Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Challenge to Love

Earlier this year I heard a message by Pastor Josh Baser that challenged me to "step up my love game." He made a statement that really caught my attention. He said the assumption that our family believes that we love them is one of the greatest contributors to the breakdown of American families.  

So, as he continued to describe what love is and how we should communicate it, I listened with an inward examining eye. Do my actions and attitude toward my family match the words, "I love you" that I say to them? 

Well, the answer was yes, and no. See, I didn't know the individual love language of each of my family members, so my actions and attitude matched my own love language, not theirs. 

Since that is a clear indication, I watched to see how they expressed love to me, to identify theirs. And I found that my children had one predominant language that stood out most, but I also found that they needed every language to be expressed. 

As I have stepped up to this challenge, there has been a slow steady improvement in my ability to love them better. They feel the benefit of my love for them because it is expressed in their own language. And I understand their expressions of love for me because I can now speak their language.  

We need both the giving and the receiving sides of love and knowing how to communicate it in the language that our family speaks is vital. 

My parents divorced when I was young. And I remember one time, when I had struggles in my own marriage as an adult, my dad counseled me from his own experience. He told me that he loved my mom but he didn't express his love in a language she understood so she didn't know that he loved her.

Could this be the reason many relationships are broken; whether it's in a marriage, between parents and children, or a friendship? 

I will admit that I have not read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but I have found great value in knowing how to speak the different languages he describes and the challenge I was given to love my family better.  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

A New Me

I have ventured out into the world a few times over the last couple of weeks and it has been interesting to watch myself stumble around. I don't know where I fit anymore. The things that I enjoyed in the past, no longer interest me, and for the first time I realized, that I am not who I used to be.

  

(please feel free to save, print, copy, and share the picture to retrain your brain in what God says about you)

I really didn't think about how a new normal would result in a new Sharon. From the beginning of my cancer diagnosis, I have always said that I wanted to be better on the other side, but I suppose I didn't know the magnitude of what that would be. 

God has been teaching me to retrain my brain to think differently about many things, but the hardest one has been my perception of myself. I had believed lies about myself and those lies had affected my life as if they were true. 

I made decisions based on those lies, my actions reflected what I believed about myself, and the lies affected my relationships with my family and friends in ways I didn't even understand.

Learning to believe what God says about me has required renewing my mind in the scriptures which tells me who God says that I am. Then, it has taken a conscious effort to retrain my brain to believe His word over the lies that have defined me.

It has always been easier for me to believe a negative about myself over a positive. I've heard it said that it takes ten positives to strike out one negative. So, it has been hard work to instill the positive truth of what God says about me. I am a new creation, adequate in Christ, totally forgiven, accepted, and loved. I am of great value and worth, unique, chosen, complete, and precious in His sight, just to name a few. 

And, believing these truths, has taught me to encourage my children about who God says they are as well. It is no longer just my loving perception of them but the foundational truth of scripture that solidifies the facts of who they are. It has changed the way we have conversations and made me more aware of the words they say about themselves.  

So, the truest thing about me is what God says; not what I think or do, not what others think or say, but only what God says, and that has created a new me. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Purposeful Pollination

Well, gardening has proven to be a full-time fight; a fight to plant on time, a fight against weeds and grass, a fight to keep the plants healthy, and fighting the pests, has given me a headache. It feels like a losing battle and is very discouraging!

 

The squash and zucchini had big beautiful blooms but the fruit was dying before it could grow. Come to find out, the female blooms were not being pollinated by the male blooms. So, every morning I've had to go out and pollinate because it seems the bees are busy in other places. 

The tomatoes have acquired a disease that comes from the soil. It has no cure and is highly contagious. Once it starts, every infected leaf will spread to the others it touches. 

The slugs and snails, beetles, and worms are more than I can fight and it's tempting to give up and just let it all go.

Gardening seems to be a lot like living the Christian life. It is a constant fight to keep our feet planted in God's soil. If we look at the world around us, the evil seems to far outnumber the good and it looks like a losing battle.

It is easy for us to get busy like bees in other places, but we need to purposefully pollinate with encouragement. "Speaking to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" Ephesians 5:19. 

We should be mindful not to spread disease from infected soil. Sharing gossip and pointing out the weaknesses of others does nothing to promote health or nurture growth. 

"Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper" Psalm 1:1-3

So, let's keep our feet planted in the soil of God's word. Keep watchful in prayer for the pests that seek to destroy. And guard our tongue that it doesn't spread disease that purposeful pollination will yield healthy Christian living.  

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Great Divide

In March we were asked to stay at home for fifteen days in order to stop the spread of the virus. Well, that fifteen days turned into thirty and now, there seems to be no end in sight. The data is constantly changing, the information is uncertain, and the hearts of people are being filled with fear.

I've been listening to the news reports and watching for signs of better days, but it seems that the Nation's divide is expanding.

Usually, when America is faced with adversity, we band together to fight, but instead, we are now fighting each other. 

We used to watch the political divide on the news separated from it, but we are now experiencing a personal divide in our communities, neighborhoods, and families.

 We have differing opinions on whether people should have to wear a mask and on the decision to close businesses, churches, and schools. 

Fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizer has turned into a fight over conspiracy and authenticity, and over who's lives matter the most. While some are losing everything, others are taking advantage for monetary gain. 

