Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stewardship Newsletter Article

This week as I was reading a prayer mail from Nancy DeValve, one of our missionaries supported by Grace, I decided to check-out her blog and the blog of Jeremy the young missionary working with them there. He wrote that he is learning how a person he has been trying to reach who frequently uses him and how that has caused him to think seriously about how hard it is to love in the way that Jesus loved us. He shared a story in his blog about how this man wanted to use his camera and proceeded to take the camera and not only use it himself, but to go through the pictures that Jeremy had taken in recent history and also show them to a girlfriend.
When I read this story at I was struck at how readily he allowed this man who has been so difficult to just take over his camera. I don’t know that I could have been as gracious as Jeremy. Something in me wanted to even speak up for Jeremy in the story and say “that isn’t his camera to take” and “how could Jeremy just stand by and allow himself to be used that way?” Then it struck me: isn’t that what Jesus did for us? I also thought about what a picture Jeremy is drawing for this young man of the character of Christ right there in his midst. The human response would be to say, “hey, that is mine!” or “leave that alone!”, but Jeremy allowed his possessions to become tools for witnessing. Jeremy’s actions proclaimed that God owns it all and we are just caretakers.
Isn’t that precisely what our Lord calls us to do? We are charged with going into the world around us and proclaim the wonderful news that we don’t have to earn our salvation, it has been paid for and God himself offers redemption to those who will choose that way. The possessions we have are nothing but tools in our hands to use to win a world to Christ. The way we use these tools speaks loudly to the world around us. Think of how loudly Jeremy’s camera spoke to the young man in his story. That man may still live for himself, but God is certainly using Jeremy to illustrate the character of Christ to him.
As stewards, God gives to us a measure of possessions, a measure of talent, a measure of wisdom and a measure of time. He challenges us to stir these ingredients together to reach out to those who have not heard, convince those who have not accepted, and encourage those who have with the great news that God is on his throne and is Lord over all. What tools do you have in your hands that can be used by God to love and encourage others?
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.

Romans 12:9-21

Now, for my Bible study in Romans we have been working through some very tough verses this week. Romans 12: 9-21. I got stuck on the very first one…Love must be sincere. How many times have I reacted to difficult people even my own husband in a way that was insincere?

In Sunday School last week we were given the task of writing down 50 ways we are self centered. I found that I do a lot of the right things with the wrong motives. Generally if we have wrong motives it is out of pride and self centeredness and not because we are serving the Lord.

Some of the activities I used to do in love for my husband I now do out of routine and obligation. Cooking meals, caring for him, sometimes even conversation. It is amazing how we begin to take things for granted and we don’t give them their proper place. Can I really say that I love the people I work with? I try to be a blessing there, but isn’t it really about my own conscience and not out of love? Even in my fellowship with other Christians, do I really put their interests before my own? Do I love them enough to sacrifice anything of my own desires to meet their needs? Between the Sunday School lesson and my Bible study, I have been shot down, my very nature exposed.

I am not saying this because I am looking for encouragement. Last week in Romans 12:3-8 we discussed how not only to we often think of ourselves more highly than we ought, that sometimes when we put ourselves down it is a form of pride because we are looking for someone to counter our statements of self abasement. This is not my motive here; I was just trying to share how the Holy Spirit works to convict us of our sin and expose our self righteousness for what it is… pride.

As you look through Romans 12:9-21, you can see the challenges didn’t get any easier. Patient in affliction? Say it isn’t so! I want it over NOW! Oh, yeah, here is a good one, “Bless those who persecute you”. I can’t say that is my first inclination. One more, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Can’t we just accept that there are some that we will always be at odds with?

Thank God, I have his Holy Spirit to remind me of these things and to help me channel my responses to be more like his. Apart from depending on God’s wisdom and strength, I just couldn’t do it. I can’t always say that I want to. I hope that one day I can say that I want to be patient in affliction and that I want to bless those who persecute me.

I think God gave me these verses this week just to show me how far I have come and how far I still have to go. I can say that God has grown me in some ways. I can begin to see more of spiritual needs of those who afflict me and it gives me more compassion for them. I can see how God has used affliction in my past to grow me and to change my thinking and to teach me to trust Him alone. It doesn’t mean I like it more, it just means that I can accept that while I don’t currently see the purpose I can trust God that there is one.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pru and Millie

New additions to our family. Long story, but suffice it to say that hubby wanted a Bassett and I wanted a smaller dog. Actually, I wasn't trying for two dogs, I just wanted one that was smaller, but you see how that worked out. Prudence or Pru for short is the Bassett and Millie is the terrier. Millie is actually taller than Pru, but weighs a whole lot less.
Both are rescue dogs and entered our home with their own baggage.
Pru is afraid of children. We are guessing that there may have been a bit of abuse in her former life, but since she doesn't speak English it is hard to tell what goes on in her mind. She moved in on the 9th of March. The rescue agency said she is 2 but I would be surprised if she is over a year. She has a lot of puppy left in her. House breaking is one of the first orders of business in Pru's life with us. Chewing might be second in line. She is very affectionate, but doesn't do well in crowds. I am hesitant to believe that she will be suitable in the new camper that is being built as I write this.
Millie seems to have her own set of issues. She has a very nervous disposition, but she is getting more comfortable as we get to know her better. She moved in on the 16th of March and since then we have found that she has heartworm. We can't seem to leave the blinds down, she tears them up on us if we do. Some latent hostility toward window dressings or something. She makes it hard for me to do my Bible study in the morning since she reaches for my hand that I am writing with and pulls on it. You should see the interior of my journal lately. One morning I was so overwhelmed by dog that I had to do my Bible Study in the bathroom with the door closed. I understand what mothers feel like when they need a break from children. Anyway, I closed the door and had my time alone with God while the beasts waited on the other side for their next opportunity. Millie was spayed on Monday and is working on healing up from that. Her former life seems to have involved raising pups. She had a litter when she came to rescue and we suspect she may have had other litters as well. Rescue thinks she is a Corgi mix; I see some Jack Russell in her. I am watching her to see if she has issues with men. She hasn't warmed up to Kenny as much as I had expected.

So far, Millie doesn't seem to like to sleep at night. As soon as the lights go out she gets more nervous. We have been putting her in a crate, but that just seems like jail to me. Many people swear by it and I am trying to give the practice the benefit of the doubt.

Since Pru and Millie have moved it, it seems that there is a whole new order of activity. Cleaning up messes on the carpets, feeding, keeping them from eating each others foods, making sure each gets equal strokes in the affection department all have consumed a rather quiet existence with just lounging with the cat in the evenings. More on the cat in another blog. There is also the aspect of training the husband to assist with the training of the dogs. I don't know who is harder.

The Lord has brought these creatures into our care and I hope they enjoy their new lives. I know mine has certainly changed.