Tag Archives: Integrity

To The Care-Giver

16 Jan

This is an article I wrote several years ago. I was taking care of my Mother – my favorite person in the world. She had Alzheimer’s and I was doing all I could to keep her at home with me. I loved her with a love I can’t explain. I wanted so much to take care of her until her time came to leave this earth. Being a care-giver is the hardest thing I’ve had to endure in my lifetime.

My Mother was used by God on this earth to bless so many people – she was, and still is, my hero. She was the perfect example of what a disciple of Jesus should be. The love of God was with her every moment and drew everyone to her side. Taking care of her was the biggest gift God has given me.

As hard as the task was, God was with me every step of the way. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. I cherished the time we had together. The biggest blessing of all was that my Mother remembered me on the day she died. What a gift from God!

If you are a care-giver – please know that God knew you would be the one He could trust with the care of the one He loves so much. He sees all you have to endure – Lean heavily on Him. Don’t fret over any guilt about how you feel. Take good care of yourself and don’t let the enemy make accusations that take away your joy. This, too, shall pass, and, when it does, you have fulfilled the Scripture as follows:

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

NIV

 

 If all that a man has he will give for his life, he that gives this for his friend gives all, and can give no more; this may sometimes be our duty, 1 John 3:16.

(from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

 

I like what Matthew Henry’s Commentary has to say about these words that Jesus spoke in the book of John. Somehow it gives me great satisfaction to know that as I give my life to take care of my loved one, I give all that I am and can give no more. My own interpretation of this would be that God sees the sacrifices that I am making for my loved one and He knows I am doing my best. It also makes me feel better to know that it is okay if I am doing this as a duty and not because I think I am qualified or even good at it! This takes some of the pressure and guilt from me, since I don’t always perform my care-giving with the right attitude.

Some of the pressure I place on myself comes from my own idea that I should like what I am doing – but I don’t.  Most of the time, I feel angry that I have no choice.  Because this is one of those things I do as a duty and not necessarily because I want to, it doesn’t take away from what Jesus said in this Scripture from the Book of John. Duty is a good thing – it comes from internal integrity.

I am grateful that God’s Word ( John 15) it  doesn’t say I have to feel a certain way in order to demonstrate my love. It is the act of providing daily care for my loved one that God wants from me. I’m not saying that my attitude shouldn’t be right. I know it should. But, at least God knows my heart and He knows what a struggle this is. I have to seek God continually to help me correct my attitude as I am doing things I would rather not be doing.  This brings a greater peace to my heart and helps me feel less stressful.

As I write about my care-giving experience, I notice how many times I use the word “feel”. Truthfully, I’ve never been so aware of my feelings – possibly because I’ve never walked through such agonizing pain, or experienced such intense emotions.

As care-givers, we find ourselves so entangled with our loved one that we can’t deny the heaviness of it.  Therefore, we are forced to deal with our feelings and emotions. And there are soooo many!

President Reagan’s wife, Nancy,  put it this way,  “. . . it is like saying a long goodbye”.

The good news is that we will meet again in Heaven one day.

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Another Sinner – Used By God!

12 Jun

Lydia was a woman of substance. She grew up in paganism and became disillusioned with it. She wanted more. Lydia had something very special – an open heart. God had a plan for her life and saw to it that she was at the right place at the right time to receive Him into her life.

Scripture tells us that “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” We are all called, some just don’t answer.

Lydia loved her family. It has been determined that she was a widow. We pick up her story when she was away from home on a business trip. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatire, famous for its dyeing trade.

It is interesting to note that Lydia had not yet accepted Christ. She was not a child of God. Or, was she? We have the advantage of seeing Lydia’s story from start to finish, through God’s Holy Scripture. We read it in God’s Word, after the fact. God is omnipotent, He sees it before it happens! As a matter of fact, He orchestrates all of the events.

God is always in control. Sometimes, it doesn’t appear that way to us. Circumstances become overwhelming and we just can’t seem to get a handle on things. We do all we can. We take the steps we know to take. This is the point where Scripture tells us to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. We are told to rest in Him as we go about our daily routines.

It is too far out of reach for us to understand how God can orchestrate –arrange our lives – everyone – so that all things work together for everyone’s good. Just think about it. That is exactly what He does. Knowing this should help us to rest in Him, as we are told through the Scriptures. We don’t actually take that as a profound direction. But we should. This story of Lydia and Paul will help us understand a little about how God works all things together for good.

Paul was a mighty man of God by the time he met Lydia. He had been forbidden to preach in her hometown. Interestingly, God arranged for Lydia to be on a sales trip in the same city where Paul was ministering. Had she not been away from home she would never have been where God had arranged for her to meet Paul and be introduced to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

On that day, Lydia was at the gate on the Sabbath for her own purposes –to gather with her people to pray. Paul and Silas also journeyed to the gate on that Sabbath. Paul, Silas and Lydia were brought together by the providence of God. This is an example of how God’s plan is working together to bring about good. Paul was shut out of Bithynia and silenced in his journey through Mysia and was now in the same place as was Lydia!

In this case, all circumstances were changed in their lives. God brought them together, and Lydia was introduced to Jesus Christ and became the first European convert. God had prepared Lydia’s heart and opened it to hear and receive Paul’s words.

Why is this story important enough to be in the Bible? Lydia is only mentioned briefly in the Scripture. She was enough of an example for us that she was mentioned by name that we might follow her example.

Meditation upon God’s word is important. If we read through it quickly without understanding, we can miss valuable insights that God has for us. As God gives us revelation to these insights our faith is increased, our trust in God becomes stronger, and we learn more of how to walk in peace and not to fear our future. God is always in control.

God brought His mighty Apostle, Paul, together with this widow proselyte by rearranging both their circumstances. As soon as Lydia heard Paul’s message and believed in Jesus, her heart was at rest. Her destiny had been changed for eternity!

