Thursday, September 29, 2011

What does the Lord require of you?

If you knew the answer to that....if you knew what God's expectations were - would you want to do exactly that? This verse always seemed so happy and easy to me when we sang it in church: He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what the LORD requires of Thee. But to do justly, And to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Somehow in the sing-song-y lines of the song though I think I have often missed that this verse (honestly) is stinking hard to do.

Justice. Mercy. Humility. Those are beautiful words, aren't they? They are values we can believe in and concepts we can get behind; but, sometimes, it's really difficult. What does God require of us? to have justice in how we deal with people, to really be fair in every interaction. What does God require of us? to love mercy, treating those in distress with compassion and favor, to not take revenge. What does God require of us? to walk humbly with God, to die to ourselves, to live in humility realizing it is certainly not all about us, and to walk with God, trusting we may not always understand where the road is talking us but that we can trust God.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own expectation of comfortable Christianity, in having an expectation that things will be good all of the time. And, the truth is that God calls us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him, to go through trials and suffering, to stand strong in the midst of temptation, and to trust Him even when we cannot see the plan and even when it seems like we have been waiting for an answer for so long. When you put it like that, it sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it? Following Christ is not always easy - but, oh the joy there is to be found in obeying God.

I've always enjoyed having clear expectations - whether it's a project I'm a part of, a job that I have, or even in relationships...I like to understand where other people are coming from and to know what their expectations are of me. Now, I'm not suggesting that you become a people pleaser. I grew up in a ministry family and I understand what it's like to have other people (sometimes who hardly even know you) place expectations on you. I had to work a long time to really learn how not to be a people pleaser, how to stand up for myself, and to trust the wisdom and discernment that God has given me. Sometimes we will disappoint other people - sometimes we have to - because we are called to follow our First Love.

Obedience to Christ often results in people not understanding why we are making the decisions that we are making. (1 Corinthians 1:18) They may even say we are crazy. They may not be pleased with the path we have chosen. We can't expect the world to "get it" and sometimes we can't even expect our Christian friends to understand when we follow what God has called us to do. Let's face it, sometimes God asks us to do things that seem crazy. I mean what do you think Moses was thinking when God asked him to tell Pharoah to let God's people go? What do you think Abraham must have thought when God told him to take Isaac to the mountain, to be willing to sacrifice His own son? What do you think Noah must have thought when he worked long and hard building a huge boat, never having seen a drop of rain? They are heroes of the faith though and they all have one thing in common...they obeyed God - even when it seemed crazy.

So, here it is...are you going to obey God in these things today?
Do Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly With Your God.

(Illustration by Annie Ludes)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dealing with Discouragement


"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed." --2 Corinthians 4:8-9

This morning we were talking about dealing with discouragement. I've definitely had moments of feeling discouraged lately. It seems like no matter how much we know what is true - that God has a plan and that He will provide - in the moments where we begin to feel despair, desperation, and depression, those can seem like trite words. I'm thankful that God lifts our head (Psalm 3:3), gives us a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2), and provides hope in the midst of despair (Psalm 42:5) ecause life happens. In this world we will have trouble, but we can still have hope. If you've been there (or maybe you are struggling with that today), listen to what some of our listeners have to say about dealing with discouragement:

discouragement

"But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high."
--Psalm 3:3

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
--Psalm 40:2

"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
--Psalm 42:5

Friday, September 16, 2011

Got Patience?

Seriously. How would you answer that question?

Unfortunately, more often than not, I struggle with PATIENCE! It even makes me feel a bit impatient even to talk about struggling with patience. (I'm just being honest!)

I find myself yelling at red lights - "just turn", "come on", "I'm in a hurry", "there's not even anyone coming from the other direction! - just turn already" (yes, I'm fully aware the stoplight cannot actually hear me). I find myself shifting from foot to foot standing in line at the grocery store wondering what could possibly be taking so long; and, then, maybe it's one of these scenarios - "oh no, they're calling over a manager? - I always pick the wrong line!" or "she's writing a check? she's writing a check! you've got to be kidding me!" - and then it's finally my turn (FINALLY!) and the cashier cheerfully says, "how are you today?" and I find myself grumling a "fine", or maybe I say "busy" or "I'm kind of in a hurry." Because, after all, other people should understand that at this point I've LOST MY PATIENCE! - that's how this works, right? Hmmm...

Or, maybe it's more serious than being frustrated at traffic signals and slow moving store lines. Maybe it's losing your patience with someone you love, not having the patience to have that important conversation and really hear what someone needs to say, or being in such a hurry that life seems to pass you by. (Trust me - although I don't like to admit it - I've been there too.)

