Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lift Jesus UP!

So many thoughts zooming around in my head tonight.  There is so much going on in the world and in our country right now that it would be easy to get into debates on here and at times I don't shy away from them.  I don't think it is wrong for a Christian to share their beliefs or thoughts on any moral issue and I support that 110% and often do it!!   BUT.... Jesus did say that when He was lifted up, He would draw all men unto Him.  Sometimes we just got to lift up Jesus!

Whatever happens in my personal life, God has been good to me.  I've certainly had my share of heartaches from childhood on but He has still been so good to me.  I can look back on my life after almost 50 years and see how God worked despite hardships, despite pain and despite what others might think. 

Having been given up by my birth parents to be raised by my great aunt, was a blessing although it came with its' share of issues.  My parents were a hot mess...  I'm so thankful that my aunt raised me but it was odd in a small southern town to not be in a "normal" family in the 70's and 80's.  Of course she was a "church lady" from her bun down to her pumps.  So that set me apart too.  AND we went to the local Pentecostal church, not a good ole Baptist church for us....no way!  LOL  Now I can look back with quite a bit of humor at some things I "endured". 

Through all that, God was with me.  He was preparing my heart in many ways and He was protecting me.  Often I wonder why my two brothers and sister were not afforded the same protection as I was and I don't have the answer to that. 

Many of my youngest memories were around church or church activities.  I "played" church with my dolls.  I was always the pastor's wife and I always sat on the "front pew" which was the edge of the bed or the top step.  I never got to see "The Wonderful World of Disney" but a couple of times in my life because we were not just at church on Sunday morning but Sunday night and Wednesday night too!  And in the summers, Thursday morning Ladies' Prayer Meeting!   Revival meetings were our "vacation" .  I can remember the first time I really felt God tugging at my heart, I was in elementary school and it was during a revival.  For those of you not raised in an Evangelical church, we often would "got to the altar" for prayer time.  Well the grown ups were praying around the altar and I began crying while sitting in a pew, the same pew I sat in for years, the 4th from the back on the left side of the church.  I'd never been "touched" before.....  Let me try and explain, it was like I was realizing God was real, not just a story or a sermon but a real God.  I felt overwhelmed by that knowledge. 

Even though I went through some slight rebellion, I never lost that knowledge.

Just in my growing up years, I can look now and see how God was involved.  It really amazes me to look back on the things that have happened to me. And when I look back, I have to look up and thank God!

There are so many things that happened to me that were hard to deal with, things I saw, people who let me down during those years but God gave me the grace to realize HE was more than a family, a friend, HE was more than the church people.....

I've mentioned before the church I grew up in was rather dysfunctional.....and that is putting it mildly!  Basically we had a pastor just about every year, one poor man didn't last four months and I don't blame him.  There was a lot of inner fighting and backbiting-made things interesting for sure but it wasn't the best thing for a young person to see.  Even with all the craziness, I knew God was so much more than people- I didn't look at the situation and think "there is no God" or "everyone is a bunch of hypercritics"   I was able to realize that God was above all of that mess. 

People always want to say bad things about "the church"  Well I figure ANY time you get a bunch of humans together....you have a MESS.  That can be true in a family, a business, a charity, a school ...whatever.....    I've seen plenty of nasty people in all kinds of places not just a church.  People want to conveniently say that so they feel absolved of any responsibility to be a part of a church.  I roll my eyes when I hear people sprout off things like that.

In life I've tried to learn EVEN from BAD examples!  So when I look back at the bad stuff, I make sure I don't do the same things I remember others doing.  My family was absolutely awful about not supporting the pastor or support staff  (with only a couple of exceptions- guys they loved)  So when I've been in a church, I've made it a point to support the pastor/staff to others so that I don't become like my family.   When we've gone through some rough spots in ministry, I always tell my husband that it's my family's "karma" catching up to me.  Just kidding -I don't believe in karma!

But God is good.  He walked with me, even when I didn't understand things completely. 

I've felt God's strength, I'm so thankful for His strength and joy.  He is true to His word, "He gives songs in the night"  Joy does come in the morning.  He is everything His word says He is!  I know-because I've seen it in my life!  God is not a liar.  HE is faithful and true.

When I look at some of the martyrs we are hearing about, like the students in Kenya  or the 21 Egyptian Christians killed because they were Christians, I pray that I'd have the same kind of faith as they have had.  I pray that I'd have the courage to confess Christ before others, even if it cost me my life. 

Looking back over my life, I am so thankful to God for His goodness, His faithfulness and His love.   I want to be more faithful to Him. 

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