What do you think, is there anything greater or more important in our Christian lives or to our testimony that o be faithful? And part of faithful is being consistent! Very important concept for believers. Wings of Eagles is 31 years old, one of the primary compliments we hear all the time is that they love us because we are consistent, they can count on us to “be there.” Whether it is our monthly mailing “Outcast” or the devotionals quarterly, notes, letters. What ever they ask of us they know they are going to get an answer. Believe me when I tell you that means the world to Sara and me. They recommend us to others in their prison and other prisons also, confident we will include them. Perhaps part of the reason is we are small and very “hands on,” something I’ve asked the Lord about over the years…why do we stay so small when the need is so great. I think the men themselves gave me the answer…consistent and faithful. I think doing a thing right has been with me most of my life…when I married, my husband was very much about consistency. In our business, he insisted on fairness and graciousness. To me, all these “heart'” qualities are part of being faithful. Of course faithfulness TO God and FOR God is even more important! Jesus said it best, “he who is faithful in what is least, will be faithful also in much,” Luke 16:10. We do lots of things “for the Lord.” But………..do we? Are we just doing busy work in His name or are we truly spending enough time with Him to hear His heart? Are you keeping yourself so busy, you can’t “hear” Him? That is a big part of faithfulness, spending quality time alone with Jesus. You cannot possibly know what He would have you do or the direction you should take if you do not give Him the quiet time alone to communicate. Another part of faithfulness is doing everything to the best of your ability. The Bible uses a funny word for lazy, “slothful”…Jesus had no kind words for laziness, but at the same time, He emphasized the fact that He is not a hard taskmaster…He will only ask of you what He will equip you to do, so laziness cannot be used as an excuse. The parable of the talents speaks well to this matter. QUALITY…the Master is interested in our very best, even to the point of giving us what we need to do the job. Our spiritual gifts are meant for this purpose also, they are part of our “enabling” from Him. I had a good friend, a CO at one of the prisons I volunteered in, who gave his life to the Lord as a young man, didn’t follow through and shortly after got the job at the prison, making really good money and that was it…put aside his commitment to the Lord. He led a miserable, single, lonely life and died very young. He knew he was wrong but could not bring himself to give up the job and money. This is a major part of faithfulness…doing what you promised the Lord you would do. My story along these lines concerns a time long ago, perhaps 1975, ill a I remember it, lying on the couch listening to the radio. A song came on, I think it was called ‘To Be Used of God” by MaryJane. I listened, and started to cry…I said to the Lord, I’m here, and I’m Yours. You can do what You want, I just want to serve You. Well, most of you know what happened…some 5-6 years later, after I had taken care of straightening out our business financial affairs, the Lord started to show me what He wanted me to do, a little at a time. And good thing too, since I would have been very frightened at first if I knew my ultimate destination…prison chaplaincy! But, being the Faithful, loving God He is, it took me through it slow and easy, taught me, trained me, gave me mentors in other Chaplains. He is a good and faithful Father. Please do not be afraid to do what He asks. It is a wonderful life, full of surprises. ups and downs, high places and valleys. But He is our constant companion and faithful Father…trust Him and GO!
