Another Day in the Life………..

Here is another check up on the Buckland journey. We are currently parked in Troy, Michigan and we will be in the Michigan district for 2 weeks before we head to Indiana. Our schedule will be somewhat crazy while here. Unfortunately, my husbands grandfather, a Pastor in the Chicago area, passed away from a long battle with cancer yesterday. Due to this, we will be headed to Chicago at some point in the very near future for the funeral and to be with family. Keep all of the Buckland’s in your prayers. We pulled out of Ohio yesterday and we will not be back for a very long time. We are headed to infinity and beyond for now.

Our life has been an insane roller coaster these past couple of days. All of the men in my home have been passing each other some sort of illness. It began with the midnight vomiting adventure that Reese started on Tuesday night. He had 2 colossal throwing up occurrences. While this is somewhat normal for moms of small children, most women have access to a washing machine. I had to strip Reese’s bed and clothes TWICE and give him a bath TWICE in the middle of the night. I hadn’t even gone to bed yet. Jonathan was outside with a super powered garden hose to rinse off all the residue and I proceeded to wash pillows, bedding, and clothes in my bath tub. I didn’t realize how powerful the spin cycle in a washer was until I tried to ring out all the excess water myself with heavy pillows and blankets.

Wednesday night, after church, poor Reese was hit again. This time with diarrhea. This occurred in the church building, in his church pants, and proceeded unto one of the church’s benches. The pastors wife went to a neighboring house to get him some clean clothes. Wow, how embarrassing!

To make matters worse, last night both Jonathan and Gentry began some throwing up episodes. I am moments away from going to the laundry mat. I learned from the first night that I can’t realistically wash heavy clothes in the bath tub. I cleaned them to the best of my ability so that they won’t stink forever.

Hopefully, this blog wasn’t too graphic or disgusting. I also don’t want it to be embarrassing for my family. However, to fully understand the truth of my life, you must know!! In the midst of all this, Grandfather Hilderbrand passed away, and we blew a fuse in our trailer. One thing I have learned in the midst of this all is that I am still blessed far and above a majority of people. I have determined that I will give thanks daily for living in a travel trailer. 32 feet of space with 2 small children and a husband is a blessing far and above what many people have. I still have heat, air conditioning, running water, a roof, and a toilet. Nothing spells christian like someone that can wash vomit out of sheets by hand at 2am and still be thankful =)

How was I born?

