Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sticky Pad

Several years ago, we had a lizard in the house. It invited itself in through the back door and decided to lodge with us. While I am appreciative of all of God's creation, knowing He has a purpose for every creature, I do not want uninvited creatures "glorifying God" in my house! If you have ever had a lizard in the house, you know that they are impossible to catch.  Lizards are very fast and they are creative in their hiding. One day, the lizard hid himself in a crack in the mortar of the fireplace with only its tail visible. I guess he thought if he couldn't see us, we couldn't see him! To catch the lizard, I thought I would be smart and use a"sticky pad", one of those little contraptions made to catch mice. My idea was that the lizard would scamper across the pad, stick to it and then I would remove it and release the critter outside. I envisioned a "catch and release" scenario. As you can guess, it didn't quite go as planned. As I was sitting in our den one day, our dog "Little Ann", came limping into the room. One of her paws was stuck on the sticky pad. She looked quite powerless, dumbfounded, helpless and pitiful and in need of rescue. Quickly!
Often, I find myself like Little Ann, stuck, dumbfounded, helpless, and pitiful. But it's not a sticky pad that's causing my problem. It's the sin in my life. I try really hard not to sin, but often I just step right on that old sin nature, sticking to it, powerless to do anything in my own strength to get rid of it. I need to be rescued. Quickly! I am absolutely pitiful and helpless in my own state. Thankfully, God gave me a way out and I don't have to do it on my own. In fact, I can't do it on my own. He sent His Son Jesus to the rescue. I love reading Romans 8: 1-17. It reminds me of the grace and power available to me because of God's Son Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. I don't have to stay stuck to sin. When I trusted in Jesus, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. The Spirit directs my life and makes it possible, with His power, for me to resist the stickiness of sin. Sticky sin leads to thoughts and actions that are displeasing to God. Being led by the Spirit leads to life and peace and actions that are pleasing to God.  The same power that raised Christ from the grave is available to me. The grave could not hold Christ, the sticky pad of sin and death cannot hold me. When I get stuck on the sticky pad of sin, grace forgives and releases me. I was able to peel the sticky pad off of Little Ann's paw, Christ's sacrifice on the cross makes the sin peel right off me. I am no longer stuck, dumbfounded, helpless and pitiful! I have been rescued!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1,2

Postscript -  Little Ann was not harmed by the sticky pad. It peeled off her paw without pain. Out new puppy, Izzie, recently met a lizard and I am proud to announce she "took care of it". It did reappear a short time later and Izzie felt better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Faith Workout

Ten years ago this week, I sat in a room at UNC Hospital with my husband waiting and praying for him to receive a Liver Transplant. This week, almost ten years to the DAY  he received his transplant, I sat in a room at Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville with my daughter Caitlin. She has a chronic disease called Ulcerative Colitis and it came to a roaring "flare" while she was in Slovakia and peaked this past weekend. Early Monday morning around 4 am Caitlin called and told us she was in the ER at CMC. That begin an exercise of faith. A "Faith Workout" if you will.

While waiting for Rod's transplant and during the days afterward, I began reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon. In the first book of the series, Home in Mitford, the characters are discussing Faith. This is what I read :
"Faith by its very nature must be tried",  he said. (the character was quoting Oswald Chambers).
"Do you agree?" 
"Absolutely! I've never been one for physical exercise", she said "but what God does with our faith must be something like workouts.
He sees to it that our faith gets pushed and pulled, stretched and pounded, taken to its limits so its limits can expand."
 He liked that-taken to its limits so its limits can expand. Yes!
"If it doesn't get exercised", she said thoughtfully, "it becomes like a weak muscle that fails us when we need it."
He felt himself smiling foolishly, though his question was serious. "Would you agree that we must be willing to thank God for every trial of our faith, no matter how severe, for the greater strength it produces?"
"I'm perfectly willing to say it, but I'm continually unable to do it."
"There's the rub!" 

