Monday, September 27, 2010

Piece by Piece “HisStory” Unfolds by Gail Purath

God simply spoke and the world was formed
With a beautiful garden to welcome man
No waste, no pain, no sin or sorrow
Pure paradise just as God planned

But then the Serpent hissed his lies
And man chose death instead of life
One bite and sin was brought to earth
With pain and sorrow, sadness, strife

No more sweet walks and talks with Father
Man chose to walk away instead
But God still offered hope and love
One day He’d crush the serpent’s head

Sin’s ugly stain began to spread
As Cain’s anger shed his brother’s blood
Then man became so thoroughly evil
That the survival of goodness required a worldwide flood

But water could not cleanse men’s souls
God’s love they stubbornly refused
With pride they planned to build a tower
Until their language God confused

Now came the time for God to choose
A man who would a blessing be
Four promises for Abram’s heirs
His Seed would someday set men free

From Abraham through Isaac and Jacob
The Deliverer’s bloodline God maintained
Son Judah was the chosen tribe
But Joseph double honor gained

They moved to Egypt for God’s provision
But grew so great they proved a threat
Pharaoh despised these Promised People
Who did not have a land as yet

Then God sent Moses to the Pharaoh
Ten plagues, but still he answered “No!”
How hard the Pharaoh’s heart became
Before he let God’s people go

God’s breath then blew the Red Sea dry
And drowned Egyptian chariot rumble
He gave his people loving care
But all they did was gripe and grumble

In God’s own voice they heard His Ten Commands
Life principles to guide their way
But they would rather serve a cow
And to this idol bow and pray

Yet God still loved these stubborn people
And brought them to the Promised land
They had no reason to doubt or worry
They should have trusted in God’s plan

Twelve spies returned with mixed reports
“There’s giant warriors we can’t kill!”
“Not so!” cried Joshua and Caleb
“God said we’ll conquer, and we will!”

But fear replaced their sanity
They stubbornly maintained their grief
Again they pushed God’s love away
And lost the land through unbelief

When forty years came to an end
The next generation accepted the task
This time they let God fight for them
And took the Promised Land at last

But dark years of the Judges followed
“Right in their own eyes,” they chose to sin
God rescued them repeatedly
Repeatedly they sinned again

Then Samuel came and brought relief
He sought the LORD in everything
But still they didn’t want God’s rule
They longed to have an earthly King

King Saul had no respect for God
But David served with a repentant heart
Solomon lusted after pagan wives
Rehoboam’s pride split the kingdom apart

Eventually Israel turned completely from God
Years later Judah did the same
Israel was conquered and destroyed
Judah taken captive in Babylonian chains

But in God’s time King Cyrus took power
Wielding God’s justice through a Persian hand
He destroyed the Babylonian nation
And the Jews regained their Promised Land

History came and went thereafter
God always extending His loving grace
But man was bent on unbelief
Taking from God’s hand, but ignoring God’s face

Then all of history did converge
As Christ was born one starry night
God’s son became our loving servant
The only One able to set things right

When baptized and when tempted
Christ proved that he was qualified
The Incarnate Living Word of God
Exposed the Serpent’s deadly lies

Repentant throngs clung to Christ’s words
The Twelve lived with Him everyday
He healed the sick and raised the dead
But jealous leaders turned Him away

Then came the day it all was “finished”
The purpose Christ had come to serve
He paid a debt we could not pay
And took a death that we deserved

What hellish torture He bore for us
Nails tore his flesh, the sky turned black
His Father could not comfort Him
As He bore our sins upon His back

Yet still He cried in sweet forgiveness
“Dear Father, they know not what they do”
And when His task on earth was done
The temple curtain was rent in two

His death destroyed the Garden lie
It crushed the head of Satan and sin
Creating a path of hope and life
Securing redemption, He rose again

Can you believe this story…
God creating beauty
Man defiling it
God giving guidance
Man ignoring it
God speaking truth
Man preferring lies
God giving Laws
Man breaking them
God giving abundance
Man always wanting more

God offering love
Man doubting it
God offering love
Man mocking it
God offering love
Man refusing it
God offering love
Man crucifying it
God offering love…

Monday, September 20, 2010

True Love by JoAnn Lampe

A lifetime of lies
So cruel the taunts of children
“I don’t want her she can’t run.”
“She can’t throw or bat, and
She’s too fat.”

Awkward, oh so awkward
Too shy to look forward
Only backward
Seeing only the social “faux-pas”
Real and imagined
Like scarlet letters stamped upon my chest
Will I never find rest – have success?