How was I born? If a child asks this question, then parents may pause, turn red, and rack their brains on how to answer it. Did the child simply want to know where he came from? Does he want to know how he got there? Does he just want to know how babies go from big bellied mothers into their loving arms? I know that when Gentry was born, Reese didn’t want a full explanation on the facts of life, he just wanted me to repeatedly tell him that Gentry came from my belly and that the Doctor took him out when I was in the hospital. We all know that babies are not literally in your belly, rather in the womb, and that doctors don’t just reach in and get the baby out and everyone smiles and it is all nice, but a (at the time) 2 year old doesn’t require a full scientific study complete with anatomically correct diagrams. Reese didn’t care how Gentry got in my belly; he just said that Jesus put him there. We know that in part, that is true. A baby is a miracle from heaven.
Beyond the act of conception and birth, the question of birth has been a huge debate in the media recently and has been for a while. The debate has been raging as to whether or not people are born “gay”, born “alcoholics”, and more recently, as to whether or not people are born with a “cheating” gene. I recently saw a news review stating that scientists are telling us that monogamy is not possible for some people; they are just wired to cheat. Tyra Banks, a talk show host, recently wanted to test relationships for potential cheating and whether they will go the distance. Couples went on the show citing that when they got married, they actually reduced the amount of quality time they had together, arguments began, and issues like washing dishes, crumbs on the floor, and making the bed became make or break sources of contention in the relationship. In the “infinite wisdom” of television and talk show hostdom, Tyra gave these couples 24 hours off of their commitments and sent them out on dates with other people to see if they had feelings for others and if they remained faithful. The audience, Tyra, and the wife were just so shocked to see that in the video that followed the husband, he kissed the other girl he was on a date with and was making sexual advances towards her. What kind of world are we living in? If these people really were concerned with their relationship and testing its longevity, the absolute last thing you would want to do is take 24 hours off and date other people. In marriage, life is just life sometimes. Sparks don’t fly 24/7. There are poopy diapers to change, dishes to wash, and beds to be made. How you divvy up this responsibility is up to you. The Bible doesn’t list for us the specifics in roles of husband and wife. People traditionally think that the Bible backs up their idea that men work outside and women do 100 % of the child rearing and household chores. I don’t find where the Bible is so specific about this. The Virtuous woman in proverbs took care of her family and took care of household responsibilities, but she also worked with her hands and was business savvy. The Bible speaks of her buying a field, planting vineyards, and considering whether merchandise is good or not. It sounds as if her husband and children trusted and honored her because she gave her all to everything that she did and did it all with excellence. She and her husband had boundaries worked out and divided marital responsibilities to where it pleased them both. Being business savvy as a woman and knowing how to help provide for your family is a very Godly thing. This being said, when marital problems arise, you need to go back to the drawing board and consider what the values and goals of your marriage are. The answer is not to seek solace in the arms of another. The answer is not that my “cheating gene” got in the way.
In our society people want to make excuses for every type of sinful behavior. We just simply say, “We are born that way.” Many Christians deny this fact. We want to say that homosexuality, alcoholism, and adultery are a choice. While this is true, I want to play devil’s advocate and state that I agree with society. I believe that we can be born with a propensity towards lust, greed, drugs, alcohol, and violence. I do agree that some people fight with homosexuality and some don’t. You are either born with this leaning, or you had a home environment that pushed you that way. I am not by any means condoning sin; I am just setting a stage for Christians to learn how to deal with people better than we have in the past. Don’t write people off and be rude, mean, and unaccepting of them if they battle lust, adultery, homosexuality, anger, and other types of outward sins. We need to accept people where they are at, get to know them, and invite them on the Christian journey with us. God loves everybody. If we spew hate and unacceptance from our pulpits and congregations, we will never be a light to our community.
This is not to say that these issues are not sinful. They are. However, why should we treat an unsaved adulterer any differently than we treat an unsaved homosexual. It is almost as if we have categorized sin, especially sexual sin. We were all born into sin. The sins that we deal with may be different person to person though. You may struggle with covetousness and materialism but feel justified because it may not be as obvious as the sin that the alcoholic struggles with. Our brains and genetics are wired towards sinful behavior and activities. I don’t think that too many people would choose to be homosexual or choose to be alcoholics if they were given the choice and knew the end result of their behaviors.
Here is proof that we are born with “genetic mutations”.
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.KJV
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. KJV
Gal 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. KJV
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. KJV
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.KJV
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. KJV
1 Cor 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. NASU
We all have the ability to commit sin. The Bible talks about not judging because we could also fall into temptation. With this in mind, we need to treat all people the same and treat them with a spirit of love and acceptance. It is not in our power to change people or to free them from the sin of their choice. Our job is to lead them to Christ and give them the opportunity to be born again. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus, the same is true for the 21st century church. We need to lead people to a new birth of both water and spirit. The spirit has given us the power to overcome. We have the power to become whatever we want in Christ. The power of the Holy Ghost gives us ability to not just witness and feel good about ourselves, but the power to overcome any sin that we have in our lives. We have the strength to turn our back on whatever “genetic mutation” that we were given in our fleshly birth.
The good news about this is that we can be born again!! The birth from our mothers brings us into this world and exposes our flesh, but the birth through our heavenly father is with incorruptible seed!! We are born again and have newness of life. All can drink from the water of life. It flows freely to everyone. It is not just for people who live good, moral, clean lives before they come to Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit working in us is not to reform us, but to transform us. All of us have the ability to do a 180 degree turn in our lives. We just need a spiritual birth. We need to die out to our flesh and our natural instincts. This doesn’t happen in one “come to Jesus” moment, but Paul instructed us to die daily.

Finally Here

Hello to one and all. I have not fallen off the face of the earth, just off the face of cyberspace. We were having Internet issues and had to return our USB Internet which allows us access to the Internet anywhere while on the road, even places where there is no wireless Internet, and wait for our new one. Once that happened, I have only had brief glimpses of time to check my E-mail.

