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Archive for July 2011

Talking to God

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Alex stomped up the steps and slammed the door to his room. It had been another big fight with his mom. Well, Mom didn't really fight. That's what made Alex so mad. How could she just sit there and talk so calmly and keep working when He was being so mean? Didn't she feel ANYTHING? I mean, he had said some pretty hurtful things to her and she never said anything back. How could she do that?

Downstairs, Mom filled the kettle with water for tea and glanced out the window. The grass was almost shin-deep and needed to be mowed. That was Alex's job. That was what had started yet another argument. With a deep sigh, she sat down at the table to open her journal. She started to pen another prayer for peace and wisdom and understanding with regard to Alex's behavior.

"Lord," she wrote, "had another argument with Alex today. I pray for clear guidance and wisdom in how to raise this child. I pray that You will give me the peace I need to the best mother and role model I can be right now. I understand his anger, Lord. You know how much anger I had when all of this first started. Thank You, Lord that you did not turn away from me when I was angry. Thank You that You showed me Your love even when I was unlovable. Help me to do that for Alex."

As she closed her journal, the kettle on the stove whistled so she didn't hear Alex go out the back door to the garage. As she sat down with her tea, she heard the mower start up. With a whispered "Thank You, Lord" she set to work on supper.

Outside, Alex was taking his frustrations out on the lawn. That poor old mower had taken several beatings this summer. By the time he had finished, much of his anger had dissipated. He came in the back door to the kitchen and Mom had set out a huge glass of ice water for him. As he sat at the table gulping his water, he saw Mom's Bible sitting on the counter. He opened it to her most recent passage. It was in Luke 6. Alex read:

"Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

Alex's mom came in just then and gave him a hug. He just shook his head and asked, "Mom, don't you ever get mad?"

"Of course, Alex," she replied. "There are a lot of things that make me angry. But I learned a long time ago to take everything to God, even my anger. He already knows how I am feeling so I just as well be honest with Him. When I talk to God about how I'm feeling, it really helps. It doesn't always change the situation, but it does give me a peace about it."

"How do you talk to God?" Alex asked. "Is it something special you have to say or someplace special you have to do it?"

"No," Mom laughed. "You can talk to God anywhere at any time. You can talk to Him at school or at night when you're trying to sleep or even when you're mowing the lawn. He doesn't care where You talk to Him, just that You do. And You don't have to say anything special. Just talk to Him like you would your friends. Tell Him about your day or about how you feel. He already knows everything about you, Alex, so nothing you say is going to surprise Him. God is our friend and He cares about us. And our Friend wants to hear from you. The good, the bad and the ugly."

Alex thought that was pretty neat, that this big God cared about little him. That night as he laid in the dark trying to sleep, he whispered, "Lord, let me tell you about my day....."

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. Psalm 38:9

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org

Noah's Garden - Part 4

He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:7 (NLT)

Noah and his mom had been enjoying the radishes and onions from their garden for a couple of weeks now. Well, Noah was enjoying the radishes, at least. Despite the cold and wet June, the mid-summer sun had finally done its job and things were really growing well.

There were a few storms in June that Noah just knew were going to ruin the garden. He had watched out the kitchen window as the rain, wind and hail beat down on the young plants. When the storm had passed, Noah was out there inspecting his plants for damage. Despite the storm, there were only a few torn leaves and a couple of tomato branches that needed to be re-staked. Noah tenderly cleaned out the debris and tied up the tomato plants once again, glad that the garden had made it through the storm.

Mom and Noah had weathered a couple of family storms that month, too. There had been that visit from Dad about three weeks ago, complete with a family outing, dinner at the house, and laughter around the table, just like it used to be. Noah's dad had even stayed overnight on the couch and he just knew that this was the answer to his mom's and his prayers for him. But the next morning when Noah awoke, the only one at the breakfast table was his mom. She had her Bible open on her lap, her finger marking a passage, her eyes gazing out the kitchen window at the garden. Noah knew his dad had left again.

