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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Will You Soar on Wings Like Eagles Or Be Runnin’ Against the Wind?

If you can’t view the video imbed below, try this link of Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.”

Bob Seger was right!

I once had this idea of success. It included money, a nice house, an influential career and lots of friends who adored me. I was taught that if I worked hard I could achieve anything. So I worked hard.

I look back now, and realize how directionless that hard work was. I sought careers that weren’t right for me and made friends with people who mockedcompass my faith. I succumbed to others’ ideas of right and wrong. No matter how far ahead I traveled, somehow I never felt the satisfaction of having gotten there. I started off wanting to honor God with my life, but I never actually asked Him what He wanted me to do with it. I ran ahead and expected God to keep up.

I once had a dream that could have been a video for this song. My job at the time required I visit a few locations throughout the day. In the dream, instead of taking my car to one of them, I walked. There was such a head wind I couldn’t move against it. I’d lift my leg only for it to come down at or behind the place it started. I lifted the other with the same result. I remember a feeling of uselessness at the effort. Not powerlessness, like the wind was too strong, but a real uselessness, like I was doing something wrong.

I wonder if the guy in the song felt that way. He sought joy in the things of this world: women, fame and career. But in the end he never seemed to get where he wanted to go. Maybe he needed to ask someone for directions. Maybe someone with a map.

Years after having that dream I finally submitted my life to God. Yes, I wanted to honor Him before, but now, I decided to follow His direction and not my own. He told me to turn around and walk the other way. So I did—swallowing some pride as I went.

sailboatAnd now I feel the wind in my sails taking me to a better place. His place. And though my slightly bent rudder may need regular correction and I must continually consult the map (the Bible), I thank God I’m no longer runnin’ against the wind.

Isaiah 40:30-31:

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Other posts you might like:

I’m Not Able on My Own

Is God Teaching Me Patience Or Praise?

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering to God Is Too Small?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Be His Witness By Demonstrating With-ness

Matthew 1:23 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.”manger

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

God’s with-ness to us and ours to His children has been on my mind a great many years. It started when I counseled young, successful, perfectionist women who never felt they measured up to all God wanted them to do. I used to remind them of the story of Mary and Martha and who had done the better thing (Luke 10:38-42). I told them they were created human beings and not human doings.

God’s ultimate goal for us is to be with us in heaven for eternity—relationship. This state of being is exemplified in His name I am, Who am. Though He has done countless, extraordinary things, nowhere in the Bible is He entitled I do, because, though He may call us to action, the best action starts with relationship.

Then my son was born. My son with autism who is delayed in so many of those things we use to measure success in an individual—including speech. He could never tell me he loved me, and I could not be sure he understood when I told him. The only way I could communicate my love was in my with-ness. Being there for him in good times and in bad.

He understood.  she's sad

How do I know this? Because he is the first to show others this state of being in times of need. He’s sought out troubled souls in large gatherings to kiss them for no apparent reason, lighting up their sorrowed faces. He’s come into a different room to look into my eyes, because somehow he knew I was crying. He sits with me when I feel alone, and reminds me to pray when I’m distraught.

One time, when he was about three, after his father had just come home from a trip and we were catching up on all that had happened while he’d been gone, my son slowly scooted my husband closer to me in the kitchen. Then he scooted me closer to my husband. No words. He went back and forth a few times until our bodies met—my husband, still chatting on as he did. Then, he wrapped his arms around both our legs. He knew what we really needed to catch up on—being with.

This is what God ultimately wants from us. It’s what His son gave us while He was here. It is how we demonstrate Godliness to those who do not know God. It doesn’t take words. It takes relationship.

A few months ago, our nation saw a tragedy in a massive shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where twenty children and six adults were murdered. A friend of mine asked me, “What do you say to those who’ve just experienced that kind of loss?” The answer is, “Nothing.” Any words will sound trite—things the hearer already knows or is not ready to hear. James 1:19 tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. It’s part of being with, and yet it is one of the hardest things for us to actually do, because it feels like we are doing nothing at all.MED2097

I bet you think this message is strange coming from a writer whose ministry is in the use of words. But it’s one of those things that makes me even more attuned to the vulnerability of them. They can be purposeful and life-giving. Yet without relationship to give them credibility, they are just etchings on a page or noise in the air. So, remember, while flexing your skill to be a better “witness” for the Lord, make sure you demonstrate His Love through your With-ness.