We are currently in the good ol‘ Buckeye state on deputation. We are parked in Rittman, Ohio and will be headed to the Columbus and Cincinnati areas for the next two weeks. After that we are in Wolverine country. My only hope is that I have enough OSU clothes for my boys to wear everyday while in Michigan=)

Gentry is so adorable. While we celebrate and remember a horrible day in our nations history today, September 11, Gentry marks the 9 month milestone in his life. He is hilarious. What 9 month old do you know that says “Amen” and “Thank You”. I think we have him in church too often. He raises his little hands up and shouts out Amen quite frequently. Even a photographer at JcPenney portrait studio commented on Gentry’s verbal abilities. She gave me quite the compliment though and said that he must be from a very polite family to already be able to say “Thank You” at 9 months old.

We were in the Cleveland area the first couple of days this week. What a joy to be able to spend time in the city that God has called us too. While there, we made several contacts and really enjoyed the friendliness of all the citizens. I had to chuckle to myself while thinking of the book “How to win friends and influence people”. I know that every moment and second of every day in Cleveland will be a strategic time for me to pour of myself into some body’s life, build relationships, and hopefully lead them to a full walk in Christ. I was teasing my husband on my friend building and witnessing techniques and thought I would share them with you.

Technique #5:
Rear end somebody with your car. This will force you to have common ground to discuss and build a relationship where one might not have existed before. Think of all the contacts you can get with this technique. You can meet the driver and passengers of the car, the police officers, the insurance adjusters, rental car personnel, and body shop technicians.

Technique #4:
Plant a small insect into your food at a neighborhood diner. This technique will draw attention to your table and cause numerous customers to comment on your situation. Again, this creates common ground and an open door for communication. You can befriend the waiter, the customers, the health inspector, and possibly even a lawyer.

Technique #3:
Acquire Parking Tickets. This technique we actually tried while in North Olmsted unfortunately. We were not strategic in using this idea because my mother, a current resident of North Olmsted/ Cleveland, assured us that parking on the street was perfectly legal and we wouldn’t get a ticket. We came out the next morning and had to flush $15 down the toilet. Oh well, at least it is $15 invested into the community of our calling. After this, we were able to meet several people at the police station and the idea of parking illegally became a soul winning technique.

Technique #2:
Grow really long hair, a shaggy beard, wear no shoes, yell things at people, and eat locust. So many churches are invested into old fashioned, traditional techniques that have little bearing on 21st century people that I thought why not go really old fashioned? Adopt the John the Baptist lifestyle and surely you will win friends, be offered jobs, and lead folks to Christ.

Technique #1:
Unleash the power of Reese. Reese has the uncanny ability to meet everyone at every place that we go to. Reese’s very presence somewhere goes noticed by everyone. I theorize that if I completely stop disciplining him and let him do whatever he wants and be left to his own devices I would open many doors for our family. We may come into contact eventually with planned parenthood, juvenile services, local psychiatrists, the school principals, and possibly through those contacts grow our church.

Disclaimer: These techniques are for joking purposes only. Any attempts to use them in church growth planning, job hunting, or friend winning can and will be used against you in a court of law.

The role of a Parent

With all of the recent press on Sarah Palin, the republican Vice Presidential Candidate for office, it has come to the attention of the media and the American public to judge the parenting skills and marriage of this Alaskan Governor. With 5 children ranging in age from around 20 to newborn, obviously the Palin’s have a lot on their plate. Those of us with children understand that you can’t control every decision and choice that your children make. My oldest is 3 years old and already, for quite some time, he has asserted his own free will and ability to make decisions and choices. Even with consistent discipline and daily prayer, Reese has to make the correct choices for himself. Believe me if I had the power to choose between loud, rambunctious behavior and quite obedience, I would choose the latter. However, no parent has that option. Not even God, our heavenly father made us to be robots in response to His will and desires. Governor Palin has been facing scrutiny over her down syndrome infant and her pregnant, unwed daughter. My question is why are we focusing so strongly on her family issues when I am sure that hundreds of male presidential candidates and politicians have children that have made incorrect decisions? I’m assuming that the American people aren’t as ready for a female executive as they think they are. Although, a female perspective is probably what this country needs.

