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Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek … a game we all have memories of playing. I was thinking the other day of my earliest memories of playing “hide and seek” with my friends and family. I remember playing as a very young girl, probably a toddler in our house, hiding under the bed, in the closet, in a corner, under a pile of blankets and waiting for my sister, or parents to come find me. I am sure that I was not very quiet and my parents knew where I was from the moment I hid, but they played along and searched several places before finding me.

I also remember being a little older and playing outside with my twin sister Jodie, my little sister Teri, and my friends and cousins. I remember thinking my little sister who was almost five years younger than we were was holding us back. We found a solution to this problem. Because we were older, we could leave our yard and go across the street and hide in the woods, but Teri was not allowed to cross the street. So our solution to this was to go hide in the woods where she could not go. She would usually go tell mom, and soon mom would come out and find. She would precede scold us for hiding in a place that Teri could not go. So our solution to this was to let her hide …. And of course we just did not look for her so we left her hiding and waiting in some remote hiding place in or around our house. Sometimes I am amazed that my little sister loves us. Thinking back when we were young we were not very nice to her. She did not deserve to be treated this way, and yet she still and always has loved us.

I don’t remember playing “hide and seek” as a teen, but as a young adult Tim and I had kids and began the game all over again with our children. It started out with a simple game of “peek-a-boo” and soon progressed to “hide and seek” This was an interesting thing to be on the other side of the game. Seeing where our children hid and how they thought they were in the best places, but us knowing all along exactly where they were.

A few years later we had a home group that met together to study the Bible and get to know each other. We decided one spring evening that we were going to resurrect the game. As adults we went out in the back yard and played a crazy game of “hide and seek”. This was a lot of fun and we played it on several occasions. It was crazy and fun to play as an adult.  I remember one of our friends hiding just a few feet away from home base, where we had to race back to before being caught . He just laid down flat in the grass in a shadowy spot. It was dark and we all wore black and he blended right in to the ground where all he had to do is wait for the seeker to wander a few feet out and he got up touched home base and was safe.

You may be wondering why I am thinking about such a silly subject. I guess I should explain what started this thought process. Tim and I have the privilege of watching our 2 year old grand daughter Jazlyn while her parents are at work. When we discovered that Jazlyn was blind as an infant, I thought that “peek-a-boo” and  “hide and seek” were games that she would never enjoy. Much to our amazement, she does enjoy them. With her limited vision and her crazy good hearing she loves to play just like any other child her age.

One day I realized that she does know what hiding means. She opened up two cupboard doors and hid behind them and then yelled out in her tiny little voice “I am hiding” … this was her way of letting me know that she wanted me to search for her. That was the beginning of a fun game where she hides under blankets, pillows, behind the couch just like any other two year old.

Jazlyn understands what it means to hide.  One day when she was being a little naughty. She was about 10 feet away from me. Because the lighting was low and it was evening, and she was across the room, she could not see me with her very limited vision. She knew I was there because she could hear me and she had just wandered away from me. When I told her not to leave the room … she got real quiet and took tiny steps, slowly moving further away. Because she could not see me, she thought I could not see her. I quickly called her on it and told her that she is blind and can’t see me but I am not and I can see her. She needed to come back. I kind of chuckled inside at her sneaky little movements. Then I thought about my relationship with God.

How many times have I been just like Jazlyn. Because my human eyes can not see God and my human ears are not always listening to God, I can fool myself into believing that God does not notice when I begin to wander away. However God does notice … while he lets us roam and wander away, because he gave us free will, He does see every tiny little step we take and he is watching very close. He will let us wander, but just like I called for Jazlyn, his voice is calling us back. He does not want us to wander away, and he will call us and keep calling us until we return to his side. I am so thankful that I serve a God who never loses track of where I am, even when I do, and never quits calling me back to Him.


