Living By Faith

If you know Jeff and me very well, you know we love a good deal and we have tried to teach our frugal-ness to our children. It isn’t uncommon for me to go shopping for clothing or home decor and after going through the check out my receipt usually reads something like, “Total cost $80 and you save over $300.” I think my best deal, was the one time I bought a coat that normally cost over $200 for $2 from Macy’s.

Many people have asked me, how do you save so much money? To which I reply “I shop the clearance rack.” I typically don’t go shopping with a list when I am shopping for clothes etc. I simply go to the store and search for the clearance signs. Now, let me clarify here, the best deals are at the higher end stores, the ones that I would never even think of buying anything from at regular price because I know I couldn’t afford them. But I don’t let their high-end reputation intimidate me. Once I find the clearance rack which is usually at the back of the store,  I search them to see what is on it that will fit me and what I like,  out of those I decide what is the better deal,  then I decide what I can’t live without, from there I decide how much I want to spend and head to the check out. Because I have some pretty good solid basics in my wardrobe I can usually always mix and match it with something I already have at home. This kind of shopping also requires me to think ahead of what I will need in the next season because I am typically buying a year in advance.

This has pretty much been my shopping lifestyle as long as I can remember. I realized at an early age from my parents who were pastors also, that typically you don’t have an unlimited budget so you need to be as good of steward with what God has given you as possible.

This has even carried over into a lot of our grocery shopping. Our meals are usually planned around what is on sale at the store. Often times my husband will come home from the grocery store with several bags full of sale, reduced or discounted items. Then I have to come up with meals out of it. I guess you could say my kitchen is a constant live “Chopped” T.V. cooking show. We give a whole new meaning to the term ” Living By Faith”.

But, It has recently come to my attention (call me naive)  Apparently, this is just the opposite of what most people do. It is my understanding that some people actually go to the store with the intention of buying certain pieces of clothing etc. and have to purchase those things at whatever price the store is selling it for that day, which is usually full price.

This got me thinking, I believe shopping habits are a lot like life and it is up to us if we choose to live by faith or not. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying if you don’t shop like this you are not living by faith. But I would like to compare the two.

I mean, How often do we expect certain things out of life? How often do we come to God with our list of things we need and expect Him to deliver no matter what the cost?  The truth is more often He gives us what He wants us to have and more often what He gives us, doesn’t turn out to be exactly what we had on our list anyway?

All too often we have these expectations for God to meet and when He doesn’t do it the way we expect. We get anxious and begin to worry because it obviously can’t be right if it doesn’t go the way we expected.  We want something for this exact moment but God sees the bigger picture for what we need for our future.

Satan wants us to be intimidated and walk in fear when things rise above our understanding. Just like those high-end stores, some people won’t even consider going into the store, simply because they think they could never afford anything in it. But the fact is I go into those stores for 2 reasons. #1 Because I want to see what the regular price of these items are in case I see them at a second-hand store to assure I get a great price and #2 I want to overcome my own fear and self-intimidation by going in. Because granted sometimes it can be intimidating but I refuse to be intimidated and we need to refuse to be intimidated when we don’t understand what God’s plan is.

Just like God sometimes makes us wait for what we want, most stores put the best deals at the back, we sometimes have to wait to completely see what God’s plan is and how it will work in ours. I have noticed, the cheaper stores put their sale items right in the front, sometimes they even sit them outside on the side walk, why? Well, I think because it is just that cheap, and it doesn’t have any real value. In the same way, sometimes the first thing that we see isn’t always the best for us so we have to trust God to bring us what we need.

Sometimes we have to stand up for what we believe and that isn’t always easy, sometimes we have to wait for the right spouse instead of taking the first person that comes along or wait till next year to buy that tractor because we are determined to be good stewards of what God has given us.  If our faith is solid and standing on Christ than we can trust that I might not get what is on my list now but we know that God will provide what we need when He knows we need it.

It is at these times I believe God is saying “Trust me”,  Don’t come “Expecting Your Way” but come “Accepting My Will”. Because after all, there is nothing that comes to us that hasn’t gone through God. Accepting whatever comes your way. We can trust Him to give us what we need and give us the strength to do what we have to do to get through it.