The role of a parent is to lead, guide, instruct, love, rebuke, accept, and pray for your children. Whether the parent is a mother or a father, the role is huge and is the most important role that a human being can fill if they choose to have children. Just like the Bible speaks of nothing gained if you have the whole world and lose your own soul, a life well lived only truly matters if your own children are prepared for heaven. In spite of this major life truth, there comes a time when every person chooses their own way and you can’t force someone to make the correct choice.

Parents, recognize the importance of time spent together as a family and understand that it doesn’t matter if you are the father or the mother. No one role is more important than the other. A child ideally needs both parents to experience the full understanding of who God is in their life. The Bible says that God created man in his own image and in His image he created male and female. Both males and females display the attributes of God and children need to see that as well.

As the World Turns

Last night was confirmation to me that the world continues to turn, things continue to succeed, and life goes on without me. Of course I knew this to be true already and have continued to grow and change myself. I am entering a new season of ministry and anointing in my life that I feel to be a direct result of following the call and am experiencing new levels in my personal and spiritual life that I never would have been blessed with if I had become complacent.

We returned to New Life Church in Marietta, Ohio last night as “guest” speakers. How strange it is to be a guest in your own home. I grew up in Marietta and have been part of New Life Church since my birth. I continue to be part of New Life from a distance and have a definite interest in its success and growth. This blog is not really insightful or humorous, just more reflective of a life well lived and an era of new beginnings. Having been a bittersweet week for me, I enjoyed rekindling old friendships and seeing familiar faces in my home last night. This week marks the anniversary of my fathers death and the passing of another one of his birthday’s without his presence on this earth. Because of this fact, visiting my “home” church was especially interesting for me last night. The years that I didn’t live in Marietta in the past, coming home was natural. My dad was the pastor of the church and I was able to visit my parents. Now, I no longer have any blood relatives in Marietta, Ohio, however, the family ties that I have here go deeper than blood. I am thrilled to see the great things that God is doing in Marietta and at New Life and look forward to hearing the great reports. I can be happy with the fact that I know that through the work, pastoral dedication, and sacrifice of my parents and our work and organization as the pastors there, a foundation and structure exists in the hearts and lives of souls in the mid-Ohio valley and seeds have been planted in other lives that will germinate and grow. The law of the harvest is that some plant, some water, but it is God that brings the increase. No human structure or person can do what only God can do.

As God continues to perform miracles in our lives and blesses our church plant in Cleveland, Ohio, it is a success story that those at New Life can rejoice in. God called us and sent us and it is exciting to do his bidding. It is just too bad that the house we lived in in Marietta is no longer saved. The new owners are flying a Purdue flag and we all know you have to be a Buckeye’s fan to go to heaven=)

Politics and the Church

With all eyes on the Democrat National Convention this week in Denver and the impending Vice Presidential selection announcement from John McCain, I have been thinking a lot this week about politics and the church. Unlike other Christian writers and commentators, I have not been thinking about politics in terms of who I feel is right or wrong for a christian to vote for, but rather about the lessons that politics can teach the American church about what Americans are desiring and striving for. Whether or not you feel that the church is an appropriate platform to voice political views and endorse candidates, we are all affected by the countries choice of leadership. In a monumental race where history has been made with both an African-American presidential nominee for a major party and a woman almost being nominated, I feel that it is time for the church to take a serious look at the platforms of both political parties and what it can teach us about making our churches a place with a message that will attract the American people. Regardless of which side of politics that you stand on, the speeches and strategy employed by both parties can teach us all a lesson.