These are days like I've never seen before in America, they are days much like what Isaiah spoke of in chapter five. We have not regarded the work of the Lord. We have despised His word and refused His existence. We have cast away His law and rejected His blessing. 

Everyone is doing what is right in their own sight and chaos is the result. But, the Lord says, "Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:21.

The expanse of our divide is growing greater and greater. We are no longer "one nation under God indivisible." Over the years, we have asked God to get out of our government, get out of our schools, and get out of our families. We have replaced Him with political parties, man's theories, and Hollywood entertainment. 

So could it be that God is giving us exactly what we have asked for? Is He respectfully getting out of our lives and removing His hand from our nation?  And without God as our covering, we are witnessing and participating in the great divide of America.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Getting to Know Them

Well, the last day of school is now official. Distance learning was a new adventure that required communicating in ways that we have never experienced in our home. There is talk that school will begin distant in the fall and we are still being asked to stay at home. It has been a very unusual spring and it doesn't look like summer is going to be much different. 

I have looked for ways to make our time at home as fun as possible for my children. So, I decided to venture to the backyard and garden with them. 

Gardening is a lot of work, but we have had a great time talking, joking, and laughing. I started learning new things about them and God taught me a lesson that I am learning to apply. 

See, I have been guilty of saying, "I just don't understand you" to my children, which has never helped me understand them better. 

But, God showed me in His word that He never told us to understand Him; He said to know Him. In knowing Him we will begin to understand His truths. 

As I have applied that same concept to my children, it has opened a clear line of communication and I have begun to understand their humor, personality, quirks, and also fears strengths, and weaknesses. 

They are changing as they grow and forming into young adults. When they spend most of their day in public school, exposed to the world culture, ideas, and opinions, it plays a huge role in shaping who they are becoming. 

The little time that I have them at home should not be spent frustrated in a lack of understanding them but that time spent being a part of who they are becoming. Getting to know them allows me the opportunity to encourage them in God's truth, instill godly values, and help guide them in wisdom. 

I know this pandemic has been hard. It's changed our normal routines and the way we communicate, but I am so thankful for the lessons God is teaching in the midst of it. I am grateful for the precious gift of my children and getting to know them will be a lifetime adventure. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Back to Normal

This is not the new normal I was hoping for after cancer, but could this pandemic become a new way of life? I hear a lot of people saying that they want to get back to normal. I have to ask; was "normal" so great? Could it be that God doesn't want us to go back to normal?

 


When Moses went to Pharoah by God's command to set His people free, they rose up against Moses saying, leave us alone, let us get back to normal. 

In the days of Noah, people were living normal lives without regard to the truth that Noah preached. 

When Saul persecuted the church and scattered them abroad throughout the regions, I would imagine that they were hoping to get back to normal too. 

In every one of these situations, God had a greater plan for the lives of His people. He wanted them to draw nearer to Him and have a life more abundant with Him, but everyone was too caught up in their normal everyday lives. Have we gotten so consumed with the normal life that we can't see God's handwriting on the wall?

It saddens me to hear the church today speak about missing out on the normal things they do. Many church groups put together a drive-thru Easter egg hunt because they couldn't have a traditional one. We do all these things to reach out, but this may be a time that we should be reaching in. Reaching in to see what God sees, asking Him for His examining eyes to reveal the deepest parts, the hidden stuff, and look past the surface of normal.

"Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" Ephesians 5:14-16. The church has been asleep in the routines of normal life. 

It's about time we wake up and seek God's wisdom, redeem the time to examine, repent, stand, and proclaim. It's about time that we arise and shine the light of Christ to those who are lost in darkness, full of fear, and can't find hope. 

Let's stop looking back to normal!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Isolation

Throughout my battle with cancer last year, I kept myself separated from the world as much as possible. Now that I am on a journey to a new normal, I thought that my time in isolation was coming to a close. However, there's a buzz of stay-at-home orders and the school closing for the rest of the year. So, it sounds like my isolation continues.


I have been hearing reports of other countries shutting down places in an effort to stop the spread of this virus. It was nieve of me to think that it would be stopped before reaching our shores. 

For years I have heard reports through The Voice of the Martyrs about the oppression and persecution that Christians have faced all over the world. However, we have been isolated from it in America. 

If we think about it, America has been isolated from many hardships that other countries have faced. Could the comforts we have all enjoyed in this nation be coming to a close?

The idea that our freedoms to have a Bible, gather in worship, and share the gospel could be taken away from us is hard to imagine. But just as the virus has made it's way to this nation, so are the ideals that will take away our freedoms; it's only a vote away.

So, Christians shouldn't think that we are isolated from the persecution that our brothers and sisters face all over the world, because as we are individually going into isolation, our country is coming out of isolation.  

My co-host Janie has an analogy that I think describes American Christians, she says, "Christianity is like being on a battleship but we think we have signed up to get on a cruise ship." 

We are a nation of Christians who have stepped into the comforts of Christianity and question God's love when those comforts are removed. Being a Christian is full of so many blessings and we never have to fear the loss of God's love. Romans 8 says that we are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God. 

I think in times like these we have to remember that He is the Captain of the battleship and although the storm may rage and we may take some hard hits, we will never be defeated. 1 Cor. 15 promises that we are victorious through Jesus and the battle is won! 

So, whatever the next few weeks of isolation may bring, let's continue the fight with the Lord as our Captain.