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Falling Short of Expectations, Ephesians 2:8-10

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Do you ever feel like Buddy in this photo: There are good things in life you could enjoy if you’d just make the effort to grab onto it?

Sometimes I get discouraged when I read about the great heroes of the Bible: Job, Esther, Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah and Joseph. They seem so perfect, so heroic. Job who suffered so greatly yet would not curse God nor lose his faith in God’s goodness; Esther, who was willing to sacrifice her life to save the Jewish people; Daniel, who was such a good person that his enemies could find nothing to accuse him of to get him into trouble with the king; Nehemiah, who had the wisdom to pray on the spot for God’s help in a precarious moment and to ask the king to assist him in a great and mighty task; Noah, who spent over a hundred years building a boat with absolutely no evidence there would be a flood yet believed God anyway; and Joseph, who didn’t grumble and complain no matter how unfairly he had been treated and maintained his faith in God, despite his adverse circumstances.

Sometimes I feel that being of use to God in furthering His kingdom is just beyond my grasp. I want to pick up that bone and run with it and be faithful and a good Christian. But I grumble and complain when work sucks or life doesn’t go my way; I get discouraged when I don’t see God answering my prayers; I forget to pray when under stress; and people could easily find fault with me. Despite my best efforts to serve God, I feel like I fall short every day.

Way, way short of God’s standards of how I should behave.

And then, when I start to look upward and not at myself, I remember what God says in Ephesians 2:10:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.” (NASB, CAPS my emphasis)

  1. God didn’t choose to save me because he thought I was so wonderful. But I am HIS creation. He chose to make me and save me because He loves me. And He is the one who accepted me. He’s totally 100% good and kind, yet He chose this sinful person to be in communion with Him and His Holy Spirit indwells me.
  2. “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1 God knows I cannot live up to His righteous standards. That’s why Christ had to die and take the penalty for my sin, because there’s no way I can earn God’s favor. He freely chooses to love me, despite my faults, flaws and failures.
  3. Because I’m so flawed, I can boast in a good and loving God.
  4. God loves variety. I’m different from other people because God designed me that way. I’m unique and my job to do on this earth is, therefore, unique to me.
  5. God chose what works I am supposed to accomplish in my lifetime. His plan for me is not the same as the pastor’s or my friends or my fellow Christian believers. “He who began a good work in (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6  I can trust that God, as my good Shepherd Who leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake” (Psalm 23:3) will guide Me into accomplishing the deeds/works He wants me to accomplish.

Sometimes we feel bad because we don’t have the gifts or the accomplishments that other “Super Christians” seem to have and we don’t win those great battles. Yet one man led Billie Graham to Christ and because of that one man’s faithfulness, Mr. Graham accomplished great things for God. (I was saved through Billie Graham’s TV ministry in 1989.)

As my dad has often told me, “There’ll always be someone greater or lesser than yourself.” If I compare myself to the superstars, I’ll feel discouraged.

I have to remind myself that my relationship with God is a personal relationship and that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a); God didn’t make a mistake when He made me and chose me.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”–Psalm 46:10

So I need to stop striving and trust that God will accomplish His good purposes in my life, and when I’ve completed my God-assigned tasks, He’ll call me home to eternal joy.

God bless you, my dear reader.

***PS. If you follow my site regularly, thank you. I try to follow your site back, but sometimes I have trouble finding the follow button.

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If you aren’t born-again, you’re missing out on a wonderful love relationship. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that life becomes gravy street, but God will give you strength to face life. You’ll no longer be alone. You were born with a piece of your inner life puzzle missing, and only He can complete it. Please say this prayer below to begin your faith journey.

“Lord, I’ve offended you by my sin and fallen short of your standards. I accept that I can never be good enough to atone for my sins so that Jesus was punished on the Cross on my behalf. Please forgive me and save me from myself. Change me by sending the Holy Spirit to live Your life through Me.”

“Your heavenly Father (will) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13

Congratulations, brother or sister on becoming born-again. Please begin to read your Bible and pray that God will lead you to a Bible-based church where you can grow and fellowship with other believers. God bless you richly. Love you, my fellow believer, Dawn

 

 

 

Great Creator: Psalm 36:7

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I love my Buddy; when he’s good or when he’s bad, he’s still my little pal. I do much prefer it when he’s good and obedient, but I’d never toss him aside or give him away because he’s misbehaving.

