The sky is always blue beyond the clouds. There is always hope and encouragement here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The field trip

I've had several conversations recently with people about faith and trust. And while it is certainly true that you can't give someone faith and trust and you can't teach someone faith and trust, you sure can be an example for them. 
We can sit in the "classroom" of Bible class and see examples of other people, but to truly gain faith and trust of our own we need to go beyond "the classroom" and go " on the field trip," the field of the reality of life.
It is in the struggles, the raging Rapids, in the muck where we can really grasp onto the substance of faith and trust. 
All aboard the bus. We're going on a field trip. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Beauty Contest

Beauty Contest

When I was younger I always enjoyed watching a beauty contest on TV. Whether it was Miss America or Miss Universe, it was fun to watch. 
I did not know these young women and tried to pick favorites as they were introduced based solely on their appearance. Then as the field was narrowed down and we, the audience, learned a little more, my field of favorites narrowed too. 
Then came the bathing suit part and the form of the young lady is revealed. 
Then the evening gown competition and you get a glimpse of her grace.
And then there is talent and finally the "question" that is supposed to demonstrate her character.
And finally a winner is chosen. Very often my first choices were not the final winner. 
The older I get, the less I watch these competitions and now hardly ever watch. I have come to realize that my ideas and thoughts of beauty seldom match what the world values.
When I read from the book of Esther, I often wonder why this book which seems very much like a beauty contest is included in the Bible.
I know that God has a plan for this world. I know that God will use anyone for His purpose. I know that God will raise people up at that proper time and equip them for His service. I also know that God loves and watches over His people.
Some background:
1. The Jewish people were living in exile. (God's preferred punishment for these disobedient children) 
2. The King was showing off his kingdom for 180 days.
3. A 7 day feast was given, everyone in the land from the greatest to the least was invited and all food and wine was free!
4. On the final day of the feast the King wanted the Queen by his side.
5. She refused.
6. The King sought the wisdom of council as to what he should do.
7. They advised, he followed their advice.
So a contest ensued to find a new queen.
There are so many lessons in this book. It is rich with application for us, but I will focus for now, on the obvious, the beauty contest.
One definition of beauty is: unity and balance, symmetry and harmony of parts.
In the second chapter of Esther we see that Esther has found favor. 
1. She was attractive enough to be chosen.
2.  She left her familiar.
3. She followed the regimen required of her.
4. She Met expectations. 
5. She was chosen as a finalist.  
6. She Was presented to the King.
7. He chose her by name.
I can understand now why this book is included in the Bible? You see, it is more than a shallow beauty contest. And God could have used another person or even changed circumstances if He had wanted to. But like I stated before, this book is rich with lessons and this lesson in particular may be just right for me. 
1. Does God see something in me that can be used for His purpose?
2. Am I willing to be uncomfortable to be used by Him?
3. Will I strictly follow (be obedient) His requirements?
4. Will I study God's word to His approval?
5. Am I committed to the end?
6. I will face The King
7. Will He know me, will He give me a new name?
My life is not a beauty contest and there is nothing at all shallow about living for God. My soul purpose is to be willing to be used by Him, and to be pleasing in that purpose. 
I know and understand that God's view of beauty differs from mine. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at just his appearance, For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

Help me Lord, to be willing to be used by You. Give me cleansing and purify me of anything that hinders my service. Equip me and build me up in ways that will make me most useful to You. Help me as I struggle with commitment and send encouragers when my faith wavers.
I look forward to the day I see You. 
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 ESV)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Window Shopping

Not too long ago my husband and I visited Arizona. We had a great time at the Grand Canyon and sightseeing other places. 
I enjoyed the scenery and the people and places that we visited. And I wanted to purchase some mementos of our travels. In particular, I wanted a rug or two that was woven by the native Americans. So my husband, being the good sport that he is, drove me around to many little stores trying to find what I wanted. We continued to leave each shop disappointed because they didn't have them or they only had the cheap, manufactured ones.
Finally after driving for miles we found a shop that had exactly what I wanted hanging in the front windows. So Bill parked the car and being too frustrated to go along, he waited in the car.
The shop owner was busy with another customer so I looked around and saw a few more rugs. I picked the one that I liked but couldn't find a price tag on it. As a matter of fact I couldn't find a price tag on any of them. 
Once the shop owner was free she came over to me. I asked how much the rugs were. ( Honestly, It didn't matter, I was going to buy one no matter the cost.) 
"It's not for sale." She remarked. 
"What about the others?" I inquired.
"They are not for sale either." She responded.
"Then why do you have them?" I wanted to know.
"They are decor." She stated.
"But then you shouldn't put them in the window. It is deceptive." 
She shrugged and asked if she could help me with anything else. Obviously she had grown impatient with me and my frustration was clearly evident. 
"No, thank you. I only want rugs." And I left very disappointed and gave up the shopping excursion for the day.

I wondered why someone would put things in their windows that weren't for sale. To me that was very deceptive and just used as an allure to bring me to something that I could not have.
All of this reminded me of a young girl that dressed very immodestly and then got very upset when everyone thought of her as someone with loose morals. 
What you portray is what is seen. Perception is reality to the shopper. If you are showing it off, you should expect to have some interest. 
Ladies, the Bible speaks very clearly on modesty. There are many scriptures that speak on the matter. I like these.
FOR HIM and FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and TO HIM are (ALL) things. Therefore I urge you, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 11:36,12:1 NASB) emphasis mine
If you are Godly, you should be Godly ALL the time! It should be your life and your motivation for all you do. 

Lord, I pray that You Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. (Psalms 26:2 NASB) help me, Lord, not to seek attention and interest from anything or anyone that would not bring glory and honor to you. Turn my attention back to remembering that YOU validate me.