Other posts you might like:

Is God Teaching Me Patience or Praise?

Christ: The Perfect Romance

To Parallel My Life with My Savior

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pondering a Hierarchy of Sin

Is my sin bigger than yours?

What is sin, anyway? Is it just breaking one of God’s laws?

Well, yes, but it’s so much more. To me, sin is acting as though what God says to be good or bad is false. In other words, you either think He’s stupid or lying to you.

You see, God loves us enough to want to guide our futures. Like an earthly parent, He wants to steer us into behaviors that are beneficial, and away from those that are not. Like when your parents told you not to eat that five-pound bag ofbag of candy candy.

However, unlike an earthly parent, He is all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful. Though an earthly father may make a mistake or misjudge a situation, God never will.

So when we disobey what God says is right, we are displaying our lack of trust in who He is—lacking faith.

With that in mind let’s look at all kinds of sins. I think many of us have a tendency to prioritize them—calling some small, like “little white lies,” and others big, like prostitution and drug use. Yes, while in church or studying Paul’s letters in the Bible, we say “sin is sin.” But secretly we are relieved that at least we did not do THAT.

What is THAT anyway?

Let me give you two scenarios:

Scenario 1

A woman, raised in the suburbs by a strict, but caring family, marries a Christian man with high standards regarding money management. He counsels his wife on the importance of frugality on a regular basis, reminding her that the less money they save, the less they’ll have to give to her favorite charities. Though these lectures are frequent, she has not grown numb to them, as they are a constant reminder she is thoughtlesdresss, careless and ungenerous. Yet, when that dress on the display calls her name, telling her she deserves a reward for all the work she does homeschooling the kids, she gives in to the temptation to buy it. It wasn’t that much over budget after all.

Then the Kohl’s bill arrives and her husband asks why the balance is so large. She reminds him that kids’ clothes don’t cost what they used to and tells him she—conveniently—lost the receipt.

Scenario 2

Another young woman, also raised in the suburbs, by a strict, but abusive father flees from home, fearing his next drunken rage could lead to her death. She’s tried to tell others about the abuse, but no one believes her. She hopes to find a job in the city, but who will hire a teen with no work experience? She lives under a bridge for weeks until one man finds her, tells her she is beautiful, and that he will protect and provide for her. All she has to do is a little work for him. No harm. It’s meaningless, so she won’t be giving anything of value asyringeway. In fact, she might even get rich!

Her new line of work takes small pieces of her, one trick at a time, until she decides to use drugs to dull the pain—at least that’s what her new friends tell her the drugs will do.

Doing the Math

The first woman didn’t trust God’s law enough to protect herself from a lecture. The second, to survive the only way she knew how. Which temptation required a greater degree of faith to resist?

I won’t say.

Why? Because in my human condition I may not really know all the particulars. Maybe the profligate housewife was abused when she overspent. Maybe the prostitute had aunts and uncles who offered to take her in, but she refused wanting to control her own destiny.

There are a myriad of possibilities which would change the appearance of faith in these women, and no human can know them all. That’s why judgment is God’s alone. Only He knows the truth.

Am I excusing sin because of circumstances? Absolutely not! Sin is sin, and should be avoided in striving to live as God has called us, trusting that He knows best in all situations, and that He alone will provide.

My point here, however, is to draw a picture of why, when noticing the speck in another’s eye, Jesus cautions us about the plank in our own.

Other posts you might like:

Do You Have a Get-in-the-Chair Kind of Faith?

Can You Really Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?

What Will Judgment Day Look Like?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ultimate Heart Monitor

1 Samuel 16: 7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

The shrill ringing of the phone in the middle of the night sent me through the roof. I clutched the phone, shaking, not even sure how I’d gotten out of bed, but somehow I’d thrown the covers back and grabbed that phone before the first tone died away. A scare with my father-in-law’s heart had sent my in-laws hurrying to the ER.