Julie Skolrud
 

Years End

Every year I like to read the Bible from cover to cover.  So this morning I finished day 365 at about 7:15am.  There is always a sense of accomplishment and pride for finishing the task.  But I always smile to myself because I know the next morning I will start day one again.  The Bible is a "living book" to me.  I don't think of it as a story that you just read once, but more like spiritual food that I need daily.  This year I am going to be doing two different reading plans.  A devotional one that we are recommending everyone at Living Word read this year.  But I am also going to read it cover to cover again.  Not because I have too, but rather because I am hungry for it.  If you have never read the bible through, let 2014 be the year.  Go to www.bible.com and find a plan that works for you.

Tim Skolrud

Fix me God.

We love to work with people that have recently decided to follow Jesus.  It is one of the joys of being a Pastor at a church we people make a commitment to follow Jesus on a regular basis.  One of the common questions we get is a simple one.  Why can't God just fix me?  A great question that my Niece just answered for herself in a blog she just wrote  Listen to what she said.
 

Five years….it feels like a lifetime ago. A lifetime of grief and pain and hurt and loss…yet on the other hand, it feels like it was just yesterday that I lay in a hospital bed holding my son before I had to hand him over to the nurse and say goodbye. I remember fading in and out of consciousness watching my mom in the bathroom with the nurse preparing his body for me so I could hold him. I didn’t want to, but mama knows best, and she was right. Is he the only child of mine I will ever get to hold?My husband and my dad arrived at the hospital later, while I was in surgery. I remember sitting awake that whole night as those I love the most in the world slept all around me in the hospital room. I had a long chat with God that night. He had protected me, I had lived, but I’d rather have had my son live. I knew it would be all right. I wasn’t alone, after all. I had a husband who loved me and four step-children at home. Now if I were alone, that would be another story. If I only knew…

Five years ago today marked a day my life really began to change. Within a few months my husband had left. A short time after that, the kids were gone too. Now I was alone. Now, I did have to rely on God. Up until this point, life had been pretty rosy for me. I’m blessed with a beautiful family, both my immediate and extended. I’m blessed with beautiful friends. I’d followed many dreams, but the greatest desire of my heart, to be a mom and wife, had been ripped away from me. I had no choice in the matter, there was nothing I could do to fix it. I thought for a long time if I prayed hard enough and did everything right, then God would fix everything. It just doesn’t work like that. Life on earth is not where we are promised perfection. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. This doesn’t mean that He isn’t sitting beside us hurting with us.This means He has a better place for us.

I remember sitting in a gas station one day asking God when He was going to fix my life, fix my marriage, and bring my babies back. Never in my life have I heard God more clearly speaking to me. I heard him say “Breeze, if I don’t fix your marriage, if that doesn’t work out,because I’ve given you free will, as well as your husband. If he doesn’t choose to change his life, will you still serve me?” I understood more in that moment about life and sin and pain then I ever have. God HAS given us free will. He loves us so much, but he allows us to choose whether or not to love him back.  Life is very messy - people will hurt us, situations will hurt us – but we have a choice whether or not to lean on God and trust Him, or give up and try it on our own. I am so glad that day I chose to say yes to God. I remember telling God, “OK, fine then. Game on. If my marriage isn’t fixed, then please use it. Use every bit of the pain so I can help others.” It was at that very moment that the long journey of healing began.

Today I sit here with tears rolling down my face. Today is a day that I remember the pain. Today is a day that I remember the hurt.  Today is a day I celebrate my baby boy Landon has spent 5 years in heaven singing with the angels.  Today is a day I remember how God has walked me through each moment. I never thought I could survive alone. I was right. I just was wrong about who I needed to have in my life to survive. I may be physically alone here on this earth, but I have a God who is by my side each moment. I have an intimate relationship with my Savior. He has pulled me through the depths and because of this, my faith is stronger than it ever was when everything in life was “perfect.” If you are hurting, draw in to God. He is the only constant, the only guarantee. Every thing in this life is temporary. Everything in this life can bring pain, God is here to bring healing and a promise of one day eternity in a place where there are no tears. 

5 years, there have been nights of unspeakable tears…even recently. But there have been many more days of laughte rand joy.  I think my favorite writer,David, says it best:

Psalm 30

I give you all the credit God – you got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. When things were going great I crowed, “I’ve got it made, I’m God’s favorite. He made me king of the mountain.” Then you looked the other way and I fell to pieces. I called out to you, God; I laid my case before you: “Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead? Auction me off at a cemetery yard sale? When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs and stories of you won’t sell. So listen! And be kind! Help me out of this! You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God. I can’t thank you enough.

