More than Meets the Eye

More than Meets the Eye by Pastor Debbie Kitterman

I wrote a social media post a few months ago during the summertime. Maybe you saw it? If not, no worries! I am going to share it below with the picture that was attached. 

Working hard or hardly working? That is the question.

Many will see this picture and make a judgment or assumption that this person is hardly working. What a rough life – right? Amazing view and soaking up the sun. Can it get any better than that?

However, when we make judgments and assumptions without the full picture it can be dangerous and damaging. Not just to us but to the other person too. It opens the door to accusations, jealousy, pride, offense and more. This is not of God but the way the enemy slips through an open door.

In fact, God says to leave the judgements to Him. (1 Sam 16:7) He sees the heart, He sees the bigger picture; we do not.

Confession time. I’ve been this person. I’ve been the person to look at a picture or an image and pass judgement. I have been the person to see someone and make an assumption without getting the fuller picture, and I was wrong.

So what’s the fuller picture?

This is a picture of me working hard. Computer on my lap working, taking phone calls and meetings throughout the day. Yes, the view is amazing and the sun is out. I have a desk I usually work from most of the year, but it doesn’t have this view and the sun isn’t always out where I live. So when it is, I want to work outside. Also, truth be told, my desk is a mess! Not just a small mess, a huge one. It is piled high with stacks of papers, books and stuff. Plus, my office chair is filled with a box of stuff I need to go through.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “there is more than meets the eye?” This is a powerful truth, we need to understand. It’s also a kingdom principle!  

It is important for us to understand there is often more going on behind the scenes or under the surface than we can see in the natural. We don’t know what a person is going through, where they have been or even how far they have already come. What we see is what is presented to us, which isn’t always the entire picture. Sometimes we pass judgements or make hasty decisions based on what we see or how a person makes us feel in the natural.

God addressed this issue with Samuel when he was sent to anoint the next king. In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel wrongly made a judgement about which one of Jesse’s sons should be the next king based on appearance and stature alone. Oh boy was he ever wrong! 

Jesus talked about making judgements or passing judgement on others too.   

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Today, our culture makes it easy and seem acceptable to criticize others or pass judgement against them. Over big and small things. Their house wasn’t clean enough, their kids weren’t well behaved, or they have a bad attitude. The truth of what Jesus said is that we have no business passing judgement on anyone, instead we should deal with ourselves. 

The truth of the matter is, it is never ok to pass judgement on another. When we want to pass judgement, we need to stop and pray for the person instead and let God take care of them. 

Prayer:
Father God, help us to not make judgements or assessments towards another person or their actions and forgive us for when we have. We repent of the attitudes in our heart and the thoughts in our mind. Amen.

Share The Load

Share The Load by Jill Roleke

So many times I hear people say that God won’t give us more than we can handle. I believe they are referring to 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT, which states, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 

As far as I am concerned there is a vast difference between the temptations that come at us and other devastating or difficult things. With temptation, we have a choice. We can give into it or resist it. God will always show us the right way. When difficulties or devastating things happen to us we don’t always have a choice. There are times that it is absolutely more than we can handle. If we could handle everything that comes our way we would really have no need of God. Sometimes we need God to bear it for us.

In Galatians 6:2 NLT it says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” We are to share the load. If we were able to handle everything, then we certain wouldn’t need others to help us. 

Platitudes are usually unhelpful to the people they are being spoken to. I think they are more for the one speaking them. It helps us feel like we have done some good. Instead of trying to make people feel better by telling them something that isn’t found in the Bible, how about letting them know that God is still with them and that He will never leave them?

We also need to learn to share the load; not just by telling people to call if they need something. That gets us off the hook but the odds of them actually picking up the phone are pretty slim (I speak from experience on this). 

We need to do the reaching out. A phone call, a visit, even just a hug and an ‘I love you’ means so much.  It lets others know that we are thinking of them and that they are not alone. Pray with someone when they are in need and help meet a need in whatever way you can. That is putting scripture into action!

We all know the saying: actions speak louder than words. I say let our actions reflect The Word. Be obedient and help carry the load of someone who is unable to carry it alone. We need each other. Someday you may find yourself on the other end, needing someone to help lighten your load. Let us not begrudge what God asks of us. Step up and be a blessing. You will be blessed as well!

Take Me Into The Holy of Holies

Take Me Into The Holy of Holies by Dave Meyer

The title comes from the song written and copyrighted by Dave Browning/Chappell Music

Not all of you know that I have been on a weight loss program and my goal is to get down to 220 pounds and stay there! One of the things I am learning is that stress is a major factor in weight gain and keeps you from losing weight. 

Everyone has stress in their life. For some it is the stress of work and the demands of the job. With others the major stress is taking care of the children, keeping them healthy and happy, not an easy job!  Many seniors find the stress of finances to be a major stressor. They get paid once a month and out of that must come everything from apples to zoo visits. Perhaps a better way to say it is from A to Z. The stress of making those decisions and having to do it repeatedly will wear you down and heap pounds on as well.