God has a lot to say about patience:
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.
Proverbs 15:18

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.
Romans 15:4-5

Sighs. It's hard isn't it - to have patience? But, we're supposed to be patient! In fact, it's one of the ways that the world can tell that we are HIS.

If you're anything like me, you find yourself struggling with patience from time to time. And, maybe just maybe, you've even found yourself having one of these conversations with God - "really? when are you going to answer my prayer? I've been waiting for a REALLY long time!"

God has something to say about that too:
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. Psalm 37:7-9

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31


Thursday, September 8, 2011

9-11 Memorial Services

If your family is looking for a way to remember the 10th anniversary of September 11th this weekend, here are some of the events and services happening throughout the area:

Godfrey, IL…The Riverbend Memorial is sponsoring a Memorial Service on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attack. Oliver North will be the guest speaker. The event is taking place at Lewis & Clark Community College's newly renovated Hatheway Cultural Center in Godfrey, IL. This event is designed to be a patriotic and spiritual tribute to the Tenth Anniversary of the historic attack that tested America’s resolve. Col. North’s topic will be “God in America Again”. Tickets are available online at www.riverbendmemorial.org and Liberty Bank in Alton, IL. All proceeds from the event will go to the Riverbend Memorial, and will be used to help families in our Riverbend communities. The purpose of the Riverbend Memorial is to create a charitable and patriotic fund for military, police and firefighters who have been injured or have fallen while serving our country and communities.

Lake Saint Louis, MO…A 9-11 memorial service will be held at Veteran's Memorial Park at City Hall, Highway 40 and Lake Saint Louis Boulevard, 1 p.m. Sept. 11. Speaker: Richard Mendenhall, former U.S. Army Green Beret and Vietnam veteran and former president of National Association of Realtors. The ceremony will include a memorial to victims of 9/11. Limited seating provided; public may bring lawn chairs.

O’Fallon, MO…The city is asking residents to join a national moment of remembrance at noon by ceasing all regular activity for one minute and reflecting on the lives lost and others affected by the 9/11 tragedies. The Patriot Day blood drive will take place at O’Fallon City Hall from 12:30-3:30 p.m. and a special Patriot Day ceremony, "A Tribute to First Responders," 9-11 First Responders Memorial behind City Hall will be at 1:30 p.m. Speaker: Dawn Robinson, who survived the attacks on the World Trade Center. The ceremony will include sounding of sirens followed by a moment of silence, an invitation to the public to place flowers at the memorial, and remarks by Mayor Bill Hennessy and police, fire and ambulance officials. A 9-11 Remembrance Walk will immediately following the Patriot Day ceremony.

Sherman, IL…The Sherman Fire Protection District is honoring the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack by presenting a memorial to the firefighters who lost their lives. The display of 343 flags was erected on the grounds of the district just west of the fire station at 2215 E. Andrew Road, representing the number of firefighters who died that day. The flags, which are lighted at night, will remain on display until Sept. 12. On Sept. 11, firefighters will station trucks at the display until dusk.

Springfield, IL…The 10th annual "Ride to Remember 9-11" will take place on September 11th. This event is FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. Line up begins at Hall's Harley Davidson, (exit 105B I-55) in Springfield at 8:30 a.m. Procession will ride through Springfield to the State Capital Grounds to the site of the 9-11 memorial. A memorial service and wreath laying will take place. Help us keep our promise that "WE WILL NEVER FORGET."

St Charles, MO… A 9-11 community service sponsored by Harvester Christian Church will take place at 10:28 a.m. on September 11th at the Family Arena (2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles. Speakers: David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, one of the passengers aboard United Flight 93 when it crashed in Pennsylvania; Brian Jobe, senior minister at Harvester Christian Church. Free and open to public; no tickets required. Visit www.911harvestercc.org for more information.

St. Charles, MO… Grace Baptist Church (3601 Ehlmann Road, St. Charles) will hold a Patriot Day service Sunday morning to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary and honor local police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and military personnel. Speaker: Army chaplain Maj. William Wehlge. www.gracebaptistchurch.info

St. Elmo, IL… On September 11th 2011, the St. Elmo Ministerial Alliance will host a Solemn Assembly in remembrance of the Fallen Heroes of the attacks of 9-11-2001 and to offer up prayers for this nation. The event will be held on the Football Field at the St. Elmo High School at 3 PM.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A-W-E-S-O-M-E

"How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!" Psalm 47:2

Sometimes you just need to hear an awesome story...

TELL ME SOMETHING AWESOME