Breeze Kruger
Youth Pastor
New Beginnings Christian Center
Moses Lake, WA

 

God's power transcends beyond what we can imagine.  He walks with us though all of our problems to get us used to trusting in Him and His ways.  Then as we look back on our life we realize that God has been with us every step of the way.

Tim Skolrud

Don't touch that...or should I?

 Here It is, 2013 ... January is more than half over and I intended to write this the first week of January. It is amazing how the activities of life can just get away from you.  We all survived the "Mayan End of the World", survived and enjoyed Christmas and threw away the calendar to start over again. I can not say that 2012 was the most enjoyable year of my life, but in it I saw God's hand. He was there each step of the way to help me with every adjustment I needed to make.

In order to explain, I have to take you back to November of 2011. I was taking a moment to Thank God for the blessings He has given me. My most prized blessing being my family.  I told God thank you for allowing all three of my grown children and their families to live in our area and be active in the ministry that God has asked us to do. I can think of no greater joy than having my kids and grand kids close and involved in our lives.  In the process of this "thank you" to God, I felt like He asked me if I would do this even if my kids could not be here. I did not like that question. I knew that Kylie and Phil were looking at a probable move with the Navy. While I had known that I was still holding on to the fact that God could open something up here. I did recognize that there was a good chance they would be moving and I was trying to wrap my mind around that one already, but to think of all my kids moving was not something I even wanted to imagine. However, the question was asked ... and I needed to answer that question honestly. I took a little time and thought about it. I know that Our kids have been a huge part of our ministry and the idea of doing ministry without them was disturbing. But after much reflection, I went back to God with this answer; "yes God, I would .... but please don't do that to me". Well, deep down, I knew that God was going to do that very thing. I quickly set it aside and did not think about it. It was too painful and I did not want to even think that way. It was much easier to believe that God would NOT do that.

Now fast forward several months to the first quarter of 2012. Kylie and Phil Got orders to move to Groton, CT. Kristi and Grant came to us and told us that they felt they were supposed to move to Florida, and Jaron and his wife Anna split up and Jaron moved to Tacoma .... not a huge move for him, but still took him out of the day to day activities in our lives, our community, and our church. I remember the day when I realized they were all moving. I prayed these words; "God I asked you not to do that" His reply was really more impacting than I knew and changed my mindset. He let me know that he was not asking me the question so that I could ask him not to do that, but He was warning me that they would be moving and my life as I knew it would be changing. To think that He loved me enough to warn me and prepare me, is amazing. While I still do not like the fact that my family have moved away, I hold to the fact that God is working in all of us, and He loves us enough to give us what we need to get through any situation. Needless to say, I am so thankful that even in the difficult times, I have a God who loves me, looks after me, and prepares me to face anything that is coming my way.

Moving on to my next thought that came out of 2012, I am thinking about a beautiful mind picture God showed me as I was tearing down the Christmas decorations.  Again, I have to take you back to a time years ago .... Our kids were young and it was Christmas time. They were getting old enough that they wanted to help with the decorations. I had always loved to decorate my tree with a theme to it. Everything matched and had a place. It worked out well when the kids were babies, but as the reached the early pre-school and school years they wanted to put their touches on the tree. Sweet, but unfortunately their little home made decorations did not fit the "art decor" of the tree. The solution was, to have two trees. They decorated their tree any way they wanted, and I did mine. Perfect plan! After several years, the girls decided they liked my tree better so they joined me in the "artwork" Jaron, really did not care and did not want to decorate their tree, so the final year of the two tree plan, their tree only was half decorated. They had grown up and wanted to just do my tree. It became a family tradition, for the girls to help me decorate, and Jaron and Tim to tease us and "not help" while we all listened to Christmas music. sounds silly but it was our thing. As the grand kids came along I have taught them not to touch the tree. They can look the pretty lights and decorations, but they learned not to touch it. After all they would mess up the "art that the girls and I created".