Just a few nights ago, Michelle Obama gave a speech highlighting her role as mother, wife, and advocate. It seems that in both parties political strategies, family values and perceived family strength is a huge factor that Americans are looking for. Even political families that have been torn apart by infidelity and scandal continue the public image of strength and unity. Women stand beside their politician husbands that have been caught in prostitution scandal, affairs, and philandering. In the real world, many women would not publicly go to support a husband caught purchasing prostitutes. However, in the political world, we have an image to live up to in the American dream. People desire a strong family bond in the 21st century. It is still the ideal for children to live in a home with both a father and a mother. Regardless of which side that you stand on, both republicans and democrats agree in speeches that being a devoted parent and partner is realizing the American dream. The church should create a place where families can be strengthened, taught, supported, and ministered too. If both major political parties feel that it is necessary to at least attempt to have an image of the strong family unit, it must be a pretty important political strategy. How much more should the church strategize to not only have the image of strong families, but be the place where families grow together, stay together, pray together, and reach out to our communities together? The church should be the place where we not only have the image of strong families, but where faithful, devoted families actually exist.

Another monstrous political platform is the economy. Again, it doesn’t matter what side of the political coin you are on, a strong or struggling economy affects us all. while we have different views on how to strengthen the economy either through big government, tax cuts, tax hikes, or smaller government, every American desires for this country to be prosperous and for children to have the opportunity for education and success. The Bible has a lot to say on economics. The church should be a place where God’s economic laws are taught and where the principals of stewardship are preached on and practiced. If every person in America is concerned with the price of gas, the price of food, and the employment rate, shouldn’t the church be a place where people can find answers to these dilemmas? Churches shouldn’t be afraid to talk about finances and the economy. The Bible speaks numerous times on money and how it should be handled.

And finally with all of the different things that this presidential election is riding on, global warming seems to be a huge issue. People are pushing for a “green” nation and a “green” economy. Whether you believe in global warming to the degree that it is being pushed on us or not, God commissioned humanity to take care of the earth, the animals, and the environment. When God gave humans dominion over the earth in the garden of Eden it was with the stipulation that we would care for the earth. Churches ought to be the leaders in community service activities that promote recycling, caring for the environment, and seeking new ways to be energy efficient. Not only would churches saving money on their utility bills if they watch their electricity usage and take small steps to preserve the environment, but they would become stand outs in the community.

Everyone desires to be part of a system that cares for family, finances, and the earth. These are the reasons that people come out in droves to support their candidate of choice. Even though churches are not political vehicles, we can learn a lot about the aspirations of our local citizens and the dreams of people through political strategy. Don’t cater to every “wind of doctrine” or new political view that comes around and root your church in Biblical teachings and principals. However, don’t get so “spiritual” that you fail to meet people where they are. The Bible says to be all things to all men.

