Today will be the first official day of my vacation!  I am heading off to go on a cruise with my step mom and step sister to Alaska.  Alaska has been on my list of places to see for years and when we talked about going on a cruise together this was the obvious choice.  Originally it was suppose to include my sister and my brothers wife, but for various reasons neither one of them could come with us.  So today I go to Salt Lake to spend the next ocuple of nights, then Saturday I fly out to Seattle.

On Thursday night while I am in Salt Lake I will attend a dance recital in which 4 of my nieces will play roles.  My husbands oldest niece, who is 16, has been asking for some time for us to see her dance, and I am excited that I finally get to do that.  Seeing another person do what they love is always a joy because their excitement and joy is contagious.  It is never possible to see someone get so much joy out of something and not smile.

So it is with God when He has given us a passion for something and we act on that passion.  He is pleased and joyful when we are doing what He has asked of us.  Not only that, it gives Him honor because we have given proper place in our life to what He has asked of us.  When do what God has asked of us others also see us take part in what we have a passion for and that allows them to take part in the joy we have, for that kind of joy is contagious.

So Thursday night I will have the opportunity to share in the joy that my niece gets when she is doing something God has given her a passion for.  That kind of joy can’t be replaced, for the best source of joy is in the Lord and knowing He is pleased with us.  When we have a passion for something the Lord has asked us to do, and we act on that, the joy we receive is often more then we expected, for we cannot comprehend the extend of the Lord’s pleasure in our obedience.  So I will continue to do what the Lord asks of me so that I can not only experience that joy, but share it with others.  This week while I am gone I will love well, and take advantage of the opportunities the Lord gives me to experience that kind of joy.

I had a very interesting discussion with my 9 year old yesterday, and after thinking about it a few times since then I have come to the conclusion that the thought he had is not unique to children.  You see, he made the bold proclamation “I am just useless”.  He repeated this statement more then once over the course of several minutes, so I made the decision we needed to discuss this.  Feeling useless can be rather devastating to ones ability to accomplish something, at the age of 9, or any age.  So that is why I decided I need to share here what I shared with him.

I said to him “God would not create anyone for no use”.  I then showed him this passage.  Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I know that passage is usually used to point out that all things work toward our good, but I used it to point out something different to my son.  This was how our conversation went:

Me: “Does God love you?”

Him: “yes”

Me: “Does making you useless sound like a loving thing to do?”

Him: “no——oh”

Me: “So if being useless wouldn’t be loving then you must have a purpose.”

Him: “What does that mean?”

Me:  (At this point I do not recall my exact words but this is what they meant.)  The Lord has called us to be part of His purpose-something we are to do for Him.  Even if we do not yet know what that purpose is we have one.  That means we have a use, God knows what it is even if He has not told it to us we are useful to His purposes.  By definition that means we are not useless.

Him: I see!

Me:  So Bryan if you are feeling useless that means the enemy is making you feel that way.  God would never want you to feel useless because He always has something for you to do.  The enemy simply does not want you to be listening.  If you are feeling useless you are not very likely to be listening when God asks you to do something are you?

Him:  No I guess not.

Me:  So you want to ask God to help you be listening so you will hear him.  You never know when God might ask you to do something.  Don’t be worrying about what you need to do years for now, God might ask you to do something in a few days, so you need to be listening.  If the enemy makes you feel useless so you are not listening, then the enemy might get his way.

Him:  Sometimes temptation is really hard, and listening to God is hard, but I try.

Me:  That is true for all of us Bryan, that’s why we need God.  Now, all of us have something we can be doing all of the time Bryan.  We are all useful all of the time.

Him: really?

Me:  We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Even when God hasn’t asked us to go do something in particular, we are always suppose to love.  So even when we think we have no use, that is something we are useful for, loving others.  That is very useful because everyone needs love.  Doing things that make others feel loved like being kind and gentle and patient with them.  We are always useful because we can always love other people.

Him:  Well I love you mommy.

Me:  I love you too Bryan.

That was the end of the conversation.  It isn’t exactly word for word but it is fairly close.  The point is we are never useless, no matter what the enemy would like us to believe.  No matter how useless we feel we have one thing we are always useful for, loving others.  Loving others is something that we can all do, something that draws others to Christ because they see Him through us because of our love.  Even when we don’t know what we are suppose to be doing for the Lord, we are always to be loving others, so we are never useless.  Never allow the enemy to tell you otherwise, he is just trying to get you to stop listening.  If we are not listening, it is likely we are not loving either.  So if you are feeling useless, go do something loving for someone, then something else loving, and I would suppose you will start feeling useful.

There must be at least 50 birds in my back yard at this very moment.  I filled the bird feeder just about 30 minutes ago they all showed up.  We live in what amounts to an oasis in the desert.  There are small black birds, yellow headed blackbirds, finches, and some other little bird out there.  All of them are about 4-5 inches tall.  They sound amazing.  At the moment they are on the ground covering the area under the feeder like a singing blanket, picking up all of the birdseed they knocked to the ground.  Every now and then something will scare them and they all fly off together in one loud flock.  Then moments later, a few at a time, the brave ones return first.  Then within minutes they all return.