Late in 2011 I found a sadness that I had not expected. We had two new grand babies who were old enough to learn the art of "don't touch". The sadness came when I realized that the youngest one was not interested at all. We knew, because we had found out earlier in the year that she was blind. But it hit me when we tried to see if she could even see the sparkling lights, and she could not, that I would never have to teach her don't touch because she could not see it at all. It saddened me because all the other babies, love the tree. they love to see the sparkly lights and pretty decorations. Then move over to the nativity scene that sits next to it and talk about what Christmas is. It kind of caught me off guard how sad it was that I could not teach Jazlyn not to touch it, because she was missing out on seeing it.

Fast forward to This Christmas ... 2012! We have had many changes this year, but one of the most special changes is watching Jazlyn begin to see. God has touched her and she can see light, dark, contrasts, shape and form. She can not see detail, but to see her get around and see some things is a gift from God that I can't say enough about. One day as we were sitting in the living room, watching Jaz play. Suddenly she stopped in the middle of the room, got a huge smile on her face, reached out and headed for the tree. She saw it. I was so happy that she could see it that I did not tell  her "don't touch" I told her "touch it gentle" I did not care if she messed it up a little (and she did) and I had to fix it. Somehow it did not matter anymore. That day started my head spinning. God used it to bring to remembrance a time when I was young and taught to "not touch".

My sisters and I were with my Mom, my Aunt and Grandma at someones house. It was an older persons house and she had a lot of little glass figurines sitting around. Most of them did not look fancy, or for that matter even pretty. They looked kind of old, faded and dusty. But as a child, they were intriguing to me. As I reached out to touch them I can remember my mom saying "don't touch". This was the right thing to do as a parent. I was young and could have broken it easily. I am sure that while they did not look valuable to me, they were special to the lady whom they belonged to. I don't know if they were antiques, or just her special little trinkets, but they were valuable to her, and I did not need to play with them. Through the years I have taught my kids and grand kids the same thing.

One day reticently, I had baby Jaz with us at a Bible Study. We meet at a sweet ladies house. She is in her 90's and her home is always kept nice and has pretty little things sitting out. Jaz reached out to touch the things on Jean's coffee table. As I should, I told her "No, Jazzy. Don't touch". The sweet lady said, it is ok. let her touch. At this I thought how important touch is for a child with very limited vision. She relies  on touch to see the detail that we see with our eyes. This wise lady knew that and wanted her to be able to see the things she had out. So from that point on, while at Jean's house I began to teach her to "touch gentle".

God reminded me, that for years in the church we were taught, to choose our friends wisely. Choose friends (like us) who go to church and who's parents go to church. I know that this teaching was to protect us as children from being influenced to do things that were harmful to us. I know that it was a good thing, as children, the people that we become close to will influence us and as parents we need to help guide them in this area. However somehow as I grew up, I took that to mean "don't touch" ... I never really grasped on to the reaching out or "touch gentle" to those who were broken, hurt, and lost like I should have. It really is not my parents or the churches fault. They were protecting me and I am thankful for that. But now, I am looking out and seeing the lost and hurting and learning that the "don't touch" mentality is not what God wants for me to have. He wants me to touch them, but touch them gently. While some of them might be a little tattered, and worn ... they are God's precious creation and they are special to him. I need to recognize that, and treat others like the valuable creation that they are. It does not matter what background they have, how wealthy or poor they are, what they dress like, what their home looks like, They are ALL God's valuable and precious people, and if they are valuable to Him, they should be valuable to me too.

My hearts desire for 2013 is to remember to touch peoples lives the way that God would want me to and to appreciate each and every person as the person that God created them to be, Valuable and Precious!

 

Merry Christmas

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger." Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Luke 2:1-20 New Living Translation

From the Staff of Living Word, we pray you have a very Merry Christmas.   