Lessons Learned from the Laundromat

As a new inductee into the laundromat “hall of shame”, I have spent many hot, boring hours making observations about the people that use laundromats and how they interact. Since I do have a degree in psychology and love to “people watch”, the potential drudgery that is a coin operated washing machine has turned into somewhat of a social experiment for me. Here is a very non spiritual blog about human nature.
Lesson #1: People do not know how to handle money……….
I already knew this lesson based on the current state of our economy, the high bankruptcy rate, and the excessive credit card debts that Americans have. However, my lack of faith in peoples ability to budget correctly has been confirmed. Unless a laundromat is a necessity (i.e. you live in a tiny little space with 4 people and it is impossible to have a washer and dryer, you live in a college dorm, you have items too big or too numerous to wash at home, or you are temporarily in hock with a broken appliance), laundromats save you absolutely no money whatsoever. It typically costs us around$20 every time we go to a laundromat to wash and dry our clothes. Maybe it would save you some money if you were a single person, but I figured even if you didn’t have the straight up cash to purchase the washer and dryer, most appliance stores and furniture stores have 90 plus days same as cash and other payment plans. Even if you only went to a laundromat twice a month at $20 a pop, you could put $40 a month into a payment for a washer and dryer. Sam’s Club has a good quality washer and dryer for $300 each. It would take you 15 months at $40 a month to pay both a washer and dryer off if all the money you had was your laundromat money. This saves you bunches of money considering the life of your machinery is at least 10 years and 10 years in a laundromat at $40 a month would cost you $4,800. Also, it is not economical to spend $2 on a tiny one time use box of off brand detergent. Buy your detergent at Wal-Mart and bring it with you.
Lesson #2: People would prefer to pretend like they are blind rather than acknowledge that other people exist
A majority of the people that visit the laundromats that I have frequented must have an extreme fear of others because they literally won’t even look at you. Is it any wonder that so many Americans are on Prozac? People might possibly be happier if they acknowledged other humans and had interactions that brought them out of their comfort zone. I have had very few things said to me in the laundromats that I have a visited with the exception of one warning from an employee that it was too late for someone like me to be out walking the streets with laundry. Hey, at least one person cared. For the most part though, people live their lives full of complete indifference and mysterious unconcern.
Lesson#3: People are embarrassed of underwear
Shockingly enough, in a world of thongs and butt cracks hanging out of low riders, people at laundromats do their best to hide their underwear when putting them in the washer, transferring to the dryer, and folding. I find this quite interesting considering the fact that people have no modesty of shame in most public places. I daily see breasts, butt cheeks, and thighs that I have no desire to look at because people wear clothes that don’t fit. But for some reason, people would rather die than have their tightey whiteys exposed at a laundromat.
Lesson #4:Cleanliness is not a Virtue
Believe it or not, in a place where you are trying to get all of your stuff clean and rid your life of stains, dirt, and baby poop smears, cleanliness has little or no value. I would think of a laundromat as sort of a temple to worship the soap God. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is very scary to imagine the sorts of creatures and fuzz that live in the washers and dryers of a public laundry facility. I deeply inspect every machine before I let it touch my clothes. Beyond that though, the floors are sticky and filthy and you better not even walk near the bathroom. You may be accosted by a sea monster or some other species that lurks in the sink and toilet. Definitely don’t wear the same shoes in your house that you wore in the laundromat. I have encountered every type of sticky goo plastered on the laundromat floors, stools, benches, and tables.
Lesson #5: Capitalism is King
There is power in the concept of capitalism. As enticing as it sounds to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for equal financial status, the laundromat has shown me that competition and supply/demand still work as a basis for financial growth. The amount of money I have spent at any given laundromat has varied considerably from the North East to the Mid-West. The towns with only one laundromat cost excessively more than the towns where free enterprise reign. If you offer a good product and a good price, they will come. We don’t need too many regulations on that, we just need entrepreneurs to stir the American spirit. I have used the same machine in two different places and in one place it cost 8 quarters to run and in another place the identical machine was 15 quarters. While this would make some people upset, it only serves to remind me of the freedoms that we have as Americans to succeed or be duped. It is up to you which end you sit on.
Lesson Learned: It is amazing what sitting and watching clothes spin around will due to your psyche. Go outside more often =)

Update on our Life

This is just a check in for those that really don’t want a daily dose of Jessica’s spiritual ramblings but just want to keep up on us. We are currently in the West Virginia district and will be leaving here for the good old Buckeye State. The sad thing is that we may not be back in Ohio and this area for a significant amount of time once we are done with our deputation travels here. Gentry is clapping his hands, saying Dada 5 million times a day, blowing raspberries, and just generally being all around adorable. Reese is, as always, rambunctious and intelligent. He keeps us all in line and entertains Gentry. I will hopefully be posting more pictures of our family and our travels at our website sometime in the near future. I’ve got lots of them but it takes forever to upload them if I don’t have them put on a disk. We will do that soon, hopefully.

We finally have this trucking thing down and we have learned to live with all of our new found friends, the RV insects. Although we have sprayed continuously for ants and other various bugs, it is apparent that since we are basically living in a box, we are a haven and easy port for Gods most glorious of creatures =) I woke up with a kiss the other day and it wasn’t my husband. It was my new man, the lightening bug. Of course all of our misadventures will probably not be over until we finally sell the 5th wheel and get a normal house. Until then, I’ll enjoy the laughs as they come and not worry about things out of my control.

Can you rely on God too much? Is religion really a crutch?