It is up to each of you to identify the stress that is causing you to be out of balance in your life. Being out of balance causes a lot of different challenges in your life. Not the least of which will be spiritual. When your life is filled with constant stress it is hard to pray, to read the Word of God, hard to meditate on the things of God. Recently Pastor John and I have been talking about the art of being quiet before the Lord. He has mentioned this several times from the pulpit. I have found it very hard to just be quiet before the Lord. I want to sing, worship, pray, tell Him all my challenges, anything but be quiet. 

The Lord has brought me back to Psalm 91:1 (ESV) 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I believe that Scripture teaches that the shelter (called the Secret Place in the King James Version) of the Most High in the Old Testament is the Holy of Holies.  

If you look at what was in the Holy of Holies, you will find that there is nothing in there other than the Mercy seat, which sits on top of the Ark of the Covenant. They were beautiful, pure gold with outstretched wings of Seraphim guarding the mercy seat. While the beauty and majesty of the place is overwhelming, it is not a place meant to be used for dwelling. In fact, the High priest was only allowed to enter this place once a year and then only with an offering of blood.

So, what was the Psalmist saying to those of us who read The Word today? To those who desire to know God in a more intimate and personal way, the psalmist is saying to sit up on the lap of our God and stay!  I mean no disrespect to Jesus or the mercy seat in saying this, however, it is true. Jesus wants us to crawl up in His lap there on the mercy seat and cuddle with Him and listen to what He has to say to our hearts.  

Is this new to you? Is it too far fetched for you to believe? Are you saying in your mind and heart this is too far out there, it is sacrilege! I ask only one thing of you. Where else would you be able to crawl up on Jesus lap? Is there a different throne room than this or perhaps you think there is a living room where it would be more appropriate? I challenge you to read the Word and find a place in scripture where we can be so intimate with our Savior.

Revelations in the Garden

Revelations in the Garden by Kim Spahr

Boy, my garden needed weeding but there was so much to do before my daughter’s family of five arrived!  We had so much fun going to the beach, park, and library. There was also water painting with my grandchildren, cooking, reading, and watching them run through the sprinkler. It was like heaven on earth that week.  

While I was busy having fun, the weeds were having fun too. My garden was one big blob of green when Dan and I took a walk through after they had left. It was difficult to see what was actually growing where. It took a lot of time to get the garden looking like a garden again.

Fortunately I don’t mind weeding. Weeding for me means I am away from TV and phone, and in the fresh air and warmth of the sun. I like the quiet and God and I have a chance to talk. I ask a lot of questions and He has lots of answers. He also shows me how gardening and life are alike. Here are a few lessons I have learned.

He told me when we let the weeds grow in our lives, it makes it unclear for others to see the pathway to follow to get to Him. If we say we are Christians and yet we allow our sin to get out of control, how can people see the garden God has planted in us? It’s hard to see the fruit that is growing in a big patch of weeds.

It is God’s word growing in our hearts that keeps the weeds from prospering and overcoming our fruit.  Psalms 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Another thing I noticed was when I weed often, the weeds aren’t so big and cumbersome to try and hoe.  So it is with sin in my life. It’s good to get the sin in my life taken care of right away instead of letting it grow and letting the root of the sin getting established in my heart.

I was weeding my peas one day and noticed a vine creeping up the stalks of my peas. Not only in my peas but in the lettuce and nasturtiums too. If I yanked on the vine it would easily pull out that which it had wrapped itself around. The parable of the weeds in the field of wheat found in Matthew 13:24 came to mind. In short, the servants asked if it was okay to go and pull the weeds up but the master told them to wait so they wouldn’t accidentally pull up the wheat too.  

I did do a little surgery with the vines but it took a lot of patience. It took a little snipping here and there until I could pull the root out and not harm the plant. Don’t you wish sometimes God could just yank the sin out of our lives? I wonder how we would fair if He did? God is a very wise caretaker of our hearts, isn’t He?

You should have seen the garden when I had all the weeds pulled. Dan saw it and said, “Wow!” A couple of my friends were amazed too. It really does look glorious. There are nice pathways to walk on. I can actually see the blossoms of my nasturtiums and calendula. How beautiful! My, what a bit (well, actually a lot) of water and some sunshine can do! Likewise what a bit (well, actually a lot) of time in the presence of Jesus and reading the Word can do!

You see, we will always have weeds in our lives until we see our Savior face to face but we don’t have to be perfect for people to say, “Wow! Your life is so different. I see peace and joy in your life? How does that happen? You don’t get upset when everybody else does? Why?” Then they can see clearly the pathway to Jesus.  

May the pathways of the garden in your heart be clean. May your weeds be few and far in between. May God send His rain and sunshine in abundance. Amen!