Lifeline

We have enjoyed seeing a lot of people begin their spiritual journey with Jesus these last few months. While we have thanked God for this response, we know that this is just the beginning stages in their spiritual walk with God.  Now we begin the process of pointing them to Jesus.  So I want to introduce to you the idea on how we are going to be doing this.  We recently talked about how important it is for the church to be "connected."  So at Living Word we will be using an idea called "Lifeline."

What is Lifeline?  It is a way to keep us connected as a church. One of our Living Word Staff members will serve as an "Anchor" or start of the Lifeline. They will be making weekly contacts with people who will sign up to be a Mentor.  So if you sign up to be a mentor, you will have a staff member that will be mentoring you, as you mentor someone else.  This will keep us connected as a church.  So here is where you come into this Lifeline....

As a Lifeline Mentor, you will be connecting with one or more "Mentee's" (New Christians) to pray and encourage them in their new journey with God.  We want you to sign a Covenant (agreement) for the 2013 calender year.  Here is what we will be asking you to do:

1.  Pray for the "mentee" that you will be assigned to on a daily basis.  It can be a short prayer, or a longer one.  But we just want you to pray for them by name every day!

2.  Contact them every week to encourage them and find out any additional needs that need prayer.  You can use any communication tool that works for you and your Mentee.  I use Facebook, text messaging, email, skype and my cell phone on a regular basis to connect with people and you can too.

3. Commit to regular church attendance at Church so you can meet them face to face and show your commitment to the Living Word community.

4. Commit to your spiritual growth so you can be a"reflection" of Jesus to your Mentee.  This consists of daily Bible reading and prayer.

5.  Follow up on any questions that your Mentee might have.  You will have your Anchor (your staff mentor) to help you with this.  Your Anchor (staff mentor) will contact you on a weekly basis to help you with any questions that you might have!

This will be a one year commitment (2013 calender year).  We have applications is the church office for you to fill out.  You can also call the church office and we can email one to you.

I believe that you will grow more spiritually in 2013 than any other year of your life if you commit to joining the Lifeline and becoming a Mentor.  This will help us to be connected as a church.

If you have any questions please contact us:

Silverdale - tim.skolrud@lwcc.net

Port Orchard - tom.clifton@lwcc.net

Living Word Office - livingword@lwcc.net

Phone: 360-692-0345

 

 

 

 

Vacation!

It is a beautiful day here in Groton, CT.  I am in the middle of a 10 day stay with my oldest daughter Kylie and her husband Phil.  Phil was transferred from Bangor to Groton as part of his career with the Navy.  But coming to visit them has given me a chance to see a part of the United States that I have never scene. 

One of the first things I wanted to do was to see the Atlantic Ocean.  I am sure it looks similar to the Pacific, but I looked forward to my first view of this famous body of water anyway.  We went to a local park that had a nice wide trail to the beach and away we went.  It was late in the afternoon and after a nice brisk two mile walk we arrived at the beach.  Then I saw something that caught me totally off guard.  I was looking at the sun going DOWN over the Atlantic.  So I quickly went through a list of truths that I know are correct. 

            #1.  I know that the sun sets in the west.  I live on the west coast and I have watched the sun go down over the Pacific ocean many times.

            #2.  I flew over 3,000 miles to the east coast and I know that the sun should rise in the east when I am on the east coast.

But here I am standing on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean, observing the sun set to the south east of where I am standing.  I know that this is not possible, but that is what I am feeling.  This is where I go back to what I know the truth to be... The sun sets in the west.

So I get out my smart phone and open my mapping program to see exactly where the GPS said I was standing.  I was hoping that this would explain to me why my feelings and my reality were at odds with each other. 

Here is what I learned.  The section of beach that I was on actually runs east and west!  The east coast does not run in a straight line and is actually quite jagged, so the beach I was on ran east to west for a while.  The earth is round and our eyes can only see about 16 miles before it curves around the circle.  So all I was seeing was water.  I couldn't see the land that was beyond that point. 

If I would have based everything on what I felt, I would have been totally lost.  But because I based things on what I know the truth is, and I trusted that truth, I knew exactly where I was even though at the time it was confusing.