See I believe that living by faith is a lifestyle we choose. Just like I have chosen my shopping lifestyle. We choose what we will do when we don’t get the things on our list.  Now I am not saying quit your job stay home and just trust God to pay your bills. No! But what I am saying is all too often we get focused on our plans for how something should work out and when it doesn’t we begin to walk in fear and anxiety when we need to realize that we have a Heavenly Father that created us and loves us with an everlasting love. (Jer 31:3)

He tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11 I know the plans I have for you, and they are for good and not to harm. So if we say we really trust God and we say we believe His word. Then we can trust that He will give His best to us and although it may not be what we expected. We know He loves us enough to assure He will give us everything we need.

God loves us so much we can trust Him, that we are not getting His leftovers at a reduced cost. No! God paid the ultimate cost for you. He gave His life for you and because of that He wants nothing but the best for you, so we don’t have to worry when things come our way that wasn’t on our list. All we need to do is rest in Him. This week lets not allow the things that don’t go the way we planned worry us or make us anxious. Let’s trust Him, and what His word says in Romans 8:28. He works all things together for our good…..

 

 

 

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Daddy’s Girl

When I was a teenager my daddy was the pastor in a small Mississippi community where we lived. I was raised with strict rules not to drink alcohol. But of course I had some friends that did drink and in my effort to try to be in the cool crowd I wanted to hang out with them. But I had a quandary. See, I didn’t want to hurt my daddy. I loved my daddy more than anything and I respected him. Because I loved him I wanted to honor his reputation in the community and if the Pastor’s daughter of the Assembly of God Church would of been seen underage drinking or worst yet been arrested, that would of just killed him and his reputation. But…… I also wanted to be cool, So I devised a plan of how I could save my daddy’s reputation and still be cool.

See,  I knew my friends would hang out in front of the arcade in the small town I went to school in (9 miles away from where I lived) For those of you that don’t know what an arcade is, it is a building full of video games, foosball machines and pool tables. They were much more popular in the 80’s before Nintendo and X Boxes came to our homes. As a teenager the Arcade was the place to hang out, and meet up with friends. Today we just know the Arcade as a place, maybe in a room at the Movie Theater or the Pizza Parlor.

Since the Arcade was the place to be, after I got my drivers license I would drive the 9 miles over to the next town where the arcade was and would hang out with my friends,  now not all of my friends drank in fact my best friends didn’t.  But, I wanted more, As many schools, towns, and even work places are today there were clicks in my school there was a pecking order and I wanted to move up in the pecking order and it seemed to me at the time to do that I needed to drink, but how could I do that and not break my dads heart. I knew it would kill him if I ever took a drink and I respected my dad to much to want to hurt him. So I devised a plan.

See I knew that the I.B.C Root-beer bottle looked an awful lot like the beer bottles my friends carried around. So I figured I could just pick up a bottle of I.B.C Root-beer on my way to the Arcade, I mean after all we usually got something to drink before going over there anyway, and if I just happen to have that bottle in my hand and hid the label with my hand when I walked up to my friends drinking, maybe just maybe this new crowd would accept me. So I did, and I felt pretty good until one of my other friends who didn’t drink and knowing the horror it would be to my family if I did drink, walked up to me in shock and asked “Alesa, are you drinking?” As I looked innocently at her and said, yea, Root-beer!

I couldn’t help but remember this story this  past week because it was my daddy’s birthday and even though he has spent the last 28 years celebrating his birthday in heaven, what I remembered most about him is that I loved and respected him so much, I never wanted to do anything that would hurt him. This got me thinking how many of us feel like that about our Heavenly Father?

Do we love our Heavenly Father so much that we don’t want to do anything to hurt him. Now the truth is, if my daddy had seen the compromised I made that day.  Even pretending to drink but acting like it was just an accident when it was really a conscious decision to disobey,would of been a terribly disappointed in me.

I don’t think he even knew about this story before he died but I still remember it because I think it was one of the times that I consciously choose to disobey. But how many times have we blow off something that God’s word says not to do just because we wanted to. How many times do we just ignore what we have been taught is right just because it isn’t convenient for us. Because we want more and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. How do you think your Heavenly Father feels about that? I guess I can relate to my Heavenly Father because I had an amazing daddy. He was my rock, my provider, my protector, He loved me with an everlasting love and there was absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for him. Why, because all that He had done for me. See my daddy didn’t have to love me, he didn’t even have to take care of me. But he choose to, see I am adopted. So He didn’t have to love me.