Seeds

Seeds by Kim Spahr

Well it’s that time of year again when gardeners are going crazy over seeds!  I haven’t fully gotten the hang of using the seeds from the flowers the year before.  So many choices of veggies and flowers! I tried a bit with my nasturtiums, calendula, and marigolds last year but only my calendula actually produced plants.  I should be planting them or starting them indoors or a greenhouse early, but I run a bit behind schedule (always).

Last year I got a small greenhouse made out of plastic to start seeds in.  It was not very successful to say the least. The plants needed to be watered more than if they were outside because of the extra heat inside the greenhouse.  Then the plants needed to be moved around from shelf to shelf because of the amount of light. The plants at the top got more light and heat (drying out faster, too) and the plants below got less light and weren’t growing at the same rate.  I learned that seeds need a lot of attention for the first month because once they sprout, they grow fast!

But isn’t that just like our relationship with God?  The more Light and Water you have in your life, the faster you grow in Christ!  Ever feel like you’re just being and not growing much in the Lord? Try spending some more time in the Light and drinking from the Water of Life.

Did you know that before a seed or a plant is placed in a garden, a gardener will put fertilizer or compost in the dirt so their gardens will grow faster and have healthier plants?  The type of soil you have can sometimes determine the type of plant or seed you can plant. But there is one plant that will grow in any type of soil and that is the weed. Grrr!

And do you know what?  They require no special care.  It doesn’t matter how much rain, sun, or how good or bad the soil is, they are just there.  No garden is without weeds. And so it is with us; it takes more care for a child of God so they grow to reflect the glory of God and produce fruit than it does for a person to who doesn’t know the Lord.

We need to weed so they don’t overcome the garden and choke what’s been planted.  As a gardener tends to the soil, plants, and weeds, so must we read the Word, worship and praise, and fellowship.  A person who doesn’t know Christ just grows up with no special care required.

Do you see the love of our Father who sent Jesus to die for our sins so the Holy Spirit could come and reveal Christ to us?  We can see how He prepares a safe place for us to grow and prosper if we make that choice to abide in Him. What a loving and caring Father we have!

Have a wonderful spring! May your plants grow and prosper, reflecting the glory of God!

The Struggle is Indeed Real

The Struggle is Indeed Real by Pastor John Kitterman

When my children were 5 and 3 years old, the family took a day trip to a nearby softball field where Debbie was playing in a tournament.  We planned to be there all day so we packed several bags, a beach umbrella, and a cooler full drinks and food. Debbie grabbed her things and went out to the field because we were running a few minutes late.  

As I gathered all these items and the children, they announced that they wanted to help.  So, I gave them an assignment to carry a light paper sack that had some blankets and towels.  The sack had those nice twisted handles and each child grabbed a handle. I picked up everything else, checked the parking lot for oncoming cars and started out toward the field.

We made it 3 or 4 steps (into the middle of the driving lane) before they each went slightly different directions and ripped the bag.  Brandi began to cry. I put down the cooler and bent down to console her when the umbrella slipped from my shoulder and bonked her on the head.  Now she was really crying and a car was now headed toward us.

There is a popular phrase to describe these types of situations and it goes, “the struggle is real.”  There is no doubt that at times raising small children make it easy to agree that the struggle is indeed real.  Raising children presents us with an unpredictable set of challenges but “the struggle” is not limited to that arena.  Life has a way of throwing us all sorts of struggles.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you might have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).   Jesus is highlighting a difference between trouble (struggle) outside of us in the world and the peace he causes inside of us.

What we see from Jesus here is that we can internalize heavenly, shalom, peace, while the struggle swirls around us.  Jesus provides a source of peace that transcends our circumstances. There are indeed times when it seems as though God is so silent that His peace leaves us.  It’s in these moments we cling to the promises He has spoken to us personally or through scripture.

To close out my story.  A passing stranger walked by and scooped up the cooler, hoisting it up onto his shoulder.  I grabbed Brandi and we all cleared the roadway. This man carried the cooler all the way to the field.  This story is lighthearted, but many of our struggles are more serious.

In this fallen world, our struggles can range from family relationships, to financial, to dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Jesus had just explained to his disciples that he would be leaving the earth and returning to heaven. The disciples would experience the loss of Jesus’.   He explained that they would experience grief but that it would turn to joy.

What if God asked you to stop the struggle?  To stop being in a constant state of struggle.  To stop struggling against your mind.  To stop struggling against your body. To stop struggling against your family.  To stop struggling against money. To stop struggling to feel normal again.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’ll never live up to expectations.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’re not a good enough parent. To stop struggling against the monsters inside your head that no one understands.  To stop struggling against the words spoken over you.  To stop struggling against a permanent sense of loss. 

We may not be rescued from every struggle because the struggle is indeed real.  But superior to the struggle is the Jesus that has overcome the world and the struggle.  In Him we can have peace in the midst of the struggle.

What is your current struggle?  In Jesus, there is peace. Let’s trade our struggles for an internal peace in Jesus that passes all understanding.