Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spiritual Awareness

Have you ever felt all alone? Have there been times when it seemed God just wasn't hearing your prayers, or at least He wasn't answering them? Do you remember when you just knew that no one, absolutely no one understood? And did it ever seem like you were an outsider at Church and you wondered if your absence would even be noticed? (If you are the preacher, that last one probably doesn't apply to you) (grin). I think most of us can say these emotions are not unfamiliar to us. And yet, intellectually we know that God was there and that He was hearing and answering our prayers. And most usually we can look back on those times and feed our convictions and rest assured that as long as we belong to Him, He is ever and always faithful. It is that faith that sustains us and gives us peace. It is that knowledge that inspires us and eggs us on. It is that belief that gives us purpose and mission. So why can't we always feel it, know it, believe it? I think we often become so busy with living that we become some sort of spiritual zombies--oblivious to the way God works in our lives, the blessings He provides for us and the love that He gives us. We become spiritually unaware. This is obviously not the way God intended for us to be. He wants us to focus on the spiritual, the become more and more spiritually aware. He expects that from His people.
We live in a busy and fast paced world and although we are spiritual beings, we live here on earth. Here on earth, our lives are seldom simple. And yet God calls us to live lives that are spiritually focused. So how can we make that happen? I think it is possible to heighten our spiritual awareness, but it will require some changes.
First, we will need to raise up our heads. Too many people walk around looking at the ground, looking dejected and oppressed, as if they have absolutely nothing to live for. I have been told that those who train guide dogs for the blind will discount any dog who does not raise his head. Typically dogs sniff the ground but if a dog is to be fit to lead the visually impaired, they must lift up their heads. So it is with us, we cannot see where we are going if we are always looking down at where we are. We cannot focus on heaven when all we see is earth. We have to raise up our heads.
We also need to open our eyes. When we look around us, really look around us, we cannot help but see that God is, and that He provides. We cannot help but notice that not only did He make our world functional, He also made it beautiful. We have to get into the Word so we can learn what spiritual things He has in mind. We cannot see what He wants for us and what He desires from us unless we open our eyes.
And then we need to be still. We get so busy working to buy stuff and then working to maintain our stuff and then doing all the upkeep on our stuff that we can't always hear God's voice. I have often thought about little children, how when they are hurt and they cry. They want their parents and yet they are crying so loudly that their wailing drowns out the reassuring voice of their mother. And sometimes when they are playing and having fun, they are expressing themselves so loudly that their father's warnings of danger cannot be heard. Aren't we just like that? Doesn't it seem that sometimes the pain of our heart is crying so incessantly and so noisily that it seems God is not answering, not hearing, when in fact, we are the unhearing ones. If we could just stifle our cries a bit, I am convinced we could hear the Father's comforting and healing words. And aren't there times when our life is moving at such a fast pace, when the noise of life simply drowns out the warnings of the caring Father? Sometimes we just need to be still!
And lastly, we need to be thankful. When we embrace the Father's blessings with a grateful heart and a thankful spirit, we open up our hearts to accept more, to love more, to appreciate more. As we are thinking about the spiritual and thanking God for all He's done, we begin to see more, to notice more and to look for more. We become more spiritually aware.
The Bible gives us many admonitions to look at the spiritual, the eternal, rather than the earthly and carnal. Over and over again the contrast is made and the Christian heart is redirected. God tells us that we are spiritual beings, that He loves us and He made arrangements for us to live with Him for eternity. He promises to never leave us and it is on His word that we hang our faith. There will be times in our lives when we feel He is far away and that He has indeed forgotten us. He tells us that is just not so--it seems that way because we have lost our focus and have turned our eyes from Him. He reminds us that part of maturing is developing a spiritual awareness and that as it grows, our faith will become stronger, our love deeper and our hope more secure.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Abusive Church