You know what? You have been adopted too! If you choose to follow after Christ the bible says that you are adopted into His family. In Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) the bible tells us God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Now, I don’t know about you but after all Christ as done for me I don’t want to disappoint Him either. So, I don’t live the life I live striving each day to please Him (and yes there are still plenty of times I mess up) because I don’t want to go to Hell. No, I live this life to please Him because of the gratitude I feel toward Him.

The same kind of gratitude I felt for my earthly father. Because of what my daddy had done for me I knew He loved me and trusted me. He disciplined me too. plenty of times.  But I knew when my earthly father did it, it was because He loved me and wanted the best for me. When my earthly father told me to not to walk across the street before looking both ways. It wasn’t because he didn’t want me to cross the street it is because he wanted to protect me. That is the same thing with God’s word, When He tells us not to do something in it He is telling us because He loves us and wants to protect us. 

So this week Let’s seek to please our Heavenly Father, Let’s consciously choose to please Him, Remember if He tells us no about something,  it is because He loves, not because He wants to harm us.

Minimalist or Selfishness, That is the Question?

Minimalist or Selfishness, That is the Question?

 As I was unloading the dishwasher the other day I looked at the probably 30 or more forks, knives and spoons I have. I recalled the 4 -9×13 casserole dishes up in my cabinet,  and the 5 or so iron skillets I have on my stove, then I recalled some recent conversations I have had over the last several months.
For some people, they seem to think having 4 plates, 4 sets of silverware and 1 skillet and 1 casserole dish for a family of 4 is enough. I have literately known people who think, if they have more then 1 skillet and one pot it is to much. People like that confuse me.
Maybe it is the fact that, I was raised in a ministers home where we had to always be ready for guest, or maybe it was just the generation but when I was growing up, if we were looking for a home, one of the first things my parents looked for was “is there a guest room” and if there wasn’t how could we make room if company came, so we could entertain. I mean we now are living more in a minimalists society where it is cool to live with less and the smaller the house the better. But, that really has me wondering, is less best?
I mean if you limit the amount of plates you have in your cabinet doesn’t that limit the amount of guest you can have over, and if you only have 1 skillet and 1 pot how many people can you really cook for? If you have a tiny house that can only sleep 2 people how do you have family or over night guest over? When we limit ourselves of the ability to entertain others we begin to isolate ourselves.
I don’t see anywhere in the bible where Christ isolated himself from others on a regular basis. His life was centered around community and fellowship. The feeding of the 5,000 for instance. What would of happened if Christ would of said. Oh! That is way to many people, I don’t want be around that many people. Most theologians believe that He lived with Lazarus and his sisters when He wasn’t on the road ministering. Then, remember the time He left his family to go hang out in the temple and teach. The bible even talks about the fact that He was accused of being a drunkard and glutton because He was always hanging out with people who ate and drank. (Matt 11:19)
The bible talks about hospitality in several different places. It reminds us in Hebrew 13:2, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. It also tells us to “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” in 1 Peter 4:9.
See to me, all this minimalist stuff portrays its self, as a way to gain control and be happier. Now don’t get me wrong. I think you need to live within your means, but having some extra silverware or pots and pans never broke anyone. But limiting yourself on who you can help and give a meal to is just selfishness. I believe that minimalist stuff is simply a mask in most cases for us to be selfish. Now, I am sure this isn’t the case for everyone one and I understand for some this is an opportunity to live debt free so you can do more for others, Which is great if that is really the case. But for many it is simply a curtain to disguises our selfishness of having to entertain others. For some it is a way to try to conform to what everyone else is doing.
But there is another trick that satan likes to use on those of us who are blessed enough to have a big enough house with more than 4  forks & plates for our family of 4.  Satan has us convinced we are to busy to entertain guests in our home and fellowship with others. Often satan wants to distract us by keeping us busy.  We are all to often so focused on our own survival of working so hard to pay our bills we don’t make time to even consider socializing with others.
There is a saying that says “Isolation Brings Devastation” Doctors confirm that ” When a person experiences too much solitude or feels socially isolated from others, he or she may develop feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, helplessness, or depression, among others.” (goodtherapy.com) Proverbs 18:1 tells us “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;..”
So who’s desire are you seeking today? Are you living a life that reflects Christ’s life? Are you entertaining others in your home?  Who is in your sphere of influence? Have you isolated yourself to a select few or worst yet, none at all?
I hope this week you won’t just continue to do the same old thing you have been doing for years.  I hope you will reach out to those around you that, you normally wouldn’t reach out to. So your life, like Christ’s will reflect a since of community and fellowship. Ask yourself today, Who have I shown Christ love to recently? What have I been willing to sacrifice for others, because Christ sacrificed everything for me. Remember we can sacrifice a little (at least) for others because Christ gave His ALL for us. I sure am glad Christ wasn’t a minimalist with His love or else you or I might not be here today. So let’s show His love to all!