In my women’s Bible Study we’re learning about the names of God. God and Lord in the Scriptures actually have more exact names in the original languages.

A few weeks ago we studied about Elohim, The Creator.

I often identify with God more as The Creator than His other names because, being made in His image (Genesis 1:27), I also like to use my imagination creatively. I’m not like God, able to speak things into being from nothingness and can only recreate from what already exists, but I really enjoy making up stories and drawing cartoons.

I struggled with my image of a loving God because I know He’s so holy and I’m so imperfect. But one day it finally clicked: I love my cartoon characters from my Cattle Capers(tm) world, both the good ones and the bad ones. Why? Because I created them.

They’re not real, yet I have an emotional attachment to them, as their creator.

The name Elohim is used in Psalm 36:7, but translated as God, per Strong’s Number 430: “How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God (Elohim). People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

God loves us because He created us. He fashioned us in the womb and is intimately interested in us. His attention is always on us. (Psalm 139) We exist because He wanted us to.

Lenny the Rat is one of my favorite characters, but he’s far from perfect.

Just as I am, just as you are. But God loves us anyway.

You don’t have to be perfect to be lovable.

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Mr. Darcy and Christmas: Genesis 3:9

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My beloved Buddy is wearing his Christmas holiday bowtie and collar. He wasn’t too happy about it and is looking rather miffed. Yet, he is naturally a very sweet dog and makes good company. If someone were to judge him solely by this photo, they would get a very wrong impression of Buddy’s personality.

During the Thanksgiving holiday season I watched one of my favorite movies, “Pride & Prejudice,” with the lovely Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I particularly enjoy Donald Sutherland’s version of Mr. Bennet.

As many who love the story know, the hero, Mr. Darcy, makes an error in judging the character of Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s sister. Because Jane is so shy, she doesn’t make her interest in Mr. Darcy’s friend clear as to whether she loves him as a man or just a friend. So Mr. Darcy separates his friend from Jane to protect his feelings.

Elizabeth is quite angry that her sister’s heart was broken. She considers Mr. Darcy cold and snobbish. Mr. Darcy proves his love to Elizabeth by rescuing the Bennet family from a foolish choice by one of her sisters that could ruin the family’s reputation and standing in the community. Elizabeth learns, through Mr. Darcy’s actions, that he is actually a good man and is also rather shy in revealing his true feelings and nature to those he doesn’t know well. And falls in love with him.

Only because Mr. Darcy is willing to risk being rejected a second time by proposing again to Elizabeth (after she rejected him for being a snob for his poorly worded first proposal), does Elizabeth find great happiness in marriage.

When contemplating how the author, Jane Austen, put the plot and characters together, I realized that Mr. Darcy is a sort of Christ figure. Despite his rejection by Elizabeth, he continued to do good for her family, with a great financial gift to rescue her sister from ruin, to prove his love for her. Love motivated him to continue to pursue Elizabeth and risk rejection.

“Where are you?”–Genesis 3:9

When I finally realized the true meaning of God calling out for Adam and Eve in the Garden, it broke my heart.

God is also misunderstood and rejected by billions of his beloved humanity. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve didn’t trust God’s love for them and listened to Satan instead, thinking God was holding out on them so they disobeyed. They didn’t believe that God truly loved them.

When God called out, “Where are you?”, He knew where Adam and Eve were physically. But they became spiritually separated from Him. At one time, they were in perfect union and fellowship with God. Sin/disobedience separated them spiritually so that they no longer felt His great love for them in their spirits. Their spirits died.

