Proud to Call You Part of the Family

We are into what most of us would call the beginnings of summer.  Memorial Day is the marker that most folks use as their guide.  It used to always signal the end of school too, or as I remember it anyway.  School started after Labor Day and ended at or before Memorial Day.  That was then and this is now.  Now we have a couple of young folks who are ending their school years and embarking on new paths.  Aubri Brown and Brandin Stokes are proud to be graduates in the class of 2015 at HCCHS and MNHHS.  They are going to be quickly approaching new experiences into possibly uncharted waters.  The great thing about them is that I believe that they will jump into the opportunities, and life for them will be good.

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Recently I heard an explanation on asking for things in prayer.  Scripture tells us several times that people were healed of blindness, deafness, demons, and death by simply asking.  In John 14 Jesus makes reference to asking for anything in His name and it will be answered.  He even goes on to say that you will do even greater things than He had done.  So I’ve been wondering and pondering this for a while and hopefully my enlightenment will open your eyes or remind you of what God is capable of and willing to do.

Now let’s clarify what we ask for first.  A common request of mine is for blessings on Denise and the rest of my family - that they will use words of encouragement not criticism, that their actions will bless not curse, that they will be aware of God’s constant presence in their lives, and that they will receive the peace that only comes from Him.  And of course I pray for their health, but I must say that I don’t always include that unless one of them is sick or hurting.  Now that brings me back to where I began.  When we ask God for healing why doesn’t it always happen exactly as we ask?

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Jesus Calling

I speak to you from the depths of your being.  Hear Me saying soothing words of Peace, assuring you of My Love.  Do not listen to voices of accusation, for they are not from Me.  I speak to you in love tones, lifting you up.  My Spirit convicts cleanly, without crushing words of shame.  Let the Spirit take charge of your mind, combing out tangles of deception.  Be transformed by the truth that I live within you.

The Light of My Presence is shining upon you, in benedictions of Peace.  Let My Light shine in you; don’t dim it with worries or fears.  Holiness is letting Me live through you.  Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy.  Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you.  Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living.  I want to inhabit all your moments - gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior.

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What makes you afraid?  Is it certain situations or circumstances?  Do you fear the dark or what might be in the dark?  Do you fear weather, not sunny and mild but stormy and unpredictable?  As I write this we are in the midst of winter weather, strong winds and dropping temperatures.  Most of us remember the 2009 ice storm and some of us still have fears as a result of that storm.  Our neighbors lost their home to the tornado in 2005 and they now have a real fear of potential tornadic storms.  Unlike Jim Cantore who acts like a kid at the sound of thunder in snow storms, most of us have some history with bad weather, and that plays a part in our reaction to certain forecasts.

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Faith - It's Who You Are

As we speed into another month of 2015, I want to point out a subject we are focusing on in Youth Group, an adult Sunday School class, and our Marriage Enrichment class.  Our identity as believers and followers of Jesus Christ defines us first and foremost - period.  The classic 80's movie "The Breakfast Club" has a lot to teach us about teenage culture both then and now.  In a Wednesday night youth group meeting we used a clip from that movie to help us evaluate how we see others and ourselves.  Who are those we associate with and why?  Who are those we seem to put into categories of unapproachable or outcast?  As Christians we see our identity in our creator, sustainer, teacher, redeemer, Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  We believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the triune God.  It is the most important part of our identity.  Our faith defines us.  It determines what kind of spouse, parent, child, friend, employer, employee, and person we are.

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The Art of Celebration

There's an album by Rend Collective Experiment that has this same title.  It's a collection of songs that speak to the very core of our souls and being as the group incorporates so many aspects of truth and grace into their music.  You may gather that I really like it!  There is also an accompanying video on YouTube titled "Joy" which we've used with our youth at Loucon.  It speaks to our walk with God as a celebration, a life not weighed down by condemnation, but one that is lit by the fire and security of our redemption pulsing through us!  If you are anything like me you may choose sometimes to allow this world to darken your attitude towards life in general and people as a whole.  We have many distractions around us that can shift our focus from joy.  But as the gentleman in the above mentioned video reminds us, seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit but joy is.  Give yourself some time to watch the video and see if you don't find yourself smiling a lot.

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Family Traditions

We are in a season that is filled with traditions.  A tradition, as defined by the Encarta Dictionary, is the handing down of patterns of behavior, practices, and beliefs that are valued by a culture.  The "handing down," I believe, is the most important part of the definition.  We are a people who need that passing along and handing down.  One of the most quoted scriptures in history is the Shema that was passed down from generation to generation, "Listen, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today."  Deuteronomy 6:4-6.

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