It is interesting to me to think of how they just fly around, getting their next meal from wherever they find it.  Sometimes from one of us who put it out there in a feeder.  If I didn’t fill that feeder today they would have found food somewhere, maybe at another feeder, or they would have had to look a little harder.  I do know one thing however, I am glad to fill that feeder out there because I get so much joy watching them flourish because I do it.  Such a simple thing for me to do, give something away that I have so they can flourish.  Yet I am getting joy at the same time, amazing really.

How often do we do that for each other?  How often do we give away something we have knowing the other person is going to flourish because of it?  There is something we who are in Christ have that anyone we give it to will flourish because they have obtained it.  With those birds it was food.  With people the thing they flourish most with when they are given it is genuine love, that love which comes through Christ.  When we give another person that they will flourish.  They might get scared and run, they might even take a flock of others with them, eventually however they will see that we are different because of our love.  That is how God reached us, through love.  That is how we will reach the world, through love.

Generosity is a curious thing.  It automatically stirs in people the thoughts of money, the idea that they must give it.  Generosity is more then money, it is more then a behavior, it is an attitude.  It is a driving spirit that says “this isn’t mine so therefore I do not decide what is done with it.”  Generosity goes beyond belongings to emotions and attitudes, it is more then money.  It is tells a person that what they have they share, including all that God has given them.

Generosity drives a person to give what they have to another.  So if a person has extra time, they use to benefit another person.  If they have extra money, they use it to the benefit of another person.  If they have love they share it with another person, if they have joy it overflows onto others.  Generosity drives a generous person to give what they have to another person because they operate on the belief that it does not belong to them.  Who then does it belong to?  The Lord.  The Lord is the one who gives us our resources, He also gives us love joy peace patience kindness goodness gentleness and self control.  Since all of these belong to the Lord, we should all be generous with them, giving them to others.

So here is a question for you.  How generous are you with your Love?  With your kindness?  Your patience?  Is Generosity something that you can ask the Lord to build more of in you?

Our Lord’s compassion is never ceasing, and His Love never failing. For this we ought to be grateful, for we each desperately need both! In moments when we see the suffering of others, what we ought to do is fall on our knees because we know that the same compassion and love that God pours out in those moments of desperate need, is the exact compassion and love He pours out on those who fall before Him-It is poured out in forgiveness.

Today another major quake struck, this time in Chili.  We are once again reminded that we are not able to control the world we live in.  That it is filled with all sorts of things that cause people to suffer, with no warning at all.  That the world is, at best, a chaotic place to live.  In all of the chaos, already planned tonight was Compassion International’s benefit concert for Haiti, just over a month after the Haiti quake, and what turns out to be the night of the Chili quake.  Compassion, exactly what God exhibits to us.

More then exhibit actually, but pours out.  Right now, in the moment when we see others suffering, we need to remember that each day God is pouring out on us all a compassion so rich with grace, a compassion so rich with love, a compassion so rich with mercy to each who have fallen on our knees before Him and said to Him “I deserve no less then to suffer for my sin, but forgive me! Thank you for sending Christ, thank you Christ for having so much compassion for me that you died-that you suffered for me.”  Compassion-so much of it poured out on us all that when we see God exhibit His compassion on others we ought to want to cry out to Him in thanksgiving and praise for giving any of the same for us.

Each time God shows compassion in any form on mankind, I cannot help but be reminded of the fact that it is that compassion poured out upon me that allows me to call Him my Lord.  That allows me to call myself forgiven.  Can you call Him that, can you call yourself that?  If not, now, right now, He has that compassion pouring out to you.  You need only believe He will forgive you, ask Him for forgiveness, thanking Christ for suffering in your place, and thanking Him for the compassion He is pouring out.

I’m Trying

August 28th 2009

This past week was one of those weeks with God.  One of those weeks where it just hit me in the face that I was falling short.  Everyone has them.  I am sure you have had them.  Then today on top of that I read 1 Corinthians 13.  Love.  You would think that it would make me feel great to read about love in a week where God is chiseling on me hard.  That isn’t exactly the first response I had!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Ummm…I didn’t exactly hold up to the description of love this week.  We are to love one another, that is the description of love, and I fell far short of that this past week!  So what am I to do?  Give up, run away?  Certainly not.  Sometimes all we can honestly do is tell God “I’m trying”.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect!  After all, that is why he needed to send His son for us.  If we were perfect then there would be no need for forgiveness, and if there was no need for forgiveness then there would have been no need for Christ.  The fact that God sent Christ proves we can’t be perfect!  Sometimes what God wants from us is for us to say “I’m trying” and for us realize we cannot do it without Him.