A Passionate Pursuit! ( God…. I don’t want to die a Bachelor)

Originally written May 1, 2017
He was 16 yrs old and scared to death he might die a bachelor as his mentor and 80 some year old friend who he affectionately called Brother Toby was.
Brother Toby was a man in the church my husband grew up in, he was a bachelor all his life. My husband Jeff had looked up to him all his life and suddenly at the ripe old age of 16 my husband decides there is 1 thing for sure he does not want to follow Brother Toby’s footsteps in and that is, He doesn’t want to be a bachelor.
So the story I’ve been told is Jeff begin to pray ” Oh, Lord Please don’t let me be a bachelor! “.  It just so happened that Jeff’s home church was without a pastor and Jeff”s dad was the head deacon at the time and therefore, he had all the resume’s of prospective pastors. So, Jeff decides what better wife to have than a preachers daughter and since Jeff was on the hunt, because in his mind, time was a wasting. Jeff decides to sneak into his fathers office and search the family pictures sent with the pastoral resumes to find the pastor with the daughter that Jeff had decided he would marry. It just so happened my father had submitted his resume to the church and I am told, that Jeff narrowed the pictures of the preachers daughter’s down from the top 10, to 5 to, 3 and then you guessed it…… me!
To make a long story short, I guess you could say the rest is History! There were several sets of circumstances but my father ultimately became the pastor and 4 yrs later Jeff and I were married at the ripe old ages 17 and 20.
Jeff was determined that I was going to be his wife, and apparently God was in favor of that because of the circumstances that followed.
You know, this got me thinking……..
What separates those of us who are just attending church and those of us who are being the church? Jeff could of been the typical teenage boy who dated several different girls and refused to look for any kind of real commitment at such a young age. But Jeff was on a mission, He had a what I would call a “God given desire” that he would not let anyone or anything distract him from. The fact is when Jeff heard a group of boys from the church talking about trying to pursue me, he step right up and told them “She is mine, so don’t even bother” (and we hadn’t even met yet!) He often jokingly but rightly tells everyone that he and God are a lot alike, the both loved me first.
See Jeff was determined there was nothing casual about his persecute of me.  I think that’s what makes the difference from those attending church and those being the church. Just attending the church, is like casual dating with no expectations of commitment. Being the church is the expectation that God wants to speak to me so He can speak through me. There is an expectation of a commitment and a calling beyond ourselves when we ARE the church. If we are only attending the church we simply check it off our list, like knots on our belt in a dating relationship. We walk out the door after completing our weekly or sometimes semi or less weekly routine.  It is like you are saying “I have come and done my religious duty every Sunday and I am done” (ie going and sitting in a pew, then going home to wait to do it all over again whenever the next time that it is convenient)
Being the church is like an all in relationship, it is living a life of faith everyday expecting God to speak to you, so you can share Him with others. It was not uncommon for Jeff to claim his stake in our relationship before we had even met, the very first Sunday my father spoke at his home church. Jeff made it clear under no uncertain terms that he liked me. As my father shook hands with the people as they walked out the front door of the church. Jeff boldly proclaims before my father that ” You are gonna get this church if I have anything to do with it” When my father replies ” Oh yeah? Why?”Jeff confidently responds ” Because of your beautiful daughter” then he turned and walked away. It left my father speechless because I was only 13 yrs old at the time and still playing with barbie dolls.
If we are going to be the church, if we are going to follow in the abundant life God has called us to live. We need to approach it like an all out committed relationship, and in this day and age where, committed relationships are hard to come by. Let me challenge you to give Jesus your all. Like nothing you have ever loved before because He loves you like no one has ever loved you before.God wants to be your friend, He cares about every aspect of your life. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells His people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”See, He is in a committed relationship with you so much that He gave His life for you. (Which is what we just celebrated a few weeks ago) The question is, How committed are we to Him? Do we use Him like a vending machine and just call on Him when we need something or do we sincerely desire to know Him, are we committed to what His word says, we should do and are we so in captivated in His love for us that our gratitude towards Him pours out of us in the way we live our life?
Let me tell you today, that if you have only been an attender of church instead, of being the church. It is not to late. He is waiting right now with His arms out stretched. He so wants to spend more time with you and He, like my husband Jeff has never given up, even when I was not interested and totally unattracted to Jeff. Jeff never stopped loving me, he never stopped pursuing me and was waiting with open arms when I was ready. Christ is waiting on you today. There is more to this walk with Christ then just attending church and checking it off our list of things to do for the week.1 Cor. 3:16  tells us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  God wants to speak to you, so He can speak through you, We have a mission to share His love and life with others, but if we don’t really know Him, if we are not passionately pursuing Him. Then we aren’t being the Church, we are simply filling a pew. Go be the Church this week! Because God is passionately pursuing you.
Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!

Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!

Call me a sexist or old fashion, but I think it is the wife’s job to manage the home,  that means cooking, cleaning, scheduling, etc.  Now, before you start sending me any letters and tell me that we don’t live in the 1950’s
anymore. Hear me out, I am not against the man helping around the house and working together with him as a team. But, I believe the ultimate responsibility rest on the wife to make sure that the home is a place of rest and peace
when your family comes home at the end of a long day. Whether that means, doing the work herself, hiring it out or
delegating jobs to the family members. But, typically for most of us it includes, managing those that live in the house by constantly reminding them that, they need to pick up after themselves. If you have kids, then it is our job to raise them to be responsible functioning members of society .

My kids know I am not their slave. My children  know or it might be more correct to say, They have been told, to keep their things picked up. Just because they have been told doesn’t mean they always do it!

After returning home last week from being gone for a month, taking care of my son’s family because his wife has been sick. Needless to say, when I returned to my home the house wasn’t exactly up to my standards, which I
competently understand  since I had left my husband and son here by themselves and truly didn’t expect it to be. I mean it is one thing for me to come home and find some dirty dishes in the sink or dusting to be done. But the welding mask under the end table and the fishing pole and guns left in the living room was totally unacceptable. I wasn’t having any of this outdoor equipment in my living room.  When the young man that did it knows, how I feel about those things. He has a room and garage to keep that stuff in. There is no and I repeat NO need to have any of it in my living room area. I kept my cool for the first few days, asking nicely for things to be returned to their rightful place. But, after repeatedly asking my son to get his fishing pole out of our living area, I just decided to do what I have done for years when my children do not pick up their things after being asked.

See, when my children were much younger, they knew they needed to keep the living area’s for our home picked up and presentable. I have always let them live pretty much how ever they want in their bedrooms, but the shared
living areas with us and possible guests need to be kept pretty much immaculate or what I like to call “Model Home Status” I guess being raised in a minister’s home and expecting company at any time and knowing that
that company was like your father’s employer makes one be a little more nervous about what your home looks like. Plus, it isn’t uncommon for us to have unexpected guest that might end up staying for dinner or even have to
spend the night. So, I was simply raised with the fact your home and yourself must be presentable for guest at all times. Because sometimes living Behind the Parsonage Walls, can feel like living in a fish
bowl.

When my kids were growing up. They learned quickly that mom isn’t going to pick up after them. If they valued something then they needed to keep it picked up and put away, if they weren’t playing with it. Otherwise, if I
told them to pick it up and they didn’t’ I simply went and got a black trash bag and started throwing there stuff away. Now, don’t think I am “That Stupid”  I didn’t actually trash the expensive toys I or someone else
had bought for them. Nope! But they didn’t know that,  all they knew was it was going out to the garage to be put out by the curb the next trash day.

But the truth is, I would go out there weeks later, see if there was something of value in the bag and either reintegrate it back in my children’s toy box without them knowing it or give it away to some deserving kid if mine had out grown it. They still know to this day, if they don’t keep their things picked up out of our common living spaces I
will throw them out. Oh! Not in the trash anymore. I just throw it out the back door.  My son has more than once had to walk out in the snow to get his size 16 men’s shoes he left in the middle of the living room floor,
because anything that big is a tripping hazard anyway!