We were created to be triune beings, like God: soul, body and spirt. When the human race rejected fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit left the human race. As a result, each one of us is born missing the Life of God within us. We are all born with a God-shaped hole within our being.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”–Jesus, John 10:10

Every human being feels that emptiness inside. They try to fill it with things that can never fill it: food, sex, entertainment, parties, alcohol, travel, drugs, shopping, etc. We can never get enough of what we’re trying to fill that emptiness with. These attempts to fill the hole never work because we were created to be filled with the Life of Christ.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing;”–John 6:63

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), …so that in the ages to come He might show the surprising riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”–Ephesians 2:4-7

Because we don’t trust that God is good, we don’t come to Him. Yet, He continues to pursue each one of us because of His great love for us. He wants to give us, not only eternal life with Him, but His life by giving us the Holy Spirit, making us whole once again. This is what the term “born again” means: the Holy Spirit coming to live within you when you repent of your sin, admitting that you need God to be in charge of your life, accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Your spirit is united with the Spirit of Christ and you become spiritually alive.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and confess in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”–Romans 10:9

Lord, meaning, “Immanuel, God with us.”–Matthew 1:23

Christmas is about God pursuing us, sending His son to live among us so that we can understand and believe that He is good and that He truly loves us.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; …And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”–Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas from Dawn and Buddy

God bless you. Thank you for reading my Buddy blog.

 

When An Evil Man Dies: Ezekiel 18:32

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Discussing the topic of death, I didn’t want to utilize a picture of my beloved Buddy. This photo is of the moon peering through our cloudy, Northwest sky.

It’s ironic that an anti-capitalist Marxist, Fidel Castro, died on Black Friday, the biggest sales day of a capitalist country, one pundit commented yesterday. Understandably, the Cuban community in exile in Miami celebrated. I pray that Raul Castro will allow, not only economic freedom to continue to expand, but also personal freedom. He is permitting Christians to worship more freely (so I’ve heard earlier this summer), which is wonderful.

But how does God feel about the death of an evil man, such as Fidel Castro?

‘”For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”‘–Ezekiel 18:32

“God is love.”–1 John 4: 8b

Once a person dies, they no longer have the option of repenting of their sins and entering into a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Because God is loving, He doesn’t rejoice when someone dies without having a relationship with Him. He isn’t happy when someone is separated from Him for eternity. No one knows us as well as He does and loves as deeply and sincerely as He does.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 6:44, 48

All of us are considered sinners in God’s eyes before we repent, for “There is none righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3:10). He alone is perfect; we cannot consider that we’re more worthy of God’s love than any other person. Once we declare our need for Jesus to cover our sin and advise us how to live, then we’re covered by Christ’s righteousness. We’re considered holy by God only because we’ve received the Holy Spirit and our hearts have been circumcised by faith. It’s not our righteousness, but that of Jesus, that God sees when He looks at saved Christians.

In other words, no one has the right to strut about, thinking they’re so much more wonderful than anyone else. In God’s eyes, we’re either saved or not.

“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”–Provers 25:26

I’m not saying we’re supposed to rejoice when a wicked person rules or passively accept evil behavior. But to avoid self-righteousness, thinking we deserve salvation and someone else doesn’t. Because we don’t earn it: It’s an undeserved gift from God of His mercy.

I pray that the Cuban people may experience increased freedom now that Fidel Castro is gone.

 

No greater love: 911 Tribute

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Tonight Buddy and I give tribute to the brave police and fire officers, magnificent men and women, who gave their own lives on 911 to save others in NYC at the Twin Towers.

Some stats I pulled off the Internet:

Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
Number of NYPD officers: 23
Number of Port Authority police officers: 37

Total: 403 lives, not including those who later died of complications

Also, Flight 93, the brave souls who decided to fight to regain control of the plane, rather than allow it to fly into a building and kill others. 40 souls who were not terrorists left this earth that day.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”–Jesus, John 15:13

May their memories be blessed.

When praying about what to post, I felt compelled to stand for our public officials who risk or give their lives every day for the benefit of mostly strangers. There is no greater love than to give one’s life.

Rather than sit down this Sunday during the national anthem, I ask you to stand tall and salute our brave Americans: those who serve nationally, and overseas, to protect and to serve.

And let’s not forget that God Himself shed His blood on the cross for payment of our sins because we could never be holy enough to earn His forgiveness: His plan, His willing sacrifice to suffer horrendous torment on our behalf to enter into relationship with us. Because He loves us flawed, proud and often selfish people. He gives His life by the power of the Holy Spirit to us if we’re willing to be humble enough to admit our inadequacy to meet His holy standards. After all, Heaven is His house and He gets to set the rules on who gets to enter in the front door.