Trying so hard to fit in place
Running down all the wrong paths trying to win the race
Love me! Accept me! I CAN be like you!
Watch me change to fit the place

Who will love me?
I want to know
Tired and weary
of making mistakes
My heart just can’t take another blow.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“…the LORD your God…turned the curse
into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God
loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5)

“Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me.” (Psalm 66:20)

Lord you love me JUST AS I AM!
It doesn’t matter where I’ve been
Or what I’ve done.

The curses and lies you’ll turn in to blessings
So truly the “Names” can no longer hurt me
You are my “rock”, my Savior, my one true love
Jesus, the healer of broken hearts.

“…his love endures forever.” (1Chronicles 16:34)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mastering the Impossible by Brad Bridges

I was amazed. “How did he do it?” I thought. He had to have had some type of surgery. Maybe he was confused or simply embellishing. A change that dramatic in only twelve months was impossible. Or so I thought.

He struggled to say no. He struggled to reduce quantities. His friends encouraged his overconsumption. Some laughed. Some criticized. Some spoke behind his back. Others avoided the topic all together.

One friend spoke into his life, reminded him that he needed to change, and did so with the tone of a loving friend. He took it to heart. He changed his eating habits radically, exercised daily, and supplemented his diet wisely. He decided to master something that had mastered him.

For twelve months he worked hard. In twelve short months, he lost nearly one hundred pounds. Yes, you read that correctly. One-Hundred-Pounds. His blood pressure improved. His attitude changed. His energy levels were higher.

Today he’s a very healthy person and hopefully has many years ahead of him. He realized that if he didn’t begin making good decisions soon, he would essentially be allowing food to become the master over his life. He couldn’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24): God and food. Food would inevitably ruin his ministry, destroy his health, and end his ministry.

I’m not saying that obesity is caused by unfaithfulness to God. Many people are genetically predisposed to obesity and will always struggle for many reasons. But in his case, he realized and has told me that his being overweight was directly tied to a pattern of poor decision making.

We all have areas of our lives though, that feel impossible to change. Deep in our souls, we struggle with change. We perceive the pain of change as greater than the pain of staying the same. We essentially serve two masters. We claim to serve God but insist on satisfying our own personal desires.

We demand our rights at the expense of others. We attribute fault to others as an excuse for our anger. We avoid conflict to protect ourselves when dealing with conflict in a Christian was would bring honor to God. We insist on the American dream rather than facilitating the dreams of others.

What things in your life feel like they are impossible to change? What aspects of your life are counter-cultural? Do you stick out in a good way?

I believe that the root of my sin is an insistence on getting my way. Virtually every time I sin I can trace it back to self-centeredness, misguided views of self, or an attempt to serve two masters: myself and God.

Perhaps you too have areas or an area of your life that you think is impossible to change. Maybe you’ve tried many times in the past. Take a gamble today by deciding that you’ll no longer serve two masters. You’ll coordinate a strategy to master whatever has been mastering you. You’ll enlist the help of friends, family, your spouse, your kids, your grandchildren. You’ll honestly evaluate yourself and the need for change. You’ll setup and empower others to enforce accountability structures for you. You’ll master the impossible and put God in His proper place as your only master.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Favorite Place by Jenn Fromke

Do you have a favorite place? When I was a kid, I loved my backyard. We moved a couple times, so I remember a time in my teens when I decided to drive by one of the old houses. I couldn’t believe how small it looked, and unfriendly. As a six year old, it had seemed huge, and warm. And when I strained my neck to see into the back yard, I noticed my favorite old swing set had been removed, probably rusted out years ago. Big, bushy trees blocked the view over the fence toward the train tracks. Those poor people now had to sit at the kitchen table without being able to count the train cars as they passed because of some lousy, overgrown trees, for cryin’ out loud!

Needless to say, I felt empty and a little bit sad. I went back to visit my old place and found it had changed. It did not meet me half-way, so to speak.

Zechariah 1:3 says this: “’Return to Me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you.’” I read this a few weeks ago, and the New Testament came crashing into this Old Testament prophecy. The prodigal son returned home to his father, and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son. . . .”

I cannot get enough of this picture in my mind. When we change our direction, heading back in the right direction, God meets us on our way. In the Old Testament, He told Israel to return to Him and promised He would return the favor.

So the empty feeling I had when I saw my old house, will never happen when I turn myself back toward my eternal home. Sometimes I’ve turned away from that home for a few minutes sometimes a few days . . . sometimes longer. But every time I turn my heart, my head, my whole self back toward my new home, my father throws open the door, comes running down the driveway and leads me to my favorite swing in the back yard (and there’s no rust on it, either).