Little Foxes

It’s the small things that hold up progress. In my time as a minister, I’ve seen many people appear to have achieved perfection in Christ, but it turned out to be just their own version of perfection—perfect church attendance, perfect church attire, perfect children (that you know of), perfect involvement in auxiliaries, and perfectly faithful in their chosen post of service. Only later they find, through major mishaps in their spiritual experiences, that they had missed some very important lessons in serving God and growing in Christ.  Scripture clearly defines what God considers perfection.

In Matthew 5:48. various Greek words are used for “perfect” in the New Testament, one English word remains constant in translation, the word complete.  Christ’s sermon spells out for all of us as Christians that our righteousness must go beyond the outward compliance with the laws and regulations God laid down under Moses.  The law of Christ demands an obedient heart as well as a change of heart toward His voice and the Holy Spirit. Here Christ describes the divine love that needs to be in the hearts of all believers. It is easy to be drawn into the routine of Christian living and become self-righteous like the Pharisees in measuring up to the “rules” of Christianity.  Like the Pharisees, we can become concerned only with being strict keepers of the Law and miss the “weightier matters” of “judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” as Matthew 23:23 says. The Pharisees were overlooking the small but important parts of serving God and the honest joy of walking in the light.

There is great joy to be found in being honest about our shortcomings. I had this personal “thing” where I didn’t like borrowing other people’s clothes. I know; go figure. I could shop at the thrift store just fine, but the idea of asking to borrow an outfit seemed different to me—couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was because I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Vestiges of pride were obviously hanging on.

Back when I was going through the financial hardship, God allowed me to be in a situation where I had to attend a fancy birthday dinner because it would have been too rude not to go.  I didn’t have the money to buy anything, not even from a thrift store.  So the Lord told me to simply “borrow a dress” and even told me who I could call. I contemplated, considered, and toyed around with the idea for days. I even told my husband to just go to the dinner without me because it was just too embarrassing for me to put on the “rag” I had in my closet.  But even though I was truly ashamed of what I had to wear, I did not want the solution God put in front of me. Since I could not escape the obligation, however, I realized God wanted me to attend, which meant I had to borrow the dress from the person God told me to borrow it from.

The person I needed to call had the right dress, just like the Lord said; it fit perfectly, and it was just the style I would have chosen myself. She even told me to keep the dress after the party—ain’t God good? Now if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit and refused to come face to face with my pride, I would not have learned this valuable lesson in love, giving, and following the Holy Spirit. Now that might seem like a ridiculous thing, but small things can be troublesome and a hindrance to your spiritual growth.

The Miraculous Bus Ride

In 1989, my husband and I got a chance to be chaplains in a bed-to-bed visitation mission at Hyde Park Hospital, which is now closed in Chicago.  One of the ministers’ cousins was on the religious board at the hospital and was able to recommend us for the task.

While people did come to the Lord during our time there, halfway through our first year, someone on the board started accusing us of not showing up on a weekly basis.  We were astonished because we had not missed a week and always signed in. So we left it in the Lord’s hands, and we were asked to appear before the board to answer their concerns. Whatever the Lord gave us to say was apparently satisfactory to the board and they allowed us to stay. God truly touched their hearts.  For some reason, a mix up with the sign in sheets, it looked like we had not been there in a while.  Faced with the evidence they had, they had a right to be concerned but it was not like it looked at all.

andrew-murray

So it was essential that once this was cleared up that we proved our faithfulness with their new system.   One day, however, we were scheduled to be at the mission, but Gino was also due to be at work at a certain time.   We were pretty poor at the time and this day, we didn’t have enough bus fare for us to get to the hospital and for Gino to get to work. We contemplated calling the hospital Chaplain to let him know we couldn’t make it, but my husband felt led to try to make it.  I always tell people, don’t try this type of faith at home, because people sometimes do crazy things in the name of faith.  You really have to be sure the Lord’s hand is what you are doing.  This time the Lord was with us.

So we went to the bus stop not knowing how this was going to work out, but Gino believed that somehow God would make a way.  I believed him and God had worked for him before.  I believed in his faith and I believed the Lord.  “Maybe someone we know will drive by,” I thought, but God had another way I never expected.

We walked to our usual corner bus stop and noticed the crowd was larger than normal.  So I asked what was going on and nobody seemed to know; except that they pointed out that the bus had been sitting at the prior stop for about fifteen minutes.  So finally, the bus driver pulled up, unceremoniously opened the door, and explained to everyone that at the prior stop, his fare box stopped working and he was doing everything he could to repair it, but it still didn’t work.  So he had to give everyone a three-hour transfer!  Perfect! Can you say “miracle?”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Gino and I looked at each other and said, “Hey, we ain’t gonna argue with that.”  I find it hard to believe that this was not the hand of God, and everyone else got blessed in the process.  That’s just like God.

Excerpt from How to Walk on Water

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Joy in Jail

Do you ever feel trapped in your life? Sometimes life is moving forward, and then other times, it seems we are stuck in the same circumstances day after day with no end in sight. At the risk of being Captain Obvious, let’s say that life is not easy. This is especially true in the Christian walk, which the Apostle Paul advertised as being a prisoner.

downloadDo you ever feel trapped in your life? Sometimes life is moving forward, and then other times, it seems we are stuck in the same circumstances day after day with no end in sight. At the risk of being Captain Obvious, let’s say that life is not easy. This is especially true in the Christian walk, which the Apostle Paul advertised as being a prisoner.   Continue reading “Joy in Jail”

KNOW YOUR VALUE

God sends people the UP elevator all the time, but it’s up to them to take the ride to the top. He is faithful to tell people what to do, or give them understanding on issues and many of them will still be dull of hearing. Meanwhile, you are wasting valuable time waiting for them to approve of your actions.

fine goldSometimes, people and circumstances can make you feel rotten,  but you must take the time to understand the value of your life.   When God created you as an individual, your birth itself was instant value. When God changed your life to walk with Him, that is, again, instant value. Your spiritual life is God giving you a chance for a special, dynamic experience which the bible describes in terms of building materials. You need to believe in your worth in order to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  Continue reading “KNOW YOUR VALUE”

Violence + Injustice = Time to Pray

A man was at home on a Sunday watching a football game. His young son was with him, but the boy was being pesky and bothersome and the man wanted to watch the game in peace. So to keep the boy occupied, he took a page out of the newspaper with a picture of the world, tore it into small pieces and gave it to his son, telling him to put the puzzle together.

If I dwell too long on recent events, I would probably be so depressed that I couldn’t function.  This week marks the one month anniversary of the Orlando shootings where 49 people lost their lives in a senseless act of hatred.  The happenings of the past month: Orlando, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and yesterday’s tragedy in Nice, France, spell out a string of hateful,violent, back- to-back incidents that I’ve rarely seen rolled together in my lifetime, except during wartime.  Violence seems to be everywhere–harsh and sudden.

When we see this much violence and destruction it’s time to pray. Continue reading “Violence + Injustice = Time to Pray”