God bless our police, our fire officials and those serving in our military.

We can stand on 911 because they willingly lay down their lives for us.

Truly, they are some of the best America has to offer.

God bless you. I appreciate your time.

 

Loved Just Because: Ephesians 2:8-9

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Buddy is a rescue from Silky Terrier rescue. I greatly loved my prior Silky terrier Buster and so looked for another Silky. I met his foster mom at a dog fair and purchased this cloth hutch (photo), treats, and a fitted coat for him (special material for wet, warm or cool conditions).

When I first met Buddy, he was sitting in his cage on a cart with other Silkys in their cages. I had no attachment to him; he was just a stranger to me. But I said to Buddy, “I don’t have any feelings for you now, but I will learn to love you.”

And then all he did was fight me like a bucking bronco all the way to the car, yanking at his leash in sheer terror of going home with me. He wanted to stay with his foster mom (a Silky breeder with a real heart for the spunky terriers) because she rescued him from an abusive situation. I was horrified.

Eventually he stopped running away from my home. (More later on that.)

But the point is, I didn’t rescue Buddy because I’d heard he was such a great dog. And Buddy didn’t earn his rescue by the foster mom. I rescued Buddy because I wanted the companionship of a Silky terrier and Buddy was the first dog I’d seen on the rescue site up for adoption in Washington State for more than a year I’d been searching for one.

Buddy didn’t do anything to earn his rescue from a bad situation. Some women just decided to love him.

Same with God. He doesn’t save us from our sin and self-destructive behavior because we’re so wonderful. Jesus died to pay for our sin because God wants to fellowship with us. God hates sin and must punish it, but He loves us and came up with a plan to punish our sin on Jesus instead and come into relationship with us. All we have to do is acknowledge we’ve sinned against Him (aren’t perfect), need His forgiveness, acknowledge Christ paid our sin debt, and ask Him to come into our lives. (He does this by giving us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guide us.)

We don’t earn His forgiveness. We can never be good enough to earn His forgiveness.

It’s freely given to us by just asking Him for it.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God; not as result of works, so that no one may boast.”–Ephesians 2:8-9

“God, Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus…”–2 Timothy 1:8 (Both quotes as NASB.)

If you don’t believe, ask Him to help you. He will because He loves you and wants to be in a loving relationship with you. Faith is a gift He gives you.

Buddy didn’t ask me to save him. But he’s my best pal now. By his overjoyed greeting when I return home, I’m sure Buddy would agree that he’s very glad that I chose him.

You’ll be glad too. I sure am.

 

 

 

Seeking the Lost: Luke 19:10

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I’ve many experiences with Buddy, my Silky terrier and best pal for almost six years, but I’d like to make another comment about his great escape.

After Buddy had climbed out of our backyard due to fear of fireworks, I spent hours searching for him, finally giving up at 12:30AM when I was too exhausted to keep looking. I tried to place him into God’s hands, but couldn’t sleep, as I was near the front door and was subconsciously listening for him to return and scratch at the door to ask to come in. The next morning I got up at four AM and spent an hour before work searching for him before driving to work.

I was not going to give up till Buddy was found.

Because I loved him.

Same as the Lord Jesus. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Because, for some unfathomable reason, this fabulously intelligent, powerful, wise and kind God loves us.

Fortunately, a dog-loving couple in another neighborhood across a fairly busy street had discovered Buddy in their backyard that evening and gave him a safe haven. A local dog rescue site on Facebook was able to connect me to them the following day. (Thank you, Facebook.)

Because Jesus loves us, He came down to seek us. He was not content to remain in Heaven and leave us wandering like lost sheep, because we are unable to find Him on our own. “All of us are like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”  Isaiah 53:6b (NASB)

“So [Jesus] told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing….I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:3-7 (NASB)

Indeed, I greatly rejoiced to see Buddy excitedly greet me at the front door after work. (My family had picked him up earlier that afternoon.)

Fortunately, God does not grow weary and stop looking. He’s waiting for you to open your heart to Him, if you haven’t started your journey with Him yet.

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