Being a social worker and a Christian counselor, I am frequently called on to do work with husbands and/or wives who are struggling with their marriage commitment. Usually in these situations, both partners are mistreating each other, neglecting each other and taking each other for granted, all part of the recipe for an unhappy marriage. There is seldom one partner who is wholly responsible for the assault on their relationship. But occasionally, the problem seems to be one-sided and while the partner does everything in their power to please their mate, the mate simply has already decided to be unhappy with the marriage and continues to look for a way out. There are few things sadder than the struggle of a one-sided marriage. When one spouse has decided it is not worth fighting for, the valiant effort to hold it together is usually as productive as trying to run with a handful of sand, without losing a grain!
I am thinking of a young woman who in my opinion, abuses her husband and his vow to love her. She expects him to spoil her, to wait on her, to be at her beck and call, which he willingly does. She berates and belittles him, which he takes. And although he gives in to anything she wants, he truly can do nothing to please her. She spends very little time with him, always choosing friends and co-workers over her spouse. She doesn't even pull her own weight around the house but rather expects him to bring home the money and do all the chores, including all the parenting. All of the duties that should be shared have over the years have become solely his. When he has had enough and draws the line, she attempts to manipulate him with false contriteness, phony excuses, petulant promises and a reminder that he loves her and has forgiven her in the past. Each time, out of his deep love for her, he forgives again and for awhile she behaves, she co-parents with him, she spends time with him, they work together on household chores, she tells him how much she loves him and seeks out ways to please him. But before long, she is back to her old spoiled and childish ways and once again, he is used and abused.
While she is not hitting him, I believe she is truly abusing him. She is abusing his trust, taking advantage of his love and preying on his mercy. It disturbs me that she behaves this way and I wonder how long her husband will be able to love and forgive her. I wonder how much abuse he can take before he has once and for all--had enough?
And then I think about us--the bride of Christ! I think about how we, the church, treat our spiritual husband. It really is a beautiful love story--even beginning with the typical fairy tale beginning, "Once upon a time". But this is no fairy tale. Scripture says that before He even created us, He saw us in His mind's eye and fell in love with us. He proposed to us not down on one knee but on the mountain called Calvary. He worked out all eternity to get us to the altar, and He gave us the Holy Spirit as the promise and guarantee that He would indeed love us forever and remain faithful and true. Of all of His creation, He loves us best! And we accepted that proposal and all that went with it when in the waters of baptism, we declared our undying love and commitment to Him.
And yet, somehow many of us have become that spoiled young woman. While our groom blesses us over and over and while He provides for us daily, we spend less and less time with Him. We fill our lives with other people and crowd our Groom right out of our lives. We beg and plead for what we want and once we have it, we ask for more. We take full advantage of all that He does for us, the messes He cleans up for us, the sustenance and strength and security He gives us. We claim His name and revel in the benefits that come with being His. When it suits us, we flaunt our relationship with Him and yet, we get so busy pleasing us that we fail to even think about pleasing Him. And when our heart is pricked, we often put on an air of shame and humility and we beg Him to forgive us, hanging our hope on the incredible love He has for us and on His history of mercy. We promise to do better and for awhile we do and then like the spoiled Israelites, we begin to seek out what pleases us and we quickly become our own god--working to spoil ourselves, all the while expecting to be spoiled by His blessings, also.
All too often, I am afraid we are an abusive Church! The Bible teaches us that His love never ends but on the day of judgement, there will be no more mercy--unforgiven sins will be accounted for. The abuse of God's Son will be avenged! All petulant pleas and tearful promises will be ignored. There will be great sadness and fear and the abusive church will be judged. However the day will be a joyful one for the Bride who has remembered her vows, who has worked to please her Husband and who has reveled in His love. For this bride, there will be nothing but joy and happiness, such a joy that has never been experienced, and for her it will be only the beginning. As the Groom takes her home to His Father, this Bride will know that from that point on, her life is the life of happily ever after!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Patience Please

I know I have not posted in awhile, nor have I been able to visit many of your blogs lately. Please be patient with me! I have not given up blogging nor taken a leave of absence from it.
I am learning a new job and am spending my evenings reading over policies and regs and trying to familiarize myself with my job--(not near as much fun as blogging). My trainer is trying to teach me 20 years of knowledge in 8 days! Tomorrow is her last day and then I am on my own!
Sunday our Gospel meeting starts, also! So please be patient, please don't stop reading dancing in the light--a new post will come soon, I promise!
thanks guys!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Living Room