The same is true in our attempt to follow Jesus.  If we base our life on our feelings we are going to stay lost and have struggles in life.  But if we base our life on God's truth (The bible is God's truth).  Then, we will have a constant of truth in life that will keep us on the right path even when our feelings betray us.

So get into a daily habit of reading God’s word.  Then you have a foundation of truth in your life that you can always trust…

I hope to see you soon.

Tim

 

One Church

Time for me to send out an update and this one is mainly directed toward the good people at Living Word Port Orchard.  But I need to ask some questions and would love input from anyone at either campus.  First of all I want to provide a little History on the subject I am about to bring up.

In October we will celebrate the joining of two churches into one.  We started with Living Word in Silverdale, and Crosspoint Church in Port Orchard.  Part of the joining process was to upgrade the front sanctuary (The Experience Building) so we could "Redeem" in back into God's service.  The Crosspoint congregation was using the back building (The Traditions Building) because it was more handicapped accessible.  After several conversations, we decided to utilize the back building on Sunday mornings because of the handicapped access and then when the construction was finished in the front building we would start Sunday night services there.  The front building has stairs going into it on both sides and in its current state, it is not handicapped accessible.  This can be changed when finances improve.  It would require us to build a ramp up to the side of the building and add a new door going into the rear of the sanctuary.

I have talked with several people from Living Word Port Orchard (LWPO) and it seems like there might be a desire to move to the front building for Sunday Morning Services.  The current make-up of the congregation may allow this because, with a little help, most people can make it up the stairs.  Pastor Jim Hill did a quick poll about a month back and it seems like people are open to the idea. 

So.... I need some feedback from the great people of Living Word.  If you respond to this email, your responses will come directly to me and I will keep the comments confidential. 

QUESTIONS:

1.  Would you be in favor of moving our Sunday morning service to the new sanctuary in the front building?

2.  Is there any regular attenders who cannot make it up the 8 steps with a little help?

If you are still not sure, I think we might try a test run on September 9th.  This is the date of Pastor Jim's retirement and our annual church BBQ.  We are expecting a great turnout that day and we will have extra ushers at the doors to help assist anyone that needs help with the stairs.  It would enable us to get the feel for how it may work.  If it doesn't work, we have some other creative ideas that might work.

One of the side benefits of using the front building is that it would give us a little space, to complete the finishing touches on the back building that would still be used as a fellowship hall and potential Youth center...

It is fun to dream, so won't you help me dream by providing the feedback I need to make the best decision for LWPO.

Thanks,

Your Pastor

Tim Skolrud

tim.skolrud@lwcc.net

 

Grace Misunderstood

 It is no surprise that we struggle with Grace vs the Law. That has been an ongoing struggle since Jesus came and changed our world. I am so thankful for the Grace that Jesus' life brought us. I for one am undeserving. I know that this grace is undeserved and yet, I get it anyway .... I know I can not earn it, and it is not there because of any great thing I have done. But yet it drives me to want to please God more.

I don't understand how people who accept this grace can use it as an excuse to continue in their sin. When you love someone, or in this case,  Jesus Christ, you should want to please Him. blowing off his grace by taking advantage of it and continuing in sin when you recognize it is sin, must break His heart. I know we are all sinners ... including me! None of us is exempt from it, but to me once you accept Christ's forgiveness and the grace that comes with it, I am making a commitment to pattern my life in the best way I can after Christ. As he shows me my sins, I need to work on them .... I hear too many Christians say "God understands and loves me the way I am. He forgives me so it is ok" All of that is true. God does understand us, our strengths, and our weaknesses. He does not expect us to be perfect, He knows we will fail. But He also expects us to strive to please Him. So my question is this? Does God continue to forgive us and cover us with His grace when we reject his instructions purposely? If we are not sorry for the things we do, once we are aware that we are sinning, and repent (turn away) from them is he still covering us with His grace?