So, as you can imagine after a couple times of asking for a certain fishing pole to be removed from my living room when I returned home and it wasn’t, the same faint happened to his fishing pole. Well almost……you see in my
anger and yes I was angry! I sorta forgot about the hook on the end of that pole and it wasn’t just a single hook but a 3 prong one. So ,when I slung that pole out the back door, You guessed it! One of those hooks got stuck
in my hand. Wow! all of the sudden I wasn’t angry anymore and as I called for help,  Chad came out of the garage door to see the blood dripping from my hand. His eyes sunk, he knew exactly what happened. I could tell he felt
terrible.

And this got me thinking……….
Isn’t that just like us sometimes. We get all upset because we don’t get the answer we want or God doesn’t answer us when we expect Him to.  So, we get in all this fear and decide to take matters into our own hands and do
something about it ourselves and that is usually when we make our biggest mistakes. Then, like Chad, Christ doesn’t come and say I knew you were going to do this, Christ doesn’t reprimand us or make fun of us for the
mistakes we make. He just looks at us.   I imagine with this huge disappointed look on His face,  just like Chad looked at me with huge concerned in his eyes thinking. ” I was going to do it in MY time” couldn’t
you have just waited?

See, Christ isn’t there to beat us up or tell us “He told us so”  Yes, there our consequences at times when we make bad choices just as there were for me. But Christ loves us and like Chad, would do anything in the world
for me, Christ loves us too and gave His life for us, He has a plan for us also. It just isn’t always in our timing.

You know the protocol son had a similar problem in the bible he couldn’t wait for his dad to die so he
could get all his inheritance. So he asked his dad for it early and decided to go out
and live his life as he chose. Making one mistake after another. Fulfilling his own wants and dreams. Never considering what the long term consequences of his choices would be. You can read the whole story in
the book of Luke Chapter 15 and it starts at verse 11

We do that today, don’t we. We don’t like how our life is going or we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it and there we go, off doing our own thing. with no regard to what Christ has done for us or wants for us.
We forget that we could refer to the maker of the universe who knows the past, present and future, who could give us direction and advice for the best plans for our lives. But instead we want it our way. Whether you call
yourself a follower of Christ or you simply are checking out these claims of Christ. We all are guilty of wanting our own way at least some of the time. We don’t like being told no or wait a little while. More accurately, we don’t trust Him to do it we are unwilling to wait for the answer in His time. We want OUR way and
we want it now!

If I had been more patient and waited for Chad knowing he had, had a busy weekend and would get to it. I would not of ended up in the ER with a bill I didn’t need and a bandage on my hand along with and evening wasted. Oh! and a really sore arm because those tetanus shots hurt!

I am so thankful that just like the father of the protocol son who welcomed his son home, with open arms. So does our Heavenly Father! His love for us is unconditional it doesn’t matter how many times we mess up. His love is
unexplainable and it is because of the very fact that He loves us so much that we need to trust Him more. We need to die to our own desires and trust the one who loves us unconditionally!

The choice is ours, Will we trust Christ? Will we wait Patiently? Will we accept His forgiveness and understanding when we mess up? Will we refuse to beat ourselves up for what mistakes we have made?  I urge you to accept His
love and trust Him today. Don’t let any mistake you have made keep you from knowing that you can start all over again and be welcomed into the family of God.

Karma or Reciprocity?

Karma or Reciprocity?

My daughter recently quit her job. Oh! it wasn’t because she really
wanted to. She loves her job. But her lease was up on her apartment.
Her roommate was moving to another town for her next leg of school and
since the school year was over she decided to come home for the
summer, before returning to Kansas City next year for school and live
in the dorms to be a “real college student”.

Over the last 3 years my daughter has given 3 days a week and then
some to 8 little kids under the age of 11 as their personal nanny. She
has helped homeschool them, helped potty trained them, she has feed
them, bathed them and loved these littles like her own. In return, the
momma of these sweet littles has loved my daughter. She has bought her
lunches, given her raises and most recently took her out on a girls
night because she wanted to make her send off was super special.  I in
return have loved on this young momma in different ways, sending
special thank you messages and gifts as well. Why you say? Because she
has loved my daughter for loving her littles.

All this love being thrown around got me thinking…..