Yes, there's the rub. I would like to thank God for every trial but I'm continually unable to do it. This week has been one of those weeks. My faith has been through a workout and I am having a hard time thanking God for it. Sometimes, exercise just isn't fun!
We are born with muscles, but the muscles don't become stronger without exercise. I have faith in my God but my faith won't grow stronger if it is not "worked out". God doesn't want my faith to stay weak, He knows my limits need to be expanded.  Just as I work my body, pushing and pulling, stretching and pounding, so must God push, pull, stretch and pound my faith. Exercise can be tough and make you sweat! Sometimes it even hurts. I don't always like working out but it is necessary for the muscles to stay strong. So it is with Faith. It must be "worked out". It sometimes hurts, sometimes I wonder why, sometimes I don't want participate in the "class". Most of the time I don't see or feel results during the workout itself.
When Rod was sick, I often asked "Why?" I couldn't see results. I couldn't see the big picture like God could. He knows what's behind and what's ahead. He knows what's best and I have to trust in his Sovereignty. That requires some exercise! Ten years later, I have been blessed to see results. I see why God left Rod here longer. I see how God has used Rod and the faith He grew in all of us for the greater good. But it's easy to see now, ten years later. It's not easy to see the greater good when I watch my daughter suffer at the present time.  I don't understand why she has to suffer. I don't understand why she has to live with the awful disease she has! I am being pushed, pulled, stretched and pounded and I don't like it. I am even resisting it. I want the workout to end.  But then I remember back to that hospital room at UNC. I think back to how my faith was so "out of shape" and I remember it's because of that workout, my faith grew stronger and I can trust in Him more,  in His sovereignty, His goodness, and His unfailing love. God used the "workout" ten years ago to produce greater faith endurance and strength. It produced a greater understanding of Who He is and His great power. Yes, it's hard to thank him for the exercise I am now experiencing but I must!  I know God is doing a work in Caitlin's life for the greater good. I trust Him with the big picture. It's hard to sit, wait, and watch but I know I must wait patiently for His will to be done, knowing that adversity will strengthen my faith and Caitlin's. During this hard exercise I will dig deeper into God's Word, I will drop more to my knees in prayer, I will lift my hands higher in praise. I KNOW He sees Caitlin and our family. I KNOW He sees our tears and hears our cries for help. I KNOW the suffering will not be wasted and I KNOW His presence is with us. And for that I must thank him, continually.
Exercise can be tough, and a Workout of Faith can be tougher, but the end result can be joyous!

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Monday, August 6, 2012

Celebrity or Witness?

 I have to admit that I was somewhat "starstruck" when I first met Jase Robertson, Duck Commander at the Sportsman's Banquet last Saturday night. In my previous post, I talked about the banquet. Prayers were answered and the banquet was a tremendous success.
I was excited to meet Jase and his wife Missy. I would be lying if I said their "celebrity" didn't mean a thing to me. I mean, here I was meeting someone on TV! Someone on probably the most popular reality show on television right now! Jase with the beard, hat and camo pants and beautiful Missy with the sweet smile. My "job' at the banquet was to assist Missy with whatever she might need. Hard job right? It was a privilege but for someone (me) who doesn't glisten but sweats, it was not the most glamorous or comfortable job. I stayed with Missy in the "Vendor Tent" to help her with the Duck Commander products the guests wanted to purchase. It was HOT in that Vendor tent and with the many people who wanted to meet Jase, it got even hotter as time passed! (I must add that while I was sweating and wilting, Missy never perspired or even "glistened" It must be because she is from Louisiana. She stayed cool as a cucumber.)  At one point, I did the "fan" thing and got a picture made with them and many other volunteers did too. Both were very gracious and patient with everyone who wanted to meet, talk and take pictures with them. These two are the most patient and kind people I have ever met.
It came time for Jase to speak and after a short video introduction of him, everyone cheered as he approached the stage and then he began. I had heard he was a tremendous speaker so I was waiting for something really good! Well, he didn't disappoint! He talked about hunting and duck calls (things I know NOTHING about), gave some tips and information about well....ducks. And then the moment came. He pulled, out of his camo bag, his Bible. I am positive many in the audience weren't expecting that part. Most came to see and hear a famous duck hunter from a famous duck hunting family, a reality TV star, a celebrity! They weren't disappointed but more importantly what they got was a Witness for Jesus Christ. An on-fire Christ follower who is not ashamed of His Lord and Savior and not ashamed to "preach it" from God's Word! A man God has blessed for his obedience to Him and a man who recognizes what it all means, what is important, where it all comes from, and WHO gives him life. When I first saw Jase, I saw him as a celebrity but by the end of the night, I saw a man who, to use Jase's words, "is in love with the author of the Bible."  Not a celebrity but a witness. The celebrity didn't matter anymore. Jase and Missy are the real deal. Both are genuine, humble, and caring. Both have evidence of the Holy Spirit within them, enabling them to do all that they do, in the way they do it, for the God they love and serve. They are faithfully carrying out God's purpose and plan for them. He blessed them for a reason and they don't waste an opportunity to glorify Him.  God doesn't see celebrity. He doesn't care about how popular we are or how we look on the outside. He doesn't want celebrity, He wants someone who loves and serves Him and is a sold out follower of Jesus! He wants us to allow Him to use us in whatever position He puts us in for His glory.
I may not be a celebrity and no one may even want my picture. (Though I had one man look at me with suspicious eyes and ask if I was on the show. He wasn't surprised when I said no.) I may not be a famous duck hunter or TV personality.  I am not Jase or Missy.  I am Robin. I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10) God has a plan for Jase and Missy and God has a plan for me. He works it out for Jase and Missy in one way and for me in another. But Jase, Missy, and I and EVERYONE who is a Child of God through Jesus Christ is called to share Him with others. It may be in different ways and avenues and venues but the goal is the same: tell others about Jesus Christ, about how He loves them and how He died for them so they will trust and believe in Him and have eternal life. Jase does it faithfully and well, will I?
Jase, Robin, Missy, Rod

Matthew 28:19, 20
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."