Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Do you know any dysfunctional families?  Are you part of a dysfunctional family?

I used to think they were in the minority, now I'm beginning to wonder if there are truly ANY functional families at all.  It seems everyone I talk to has some kind of issue going on within their family that tears at the heart.  This got me to thinking "What does the Bible say about dysfunctional families?"  So I began to think back through some of the major families we know in the Bible.  Turns out dysfunction in families has been around since the beginning.  Take a look.

Adam and Eve – had Cain and Abel. Cain was rebellious, failing to handle the sacrifice as God had commanded. As a result, God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s. This caused jealousy between the brothers. Cain killed Abel. (Genesis 4: 5-10)

Noah – Noah had 3 sons: Ham, Shem and Japheth. Ham “uncovered his father’s nakedness” (which some translate to mean he sodomized him) after the flood.(Genesis 9:20-24)

Lot – After God sends Abram out of the land of UR and into the land where HE wants him to go, he and Lot cannot get along. There is always bickering over the land and the wells, etc. So Abram tells Lot to choose which way he wants to go. Lot picks the side he thinks is the most lush and green and ends up in Sodom, a land filled with homosexuality and wickedness. God comes to destroy Sodom, but allows Lot and his wife and 2 daughters to escape. His wife is killed so it is only he and the 2 girls on the outskirts of town, trying to stay alive. The girls get their father drunk and both sleep with him and get pregnant by him. (Genesis 19: 1-36)

Abraham and Sara – Sara offers her handmaiden as a surrogate to  because she is childless. Then gets mad because he does what she asks and he fathers a child by Hagar. Ishmael and Isaac were never close as brothers, but an enmity was between them from the beginning. (Genesis 16; 21: 1-21)

Jacob and Esau – Isaac and Rebekah have 2 sons, Jacob and Esau.  Isaac favored Esau because he was a hunter and a "man's man".  Rebekah favored Jacob and a "homebody".  Jacob cheats Esau out of his birthright with the help and encouragement of his mother. He has to run away from home to escape Esau’s rage. He goes to work for Uncle Laban but Uncle Laban tricks him into marrying the wrong daughter, then makes him work 7 more years for his beloved Rachel. He has 12 sons by the 2 women but he favors Rachel’s children, Joseph and Benjamin. (Genesis 25: 26-34; 27: 1-43; 29-30)

Joseph – Because of his father’s partiality towards him, his other brothers are so jealous they seek to kill him. One of them has pity on him and convinces the others to put him in a well instead, planning to come back and rescue him later. They deceive their father into thinking an animal killed him after they sell him to some traveling gypsies. (Genesis 37)

David – Out of all the sons of Jesse, God picks David to be the next king and to be the line through which Jesus will come. Though scripture does not elaborate on it, I’m sure there was probably quite a lot of jealousy over that fact among the brothers. Then he becomes king, is highly favored of God being called a man after God’s own heart. He has numerous wives but he looks upon the wife of another, sleeps with her and then has her husband killed in battle. He has a son who rapes his sister and another son who plots the overthrow of his father’s throne. (I Samuel 16: 1-13; II Sam 11: 1-27; 13: 1-14; 15-18)

Solomon – One of David’s sons, Solomon, was born to the woman he committed adultery with, Bathsheba. Solomon was considered the wisest man who ever lived yet had took hundreds of women to be "wives" and they turned him away from being obedient to the Lord.  (I Kings 10: 23, 24; 11: 1-4)
These are just a few of the more familiar families of the Bible, but I think it gives a clear picture that families are made up of sinful people. There are no perfect families because there are no perfect people. God Himself was a perfect parent but He only had ONE perfect child, and it wasn't me or you! It was JESUS.

So do we give up our quest for a godly home and a godly family? Absolutely not!! We continue to seek, on a personal level, to be all that God wants each of us to be, to be in relationship with Him, obedient to Him and committed to Him. We teach our children and grandchildren God's Word, we model before them to the best of our ability how to follow Christ and pray for them to commit their lives to Him.

In reality, no family will be truly "functional" til we get to Heaven and sin is eradicated. But, until then, we must contine to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness", love each other, forgive each other and pray for each other without ceasing.

Monday, July 25, 2011


From Max Lucado's latest book MAX ON LIFE:

"Prayer reminds you WHO is in charge. You don't take your requests to somone with less authority.  You take them to someone who outranks you in the solutions department.  Prayer decreases you and increases God.

Prayer gives permission to God to complete the request according to His will.  Hopefully, you don't pray just to let God know what's going on.  He's way ahead of you on that one.  You are praying to transfer 'my will be done' to 'God's will be done'.  Since he is in charge, he knows the best solution.  Prayer exercises your willpower and gives God authority to work in your life.

Prayer relieves the stress of perceived inactivity.  Now that God has been given the task, you don't have to worry about it any longer.  God has his people on  it.  With less stress comes more strength.  Prayer transfers the burden to God and lightens your load.