You know some people would call this Karma. The word Karma comes from
Hinduism and Buddhism religion meaning “The sum of a persons actions
in this or previous states of existence, viewed as deciding fate in
future existences. and all to often I see that term being tossed
around and some call it destiny or fate, following as an effect from a
cause. ” The over use of this word “Karma”  really drives me crazy
(but that is another story)

See I believe there is another word for it. It is called reciprocity.
The dictionary defines it as, “To give full, etc., in return, to give
receive interchange.” You know there is a verse in the bible that
talks about it too:
“Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For
with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” Luke 6:38

Give and it shall be given…. I believe that means the good bad and
ugly attitudes of our life comes back to us. The scripture goes on to
say, pressed down shaken together and running over. Often times we
hear preachers use this term in the financial realm when trying to get
an offering to take up a collection to raise some sort of funds for
something.  But, I believe it also happens in the give and it shall be
given kind of way with how we treat people, the measure of love and
grace we show to others or the lack thereof will come back to us
pressed down, shaken together and running over.

I liken it to a trash can, you put trash in it over and over again
till it gets full. Then because you don’t want to bother taking it out
right now,  you put your big foot up in there and step on the stuff in
the can. pressing it down to make more room for more trash. Then you
continue to fill it up again. You repeat the process again and again
until nothing else will fit and it can’t be pressed down any further.

It is at that point that I believe it comes back to you. It is an
example of Reciprocity. Imagine what that would look like when you
dump it out. It was pressed down, shaken and continue to fill back up
till it was overflowing. That is what comes back to us.

Just like when my daughter loves on those babies, the mother out of
appreciation for someone that she could trust her children with and
show love, loved my daughter. In return, because that momma loved my
daughter, I loved her back.

Its been said there is nothing like a mother’s love and if you’re a
mother you know there is nothing like knowing your babies are being
loved.

That’s why I believe we need to always be aware that what we do, what
we say, how we treat others will come back to us and not because of
some Buddist-Hindu religion but because God’s word said it first. God
is the ultimate authority.

God invented the Law of Reciprocity and it is up to us on how it comes
back to us.
So every time you go to throw trash away ask yourself ” Am I treating
others like trash?” or ‘Am I blessing others and showing them the same
grace and mercy God has given to me.” ?

By
Alesa Lewis Miller
Pastor’s Wife of Lighthouse Worship Center
Mom of 3 Mimi of 3 and Blogger.

How To Get Committed!

How To Get Committed!

How To Get Committed

As long as I have been in ministry, which has pretty much been all my life
since I was raised in a preacher’s home, I have heard people say “This is my
church” or “I go to that church.” Yet, in some cases these people rarely,
if ever darken the door of the church building.

I have a friend who lives in the small Southeast Kansas town of about 1,300
people and she had the same issue happen the other day. See, the church she
has attended forever is struggling and is considering closing the doors.
When the officials that would help make that decision held a meeting with
the church body to consider what to do, lo and behold guess who showed
up?

Yep, it was people that hadn’t been to that church in years! During the
meeting they stated their reasons why the church should be kept open, and
vocalized their objection to even consider closing it!

See, for years I have watched (through my friend’s eyes) this church
struggle and flounder, barely hanging on. For most of those years it has
been her family that has held it together. The church was struggling to pay the bills and
praying for lost souls to come to church yet never able to reach the
full potential God had called this church to be. They were limited to what they could accomplish with a congregation of three or so people. Now my friend has felt the release to leave and go to another church and if her church dies, it dies.
You know the funny thing she told me about all those people who showed up
for the meeting to proclaim that this church needed to stay open, she told
me they didn’t show up for service the very next Sunday. These people
wanted to complain and wanted a service provided for them to call “theirs”
but they were unwilling to participate in making it happen.

This got me thinking………..
What if Christ was as faithful to us as we are to church?

The Bible talks to us about attending church, it says “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” And you know what else the verse says before that? “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good
works”. Hebrews 10:24-25

You know, in small towns I think I have noticed this more than ever, people
say, “this church” or “that church” is my church. Yet, in some cases they
don’t attend regularly nor do they go to another church. Calling a church “my church” is more than just the fact you have been there a few times, or that grandma attended there or your family helped build the church. No, to say “That is MY church” is saying you have made a commitment to that church. A true commitment to a church requires four things.

