Foolish or Faithful

This year Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day, and now Easter will fall on April Fool’s Day. Two Christian holidays overlapping two non-religious holidays. This year I can’t avoid talking about the irony of Easter being on what the world celebrates as a day for acting like a fool.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the source of our faith. It is a day of faith and love. At almost the opposite end of the spectrum, April Fool’s Day is a holiday giving opportunity to play pranks and jokes on people, a day of fools and folly.

Christians celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This is why it changes each year. We don’t have an exact date when Jesus died on the cross, but we do know that his death was on a Friday around Passover which makes three days later the Sunday after the vernal equinox full moon.

The origin of April Fool’s Day is debated. Some people believe that it dates back to 1582 when France switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar. On the Julian calendar, New Year’s day was celebrated around April 1 and with the Gregorian it was changed to the current date of January 1. When people celebrated the beginning of a new year on April 1 that year, they were called fools. And you could say the rest is history.

So now that I have the when explained, I want to talk a bit about what Easter is and why it is marginalized and commercialized by so many. I believe 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains it perfectly. It states “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

In contrast to “the person without the Spirit”, a person with the Spirit is a born-again Christian. Someone who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit because they have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God has the Holy Spirit speak to us to give us his wisdom and guidance as told in John 16:13-14 (Jesus speaking), “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”

Why do some “not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God”? In my experience the things of God have been the exact opposite of my selfish desires so I considered them utter foolishness. I thought why would I want to do something that would get me nowhere, give me no credit, and give me nothing tangible? I was fooled by the commercialized fun of April Fool’s Day and the sweet treasures of the Easter bunny. The bigger the trick the better the fun. And I didn’t know anyone who didn’t love to be the “winner” by finding the most eggs and getting the biggest basket with the best gifts.

Then somewhere in my 20s I started wanting something more. I started questioning if there was more to this man they call God. Being raised by parents who only followed a worldly religion of celebrating commercial holidays, I was only exposed to the storybook fantasy of a god who swoops in and saves the day. I soon found myself disappointed and lost when my sinful actions took over my life. I questioned the purpose of life. I began to regret the wasted time I spent living for myself.

I became a Christian in my 30th year of life. That’s a LOT of years following only my selfish desires and having little regard to how I achieved them. I started accepting the truths of God because I was able to discern them from lies but only after I accepted that life on earth was hopeless without the guidance and wisdom from my Creator. I began to realize that I was trapped by thinking I was a pretty good person and didn’t need anyone telling me any different. This selfishness was holding me back from healing from past hurts, overcoming strongholds, and most of all, it was keeping me stuck in sin. But as Jesus said, the Holy Spirit guided me through the muck and showed me that life is beautiful when you give it to God.

I am beyond thankful that God captured my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect by any means. I still do foolish things but I have hope because Christ died on the cross, and God raised him three days later to then ascend to sit at His right hand. Why does that give me hope? Well frankly because I lived a full life without God as my savior and through his grace I survived. It is only because of God’s grace that I am alive and able to share my life with others. God is my father, Jesus is my savior and the Holy Spirit is my guide.

This Easter I’m guessing there will be parents pranking their children with tricks in their baskets. I pray that there are even more parents that glorify the name of God by sharing the true reason we celebrate Easter and how we can honor him for his sacrifices.

So how about you? Will you be foolish or faithful? I leave you with the encouraging words from 1 Peter 4:1-2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of his earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

 

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/april-fools-tradition-popularized

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Love in Adversity

Love. Not your typical romantic St. Valentine’s Day type of love but the love that should be shown to everyone. Proverbs 17:17 states “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Both terms of a friend and a brother are referring to a fellow Christian, someone who has already committed themselves to follow Christ’s example. Our command is to love. This verse tells us to love AT ALL TIMES, not just when it feels good. It’s telling us we are born for those tough times.

I was struck by the simplicity and complexity of this verse. Who would ever think that there is a time when a friend would not show love? Well, it’s in those times of adversity when people fall short. It’s very apparent that people all over the world struggle with this type of love. The news is drenched with anger, hatred, and evil. For the average person in every day relationships, I don’t think it’s generally done with an intent to harm. It’s more likely that the person doesn’t know how to show love in that moment. Uncomfortable situations are just that–uncomfortable. Unless you are a nurturing person by trait this does not come easy. You have to think about it. You have to make a conscious effort to show you care about the other person.

I am convicted to be more aware of when I am falling down in this area. I want to be looking for those times when someone is struggling. I want to be the person that steps in and fills the need that they may not even realize they have. Maybe it’s providing a meal for someone who’s been ill or recovering from surgery. Maybe it’s watching the children of a single parent so they can have a much needed break. Or maybe it’s a handwritten note of encouragement.

