Examples Can Be Good or Bad.

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I believe one of the best ways to learn is by example. When I worked at Edward Jones, that was how we trained on the phones. When training, someone sat with you for a day or two, they listened in on your calls with you. They watched where you found the answers, they learned how to work the phone system, and they learned good customer service skills. Then they would take calls, while you looked up the answers for them. The next step was, they took all the calls while you listened, just in case they needed help. Once they were confident, and you were confident in their skills, they were ready to go solo.

So, you always wanted your best people training. You wanted your trainee to pick up the right skills, and the right habits. You didn’t want someone who slacked or cut corners. You wanted someone leading by example who did their best. Someone who gave the best possible service.

We can learn by good example, or sometimes we can learn by bad example. In Hebrews three, we learn from bad example, what not to do, verse 7 says, “Today, when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. They tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.”

It goes on to say, that God said, “I was angry with them, and in my anger I made a vow: They will never enter my place of rest.” God didn’t allow them to enter the promise land because of their rebellion, because they tested his patience. He provided and they still complained. For forty years He lead them, He feed them, He protected them, He parted the sea for them yet they wanted to turn from him.

The writer goes on to say, be careful, make sure your hearts are not following their bad example. Make sure you are not evil and unbelieving, don’t turn away from God, warn each other. Don’t be deceived by sin and hardened against God. If we are faithful, and trusting God we will share in that promised land. that place of rest.

Then it says one more time, “Today you must listen to his voice, don’t harden your hearts against him, as Israel did when they rebelled.” Twice in one chapter the author gives us the same warning. Don’t harden your hearts, as the Israelite’s did.

What does it mean to harden my heart? It means to choose my own way, it means to disregard what God says, it means to rebel against God. We have an example of what that meant for the Israelite’s, and it didn’t turn out good.

God, today let me learn by example, let my heart be tender and open and responsive to you.

Do Our Prayers Matter?

Last night after work, I joined a group of about 30 people from our church who went to pray for one of our members. William Kinley was diagnoised with cancer about six months ago. If anyone has the faith to believe God can heal him, I believe it is William.

William has been a part of Celebrate Recovery since CR began at our church. I can say that, without breaking any CR confidentiality rules, because William is proud to be a part of CR. He has used struggles in his own life to help others recover. In fact William has dedicated alot of his time and energy pouring into men and their recovery.

As we met, I was so excited to see cars keep pulling up, with men, women, and kids getting out. God says in Matthew 18:20 KJ, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” I like the KJ version, I like that it says there am I in the midst of them.

I have no doubt that as this group gathered to pray for William and Betty, that God was in the midst. I listened to men thank God for the impact William had in their lives. I listened to so many pray for strength, comfort, and healing for this husband and wife.

I know that many of these people are praying daily for William, and I know William knows that also. There was just something about a group of people standing with this family outside their home, on their drive praying.

I have no doubt that those prayers were a source of strength and renewing for William and Betty. However, they were also a source of strength and community for each person gathered there. I hope also that those prayers were a curiosity for neighbors, as we walked up I saw people looking out their doors. I pray that William’s neighbors stop and ask him what was going on. William won’t miss the chance to brag on His God.

I know William believes God has the power to heal him. I have prayed for so many who have had cancer. I prayed for an Aunt whom I was sure would be healed, yet God had a different plan. Just a few years later I prayed for her husband, my Uncle, whom based on the stage of the cancer when it was discovered, I had little hope. Yet, God healed him which I believe was a miracle.

When we pray, we have to not only believe God can, but that he will. If Brett says he loves me, but I don’t have enough trust to believe him, it doesn’t really mean anything. If I know God can heal, but I don’t believe that he will, then my prayers don’t really mean alot.

God may my prayers be prayers of believe. William, thank you for being an example of that.

How Are Your Fishing Skills?

This past weekend I went to Arkansas to watch my nephew, Justin, compete in a bass fishing tournament. What a great weekend. My cousin and her husband live on the lake where the tournament was, so I got to spend the weekend with them. The picture of the water is from their house, so after I got over coveting their home and gorgeous view I had a great time (lol). They were wonderful host and it was like a mini vacation for me.

The fishing tournament weigh in was pretty neat to watch. All these boats come in and their fish are in a bag. They were allowed to keep 5, but they had to be a certain length to be keepers. So as they weigh, teams are knocked out of spots when other teams have a higher weight.

As they were weighing the fish, the MC would ask the guys, what they used, what was their stratagey, where did they fish, did they fish deep or shallow. Who knew there was so much to fishing poppers, and jigs, and skimmers.

I thought about that and how fishermen learn. They listen to what others use for bait, they listen to where others fish. They listen to what kind of poles and line people use. They listen and they learn from others, especially those catching fish. They also practice, they prefish a lake before each tournament.

As I thought about this I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 4, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.” Jesus calls us all to be fishermen and fisherwomen.

How do we learn to be good fishermen?

Just like the people fishing for fish. We listen, we study what they do, where they go, how they do it, and we study from the master, Jesus. How did he do it? He went to where the people who needed him hung out. He met their needs, he took time to listen to people, he spoke truth, and he loved them.

How are your fishing skills? Are you studying? Are you practicing?

Addiction-One of Satan’s Most Deadly Weapons

As our community wakes up this morning, they are waking to the news of the loss of one of their own. Not just anyone, but someone who has been speaking out about addiction for months now.

It breaks my heart and it makes me angry. It breaks my heart that this precious life is gone. It breaks my heart that parents are grieving the loss of a son this morning. It breaks my heart that a brother has lost a friend, and it breaks my heart that it would appear that Satan won this one.