Mom saw the disappointed look on Noah's face and drew him close. She explained how sometimes people know inside what they should be doing and where they should be, but that there is an enemy who would like to keep them right where they are. She told Noah it was kind of like a tug of war. Just when one side seems to be winning, the other side gives a big pull and yanks them back. It was like that with Dad, she had told Noah. In his heart, he knew that the Lord was speaking to him to go home but the enemy was doing whatever he could to keep him on the other side. "Don't worry, Noah," she had soothed. "We have God on our side. We'll just keep praying because we know that the Lord answers prayer. It's up to him as to how and when. We just have to know that He is in control and He is working in your Dad's heart."

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh- and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT)

As he poured his cereal into a bowl, Noah thought about those June storms and the garden. He thought about how many times he just knew the garden was ruined and that there would be no harvest from it. But after every storm, despite the damage done to the tender plants, the garden had continued to thrive. Mom told Noah it was his constant care and attention that helped that garden continue to grow.

Noah knew in his heart that it was his mom's and his constant care and attention that would bring his dad home to the Lord and home to them. He knew that it was their continued prayers, their continued belief in the promise that would help their family to thrive once again. There were bound to be storms on this road to restoration. Some of them might even do a little damage. But with the Lord on their side, they could weather those storms. Just as the mid-summer sun had helped their garden grow, so would the Son of God see to it that their family flourished. Noah knew the harvest was coming.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 (NLT)

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska

http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html  
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org

Bruised Fruit 

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

It's that time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are more easy to come by. This might not mean a lot to you guys, but grown-ups sure are glad. At our local Farmer's Market, there is a special stand that sells reduced fruit and vegetables. These are the ones that are smaller than normal, or misshapen, or bruised. These are not the "pretty" fruit, but the ones with blemishes or marks or other imperfections; something that makes them seem like a little less than they really are.

It's not that these fruits and vegetables are not good to eat. It's just that they don't look good. Once you get past the marred outside, they still taste good. Despite what they look like on the outside, their inside is still good.

Think about the parent or loved one that you pray for. Do they look a little like bruised fruit? Is there an outside that is marred with bad choices and hard hearts? Are they bruised and battered from the mistakes they have made in their lives? Does the way they "look" on the outside make you believe that their inside is no longer good?

What you really need to remember is that, despite the way they look on the outside, these are still very good people on the inside. These are people who love you and want to do the right thing but just can't right now. They have an outside that has been damaged and bruised by the sins of the world. They may even, themselves, only see the hard outside of their life. Sometimes they don't know how to find that good inside they once knew.

This is where your prayers can make a difference for them. The Lord has a way of touching and changing hearts; changing insides. He has a way of getting past all that hard, damaged, bruised outside to see the beautiful person who lives on the inside. He has a way of taking even the most damaged fruit, the ugliest vegetable, the hardest heart and bringing out the good that still lives inside.

"And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him..." 1 Chronicles 28:9a

I remember a story that was told to me when I was younger. (This is paraphrased the best that I can remember.) It was about two angels, an older one and a younger one, who were traveling. One night they stopped at a rich man's house for the night. He wasn't very nice to them and wouldn't let them sleep in the mansion. They were given a room in the cold, dark basement. During the night, the older angel noticed a hole in the man's basement wall, so he sealed it up for him. The angels continued their travels and the next night they stopped at the farmhouse of an older couple. They welcomed the angels in, fed them, and gave them their own bed to sleep in that night. The next morning they awoke to sounds of crying from the farmer's wife. During the night, their only cow had died. The younger angel could not understand. He said, "When we were at the rude rich man's house, you helped him by fixing his hole in the basement wall. Now we are welcomed by this farmer and his wife, fed and given their own bed, and you let their only source of income be taken."

The older angel replied, "When we were at the rich man's house, I noticed that he kept his money in the basement, behind that hole in the wall. So I sealed it up. Last night the angel of death came for the farmer's wife and I asked him to take the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Do you have some bruised fruit in your life? Remember, things aren't always what they seem. The Lord does not look at their outside, but their inside, and so should we. For it is the inside, the heart, that He wants to make whole again. He wants to give them a heart that loves like Jesus. And this is our prayer, too.

"The LORD your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!" Deuteronomy 30:6 (NLT)

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html   
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org