A Car Stolen or a Gift?

29 06 2018

They say to, “drive it like you stole it.”  Little did I know he actually would!

 

I have given several cars away in my lifetime, but this one…it didn’t go as planned. Having a car business on the side since 1996, I’ve had the opportunity to purchase a lot of cars for a lot of people in need of updated vehicles.  Initially this one was no different, or so I thought.

 

The purchaser was one of our former foster children.  I sold his high mileage, worn out car for him and then purchased a newer used model. When we signed the paperwork he gave me a check for the sales tax, but failed to pay me for the car.  He told me he was in dire straits and needed to use the money I gave him for his trade-in for past due bills.  And then he asked me to be his bank, by providing a loan for the new purchase.  Because I knew him, loved him and trusted him, I said I would, even handing the title of the car over to him. (That last part re: the title? Not a good move by the way.)

 

A year later not one single payment was made.  I realized none were forthcoming.  I tried contacting him, but his phone number was changed.  Feeling very taken advantaged of, I prayed and asked God what I should do.  He told me to forgive the debt and to write him a letter expressing those words.  I obeyed, but never heard from him again.

 

Over a year later I received a letter from his biological mother.  She wrote that her son committed suicide and when going through his possessions she found my letter of forgiveness to him.  In her grief, she took the time to thank someone who loved and cared for her boy.  While certainly not a happy ending, I was so thankful for obeying the voice of God.  I hoped that somehow it made a difference in his life for eternity.

 

I suppose too often we can look at how life affects only us and forget how it’s affecting others. Who is God daring you to love today without expectation of return?

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Why Not Have an Extramarital Affair?

25 06 2018

Why don’t you have an extramarital affair?  Seriously, be honest with yourself and answer the question. What did you come up with?  If I could guarantee you will never be found out, you’ll never get caught, would your answer change?

 

This question came to my mind recently while having to deal with a life situation, the result of an affair.  I’ve written about emotional affairs and other areas of marriage failure, but have never been this straight forward with the question.  Seriously, admit it, most TV programs and most movies display for us in real life fashion multiple characters having multiple affairs. We read about it continually.  We even experience pastors failing in this area.  It’s everywhere around us, desensitizing us little by little.  We’ve come to expect it, maybe accept it as the norm. Methodically, the flesh can become weaker and weaker, while the spirit is screaming to our heart.

 

So, what are your answers?  I love my wife too much?  I just couldn’t do that to my husband who has been faithful?  Or, my children would be decimated?  All true, but not strong enough.  Everyday those challenges are brushed aside, caution thrown to the wind and, uncharacteristically, a man or a woman falls, succumbing to the temptation. The lust of the eyes and the flesh are simply too strong. (I John 2:16)

 

What is the answer, Steve?  Here’s one that I have come up with for myself: I love God and I want Him to know how much I love Him.  What does that mean?  Just this – Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”  (John 14:15)  In verse 23 He went on to say, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”

 

Do we love Him enough to obey Him?

 

God’s word: Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.  God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.  Hebrews 13:4

“Grow old along with me.  The best is yet to be.  The last of life for which the first was made.” ~ Robert Browning





Married Sex: An Observation (For Singles Too)

18 06 2018

I have a theory and I believe the testimony of hundreds of married couples backs up this theory. The theory is the more sex you have outside of marriage, the less sex you have within marriage.

 

My wife and I have the privilege to speak with many couples each year and we have never heard one of them remark anything remotely close to this statement, “We’re so happy that we engaged in premarital sex.”  As well, we’ve never heard, “Premarital sex helped us prepare for marital sex.”  What we have heard is that sex before marriage actually stole intimacy from their marriage.  Sex was no longer special, awaited and neither did it gather the excitement anticipated.

 

Premarital sex is titillating, full of emotion and coated in brain chemicals that run amuck.  It’s also full of the fear of being caught, and overcome by having, no, taking what does not belong to you.  Once married, that anticipation diminishes to the point in which some couples are not engaging in sexual intimacy on their wedding night.  Even further, we often hear the expression that sexual intimacy is rarely occurring now that they are married.  Imagine, this divine gift given to us by God, now stolen from us because of lust-filled desires.

 

Now, hearing from those singles who have waited, saved themselves for the one they will spend the rest of their lives with…never have we heard one single word or expression of regret, bemoaning the fact that they were inexperienced.  To discover this world with one another was a huge part of the gift itself.  Encountering one another sexually, within godly boundaries, literally helps to carry intimacy throughout the marriage, all the while maintaining their vows spoken before God.

 

Anytime we violate God’s principles, we also violate human value, respect and honor.  Sex outside of marriage is a sin against our body (I Corinthians 6:18) and a violation against our future marriage.  Because marriage is sacred, as is the act of marriage, we break covenant with God through immorality (I Corinthians 6:9). We disrupt His desire and design for our future.  When we worship the created more than the Creator, we have convinced ourselves that our will and our desires, not God’s, are best for us.