People struggle with life when they don't have answers.  The darkest valleys are blackened by the shadows of question marks.  So what do you do?  Think harder?  Try harder?  Hold longer conversations with yourself?  Why not pray to the One with all the answers and let Him take over?

Prayer pushes us through life's slumps, propels us over the humps, and pulls us out of the dumps.  Prayer is the OOMPH we need to get the answers we seek."

Sunday, July 24, 2011


How many times have you said the following:

"When I lose 10#, 20#, 30 #, etc, THEN I'll............"

"When we have enough money, THEN we'll............."

"When this relationship is healed, THEN I'll be happy"

"When this problem is resolved, THEN I'll be happy"

"When I get this promotion, THEN I'll be happy."

"When I am healed of this sickness, THEN I'll be happy".

"When we have a baby, THEN I'll be happy."

"When our children are grown and on their own, THEN we'll..........."

"When I retire, THEN I'll .................".

I don't know about you, but I find that I am always waiting on the PERFECT set of circumstances, waiting for everything in my life to fall into place.  But as the years continue to creep up on me, I am beginning to realize there is NEVER going to be a day when EVERYTHING is perfect in my life....at least not in THIS life. 

In the meantime, I am wasting time and failing to enjoy what I DO have to enjoy.

Over the last several years God has been trying to hammer a verse into my head, "THIS is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in IT."  Psalm 118: 24.  You see I am a worrier and the "what if's" can drive me crazy and, if I let them, steal my joy.  God has been trying to teach me that "sufficient unto today is the evil thereof "(Matt. 6:34).  TODAY is the only day I have and when I bring tomorrow's troubles into TODAY, I rob myself of all that God had for me TODAY. 

But today, I heard a comment on K-Love about wasting time waiting on things to be PERFECT and it hit me that I have been doing that all my life.  Again, Psalm 118:24 came to my mind.  But this time, instead of the emphasis being on TODAY, it was on REJOICE and BE GLAD IN IT. 

It was if the Lord were saying to me, "Pat, things are not ever going to be perfect and you are wasting precious time waiting for them to be.  In the meantime you are missing the blessings you DO have waiting on what you DON'T have." 

What about YOU?  Have you been waiting on something in YOUR life to become perfect?  Are you wishing things could be like they used to be?  Are you waiting on circumstances to change?  Are you grieving for a lost love?  Are you yearning for something God has not allowed you to have? 

It is true that God tells us to wait on Him, to trust Him and to seek Him for what we desire.  But, while you are waiting on those prayers to be answered or those needs to be met, what are you doing with what you DO have?  What are you going to do with TODAY?

I urge you to realize that PERFECT is not going to come til we reach Heaven.  Oh the circumstance that you are praying over may very well work out just the way you want it in God's time.  But...there will be another circumstance that is imperfect waiting in the wings to take its place.  

So today, will you join me in thanking God for all the blessings you DO have?  Will you choose to REJOICE and BE GLAD in THIS day? 

Helen Steiner Rice put it beautifully:

Yesterday's dead,

Tomorrow's unborn,

So there's nothing to fear

And nothing to mourn,

For all that is past

And all that has been

Can never return

To be lived once again...

And what lies ahead

Or the things that will be

Are still in GOD'S HANDS

So it is not up to ME

To live in the future

That is God's great unknown

For the past and present

God claims for His own..

So all I need do

Is to live for TODAY

And trust God to show me

THE TRUTH and the WAY..

For it's only the memory

Of things that have been

And expecting tomorrow

To bring trouble again

That fills my today

Which God wants to bless

With uncertain fears

And borrowed distress...

For all I need live for

Is this one little minute,

For life's HERE and NOW

And eternity's in it.

---Helen Steiner Rice

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Do you ever pray and feel like God must be sleeping?  You pray and you pray, you ask and you ask to no avail.  It seems as if Heaven is closed and God must be napping. 

Psalm 11 : 4 says "His eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men."  In other words, He IS looking, He IS seeing, but it appears that His eyelids are closed from our vantage point.

We must remember that God never slumbers or sleeps.  Even Jesus, who in his humanity DID sleep, never OVERslept!!  He woke just in time to still the storm.  He was never late nor did He ever run out of time.

So in our lives, though it may seem that the doors of Heaven are shut and that His eyes are closed, the reality is that He may be testing us.  Will we give up?  Will we stop praying?

I have been in God's waiting room.  On one of my first occasions to be in that waiting room, it seemed that His answer would never come.  Then He gave me Isaiah 30:18 and it changed my perspective on waiting:

"Therefore will the Lord wait, that [object of the exercise] He may be gracious unto you and therefore [ultimate goal] HE WILL BE EXALTED".  Again we are reminded IT IS NOT ABOUT US!!! 

