bed and grab my legs.

Just before it would get dark I would turn the light on in my room and  check my closet and under my bed before turning off the light to get into bed.I am not sure what I would have done if someone was there, but that dilemma didn’t cross my mind at the time. As soon as the light was off  I would make a beeline for the bed, jump onto the bed, and get the covers over me. Because everyone knows if the covers are over you no one can get you. That routine would stay with me for many years, some of it, even into my adult life if I was alone at night.

I have since gotten over this terrible fear, well mostly anyway (I still check the closets sometimes if I’m home alone). As a matter of fact I like my room as dark as I can get it at night when I go to bed. There have been a few nights when I’ve been alone and there was still a little underlying anxiety at night and I have also been known to have some grandkids spend the night a few times because I didn’t want to be alone at night.

But on a brighter note, no pun intended, it goes without saying, over all I love the light!!

 I am a morning person and feel the most productive in the daytime. I love lots of windows in my house and I want all my curtains open during the day to let as much light in as possible. And I love the feel of the sunshine on my face.

Light reveals where we are.

Light shows us the path in front of us.

Light gives us our directional bearings, rising in the east and setting in the west and the stars guided sailors long before directional equipment came along.

Light warms us and creates beautiful sunrises, sunsets and rainbows for our pleasure.

It even affects our health as the sunshine provides us with vitamin D and not enough light can cause depression and seasonal affect disorder.

Light is one of our greatest blessings, the first of all God created,  and he said “it was good” (Gen.1:3-4) Light is available 24/7 to some degree.

“Then God made two great lights the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” (Gen. 1:16)

We take this blessing of light for granite most of the time. It isn’t until we are in the darkness and can’t find our way that we search for the light and appreciate what a blessing it is when we find it.

Darkness is great when we sleep or in a movie theater but when functioning in our daily activities, trying to do them in the dark can be a problem. When we walk in the darkness we often lose our sense of direction and even lose our way. We try to feel our way through the darkness often stumbling over obstacles in our path. We may feel like the darkness is closing in on us or makes us feel cold.

 Responses to the light often depend on how long and how deeply one has been in the darkness. After a long time in darkness the light is harsh at first and we guard out eyes from too much all at once. Even watching those leaving a dark movie theater and into the daylight we see them shield there eyes until they adjust to the light.

Walking in spiritual darkness is the most dangerous of all. When we try to find our way through this world in the darkness we lose our way, we stumble and fall. We may try to find our way through the darkness by following our feelings but like the path in front of us in the darkness things we can’t see may change the course and our feelings change with them. Soon we feel the darkness closing in on us and don’t know which way to go.

Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before the darkness overtakes you.The man who walks in dark does not know where he is going”. (John 12:35 NIV)

When God reveals his light to those living and wandering in  darkness it can seem harsh at first as it reveals where we are in our sin. And their may be guarding and shielding against the light in the beginning. It can be, as it was with Paul, downright blinding (Acts 9:3-9). But as we walk out of the darkness toward the light we will see Jesus who is the light of the world offering us a way to never have to live in or fear of the darkness again.

Unlike light made by man, the Creator’s light is: Perfect, spoken into existence, made and perfected in two days, always reliable, purposeful, perfect in timing,   it relies on no man, it’s free and available to all mankind, it controls the climate-warmth by day and cool by night, seasons, vegetation’s growth, length of days and light and darkness, it is always there, a sure thing, and provides energy.

God not only spoke the light for the world into existence, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5)

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12 NKJ)

Are you walking in darkness, in the shadows or are you walking in the light?

If your walking in darkness ask God to shine His light and show you the path out of the darkness. He is waiting to hear from you.

If your walking in the light of Christ let that light shine for those around you who may be  walking in darkness that they may see the light of Christ and be saved through it.

 

Posted in assignment, Children, communication, enjoyment, Family

A View From The Bird House

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I am taking a cue from Jeff Goins on this post. His challenge is to write something from a life experience and this got me thinking of all the different life experiences this Grama has had, and there have been many.

I am very much aware that people can have the same basic experience but have a very different view of what that experience holds for them, therefore reactions may differ.  As I share my experiences, I will be sharing my own “View From The Bird House”.

You see, my last name is Bird and has been since 1965 when I married the love of my life and so I have quite a collection of experiences, both good and bad, that I could write about. Some of them weren’t necessarily appreciated as much when I was younger but with age I’ve begun to see God’s wisdom and sometimes humor in bringing them and/or allowing them. Yes, for most wisdom, does come with age!

Some life experiences were amazing and some frightening; some brought dreams to reality and some turned dreams to nightmares. But I have come to realize that every experience had its time and place in my life, each one brought with it life lessons and greater wisdom. Each one had a part in making me who I am today and none of them slipped in without my heavenly Father knowing it was coming. Many of them caught me by surprise but not my Father.

Each experience brought wisdom. Wisdom for raising children, understanding relationships and what my part in those relationship were, especially my relationship with my husband. Most importantly it brought me, and still is bringing me, to a closer relationship with my God!