Have you ever been so incredibly busy you barely had time to catch your breath? Have there been times when the reason you didn't know if you were coming and going was because there was so much going and very little coming? Times when the 24 hour day needed to be expanded if only to make a dent in your "to-do" list? I have had those days too, sadly too too many of them. We are all such busy people! There is so much to do that taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally and even spiritually requires planning, persistence and prayer.
Lately, I have been making a concerted effort to be an intentional disciple of Christ, one who thinks about her actions, one who tries to see and seize opportunities for evangelism, one who remembers the power of words and makes every attempt make her speech bless rather than hurt. I am amazed at what a struggle this is. Believing that an intentional Christian is what God would have me be, I have been praying that He would help me be just that, that He would help me see what is holding me back, what is blocking my progress.
I know that I do better when I spend time in the Word everyday! I know that my days are less stressful when I talk to God about everything. I know that keeping on track is easier when I put God first! I know this and yet often I delude myself into thinking that I am too busy to read the Bible and I have too much going on to stop to pray and that the things I need to do are so much more important than spiritual things. Sometimes I convince myself that I will do them later, only to find that I either forget or I say a hurried prayer as I drift off to sleep. That is when I find I am most vulnerable to the sins of pride, judgemental attitudes, and impatience and that is when I am tempted to lie and make excuses. I get so busy living my life that I have no room for living for Jesus.
We are a very affluent society but accumulating things takes time and effort, as does maintaining those things. Before we know it we are working for our things. Being involved in activities is a good thing. We can meet more people when we develop relationships with them and we do that by sharing some sort of activity with them, whether it be gymnastics, or tennis, or band or PTA or book club or auxiliary, that is where we meet others. But does it sometimes seem like we spend so much time with others that we forget to spend time with God? It does for me! Somewhere along the line, I bought into the idea that it is wrong to not participate in everything! I must be at every single church activity, I must sponsor every extracurricular event, I must be scout leader, bus driver, Sunday school teacher, and be on every single committee. I think it makes satan very happy when we get so busy doing good that we forget to be good! My house, my heart, my life get so crowded that there is not room for one more thing. There is not time for one more event, not time for one more activity, no time to spend with one more person. How sad that God was not at the top of the list but rather relegated to the bottom, and occasionally not on the list at all.
I have discovered that it is not in this life that I truly experience living but rather in time with Him, in His Word, fulfilling His purpose for me. That is where I will know life! I realize I will need to simplify my life. I cannot participate in everything if I am to fellowship with the Father. I cannot spend time with everyone if I am to have time to spend with Him. I will have to make room for Christ if I am to live for Him. If I am to be an intentional Christian, I will need to clear out the warehouse of my heart and give Him some living room!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Counterfeit Christianity

We have been studying the book of I Corinthians on Sunday evenings. This week we were on chapter five, the discussion Paul has with that congregation about their seeming acceptance of sin in their midst. As the text discusses the disfellowshipment of the sinful brother, we began to talk about those who "disfellowship themselves". The term is often used in speaking of those who have stopped worshipping with us, thus absolving us from the responsibility of "disfellowshipping" them. That mindset really really bothers me! I searched and searched and could find no mention of "disfellowshipping" oneself. The closest term I could think of was "falling away". And it seems to me that we do have a responsibility to those who have fallen away. Aren't we to go try to bring them back to God? Shouldn't we pray for them? Isn't it our duty to try to restore them? I think so and if I read scripture correctly, so does God!
I believe the principle in James 2 applies here: "Suppose a brother is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed' but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it?" In context this is talking about a working faith, faith in action. James calls faith alone faith without life, a dead faith. So the principle seems to be when we see our brother in need, it is our obligation to do something about it, right? So if we see our brother in danger of losing his soul, do we not have the same responsibility? When we make the decision to "mind our own business" are we not saying that we do not love our brother? For if we loved him, would we not care about his very soul? And if we ignore his sin, are we not exhibiting a dead and lifeless faith?
When God repeatedly tells us to focus on the eternal more than we do the physical, doesn't it seem we should be concerned about sin? I know that it is difficult to go to our brother or sister and tell them how frightened we are about the choices they are making, but that confrontation should be so much easier than just sitting by and watching them be spiritually shipwrecked! Don't you think?
I read quite a few blogs and have noticed a real push toward meeting the physical needs of those around us. I think that is great! We need to be benevolent and care for those less fortunate than ourselves. The authors of these blogs very eloquently remind us that being a Christian is so much more than just attending worship, than saying beautiful prayers and praising God in song. Just doing those things only makes us fakes, phonies, counterfeit Christians, if you will. And I agree, we have to be the church, all the time, in every place!
However, it takes more to be an authentic disciple than managing the food, clothing and shelter of others! We are brothers and sisters in Christ and while it is easier to believe none of us are caught up in sin, that is simply a foolish notion. And although avoiding conflict is usually a good thing, sin is a spiritual problem, it is a salvation issue, one that cannot be swept under the carpet or hidden behind the pulpit! How dare we say we love each other and turn a blind eye to the very sin that will condemn and result in a tortured eternity! To do so is to lie--you cannot love me and allow me to die! Should I try to "disfellowship" myself, love me enough to come get me. Should I get so caught up in sin that I don't see its danger, love me enough to come show me. Should I go out of my way to hide my sin, love me enough to expose it! Please don't say you love me, unless you are willing to try and save me!
God does indeed want us to care for the widows and orphans. But He also wants us to encourage, teach and even rebuke one another. He wants us love one another enough to work for our collective souls! He wants us to be real, genuine and authentic in our love. That may mean confronting sin, it may mean the process of disfellowshipment, it may mean we need to summon up our courage and fight for the very lives of those we profess to love. To do less would make us dead, lifeless and counterfeit Christians.