Thursday, May 24, 2012
We all know what knowledge is, and generally speaking, we all promote it. We also know it comes with age, experience and teaching in various forms. What we don’t seem to get is that not all knowledge is good…not true, or wholesome, worth while, worth “keeping” in our brain/computer. Our public school system today is pretty much a horror if you look at it from a Christian, conservative, Biblical point of view. the idea of separation of church and state, which is a false statement, has run way with those that put it forth. The founders wanted us protected from the government to worship as we feel appropriate for us. After all that is why the original immigrants escaped from…religious persecution in Europe. So where long the way, the words were twisted to say “from” instead of “of”…big difference yes? But liberals do not get that distinction, or maybe do not want to. The incidences of religious persecution in our school systems is appalling, and it gets worse and worse. I fully understand what the Lord had to say about the last days, and finding faith. About it being like the days of Noah. I get that…but that does not mean I and hopefully you, do not have to lie down and let the atheists and agnostics run right over us. No, we are expected to voice our concern, be supportive to those who are fighting these things on our behalf and share truth where we can. Knowledge alone will not enable us to sort out these things, but wisdom will. How? Scripture says wisdom is a gift from God…it comes from reading His Words, applying them personally and living them out. This enables us to “know” God in a deeply, more intimate manner, understand Him a tad better and gain insight into HIS character. that way we will be able to compare our ideas with His Words and character. Knowledge may tell us one thing but when we apply wisdom from the Lord, we come to a different conclusion and decision. That’s why our public school system in general and higher education across the board tell falsehood or neglect to teach a subject altogether, such as American History, American exceptionalism, social studies, current events, etc. Many parents today are home schooling because of these things. But the powers that be are coming against that also. Bottom line…our young people are not being taught the things forr life they need! If they do not come from a good, Bible believing family and church, they will flounder. There is too much political correctness, instead of truth. Too many people,even Christians accusing those of us who endeavor to teach, admonish and correct with a loving attitude, of “judging.” the true meaning of judging in the passage in Matthew frequently used, is “do not condemn…” any reasonable person knows we make judgments all the time, every where we go or about everything we do, it is part of life. but, if we step on toes, we are accused of condemnation when the truth is, we are trying to get them to “think” about what they are doing or saying. We older folk are suppose to teach and share with the younger folk. However, they are in general, not interested in the the truth if it does not suit their views or lifestyle. They would rather remain “like the world.” Only wisdom from God Himself can enable us to see the truth and make the changes in their lifestyle that are needed.
Strictly in a Biblical sense, Knowledge is the ability to assimilate understand and learning. Wisdom is the God-given ability to apply that kind of knowledge to your life so as to become like Christ and take on His mind, and eventually be like Him in everyway. In my view, true and pure knowledge, wisdom and truth can only come from God. If we are not rightly related to Him, and spending lots of time with Him in prayer and meditating and pondering His Word, we will never be able to “get it.” Jesus Himself said in John 17 that God’s word is truth, and also, that His Father is the one true God! Not my words, God’s Words, read it for yourself in John 17. If you are a believer, ask God to give you His wisdom…James 1 tells us that if we ask, He will give to us liberally! So go get yourself some wisdom…God is faithful!
Friday, May 18, 2012
In my experience, most people including Christians think of meekness as being wimpy or a doormat…letting people push you around or ridicule you, even and sometimes especially when you are correct. It doesn’t have anything to do with backing down physically, but it is a matter of character and attitude. At times, the hardest thing to do is listen to someone berate or belittle you and remain composed and perhaps…silent. Because of my involvement with prisoners and former prisoners and family members, I been criticized, scorned, shunned, and never been able to garner much support for our work. I have stood, with my hands clasped behind my back and listened to some rant, usually groundless, and remain “meek.” I have to say to myself…the Lord Himself, “answered not a word,” when scorned. my exit line is generally, “thank you very much for sharing…” and walk away. I also have encouraged my men to do the same thing rather than get into a useless, baseless exchange of words. Nothing is sillier than carrying on a “discussion” with a know-it-all who doesn’t know anything. Jesus did exactly that and He is our example. We show meekness and gentleness when we have a patient and humble attitude toward others, especially those who look down their noses at us. The definition of meekness is to be pliant, gentle, patient, mild, not inclined to anger or resentment, humble. That is the very attitude of our Lord and we are to emulate it all the time. I think that may be what Paul meant when he said, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness…” 2 Cor 12:9. Further, realizing how difficult this quality, I think it must please the Lord a lot when we express to Him the desire to have this quality…and I am sure, He is glad to enable us to achieve it in our everyday lives. It is definitely a quality to desire and it is badly needed in the society we live in…the “every man for himself” culture of “me first.” To be like the Lord as much as possible is the highest to which we can aspire…so go for it!