But enough of the deep-thinking stuff. I would rather share my favorite experiences, the ones that make me smile and even laugh out loud. Retelling those stories at family gatherings is one of our favorite things to do and when we do we laugh like it was just yesterday even though some of the stories are over fifty years old. Still, they bring on those deep-down-belly-laughing fits that bring tears to your eyes.

Love them!

Even though those experiences make us laugh hysterically now, at the time, we  seldom saw the humor in them. Yet over the years we,ve begun to see the humor in them, which by the way is another advantage to ageing.

One of the experiences that stands out in my mind the is an experience with our first-born grandson who was four at the time. His mother had recently given birth to their second child and they were all visiting at our home. Our daughter had gone to do something in another room and I was tending the kids.

Holding baby Sarah, I began a conversation that I would soon regret and never forget. I asked my grandson how he liked his little sister and reminded him this is the little baby that was in mommy’s tummy. His response blew me away and it was my first lesson as a grama about being careful what you ask a toddler.

He got very serious and looked me in the eye. With his eyes growing bigger he said; “I know and I used to be in my mommy’s tummy too!” Not knowing enough to quit while I was ahead I continued this “cute” conversation and it went like this:

Me — I know, what do you think it was like in there?

Grandson – Getting more serious and raising both arms in the air and making a big circle he said; “Grama, there was sperm everywhere and I was afraid, but they said”, as he changed his voice to a gentler tone, “Don’t worry little boy we won’t hurt you. We are going to help you get out of your egg. But then I got stuck in my mommy’s gina and they had to cut me out of her tummy, but my sister didn’t get stuck so she came out of mommy’s gina.”

I was speechless! And that doesn’t happen often.

I immediately called for my daughter and shared this revelation that her son had shared with me. Her explanation was that she and her husband had been watching a program called Nova a few days before and it was showing microscopic films of sperm traveling to the ova, or egg, and how they penetrated the egg to release the embryo. Added to that; our grandson had been asking how his sister got out of mommy’s tummy and our daughter, believing you should use correct anatomical terms, explained in simple terms her birth. When he asked if he got here the same way my daughter explained that he had gotten stuck so they had to make a cut in her tummy to get him out.

That grandson was 32 this year and that story is still being told much to his chagrin. But he is a good sport because he understands. You see he has a little boy of his own now and already has some stories of his own to tell.

Lesson Learned by This Grama: 1. Don’t underestimate the ability of a toddler to put one and one together and get two. They are much smarter than you think. 2. Don’t ask a toddler questions unless your prepared deal with the answers. They share all freely! 3. Live in the moment and the experiences and look for the lessons they bring.

Posted in accountability, assignment, communication, enjoyment

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

 

writing

500 Words a Day Challenge

1/3/17

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

My intentions for over ten years has been to become a writer. I thought about it, talked about it and read about it and did a Bible study for Christian writers. I even started a blog, View From The Bird House, and wrote several blog posts. But the one thing I didn’t do was build a writing habit and think of myself as a writer. It was what I wanted to do but didn’t really believe I was good enough to do it or to call myself a writer.

Because of my age I thought it was to late to start writing. After all I was not well known except in my own family, friends and church family circles. I was a nobody and who would want to read what I wrote anyway.

As a retired nurse, wife, mom, grandma and great grandma what would I have to write about that others would be interested in. Had it not been for a writer friend I would not have even tried, I thank God for her because she opened up the joy of writing for me. And after much prayer and meditation on Scripture God confirmed in me that He was calling me to write and share a message of hope and encouragement to others.

God had given me a gift and desire for writing and he confirmed that through that close friend who is a writer, others who have commented on my blogs and most of all because I find real joy when I write.

So, now I am struggling to learn how to write and to develop a writing habit so that I can develop my blog. That is what brought me to accept this challenge to write 500 words a day for 31 days.

My long-term goal is to one day finish a book I started (barely, I think I have the dedication and intro done). A book that I hope will bring hope and encouragement to those who are struggling with regrets over choices made in the past, discouragement with the present and feel there is no hope for their future.

The book is based on a true story of one who went from favor to fear, from fear to failure, from failure to forgiveness and a fresh start. It isn’t my story, although it could be.

We all struggle at times, we all have fears and failures, and we all need a fresh start at times so I hope to take my readers down the path from regrets over fears and failures to victory and a fresh start in whatever area they are struggling.

These are my intentions, my purposes for writing. But they will never happen if I am not writing.

So, I join you fellow writers in this challenge and I welcome your encouragement and your critique because I need that to help me become the best writer I can be.

Because intentions are not enough!

Posted in accountability, character study, communication, Discipleship, faith stages, humility, Promises, responsibility, self-examination, Uncategorized

“Education or Transformation?”

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Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.                                                                                                                Matthew 28:16-20

These are the instructions Jesus gave to the leadership of the early church after His resurrection and before His ascension back to the Father.They were to go, to make disciples, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey His commands. Jesus prefaced his command with a proclamation that “all authority” was His to give such a command and followed the command with a promise to be with them “to the very end of the age”.

This was and still is the primary work of the church!

However, I believe it is one of the greatest challenges facing the church today. We  invite, entertain, include, educate, baptize, teach them God’s commands and add them to the membership rolls.