1. Commit to Your Church with Your Time. Commit that you are going to give your time each week to attend services, not just when you feel like it or on the days when the weather isn’t good for fishing. But commit you will be there when the doors are open.
Because what if God was only available to you as often as you felt like
going to church? Don’t you hate friends that only show up when they
want something? Imagine how frustrating it is for God who wants to give us
His best but yet we are unwilling to have a relationship with Him on an
everyday basis or go to His house as He’s asked us to do. Remember it is a fact that kids who grow up in homes that don’t attend church regularly grow up to be adults who don’t attend church regularly. This thing called living for Christ is more about a relationship and any relationship starts out by spending time with the one you want to build that relationship with, and I know you can spend time with God other then at church But you know what else you do in relationships? To keep any relationship going and strong you with someone you love you soon learn what they love and you desire to please them. Committing your time church pleases God.

2. Commit to Your Church with Your Talent.
Commit that you will give of your talents whether that is, cleaning toilets or baking in the bake sale. I know a lady who’s ministry was baking cinnamon rolls and going around town and sharing the love of Jesus by giving them away. I bet if you have lived in Kiowa County very long or knew a volunteer that helped rebuild Greensburg you know her too.
She simply looked around and saw what she had to give and gave her talent away to
others. What do you have? What can you do?

3.Commit to Your Church with Your Ministry Gifts.
Commit to use the gifts God has given you for His Glory. There are many gifts God has given us, the Bible talks about preaching and teaching, evangelism, etc…and don’t get me wrong we need all of those and the others that Eph 4:11 mentions too. You can volunteer to serve somewhere in the church even if it is only handing out the bulletin or coming in during the week and assuring there are tithing envelopes, pens, and pencils in the pews. Volunteer with the children’s ministry or rock a baby in the nursery. Just ask your pastor where you can serve, and after you pick him or her up off the floor because
someone volunteered without being asked, I am sure he can find something
that fits your gifts.

4. Commit to Your Church with Your Tithe.
God says that you are to take care of His bride and the church is His bride. When you say “this is my church” or ” I go to that church,” it means you are responsible for taking care of that church. In the Bible, tithe is defined as 1/10 of what we earn. See, when we realize that everything we have is God’s and all He has asked us to do is give back to His bride 10% of what He has given us it’s not so bad. It is like your neighbor going away and asking you to look after his wife, and he tells you “I will send you $1,000.00 a month if you will look after my wife by just giving her $100.00 of it each month I am gone.”What would you do? That whole $1,000.00 is your neighbor’s but yet he has
just said, give my bride 10% of that each month and I will keep sending you
the $1,000.00.

Tithing is simply acknowledging everything we have is His
and giving back what He has asked for, so His bride (the church) will be
taken care of. Well, perhaps you say “I don’t like that preacher” or “someone at that church didn’t wave at me when I waved at them so I am not giving that church
another dime.” Well let me first remind you that you aren’t giving the money
to the church or even the people in the church. The Bible says “Everything
we do should be as unto the Lord” Col 3:23. So when you tithe, you are giving to God not to man and the worst part about holding it back is that you are blatantly
defining what God has said in His word to do.

See it is unfortunate that as our smaller communities grow smaller, we are
losing more and more businesses, jobs, hospitals,schools and yes even
churches because I believe we have forgotten what it means to really belong
to something.

Let me encourage you today, either get behind and REALLY commit to the
church to which you claim to belong, or go find one to which you can commit. But don’t say “this is my church” or ” I go to that church” if you aren’t willing to be
committed. Just think what could have happened if the people who were
doing all the talking at my friend’s church put some real commitment with
all the “lip service” they were giving.

If you don’t have a church home let me encourage you to find one. I have to
say I have never seen a more faithful group of people than the church my
husband pastors. They have truly learned what “My Church” means. Those that
attend faithfully have adopted this commitment and truly know what it means
to belong.

I think all too often we forget that Christ gave himself for us. He was
beaten in front of the whole town and hung on a cross, naked in front of
all to see and some of us are not willing to lift a finger to help support
the local church, Because it “might not” be good enough or we are worried we will
be embarrassed. Many are trying to live down, or live up to the reputations we had as teenagers. In small towns we are all too often slow to forget and move on from the past. Whether it be our own reputations or someone else’s the fact that people can’t get past the past sometimes hinders many from moving on and growing in just what God has in store for them. I am so thankful God says, that when we ask forgiveness, our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. Let’s not let the past hold us back from being and doing all that God wants us to be. Let us remember what Hebrews10:25 says “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

So what church are you going to be committed to this next Sunday? Wherever it is, don’t forget what real commitment is.

By
Alesa Lewis Miller
Pastor’s wife of Lighthouse Worship Center, Blogger and Mom of 3