In A World of Noise, Who Are You Listening To?

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Do you hear it? There’s so much noise. In this world of technology, we are inundated with noise from every direction: television, radio, social media, YouTube, podcasts and so much more.

We are accessible all the time with the hand held devices that we just can’t live without. Our phones are glued to our hands or stuck in our pockets at all times so we can reach and be reached twenty-four seven.

So in the midst of all this noise, let me ask you, “Who are you listening to?”

Do you get worked up seeing the news and hearing of all the world trouble and devastation? Are you scared to be out on your own after hearing of crime being on the rise? Do you wring your hands over things that you can’t control?

Or do you try to live by the old adage, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Unfortunately, that’s not a switch most of us can just “turn” on. But we DO have Someone that we can and should be listening to in the midst of all this noise. This Someone brings peace in the chaos, calm in the storm and assurance amidst all doubting. This Someone is Jesus Christ.

He wasn’t a prophet or a good teacher. He was and He is the Son of The Living God. He is God Incarnate. God in the flesh. And He promises those who are His a peace that surpasses all understanding.

How can I possible know that? Well, I’m glad you asked. I know those things because I belong to Him. I was raised in Church. One evening during a revival service, the Holy Spirit called to me as loud and clear as anyone ever had. I realized then and there that I was a sinner and destined for hell. I fell on my face before the loving God and received His free gift of salvation.

Nope. Stars didn’t fall from heaven. Bells didn’t sound all around me. But I stood up a new creation. I have never been the same! Praise the Lord! The day, Jesus saved me from sin and to Himself. Every single day now I know I am not alone. Jesus is always with me. I have experienced more than once that peace that surpasses understanding.

While I have lived a very blessed life; one that may be considered without tragedy and sorrow, which is true in a sense - I have experienced some blows of life that are common to us all. Just so you have a picture of the peace that Jesus extends when we are His, here are a few of the losses and uncertainties that He has carried me through:

1.. The loss of both parents (one before I turned 30 and the other just into my 30’s)

2. The loss of 3 siblings (one in between my parents

3. The dreaded call from my physician - something looks like “c” and more tests are needed

4. Giving depositions for an upcoming trial

5. An ‘adopted’ child walking away from our family

6. Job struggles and financial struggles

These are all normal struggles in life. Sometimes they are devastating and people never really recover. But when you have Jesus and are listening to Him, He brings PEACE in the storm. There’s a Christian song that has a line that says “sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child”.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
— Mark 4:39 ESV

I love that line in the song because it so poetically reminds us that Jesus doesn’t promise us a life of “smooth sailing”, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us. However, as in the verse above, sometimes He does calm the storm that rages around us.

So, again, in this world of noise that we live in, I ask, “Who are you listening to?” I hope it’s Jesus Christ. He has all the answers! He loves you. He wants to save you and give you a purpose for your life. He is peace.

Behind the Scenes of Family

Photo by Liane Metzler

Photo by Liane Metzler

I have to say that I have loved every stage of our family life! Now, that being said, I have not loved every moment. Some have been trying, some extremely hard, but for the most part, it’s been wonderful!

Before my husband and I married, I told him I wanted a very large family. Seven to ten children, in fact. But after my first child was born, I was done. Infancy was hard work! He didn’t sleep. He threw up everything he ate and then some. For two years, we both (my child and I) cried ourselves to sleep. Of course, I’m exaggerating…some. But then it happened again, with our second child. Whew! Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Like many families, ours grew and grew up. Nope, no grands just yet, but we are holding on to hope. :)

Today, we are helping our adult children with getting settled in their first homes each. This is more that just helping them move. My wonderful husband totally renovated my daughter’s fixer upper. And it’s beautiful, I might add. And now, we are twenty hours away from home renovating a kitchen in my son’s new home. And you know it, too, will be beautiful.

While it’s been exhausting, especially for Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so thankful to our Lord that He has given us the health to help them. And we are so proud of the adults they’ve become!

But flesh and blood are not our only family. Just this weekend while we were driving I posted a few photos on social media about our travels. Our pastor commented that our church would miss us in worship. I quickly responded that we, too, would miss being with our “family”.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

I don’t know where you are in regards to family. But I do know this - no matter what may be going on behind the scenes of your family, Jesus offers us to become members of His family. For us, we definitely feel such a part of our church family that we really miss them when we’re away. We count on them when we’re there. And we want to serve them and along side them as often as we can.

