Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't Be Blue

The blessing of the LORD makes one rich,
and He adds no sorrow with it.
~Proverbs 10:22 (NKJV)

In the past two days, I've learned about two families who may to (or have already had to by now) give up the homes built for them by the popular ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. You can read about these two situations via the following links:

A friend of mine (who found the second article) brought up some pointed observations, which I hope she does not mind my sharing here (if you do, let me know!):

Perhaps EM ought to modify its approach and build more modest homes which are still capable of accommodating the special needs of family members with disabilities. A large, trophy-like home is obviously going to consume more energy, not to mention the tax burden. It's easy to understand that a number of EM families might be deeply in debt for other reasons. Giving a large, elaborate home to deserving persons is a lovely gesture, but what exactly is the advantage if old debt and new financial burdens render the gift untenable? The problem is - who cares when the show is over?

I find myself wishing I had a 'wave a wand' sort of solution for these families and others in similar situations. And there are many, giving the mortgage crisis north of the Canadian border. Though as we all probably know at this point, there is no magic wand or speedy cure. It's often the search for such things that land us in trouble in the first place, unless we go about things God's way.

See the verse at the top? God doesn't add troubles and grief and sorrow and burdens to the riches He gives His kids. Granted, there are times when we think (or maybe not -- I can't speak for everyone!) He doesn't give us enough or that He waits to long or He doesn't give things in the way we would like Him too . . . but look back on what you know to be the blessings and riches of God in your life. Are you sadder for having had them? Properly looked after, did you find yourself in more trouble than you were at first? Do you ever wish you didn't have them?

Oh, please note the 'properly looked after' portion. Again, I can only speak from my experience, but there have been times when God has given me something and I've squandered it. But like the prodigal son, we can come before God, confess our misdeeds and be restored into right standing with Him. And (hallelujah!) we can ask for the ability, the wisdom to steward what we do have and will have in the future. God is faithful, people, and He won't mock you or look down on you for asking for help.

Another thing -- we so often think of the referred-to blessings in Proverbs 10:22 as equalling money to spend on big houses, cars, toys and such because they're making us 'rich'. But a closer look at the original Hebrew* meanings of the following words:

blessing: a blessing, benediction, benefit, favour, peace, invocation of good, a happy, or blessed man. It is used in the sense of a gift or present to gain goodwill. Also, it had the sense of shālōm welfare.

rich**: to accumulate, to grow, to become rich

So we can accumulate and grow in things beyond money. We can grow in peace, in goodwill, in favour, in benefits beyond the monetary. And again, when we do it God's way we can avoid this (also from the original Hebrew):

sorrow : it is a thing formed or shaped . . . labour, toil, gain; trouble, grievance; the kind of pain which women experience when they are about to give birth

What sort of riches do you want? Do I want? Can shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition really give?

*As found in The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament, 1994 AMG Int'l Inc.; pp. 1594, 2307, 2351

**As found in Strong's Concise Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible (located in the back of The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament), p. 92

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Time Keeps Ticking Away

Wowza -- time is definitely ticking away! It's already July 2nd and I'm wondering where the first half of the year went. Oh, no, wait . . . I remember. It was mainly dealing with a whole lot of 'unexpecteds' for hubby and I. :-P Not all of it was bad, though, because God truly can use all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

A friend of mine is currently volunteering with CERV - Philippines. This young lady is quite the go-getter and you can follow along on her adventures on her blog -- Volunteer Philippines 2008 -- under the 'Links' section.

I'm discovering while changes in life may not always be pleasant, in many ways they are necessary. Changes to one's diet, for example, are often necessary to improve one's health. Changes in Bible study habits and in prayer time can lead to drawing closer to God. Changes to how one does an 'every day' task can lead to saved time which can be used elsewhere. Yet so often (myself included) we resist change.

I don't know about you, but often I have to first decide what to do with whatever negative thoughts come my way (speaking of changes . . .). Do I listen to those thoughts? Do I believe them? Or do I jump right in with God's promises and God's Word and get on with the business of moving forward? Do I stay where I am or look to where He is leading?

And a lot of times, I'm just overwhelmed by the big picture. I see A, then B, but not all the steps that will get me there in-between. This has often led to me deciding to go do something else. Like watch something (anything, sometimes!) on TLC while searching for some sort of comfort food. Or something. :-P Not a good rut to get into!

But yet God can (and oh so wants to!) help us get out of our self-made ruts. He wants us to put our worries and our fretting and our fears aside. The following verses from the Bible have been bubbling up over the past little bit in my mind (and heart):

". . . Come to Me, all of you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~Matthew 11:28, 29 (NKJ)

"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." ~Matthew 6:27, 34 (NKJ)

"Give us this day, our daily bread." ~Matthew 6:11 (NKJ)

So God knew I'd have all these things to face. He knew (and knows) every choice I'll make before I make it. And yet, when I know I've screwed things up, if I look, if I wait, I'll find His provision to get out of the rut or whatever else I've gotten myself into. It won't always be easy, it will frankly suck at times. But He will be there, His light shining through the darkness of my worries and fears and blunders.

And that gives me hope to carry on, to change, even as time keeps moving along.