Thankfully, he was okay, but the doctors couldn’t exactly pinpoint his problem. So, they prescribed an event monitor to try to determine what was wrong with his heart. The results were less than satisfactory. After wearing this device for several days, he was no closer to answers than he was before the call that took another ten years off my life.

What are Holter Monitors and Event Recorders?

To record an outpatient’s EKG for a prolonged period of time, a doctor might prescribe ambulatory monitoring in the form of Holter monitors or event recorders. The purpose is to look for evidence of erratic heart problems that might not manifest themselves when a standard EKG is performed.

But doctors don’t just run out into the streets and ask people if they want this kind of monitor strapped on them. Most of the time people have to ask.

How do they work?

The Holter monitor and an event recorder are basically trying to find the same thing, but the two pieces of equipment go at it in different ways.

With the Holter monitor, electrode leads are applied to the patient and attached to a tape recorder. The patient is sent home and resumes normal activities for 24-48 hours. Then the device is removed and the doctor analyzes the results on the tape.

Event recorders don’t record every heart beat on a tape. Instead, event recorders store about 30 seconds of a patient's heart rhythm “on demand”. The patient waits for a “symptom of interest” to occur. When this happens, he presses a button that captures a the next few seconds of the “event”. The advantage of event recorders is that a patient with a transient heart problem can wear the recorder up to 30 - 60 days.

When should ambulatory monitoring be done?

When a standard EKG doesn’t give the doctor the results he needs, he might prescribe the Holter monitor. But even then, continuous monitoring for 24-48 hours may not record a problem that occurs once a month or so. And an Event Monitor is dependent on the patient being in tune with his symptoms so he can deploy the button. While both are wonderful medical inventions, they are designed for short-term tests and intermittent tests, not for an indefinite, permanent testing.

The Ultimate Heart Monitor

But there is One who monitors our heart 24/7/365 days a year from the moment we are born until the moment we pass from this life.

David asks God to strap a heart monitor on him in Psalms 26:2. Examine me, O LORD, and prove Me; try My reins and My heart.

David asks God to come in, monitor his heart and show him what is wrong. Unlike any man-made device, if God’s monitor finds a broken or diseased heart, He can fix it. All we have to do is ask.

In Psalms, chapter 51, Nathan the prophet exposes David’s sin and David prays for a pure heart. Verse 2, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindess: according unto the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” David continues his prayer for cleansing with verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.”

Indeed, scripture teaches us that David was a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14)

1 Chronicles 28:9 says, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.”

God’s heart monitor is strapped on 24/7/365 days a year recording every heartbeat, every hiccup, every thought, and imagination. It’s our job to hit the replay button and follow his prescription to become a man (or woman) after God’s own heart.

Other posts you might like:

God’s Promise of a New Heart

Can You Really Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?

I’m Not Able on My Own


clip_image002[4]Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com

Website: http://www.pamhillman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pam.hillman.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PamHillman or @PamHillman

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5800307-pam-hillman

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/wrtnbyph/

Group blog: http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com

Personal blog: http://www.calicotrails.blogspot.com

Publisher: http://www.tyndale.com/Claiming-Mariah/9781414380964

Pam is thrilled to announce the release of her second novel,

Claiming Mariahclip_image002

Claiming Mariah Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/apnzl5n

Claiming Mariah B&N link: http://tinyurl.com/ays6fq7

Claiming Mariah CBD link: http://tinyurl.com/bvjx3m7

Claiming Mariah Goodreads link: http://tinyurl.com/d9u2k6j

Claiming Mariah 1st Chapter: http://tinyurl.com/ageh54r


To celebrate, Pam is giving away two eReaders

(choice of Kindle Wi-Fi, 6" Display, or Nook Simple Touch)

Two Winners: One on facebook. One through Pam’s Newsletter.

Facebook Drawing: Kindle/Nook Giveaway

Newsletter: Pam’s Newsletter.

Registering both places is not required but will double your chances of winning. Also keep in mind that you will receive updates more often being connected on facebook than through the newsletter. Just sayin’

Contest runs from January 1st until March 31st, 2013.