Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Every Neighbor Loves A Good Cook Out

Yesterday was SO MUCH FUN!  It was the 3rd celebration of what is one of our favorite days of the year. 

It was a day of food, friends, and fellowship at our church.  My husband and I set up the grills near the entrance to our church and fired ‘em up.  Then he threw on the sausage, hot dogs, and burgers just as people were coming out after the service.  Many coming out of the service wondered if it might be for them . . . but no.  It was for our buddies . . .  the homeless and needy arriving soon after they left.

Is this cruel and unusual punishment?  Last year we had started early, and those in the service had actually smelled the food cooking during church, and came out drooling.  That was fun ;)  They looked at us eagerly, wondering if this wonderful smelling food was for them.  “It’s not for you.  It’s for the community supper later."  Mean?  Maybe.  Am I sorry that they got they’re hopes up only to be disappointed?  No, not really, and I’ll tell you why.

Think about it this way.  Let’s live in the holey, worn out shoes instead for a moment, shall we?  Everywhere you turn, there is disappointment.  You lose a job, or maybe you are underemployed, or underpaid.  You are forced to give up many of the things that you have grown accustomed to.  You can no longer eat out, in fact if you have a meal today, you’re lucky.  Some weeks you may not eat for two and three days at a time.  Pantries full of food, treats like coffee from the coffee shop, a car (much less a car that runs well), clean clothes fresh from the dryer, a long hot shower, maybe even a bed to sleep on . . . all pipe dreams that are about as sure to come true for you as the tooth fairy paying a visit. 

You are forced to live without regular medical care, dental care, and other basic needs.  If you are homeless you become used to not only the ravages of severe weather, but of those in law enforcement and society that treat you as if you have a contagious disease that must be quarantined from the rest of us.  No one understands, and no one cares.  Don’t bother asking for anything from anybody other then those at a charity.  One look at you, and the answer is ALWAYS no.  There is almost no pride or dignity left, only humility as far as the eye can see. 

Why?!  Are you not still a person?  Are you worth any less then any of the rest of us?  Do you not have dreams and hopes, even if you may have stuffed and buried them to protect what little you have that’s valuable and precious to you?

If you have any of the things listed above, congratulations, you are doing well.  Whether you believe it or not, you are.

But for those that are without all of these simple pleasures, for those that endure disappointment after disappointment in their lives, it is for them that yesterday happened.  For at least one day of each of these three years, when they ask, “Who is the cookout for?”, I can say “It’s for you!”  “And like the love that Jesus so freely gives to ALL of us, it’s free of charge.”  You should see the smiles as they fully realize the wonderfulness of this!  That this is THEIR meal.

I truly believe that THIS grilled meal is an “aroma pleasing to the Lord”.  After all, who doesn’t love a cook out? ;)

Praise you Lord for all of the blessings that you so freely offer us every day.  So many things we take for granted, and we forget that they are a gift from you.  Those around us are also a gift from you that we must never take for granted.  May we never look upon another human being again in disgust and shame, but give us all the eyes to see the beautiful creation that you have made in them.  Allow us to look past what is undesirable to us and love them for who they are even in their imperfections, as you love us even as we are imperfect.  We love you Lord.  Thank you all you are, and all you do.  Amen

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Devil Really Is In The Details

Ominous CloudI have been struggling with this post for some time.  You see, it’s easy to go on and on about God’s goodness when things are going your way.  But no one wants to acknowledge the spiritual battle that we all fight.  It’s easier to pretend that Satan and his fallen angels, also known as demons, just aren’t there.  Interestingly I have actually known people that were working in church schools that had that attitude.  “If I just pretend he isn’t there, then he’ll leave me alone.”

Most spirit led people know very well Satan’s presence.  Spiritual warfare is happening all around us, whether we acknowledge it or not.  However spirit led people tend to get “picked on” a lot.  You see, when you are an enemy of Satan, he fights harder.  It’s when you are apathetic or stagnant in your faith that his job is the easiest.

Unfortunately, our family has been a target of Satan’s for some time now.  God is using us more and more, and the battle is heating up.  This is not the time to back down however.  It’s the time to dig down deep and choose to see God’s goodness in all that is happening.  It’s the time to use the authority that is given us by Christ to rebuke Satan.

If you authoritatively say out loud, “Go away Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ I command you to go away!”, he has to flee.  Try it, and see if you don’t physically feel God’s love and protection.  But we forget that we have this gift from God, that we can call on him.  We do not have to fight in our own power, but we MUST call upon the power of the one with authority over Satan . . . we call on God, in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is not just a message for all of you.  This is a reminder to me.  Today I call on the power of our Heavenly Father in battle with the evil one.  Satan has been attacking fiercely.  He has attacked through deception on the part of the former homeowner concerning mold in our bathroom.  He has attacked us through financial responsibilities that we weren’t expecting.  He is attacking through a long list of necessary work to this house and the house we had been renting that has exhausted us emotionally, physically, and financially.

Where is God in all of this?!  He is in the company that offered me a big box of delicious, fresh produce in exchange for some freelance writing work.  He is in the prayers of those around me.  He is in the protection of our health during this mold remediation.  He in the wonderful friends, and family, that encourage and support us. 

The devil may be in SOME of the details and how these things affect us, but God created the details, oversees the details, and uses the details . . . TO HIS GLORY!  All we have to do is rebuke Satan, take on the full armor of God, and call on the power of God in ALL things.  The trick is not to “stuff it down”, “suck it up”, and do it ourselves.  We have to give it ALL to Him, even four times a day if necessary.  That’s when the true power and healing begins!

Thank you Lord for your gentle reminder.  It’s not about me and, Lord God, with you I can do anything.  Without you, I can do nothing.  I give you all of my “junk”, anger, and anxiety today.  Please forgive me for all of it.  Take all of my fumbled and imperfect offerings and make them work in your will and to your glory.  Help us through this time, and give us your peace again!  Thank you, and I love you!  Amen