Jude 1 talks about people who pervert the Gospel and what Christ did by using Grace as an excuse to sin. Are we any different than that if we refuse to work on our sin issues? I know God created us and knows our hearts. He also desires us to strive to live a holy life. He gives us all the tools to move in that direction and when we ignore his correction because "God understands and gives us grace" I am not so sure that grace covers us when we knowingly sin choosing to ignore God’s grace

The other day I woke up and flipped on the T.V. Tim had stayed awake longer than I had watching television. I have no idea what channel or who was preaching, but there was a man preaching on “grace”. It caught my attention because this subject bounces around in my thoughts often. He said that Grace does more than cover our sins, It drives us to change and get rid of our sin. He read a scripture which blasted through my head and answered this for me. Here is the scripture:

Titus 2:11-12  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Wow … If I am really living under Grace that same grace that covers my sin, is the same grace that drives me to get rid of the sin that is within me. As a person who really has accepted Jesus and what he did I can not be content to live under his grace unless I also let it change me. If I refuse to change the things that grace shows me, than  I believe that I am no longer living under grace but living in rebellion. God is not ok with us continuing with our sin. As believers we have to get rid of it. If we refuse, we are in rebellion           1 John 3:9 says: Those who are born of God will not continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

I remember when I was in high school plotting with my friend to steal money from the concession stand. Well, it was not just plotting, we did it several times. We figured if we just took a little at a time we would get away with it and we did. Well, sort of … the school did not catch us, but God did. I was a Christian and this is a no brainer. This is going against one of God’s 10 commandments. It is no doubt that it was sin, and I knew it. I had been a Christian my whole life and I knew better. While that grace covered me, it also convicted me and I could not continue with this sin. I had to stop and repent. I am thankful that Grace covered me and drew me away from that sin. While that seems like an obvious one … I should have known better, which is true. I still have to allow that grace to change me and draw me away from sin today. I have long ago worked through those obvious, what we would call big sins, but I will forever have things that God wants me to work on. There are far less obvious and sneaky sins that any of us can fall into … you know, like gossip, slander, rage, “little white” lies, etc. Oh and what about the sins of omission. These are the things God wants us to do and we do not do, like sharing our faith, loving others, forgiving others when they wrong us. They may not be as obvious, but just as harmful to my soul. If I ignore repenting from these sins once God has shown me I am doing them, I believe that I am walking in rebellion.

I think of the Israelites. God was slow to anger, and gave them time to repent from their sins, but eventually he poured out his wrath on them. If God is the same God, and He is, I believe that his grace  is still the same today. I do not believe that grace gives us permission to purposely refuse to change the sin in our lives. I believe God is patient with us, and his grace does cover us, but at some point we cross the line from walking in grace to walking in rebellion. I do not want to walk in rebellion. I know that does not please God.

Galatians 5:13-26 says:  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch
out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if
you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that
those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
 
If I am understanding this correctly then this tells me that I have to work on  the things that are sin. If I don’t do that then I am purposefully following my sinful nature.  Verse 21 says, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Wow! So with that, Is grace unlimited? I say “yes” grace is always available to us when we repent (turn away from our sins) but if I refuse to work on my sins, no matter how big or small, then I am walking in rebellion, not grace.  Ouch!  

 

Seeing through the eyes of a "Blind baby"

25 years ago I watched my little baby sister go through a three year journey with cancer which ended with her death. I knew at the moment of her death that she was in a much better place. She no longer was in pain, but the emotional pain I went through knowing I would never see her again, until the day when Jesus takes me to heaven was indescribable.

When my sister died, I had just had my second child, Kristi and all I could think is I never want to see my children go through anything like this. I was 23 years old at the time and this was the first time I had experienced this kind of pain. I remember being fearful that my children would get sick. I prayed often for God to spare them from this. God answered that prayer. While they had the usual colds, and child hood illnesses, really they were pretty healthy children. I have thanked God often for answering this prayer.

Fast forward to the last 4 years … we have been blessed with 4 beautiful grand daughters. Brooklyn and Malia are 4 and 2 years old and again, other than some allergies, and Asthma issues they have been healthy beautiful girls. Our next two were born this last spring.