Friday, January 04, 2008

A Year of Blessing

Every year at this time, many of us pause to reflect on the year past. We think about our trials and struggles, about our triumphs and victories. We fondly remember the good times and sadly the bad. Then, we slowly begin to move our minds toward the next year. We start thinking about all that we hope to accomplish, about where we want to be at the end of the year and what steps we need to take to get there. We begin to develop goals and make resolutions and we look forward to the new year with hope and high expectations.
Normally, my New Year's resolutions are things like losing weight, exercising more, reading my Bible everyday, and increasing my prayer life. These are good goals and I am usually really really diligent for the entire month of January and sometimes part of February. Then, like many I get distracted and my focus shifts and I forget about these noble resolutions. I have wondered why this happens time after time. Am I just too spiritually immature? Am I totally undisciplined? Am I lazy? Do I have adult ADHD? Am I just too busy? The answer is probably "yes". And yet, I wonder am I the only one who has difficulty keeping my resolutions?
This year after much prayer and thought, I have decided to make only one resolution! Surely I can keep focused on one goal. Surely I can remember this one thought! This year I want to be a blessing! For the next 365 (now 361) days, I want to be a blessing to every person I encounter. I want to smile, to be kind, to be encouraging, to be helpful to every single person I meet. In 2008, I don't want anyone to have an interaction with me and leave worse off than before the interaction.
I want to be a blessing to my husband, to support and encourage and care for him. I want to be a better helper in his ministry. I want him to KNOW everyday how much I love him and how thankful I am for him and that he is always in my prayers. I want to instill in him the assurance that we are together for the long haul and no matter where the Lord takes us, I am at his side. I want him to go to sleep content and happy and wake up content and happy. I want to be the kind of wife he wants to come home to, wants to visit with, wants to pray with. I want to bless his life.
I want to be a blessing to my sons. Though they are grown and gone, there are still frequent phone calls and occasional visits. I want to bless them by encouraging them to be godly Christian men, to provide for their families and parent their children. I want to let them know how proud I am of them and how there is nothing they could do that would keep me from loving them. I want them to know that I pray for them. I want to bless their lives.
I want to be a blessing to my daughter in laws. I want them to know that I love them and that I pray for them. I want them to know that I will always love them and will be here to support and encourage them whenever I can. I want them to know that I understand how difficult parenting is and I admire them for meeting this challenge with love and determination. I want to be available to them. I want to bless their lives.
I want to be a blessing to my parents and my in-laws. I want them to know that I appreciate the sacrifices they made to raise us. I want them to know that I am grateful for the values they instilled, the discipline they modeled and the love they gave. I want them to be confident that the lessons they taught did not go unheeded and to be proud as they see their children walk with God. I want them to know I pray for them, for their health and their happiness and for their daily walk with God. I want to be a blessing in their lives.
I want to be a blessing the Church. I want them to know that I will do my part to help the Body grow, that I will do my best to encourage and uplift. I want them to know that I love them and pray for them, that I will be here for them if they need me, even for yukky jobs. I want to be a blessing in their lives.
I want to be a blessing to my friends, not just those I know personally but also those who faithfully stop by this blog. I want them to know that should they need me to pray for them or with them, I am but an email or a phone call away. I want them to feel sure that when they come to my blog or call me on the phone, I will do my best to encourage and support them. I want them to know that I am committed to learning together so that we can all please our God and Father. I want to be a blessing in their lives.
And so today, as I make my one and only New Year's resolution, I ask for your prayers that I will be steadfast and focused, that I will be able to keep my commitment to make this a year of blessing.