Monday, May 14, 2012
Might be the most unpopular character quality in the list! NOBODY likes the idea of putting up with something unpleasant for an unspecified amount of time. We do not care to learn patience, I hear people saying, “don’t pray for patience, ‘cause you’ll get trouble.” Probably true, but the question is, how do we grow more like Christ and put away our poor-to-bad character qualities without circumstances designed by God to do away with them? I doubt we can…when everything goes well, we go along our merry way and give little thought to what we are portraying to the world around us. We are urged all through the Scripture to be different, not to reflect the things the world does that do not meet God’s standard. Sometimes, it becomes matter of choice, do we want growth and godliness in our lives, or not? And let me quickly add, no one is exempt…if you have responded to the Lord’s call to discipleship in the positive, we have signed on to His dealing with us to meet His standard, not ours. Patience plays a big part in this because it does not come naturally to us, being the impatient humans we are. As I understand it, longsuffering is patience carried to a greater degree than patience alone. Ask any woman who has lived with an unsaved husband (and vice-versa) for any length of time…THAT is longsuffering!!! Those little everyday annoyances, disputes, looks, digs, criticisms…test every bit of patience you may have. IF we can accept all these tests of our ability to be patient and suffer long, our character WILL be modified, exactly what God is driving at. Many times I have wondered why things happen the way they do, and why they last so long, and I admit God does not always tell us…He does sometimes, but not always, it’s His call. The object is refinement of our character and He will do that anyway He must. If we do not respond, we will stand still in our growth until we do! I cannot tell you how many inmates have told me that if God had not brought them to prison, they would have never come to know Him, and become the person they are becoming. Harsh things at times, but if we want to be all God wants us to be…critical. And…obviously He would do it an easier way if it would accomplish His goals in our lives. He is a wonderful, loving, patient and compassionate Father and will not cause/allow one minute’s pain unnecessarily…remember that!
The next quality is one that is considered to be out-of-date now, but I don’t think it is out-of-date with the Lord. You can let me know what you think, ok? The definition of virtue is this: general moral excellence, right thinking and action, merit, value and can be specific moral excellence. I like that, excellence at anything is terrific but in moral matters it is especially noteworthy. Why? Because we are living in a time period when morals mean next to nothing, god moral conduct makes you a nerd or worse. Sexual morality is definitely considered out of date and old fashioned. Immorality starts very young these days, ad young as 8 or 9 years of age. And being promiscuous is commonplace. Multiple partners are something to brag about which of course leads to the spread of sexual diseases, unwanted multiple pregnancies, abortions, baby murders and many other things I have not listed…yet. I personally believe this is one of satans most prized weapons! And why? because it strikes at the heart of one of God’s most prized institutions, the family. In my career teaching inmates, it took awhile for me to adjust to the very idea that many, even most of my men had multiple children by multiple women, and generally were not married to any of them. This was new to me when I started 35 years ago, and frankly, I was shocked at first. Then as I began to listen and think about their situations growing up I realized that’s all they knew. That’s what they saw around them plus in many cases there was incest in their homes and among their extended family and friends. So immoral behavior to them, was the norm. I guess the biggest shock came when I understood most of them were raised “in the church” and among others including the pastors who had no problem with immoral behavior. In some areas a man would have one woman, usually married her, who would bear his children and keep his home and others for “other” reasons. Shocked doesn’t really tell the story, but I knew I had to get help from the Lord for myself spiritually/emotionally to be able to deal with these unfamiliar traits. Without understanding from the Lord, as well as instruction I could not cope, let alone teach and counsel. Of course He was faithful, and showed me “the way” for which I will be eternally grateful. It is possible to move forward in an area where every fiber of your being cries…cries because it has become clear just how great God was/is to bring men like these, raised in such circumstances, to Himself and enable them to grasp at an older age what being moral is all about and why God values it so highly. Marriage vows come into play here also…one man, one woman, for life is what I always taught them, knowing most of them had already transgressed that one. And so would come about conversations concerning the why’s, what’s such as God’s forgiveness but at the same time expecting purity of living in the future. That one was difficult to swallow also. But, I recognized I am not God’s policewoman, my job is to tell, and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.
Proverbs 31 tells of the virtuous woman…and she is highly commended. A good concordance can lead you to many characteristics of virtue but let me stress to you that it is an extremely important character quality to God…it has so many outworkings, but I think one of the primary ones is godliness, holy living! An unknown quality today, and even in the church, it is misunderstood. We have gotten so far away from godly living we do not even recognize when we are transgressing the holiness of God. Language, drinking, disfiguring our bodies, allowing our children and young people to hang out with and date unsaved individuals, dressing inappropriately for a Christian…I could go on and on but I won’t, I think you get the picture. God wants us to be different…different from the world in all these areas. Our “different” may bring criticism to us but it will bring glory to God. Remember, He is a jealous God and wants you to be like HIm…”be holy, for I am holy…” Lev 20:7-8.