 

Have you succumbed to sex outside of marriage?  You can be forgiven of your sin and be renewed in your commitment to purity before God. He longs to give to you a fresh start, but you must be serious about that commitment.  His Spirit dwells within the Christian to not sin because, “…you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”  (I Corinthians 6:19 & 20)





What Seeds Are You Planting in Your Field?

11 06 2018

My lone tomato plant.

I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA where springtime is a frenzied time of planting.  It smells really bad in our county, from one end to the other.  It’s that magical manure being applied to help supply the ground with needed nutrients for the soon-to-be-planted seeds.  The farmers are busy as they move their equipment from winter storage to field after field.  Quite honestly there is no such thing as a lazy farmer; he or she is fully expecting a future crop.  It is why they work so tirelessly day and night.  From our home, we can hear the diesel tractors running through the night and catch their lights shining into our windows.

 

Soybeans and corn just surfacing

I have never met a farmer who doesn’t expect to yield a crop.  They work and labor in anticipation of the forthcoming seed growing into a harvest. And all along the way, there are factors the farmer cannot control, e.g., too much rain, too little rain, wind and even varmints eating the crop.  Every time I witness their faith I think of a verse found in II Corinthians nine, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

 

I am “farming” this year as well.  I have one tomato plant on my front porch.  I am expecting a harvest, albeit a small one. I’ve sown sparingly and I’ll reap what I have sown, a little fruit.  But my farming neighbor is going to reap heaps, truck loads that will fill his barn and his grain elevators.  He will feed his livestock and his family for the coming year because he has sown generously.

 

What seeds are you planting and what size harvest are you anticipating?





8 Reasons Why You Are Not a Victim

4 06 2018

I first wrote this and shared it with a victim of rape. She was deeply hurting, feeling victimized and of course dealing with shame.  If the enemy of our soul can keep us in shame and victimization, he will keep us from future effectiveness.  Perhaps something written below will speak to you and help with something you still feel from your past or maybe a friend is in need of it.

  1. You are not a victim. Victims give up influence and assertion.  Victims do not know who they are because victims are lost in insecurity and suffer a loss of identity. But, because the believer’s identity is not in himself, it is already lost to Christ and the power of His resurrection.  (See II Corinthians 12:9 – His power is made perfect in your weakness.)
  2. God’s plan is victory. Sin is a part of the Genesis three world we live in.  Victory means that God takes the evil of this world and turns it into something victorious.  Being a Christian does not mean we do not experience the evil of this world because it rains on the just and the unjust.  It means God has a bigger plan, a greater story.
  3. You are not responsible for someone else’s sin against you. True guilt leads us to repentance. Shame leads us to condemnation. True guilt followed by true repentance leads to life.  Shame leads to death of one’s spirit and soul.  Shame leaves us feeling exposed, injudicious, inadequate or defective in some way. Shame breeds condemnation and condemnation breeds more shame.  Jesus took our shame on the cross, as well as, our sorrows.  He spoke to you from the cross, “Shame off of you.”  We must ask ourselves: What am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for? What is the responsibility of the offender?  What am I learning about myself through this?
  4. What boundaries did I break or do I need to instill in my life? Perhaps we realize that we broke our own boundaries or had not thought through God’s boundaries.  We need to search His word for His boundaries and His values that He gives us for protection. God’s boundaries are not as the world’s boundaries because He has our best interest in mind.
  5. Do not repress your anger. Often we have a tendency to go inward with our anger after severe hurt(s).  Anger can erupt from feeling powerless and out of control, wanting to “make someone pay”. Allow your anger to be a positive force for healing and personal change.  Anger does not make a better athlete or person, but a more careless one.  If pressed down, it leads to bitterness and self hate.  (See Job 7:11 and Ephesians 4: 26-27 where we are told to not allow our anger to cause us to sin.)  Talk through and work through the anger so you are not stuck in its grip.  Keep moving through the sadness so you can reach the acceptance piece of godly grief.
  6. Obsessions of thought. Watch for thought obsessions turning into actual physical obsessive compulsions.  Maintain life balance through prayer, worship, counseling, talking to parents and trusted friends who are confidential.
  7. Forgiveness pursued. Watch for defense mechanisms, e.g., rationalism, denial, unforgiveness, becoming the fixer or the peacemaker. Matthew 18:21 says to forgive continually.  There is a difference between extending forgiveness and complete forgiveness.  Not forgiving or forgiving only partially will initially cause us to feel power over the perpetrator, but it will only punish us in the end.  Take steps to forgive the perpetrator as God gives you the grace to do so.  Forgive yourself; He has forgiven you.  You cannot change what decisions you made, but you can forgive yourself and move on so you can grow from them.  Forgive God rather than allowing bitterness or anger at God.  Because of Jesus, God understands our disappointment.  Remember Jesus said from the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
  8. Move on and mature in God. Allow a tragedy to become a springboard for a better future. For example, we will never know why we were born into the family we were born into, but we do know that God has used it to make us who we are today.  (Isaiah 43:2)

You cannot change this situation, but you can let it change you to become more secure, more compassionate, a stronger and more loving person used by God to bring healing to others.








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