Will you join me? I pray; Lord, I praise you for giving us the Holy Spirit to show us where we need to be. I pray for each person reading this prayer, that our hearts are softened to hear your still small voice. Please bring people into our paths that you want us to lavish with your love. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17

Let us hear from you: Share ideas on how to show love during difficult times.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Finding Conviction, Comfort, and Clarity in Discouragement

Do you ever find yourself discouraged and at a loss for what to do next? I found myself there a few weeks ago. The stress built up on all sides of me; work, family, marriage, and my health. As I tried to find answers to problems, solutions to puzzles, and the way out of troubles, I only came up with dead ends and more frustration. I was discouraged. I was losing hope and the courage to stand on my convictions. I was on the edge of giving into defeat.

I shared my feelings with a dear friend of mine. She brought a great perspective to my situation. She challenged me to ponder the thought that I was discouraged because I had the wrong focus. Was I looking through the wrong lens? As we discussed my hardships, dead ends, and frustrations, it became quite evident that I was out of focus! I was completely caught up in what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought I didn’t have. What was the common thread there? It was I.

My friend encouraged me to focus on God our Father instead. I was brought to Psalm 73:21-28 (ESV), 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Colossians 3:1-17 and Hebrews 12:1-3. I meditated on these for days; Praying, Reading, Listening. I became refreshed, renewed, and reassured that I just needed to switch my view from internal to eternal. Psalm 73 mentions the eternity that gave me the conviction to stand strong on the promise of God’s faithfulness. I found comfort in knowing He is my refuge. And I found clarity in what I first thought was unanswered problems. The struggles dissipated as I loosened the grip on my impatient and foolish desire to be in control. God knows what we need before we even think a thought. Why should we not trust his lead? He created the world, He created us with his own hands and breath, and He wants to bring us joy through his glory. Our hearts can keep the faith that all will be for the best when God is in control.

In the verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”, God calls us to share such experiences. I encourage you to read the rest of the passages in 2 Corinthians to learn more of God’s comfort and how when we share our comforts we are strengthened to continue through the trials. I hope you find encouragement though my journey. May God bless your path as you follow his lead.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Retucking My Foundation

Stone and brick home foundations develop cracks, loosen and crumble if not maintained. They need regular inspections, testing, analyzing and sometimes retucking. If there are cracks or deteriation in a foundation it allows rain & pests to get in and cause damage. If this damage is not taken care of in time, the damage can be irreversible. Retucking is a construction process that stabilizes a damaged foundation. The old, cracked and crumbling mortar must be scrapped out and replaced. This reinforces and stabilizes the foundation. It will now be able to withstand bad weather, pests and time.

So, why am I telling you about construction techniques? I believe there is a great correlation with our lives. If we allow our foundation to weather, deteriorate and crack, the enemy will be able to get in and destroy. At first, it may not be visible to the naked eye. We can mask over the damage to hide our imperfections. Over time the cracks get bigger and our ability to stand against the storms of life decreases.

My 2017 seemed like it was a year and a half long. My year had so many troubles, hardships, and tragedies most would have run as far as they could in the opposite direction. Why didn’t I? What kept me from doing what so many told me I had the right to do? It was my Lord, my Father, my God. He was my rock. My solid foundation.

I must confess it has not always been solid. There was definite damage. The cracks had been there a long time. I was hiding behind serving in the church, facilitating bible studies, and attending small group studies and prayer meetings. I’m not saying that these things are bad and only mask your real life or even that I knew that is what I was doing. I only want to point out that if we are not careful, we only allow God in on the surface of our life.

Just like a stone or brick foundation of a house that has damage, My life needed to be retucked. I didn’t even know it! But last February, God took a hold of my heart and breathed new life into it. I, for the first time, TRULY believed He loves me. All of me.

“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11

This verse is about the Levites, God’s chosen people. After a better part of a century of hopes and desperation, anguish and resentment their hope was restored. The Levites were overjoyed, singing praises to the Lord. Like the Levites, I sing praises knowing God’s mercies fail not. Is God your foundation or is he a cover up? Make time for reflection and inspect your life. Look for areas where the enemy is getting in and creating havoc. I am so glad I did and allowed God to stabalize my footing. I was able to withstand the storms and see the rainbow on the other side. I pray the same for you in 2018.

Blessings.

 

Bev Pomering has been married to her husband, Terry, for over 20 years. Their family includes two teenage boys and two dogs. Bev describes her home as anything but quiet. She works as an administrative assistant in the medical field. In addition to being an avid crafter and gardener, Bev is also active in her church where she focuses her talents on Women’s Ministries.

 

 

credit to
http://www.biblegateway.com NIV Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Ezra 3:11”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezra-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™