After a conversation with somebody today that professes to be a Christian about politics, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that we rely on God too much. We are always taught to bring every little thing to God, his eye is on the sparrow and we know that he watches us, and that he knows every need before we ask. While not disputing these Biblical truths, I do have to make the statement that religion can be a crutch to many people. A crutch is simply a device used to uplift people in times of brokenness and weakness. If you sprain your ankle and it is weak, you turn to a crutch to aid you in your mobility. Oftentimes though, you can get used to walking on this crutch and you no longer desire to walk on your own.
God gave everyone of us gifts to use in his kingdom and a mind to use in our own everyday choices and decisions. This person I was talking to about politics stated that she isn’t going to vote but she is really praying for the hand of God in the election. Is it fair to rely on God to pick the right president when we aren’t even willing to put legs to our prayer and do our part to vote? Is it fair to blame God when we pray about things and then do nothing to help bring our prayers into fruition? For example, can we complain to God about our financial situation if we aren’t willing to get a job, transfer jobs, or budget?
The book of Philippians talks about being anxious for nothing but to let our requests be made known unto God with prayer and supplication. Just a little bit down in the same chapter it talks about being content in whatsoever state that we are in. Whether we want or are full, we are to be content. With this thought in mind, is it fair for me to use the church and the mysterious “will of God” as an excuse to not succeed? Could I just be saying that something is or isn’t the will of God to fit into my own personal paradigm? Is this just an excuse for me to have to do nothing to help myself? I can pray every day to lose weight and then consume 2 gallons of ice cream on top of my prayer. I can pray for health and well being and then refuse to receive preventative care at the Doctor and follow basic medical laws.
The goodness and mercy of God is not an excuse or a crutch for Christians. If anything, it should be the reason that we desire to better ourselves. We should desire education, greatness, and success. This all brings glory to God. God doesn’t desire for his people to walk with a spiritual limp and a God crutch under their arm. God also wants his people to rely on him, call on him, and seek him for things that require a God intervention. If God has already given you the tools to accomplish a task, do it and do it well. Don’t wait for God to provide the miraculous for a situation that you can do on your own.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”

Find something to do with your life. Do seek God in decisions, but search for things on your own. This passage of scripture speaks of hard work and diligence. Of course earthly pursuits are secondary to the work of God and will of God, but they are still something that are required to survive in the 21st century. Ruth chapter 2 talks about God rewarding your work and making your wages full. God will help those that help themselves.

Make it Hurt So Good

At some point in the 1980’s John Mellencamp sang a song entitled “Hurt so good”. I’ve often thought that this is one of those pointless, bizarre songs that echos in our heads because we hear it playing on Muzak and in elevators. Strangely enough, today I was contemplating the spiritual connotations of this song. I have read the lyrics to it and frankly have no idea as to what the song is about. I’m assuming it is about the pangs of sorrow that we have all felt in a love relationship but that love is worth taking the risk,however to the pure all things are pure and maybe it means something entirely different.I began to think about how in our lives we do absolutely everything that we can to avoid pain. There are prevention groups and clubs for every ailment and mental disease. I had a full time job as a “prevention specialist” and many others in the medical and mental health field hold this same title. Are we trying so hard to put ourselves into a bubble that we are missing out on valuable life experiences. Studies are now showing that our excessive use of anti-bacterial hand gel to prevent disease and infection has done nothing but breed strands of super bacterias that we have no anti-biotics to treat.

Eventually we are all faced with situations in life that we would much rather avoid. Jesus Christ prayed for the cup to pass from him as the time was coming for him to die on the cross. However, just a few short scriptures later we find, “And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not.”— Mark 15:23 Jesus chose to not have anything to block the pain and suffering of the sins of the world that he felt via the nails in his hands in feet. He chose to feel every ounce of the misery and grief from both the physical pain and the emotional/spiritual pain of bearing our burdens.

This train of thought has inspired me to challenge everyone to not live in a bubble. Don’t try to prevent all suffering in your life. Get your hands dirty by helping the hopeless and getting involved in someones life. It is true that the people that disappoint and hurt you the most are the ones that you have poured excessive time into, but you can’t let that stop you from affecting your world. Also, instead of always praying for God to intervene on every situation according to your choosing, learn to truly say from the bottom of your heart and mean it, “Thy will be done Lord”. Jesus put away the thoughts of comfort and thoughts of himself for the will of God to be accomplished. What would happen if we all did the same? Remember, “sometimes love doesn’t feel like it should.”

Musings about mind, body, and spirit

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