The first, baby Kinsley was born in March. She was precious. I had the privilege of being in the room as she was born. She was beautiful and healthy. As we were looking at her while the nurses were cleaning her up and checking all her stats … we realized that her left foot only had 4 toes.  We just thought it was cute. She is perfect in every way, even with only 4 toes. It made her unique. We have found out since then that there could be some pretty serious complications with this and we are just praying that her leg grows in proportion with her other leg. Again, though, with all this we just felt so blessed. She is a miracle from God and a gift to our family. 5 weeks later, baby Jazlyn was born. I was in the waiting room. Our son Jaron was texting with his sister (Kinsley’s mom). Jaron has always been a joker so when he texted that baby Jazlyn stole one of Kinsley’s digits …. Well, we just assumed he was joking. He was joking in a way, but not about the fact that Jazlyn had an extra finger on her left hand. The Hospital removed it and you can’t even see where the finger was.

We had some good laughs about this … still feeling so blessed to have now 4 healthy grand daughters.

We have had the privilege of having baby Jazlyn in our home for a good portion of her little life. Her Mom has suffered with some pretty severe Post Pardom issues. Because of that we have taken care of Jazlyn at our house most of the time, until recently when Anna, was doing well enough to take her sweet baby home and take care of her. A few months ago we noticed that she did not seem to track correctly with her eyes. In fact she rarely looked at us and did not notice toys, or bottles when placed in front of her. Jaron and Anna took her to her doctor where it was confirmed that there did seem to be a problem. We soon found out that her optic nerve never developed correctly. Her Optic Nerve is one sixth the size it should be. Jazlyn is legally blind. We don’t know the extent of her vision loss until she is old enough to communicate with the doctors. What we do know is from spending time with her, is that she sees very little. When we talk with her, she turns her head away from you. We realized that she is focusing on the sound of our voice and she really is not turning her eyes away from us, but turning her ears towards us. She does not make eye contact like most babies, she makes “eye contact” with her ears. She also touches everything in a way that I have never seen before. She feels everything. One of the most precious things she does, is cuddle her face next to ours and wrap her hand around your neck so she can feel the vibration of our voice. She also loves to feel what our mouth is doing as we talk. She is learning to see in a new way. We pray every day that God will heal her eyes. I know that God has the power to do it and I would love nothing more than to see baby Jazz see the beauty that God has created.

I was thinking about these two babies and how they both have what many would say were “defects” but to me they are perfect. You see, God created them just the way he wanted them to be. Will he heal them? I don’t know. I know that he can and if it is his will. But whether they are healed or not, they are perfect.

When I look at baby Kinsley and her little four toed foot, I see a happy well adjusted beautiful little girl who is learning to enjoy everything around her. She does not know that if her leg does not grow she could be facing some very painful surgeries that could require her to move away for 5 months while she goes through the surgery. She does not worry about her future. She is happy and knows that when she is hungry, she is fed. When she is in need of a diaper change, she is changed, When she just wants to be held and loved, she is cuddled and has more love than she knows what to do with.

When Tim and I are in public with baby Jazz, people always want to see the baby. There is something that is magnetic about a cute baby. Strangers will come and see a cute baby and we as grandparents eat that up. They will talk to her and talk about how happy she is. Sometimes they notice the eyes are wandering or turning away and make a comment about it. We tell them that she is legally blind and they always reply with a sadness. The funny thing is, that we are not sad. We do want her to see, but little Jazz, does not know that she is blind. She is happy and has learned to see. She recognizes her family by sound and touch. She loves to stand and jump and she loves music. She is a happy well adjusted baby who knows that she is loved and is not concerned about her future and if she will ever see.

That is how we should be. Sometimes we can worry so much about the future. I see people concerned about their jobs, investments, whether to buy stocks or buy gold. But the truth is, God wants us to trust Him. It is wise to make good investments with our lives and finances. It is good to work hard and find a job that supports us, but when we cross over from being responsible to being worried, I think we have forgotten that God is there to watch over us. We don’t need to worry about tomorrow any more than our sweet babies do. They are content and at peace with their lives. I can learn from my little babies … I don’t need to worry. I have a God who takes care of me. I have a roof over my head, I have food to eat, I have family and friends who love me and a God who cares about every part of who I am. Thank you God for loving me and teaching me to see through the eyes of a blind baby.

 

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