It angers me. It angers me that Satan has such a devastating, and destructive tool of war in his arsenal. It angers me that this happens so often. It angers me that this is something that we don’t talk about enough, that we try and hide it in our families, but something that touches everyone. If I am totally honest, I ask God why do you allow this to happen? Every one of you know someone in your family or close circle of friends who struggle with addiction in their life.

Addiction is not my struggle, and I thank God everyday that it isn’t. I have watched it in lives in CR. It is a tight rope struggle every day. No matter how long someone is clean, a day, a week, a month, years, they walk a tight rope. Everyday could be that day your foot slips. Tight rope walkers often have a balancing pole, and in the lives of an addict, Jesus is that pole. Lay that pole down for a moment and your next step may be a deadly slip.

Today my prayer is that just like Joseph, what Satan meant for evil God means for good. I pray that all across our community today students are going to parents and saying, I need help, I can’t do this alone. That loved ones of people struggling go to people they trust and say, I can’t do this alone any more. My loved one is struggling with addiction and I need support, will you be there for me.

I pray that Celebrate Recovery groups(see my Celebrate Recovery page for info), and NA groups, and I am Second groups in the community are full this week. That people say I need accountability, I need help. That a friend will say, hey let me go to group with you this week and support you.

Most of all my prayers go out to the Morgan family this morning. May God’s peace and mercy pour over you.

God Doesn’t Measure Me.

My friend Elaine sent this to me last week or maybe even the week before. I have it on my laptap screen, and have been mulling (is that even a right word), it over for over a week. She sent it to me, because she knows me well enough to know it would hit a nerve, and she’s right it did.

First of all it’s Piper, and his stuff always makes me think. I like Piper, I like what he has to say, I like that I feel I can trust what he says. I don’t ever feel like he is trying to please anyone when he speaks. He just speaks the word. I like to hear him talk, he has a mezmerizing voice, and I was fortunate to get to hear him speak, at a conference in Minneapolis a few years ago.

I have been reading this one little sentence over and over for a few days now. Piper will make you do that. Mainly this hits two things I struggle with. 1. A to do list. I am a constant list maker, who thinks every thing on the list should get done. 2. Grace, even though I say I understand it, even though I know it, some days it slips through my fingers like sand.

These are both things I have struggled with for a long time, and I have come along way on both issues. I can now admit them and can see when they are starting to take over. There was a time when not completing a list would have sent me over the edge, it isn’t quiet that bad now. I can carry a list over to another day or even throw one out that isn’t completely crossed off.

Grace – grace is a favorite subject of mine. It is something I cherish, something I hold close, God’s grace, knowing that he loves me and that can’t be changed. His unmerited favor on my life. But this sentence brings a new element. God doesn’t just love me no matter what, he isn’t measuring me, how freeing is that? I measure myself every day, but God doesn’t. If God doesn’t, then why am I?

After contemplating this for a week I finally summed it up in my own words. This is what it says to me. “Be at peace, knowing that my to do list is not going to measure up to reality, but God isn’t checking that list and loves me anyway.”

Thanks John Piper.

Twins

Sometimes a post just has to about fun stuff. This happened on Easter Sunday. It was not planned out, we didn’t shop together, we didn’t call each other. It just happened. It is funny and ironic when two grown women dress alike.

Those of you who don’t know me, don’t realize how ironic this picture is. The other woman in this picture is my daughter-in-law KC’s Mom. The woman I will soon be sharing Milo with as Grandma’s. There is no one who I would rather share this new adventure with, Grandma’s to a sweet baby boy.

I feel blessed to share Milo with this woman who is kind, funny, giving, has a big heart, great taste in clothes (ha), and most importantly loves the Lord. Milo your matching Grandma’s can’t wait to meet you. Sandy you are going to rock this Lala role.

What Does the Empty Tomb Mean on Monday Morning?

Yesterday was Easter, and as I was on the way to church, I was praying. I was praying for my church and for churches across the nation, because it is one of the most attended days of the year. I prayed like Paul prayed, that the message would be clear.

As I was praying, I was thinking about that first Easter morning. What it must have been like for those women who went to the tomb, Mary Magdalene and the other’s. They went to the tomb grieving, their savior was gone, they went hurt, maybe a little angry, confused, scared, they didn’t know where to go from there. They didn’t know what the future held.

I thought about that, I thought about the people walking into our churches. Not just on Easter morning, but every Sunday. Some are grieving, grieving different things, loss of someone they love, infertility, loss of dreams, loss of job, loss of relationship. Some come in hurt, others come in angry, confused, scared, and no idea of where to go from here.

As I thought about that, I began to pray, God show your self to people this morning. Show yourself the same way you showed up in the garden that morning. Mary turned away from that tomb dejected, angry thinking someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Then when she turned to leave, Jesus was standing there. He asked, “who are you looking for?” She didn’t recognize Him until he spoke her name.

Most of us don’t recognize until he speaks our name. My prayer was Jesus let people hear when you speak their name today, let them recognize who you are. Answer the prayer of that wife who has been praying for her husband for years. That Mother whose wayward child comes to church with her on Easter. The answer to prayers of a son or daughter for a lost parent, prayers of grandparents and friends.

The next thing Mary does, is run to tell the disciples that Jesus is alive, I have seen him. On this Monday morning after Easter, I pray that there are people everywhere at work, and school who found out yesterday that Jesus is alive, and they are just as excited as Mary to tell people today.

Easter is only one day a year, but the hope that comes from that empty tomb lives every day. So what does the empty tomb mean the Monday after Easter? The same thing that it means Easter morning, Jesus is alive and calling our names. God, let me be as aware of the empty tomb every morning, as I am on Easter.