Growing up in my family, we might have been rough with one another, but no one else was getting away with that. In other words, no matter what was going on between us, we loved each other extremely. Jesus said that the lost world will know we are in His family by the love we have for one another.

So stop and think a minute. Whatever may be going on in your family - “family” - love them. Love them. Love them. I have found that in our blood families and in our Jesus families (hopefully, they are one in the same) , we sometimes get cross ways. And that’s often due to just plane old misunderstandings. Life is so much better when we love one another through it all. With the love of Jesus in us, we can do just that!

Let love be what’s happening behind the scenes of your family.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Photo by Emma Shappley

Photo by Emma Shappley

Last year I read a book titled Think It Not Strange by Piper and Mathis. It reminds me of the perspective we have as American Christians. We can hardly fathom persecution the way the Bible talks about persecution. Yet, when you truly think of the cost of Christianity, it’s strange that we are not persecuted - yet.

I know there have been Christians that have been persecuted for their faith here in the great USA. But we don’t often hear of that. For most of us, our persecution may include:

  • being made fun of

  • being ostracized

  • losing a promotion

  • losing a job

  • maybe even a divorce or

  • being somewhat cut off from family

But what do we gain with our relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • peace with God

  • the peace of God

  • freedom from sin

  • a calling and purpose for life

  • eternal life

  • grace

  • mercy

  • love

  • abundant life (now)

  • family all over the world (other Christians)

  • and so much more

So what are we afraid of when it comes to sharing our faith or standing up for what Jesus says is right? I’m Southern Baptist by denomination. Unfortunately, we are more known for what we are against than for what we are for. Here are a few things I am for:

  • loving people because Jesus loves people

  • serving people because Jesus showed me how

  • offering grace before judgement because Jesus gives grace to all who come to Him

  • extending mercy because Jesus has pardoned me from what I deserve

  • sharing the gospel of salvation because Jesus died and rose again so we can be saved

We are not all called to be martyrs - to die for our faith in Jesus, but we are ALL called to LIVE for Him.

We are not all called to be martyrs, but we are all called to live for Him.

Jesus made the cost of discipleship very plain.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
— Luke 14:26-27 ESV

But the rewards… oh the greatness of following Jesus…

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
— Jesus - Luke 23:43 ESV

To think Jesus stepped down from heaven out of glory to live among us. He knew that to redeem us He would have to be separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He did that willingly because He loves you and me.

As mere human beings we cannot understand how He could take the beatings and the cross for us. But as the Holy God, He became sin - S.I.N - so we might have salvation in Him. How can that be? That, my friend, is love. Amazing love.

When I remind myself of Jesus’ amazing love for me and for you, I have to ask myself - “What am I afraid of?” Because -Jesus is worth EVERYTHING you are afraid of losing!

For the Love of Doing It

Photo by Nathan Lemon

Photo by Nathan Lemon

What do you do for the love of doing it? Recently, I’ve been sewing. Nothing fancy and certainly nothing that requires a pattern, but sewing for the love of sewing.

I heard someone who quilts say that you start quilting because you want one and then you want to make quilts for your kids and then for your grand-kids and then for friends and then, well, just for the love of quilting. Many folks who quilt end up donating quilts to causes they support because they love sewing quilts so much they just have to keep at it.

So let me ask you again, what do you do for the love of doing it?

They say if your job is something you “love”, then it’s not like “working”. Not sure I’m on board with that one or not. What do you think?

Well, I mentioned earlier in this post that I love to sew. I love to read. I love to crochet. I love to work in the yard and see blooms from my labor (and from my husband’s labor). I just love doing a lot of things for the love of doing it.

When it comes to our faith, what do we do for the love of Jesus? I love helping others. I love being an encourager. I love seeing the light of life in someone’s eyes when they accept Jesus as their Savior. I love studying the Bible. I’m sure you love all these things, to.

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’
— Matthew 25: 34-40 ESV

I think when we love Jesus, we want to do good for others. After all, serving others is serving Jesus. How excited are you (am I) to tell someone the wonderful things Jesus has done for you (for me) in comparison to our latest project that we have “loved” doing?

So tell me, what good shall you do this day? I’m going to find someone to encourage!