Now all these things are important but it seems that in our haste to move new believers along we tend to jump over the “making disciples” part. And I believe one reason we do is because we aren’t sure how to disciple because we may not have been discipled ourselves. God has been convicting me in the area of making disciples but, honestly, I didn’t know how.

Unfortunately, we, “the Church”, in varying degrees, seems to have lost the focus on “making disciples” and in many of our churches we have become more of a social club, entertainment club, and/or an educational center where we can learn many things about what Scripture teaches and the principles we are to live by but fail to move God’s truth from our heads to our hearts, our hands, and our feet. We are not often challenged to put them into practice and can become comfortable with gaining information but not  walking in obedience to God’s commands and according to His principles. Therefore, we see little transformation in our lives. Some who have been Christians for years don’t know how to disciple because many have not yet been taught discipleship themselves, present company not excluded!

To many times I have been guilty of wanting to make it comfortable for new believers so I didn’t challenge them with the truths that sometimes are difficult to live by and in so doing have watered down the scriptures. After all they were saved, and were doing all the things they needed to do.  They were attending church, getting involved in a ministry in the church, tithing, and the list goes on, but there was no significant maturing of fruit in lives as a result of the doing. I realize now believers should do all those things but we also need to be challenged by the God’s word to be more Christlike in our daily activities.

We have programs to increase attendance, to grow the Sunday school and children’s programs and increase membership numbers. We post attendance and offering numbers (see my blog post) Are We Counting What Really Counts There are places on our annual reports for the number of those accepting Christ as Savior and those sanctified.

But how many disciples are we making who are in turn discipling others? Do we have effective training in our churches in discipleship or are we teaching new believers just enough to make them comfortable in their salvation so they can get into heaven but possibly with the smell of smoke on their coattails?

Having been involved in both Bible Studies and Sunday school classes where the teaching on Scripture was excellent and ideas for practical application were discussed yet often where there were few testimonies shared of how God’s truth had transformed lives or the lives of others. To often the story of our conversion, important as it is, is the only testimony we have, but that should only be the beginning. God’s continued changing grace through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit adds to our testimony and God’s power can be seen in our lives as we walk in humble obedience to the principles and commands in His word every day.

However, if what we learn is not applied to everyday life; if we don’t meditate on God’s truths and let them become the guiding force in our lives, we have education but without transformation. We grow in knowledge but lack understanding and do not mature in our faith and we miss out on His best for us. If we don’t interact with God and become  teachable; if we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking and understanding; if the truths of God are not seen in our lives how can it help others believe Jesus could transform their lives.

 

Are our small groups and Sunday school classes just providing information or seeing transformation as a result of spending time together in the Word?

If not, why not?

As we reach out to those who are lost and share the gospel and they respond by receiving Christ as their Savior do we continue to disciple them and help them to grow in their faith? Do we share scriptural truths and God’s commands and challenge them to live by them while sharing our testimony of the challenges where He has brought us victory? Do we share our own testimony of how God has transformed our lives and the lives of so many others?

Do we really disciple?

Are we making disciples?

Just what does it mean to “make disciples”?

Got Questions Ministries web site answers that question pretty well:

“A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way.”

(© Copyright 2002-2016 Got Questions Ministries)

Just how do we go about “making disciples”?

How do we measure how we are doing in this area of the Great Commission, “making disciples”?

In any educational institution there is always a book learning aspect so we know the basic principles we are working from and then a skills lab where we are shown a demonstration of how to apply the knowledge in order to connect what we learned from the book to practical application. Along the way there are test that include both aspects to evaluate proficiency in obtaining the desired outcomes for the skill and the course.

The Bible is our text book and Jesus is our instructor for the skills lab. He made it simple for us by demonstrating how it is done. All through life there are tests used to help us to grow and obtain God’s desired outcomes in us and in His church.

We simply follow the example Jesus set as he went out and chose 12 ordinary men and made disciples out of them, praying for them, spending time with them, speaking God’s truth to them,teaching them and challenging them to obey His commands and live by His principles. This is what should be happening in our Bible Studies, our Sunday School classes, our Small Groups. Praying, teaching, training and practicing the same principles that Jesus taught,  challenging and expecting those we are teaching to do the same. To follow our example as we follow Christ’s.

 

To make disciples we must pray for them, spend time with them, teach them from Scripture and by what the Father has given us to speak, practice what He taught and challenge them to do the same.

His disciples learned from him, watched him, saw how he taught them and followed his example. Believers in the early church followed the disciples example as they followed Christ’s and the church grew in strength and in faith and unity.

How do we measure? Not in tithes or attendance but in the strength and unity of our churches. In how we are able to reach the lost for Christ and make disciples who will go and do the same. And then we will see a steady increase in both tithe and attendance that will blow us away!

“I (Jesus) have set you and example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”                                                                                                                                        John 13:15-17

Is there someone willing to come along side of you to disciple you? Ask them!

Is there someone who needs you to come along side them to disciple them? Reach out to them!

Maybe your sensing a call to begin a discipleship ministry in your church? Start one!

You will be blessed if you do!!!