Lydia immediately, with her family, took a stand for Jesus. Her heart was full of excitement and gratitude. She wanted to give back. It did not take weeks or months, it was immediate. The joy of the Lord was now in her heart. Her life had been changed forever. It now had meaning and purpose. Some people never apply the truth they hear. They are hearers only, not doers. Some think what they hear is for others and not for themselves.

Lydia wanted to show her gratitude and invited God’s servants to her home to abide there. God knew Lydia would respond and step forward to provide what his servants needed. Once again, we see God providing for His own.

It is said that actions speak louder than words. Although there aren’t many verses of Scripture in the Bible about Lydia we can learn many things from her example. In fact, Lydia sets an example for all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.

Amazing is the fact that one individual made such an impact that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Acts to tell her story. Of major significance here are the actions of Lydia upon her conversion. We get a glimpse of how we are to behave in the world around us to show our love for God in our actions. We don’t have to be someone special. Like Lydia, God can use as in a mighty way even if we are a salesman.

There are many people today who only learn about Jesus through our actions. We are not always free to discuss our beliefs with those we love or those we see on a regular basis. When we do try to “preach” at someone and they are not receptive, we are then scrutinized with our every move, and especially every mistake or failure. This indicates clearly that our actions have made more of an impression than our words.

Additionally, we need to realize that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts – not an individual. It is not our words, or our prayers – really, it’s not even our actions that change a person’s heart. It’s the Holy Spirit of God who tells us in his Word that He knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s womb. Still, our actions as we listen and obey God, following His lead, show the world there is something different about born again believers. Even we, as believers, recognize other believers by their actions, as well as their words.

Continued Tomorrow. . .

God Knows Where You Are Going . . . Even If You Don’t!

29 May

We continue with the story of Ruth and Naomi.

What a testimony of Ruth’s dedication and selflessness. How difficult it must have been for her. She was already grieving the loss of her husband. She knew she would never see her country or her family again. It’s hard to even imagine. God is working behind the scene – He has a plan. The outcome was not known to Ruth or to us in our lives, but it is known by God–planned by Him! Wow!

At this point we really begin to see who Ruth is – who God made her to be. She probably didn’t even know herself until she was tested and tried. That’s God for you!

A major part of what Ruth was dedicating herself to was the care of her mother-in-law. That in itself was a really big challenge. These women had nothing. At one time in her life, Naomi was well known, her husband owned land but He mortgaged it all to move his family to Moab. Naomi and Ruth were returning to Bethlehem with no idea of where they would live or how they would provide for themselves. It must have also been difficult for Naomi, knowing she would have to face all her friends and family. She was now ashamed of her life so much so that she wanted to change her name.

Ruth was up to the challenge. Her heart and soul were now rich with integrity and morality. She was full of compassion. She had a sense of duty and responsibility beyond measure. Ruth did not let the pain in her heart cheat her. She refused to give a prominent place to it. Ruth did not bask in her grievous situation. She did not give in to the things in her life that could have claimed her and doomed her to a life of condemnation. Neither did Ruth feel that she had been treated unfairly or concern herself just with her own needs. She placed the needs of Naomi above her own. Ruth tamed her own emotions and stepped up to the challenge that providence had awarded her.

There is nothing written to even suggest that Ruth felt sorry for herself or asked anything for herself. Her focus was on the protection and care of Naomi, her husband’s mother. How proud he would have been of his wife, knowing his mother was completely alone, in a foreign country and had no one else to care for her.

Ruth’s future at this stage of her life was completely unknown an unpredictable. She did not allow her losses to ruin her life or set her back. Little did she know what a great future God had planned for her!

When Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem it was just in time for barley harvest. Naomi was well known there. Her return stirred everyone. They could not believe the change that had occurred in her life. They also saw how dedicated Ruth was to Naomi and how yielded Ruth was in her submissiveness to Naomi, putting her well being above all else. Ruth humbled herself. She was willing to work as a servant to provide for Naomi. She did not think herself too good to work hard.

The entire city knew Ruth was a virtuous woman. Constant! That is the word used to describe Ruth. A powerful word! A powerful personality trait! Not wavering – not confused – unwavering, unwilling to give in to her grief, the pain the hardship and the responsibilities that had beset her. In a word, Ruth refused to give in to the many hardships that were trying to rob her of all the good that she had become accustomed to.

To Be Continued . . . .

Be A Gimper for God

21 Jan

According to Denton Bible Church Minister, Tom Nelson, and Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez, “Dr. Richard Seume, a one time chaplain of Dallas Seminary coined the term, “Gimper.” A Gimper was a Christian who was not content with mediocrity or status quo. He was one who went above and beyond. The impassioned man. The excellent committed man. The man of the minority.” After reading The Prayer of Jabez I knew I wanted to live my life being a “gimper for God.”

Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t just do what it takes to “get by”. I work each day alone – no one is here to see what I do, or how long it takes, (I have an alterations business – http://www.threadsinliberty.com.) God sees me and what I do! What I consider most important is whether or not I am pleasing Him.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am straightforward. But, being straightforward doesn’t mean you have to be rude or unkind. I want everyone to like me and I want them pleased with my work. But more than that I want God to be pleased with me. I see myself as working for Him. He has given me a heart to help others. It gives me great pleasure to help other people. He has also instilled in me how important it is to be a gimper – “doing a little more than is required or expected”. God sees our hearts as we work and interact with people. We can’t outgive Him. Those things we do for Him in private, He will reward in the open. If I go the extra mile for someone I see it as an offering to God. Don’t get me wrong, my motives are pure. God has done so much for me that I want to give all I can back to Him.

Take the road less traveled – be a gimper for God!

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