If you have labored long in prayer over a problem, a relationship, a lost loved one and it seems God is sleeping, be assured He is not.  He is waiting til the appointed time to move and to act on your behalf so that ultimately HE will be glorified in it.  In the process, the waiting is hard, but our faith is strengthened, and one day we will finally see it all unfold according to His plan.  The rest of Isaiah 30: 18 says "Blessed are all they who wait for Him".  So don't despair and don't give up.  "Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him." Psalm 37: 7

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I've been reading a book that a friend from Sunday School has referred to numerous times in our class, PRACTICING HIS PRESENCE by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach.  Brother Lawrence (Nicholas Herman) of France died in 1691.  Frank Lauback went home to be with the Lord in 1970.  Both men wrote about practicing the presence of the Lord on a moment by moment basis.

Brother Lawrence was born into poverty in French Lorraine in 1611.  He became a Christian at the age of 18, became a soldier and then a footman.  At the age of 55, he entered a religious community called the Carmelites and became what was known as a "lay brother", from whence came his name "Brother Lawrence".  During those years he served mostly in the hospital kitchen.  But within that community and later beyond, became known for his experience of practicing the presence of God.  We are privileged to learn a little more of how he came to do this through some letters that he wrote and that were later published. 

Frank Laubach was born in the U.S. in 1884, almost 200 years after the death of Brother Lawrence.  Forty five years later he would be serving as a missionary in the Phillipines.  It was not til he was 45 that Frank began "practicing the presence of Christ" and 45 years later, he went home to be with the Lord. He was one of the most well known and well travelled men on earth at that time.  Countless honors were bestowed upon him during his lifetime including Man of the Year to which he commented "The Lord will not wish to count my trophies but my scars."  He wrote over 50 books, several of which were best sellers.  He was perhaps the greatest educator of his time.  His accomplishments are virutally endless.  But what stands out most are the letters he wrote to his father regarding his experience of "practicing the presence of Christ."

January 20, 1930 he wrote :

"Although I have been a minister and a missionary for fifteen years, I have  not lived the entire day of every day, minute by minute to follow the will of God.  Two years ago a profound dissatisfaction led me to begin trying to line up my actions with the will of God about every fifteen minutes or every half hour.  But this year I have started out to live ALL my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing ,"What, Father, do you desire said?  What, Father do you desire THIS MINUTE?"  It is clear that is exactly what Jesus was doing all day every day [while he walked on this earth]."

Now as you are reading this maybe you are thinking "That is absurd!  No one can think about God every minute of every day."  But...is that really impossible?

I have found myself throughout my life talking to God throughout my day, about big things and little things.  In fact, we really have an ongoing conversation.  So, to me, that does not really sound SO far-fetched.  However, I can say that I have not attained the level to which either of these saints did....every minute of every day.  Yet it is something to press toward.

Does He not say "Pray without ceasing"?

Does He not say "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in ALL of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." 

Does He not say "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." 

If we are acknowledging Him in every thing we do, if we are seeking Him above all else, will that not lead to praying without ceasing and therefore be "practicing the presence"? 

Here are just a few instances of how that can play out as I have experienced it just today....

As soon as you open your eyes, acknowledge Him.  Ask for His guidance throughout the day, ask for His help with whatever problems you may be facing today.  Thank Him you were able to sleep through the night.

As my granddaughter and I pulled weeds this morning, we talked of Adam and Eve, and how it was all their fault that we have weeds.  Now maybe you are wondering how that is "practicing the presence"?  I think it is because it gave me the opportunity to bring Him into our conversation.  To which she replied "Yes, Mimi, that was sin and Jesus died for our sins."  Oh yes, I was practicing the presence as inwardly I praised Him that this child knows that already at the tender age of 5!!

Later, still pulling weeds, I asked her what her favorite song was.  She replied "One, Two, Three".  I was puzzled.  I said "I don't think I know that song". So she began to sing
One, Two Three...Jesus loves me
One, Two Jesus loves you.

Three and four,  He loves you more
Than you've ever been loved before

Five, Six, Seven I'm going to Heaven
Eight and Nine soon to be mine

Nine and ten
Let's sing it again.

Now if that wouldn't bring any grandmother into His presence, I don't know what would.  Oh yes, I was praising Him big time that that song was her favorite!!! 

Still later upon hearing of my son-in-love's grandmother's health crisis, I uttered a prayer for comfort and healing, direction for the doctors and comfort for the family.  Others were on my mind as I drove away, many who are needing His healing touch today.

A few minutes later I was standing in Lowe's looking at a variety of plants in all different shapes and colors, marvelling at His handiwork and asking Him to help me make the wisest choices. 

Home again, checking email and Facebook, I was stirred and brought into His presence once more by the numerous needs that were voiced from both sources. 

You see it is not as hard as one would think.  Yet I am not to the level of intimacy that Brother Lawrence or Frank achieved....but I hope to be one day.  But I do know that He  is always there, waiting to speak to us, waiting for us to come to Him with every detail of our life.  He desires for us to acknowledge His presence, every moment of every day.

How about you?  Have you entered His presence today?  It's not too late.........