Monday, September 25, 2006

Chapter 1 Being Blameless

Titus Ponderings: As I read Chapter one of Titus I was tempted as a woman to skip it thinking it doesn’t apply to me. I’m not a man nor a Pastor, Deacon or a paid Minister. I was going to immediately go to chapter two since it is my favorite when I heard God whisper, “Think again.” Okay, what do You want me to see? Here is what He opened my eyes to.

God reminded me of my role as a woman…to be my man’s helpmate. Hmmm, since my husband has been called into the ministry this passage deals with him directly and me indirectly. So if you are a wife of a minister or deacon, mother of, daughter of, grandmother to…this indirectly will apply to you as well. Some of you are saying, “I only have girls and my husband is not called into the ministry nor is he a deacon.” I believe that these are qualities that God is seeking in every man. They are the characteristics that describe a man of God. We all want our husbands, sons, grandsons, brothers to have the character God desires for him. We also want our daughters, granddaughters, sisters…to know what kind of man to look for. Also what kinds of men we as mothers are to raise up to the glory of our Lord. So this applies to us women just as much as it does the men.

So what is He calling our attention to? We need to “straighten out what is unfinished” or “set in order the things that are lacking.” God is saying to look at the following lists and see where I may be lacking and where I may be helpful in where my man may be lacking and then work to set things in order; get them straightened out.

Twice He tells us that we are to be blameless. It carries the idea of living a life where no one can accuse you of wrong doing. He specifically tells us that the men need to be blameless in their family life. They are to have only one wife; which means that they are to work at their marriage and make it one that honors the Lord. Marriage takes a lot of work and the man can’t do it alone. Here is where we can truly be a help or a hinder. Many of you know my husbands holy conviction of not ever being alone with a woman in any setting. He says that he is making sure that no one will ever be given the opportunity to accuse him of being unfaithful; he seeks to live blameless. Recently a letter was sent to a coworker’s husband accusing her of having an affair with another coworker. The marriage is now in jeopardy. I know both of these people and honestly don’t believe they were having an affair. But none of this would have happened if the two workers hadn’t hung out so much together. They often went out to lunches and breaks together and yes probably a little flirting was involved. People were bound to talk. We live in a world full of people who are curious, jealous, busy bodies and just plain mean. As Christians we must be on guard always because we live in a fallen world where the enemy is prowling around seeking a way to bring down Christian marriages, families and ministries. God is warning us to protect His name not just ours. If we are to carry His name then we must be careful to live up to that name. Protecting our marriage is also protecting the name we carry. The other part of the family we are to guard is the raising of our children and let’s face it men need our help immensely in this area. He specifically tells us not to raise children that are wild and disobedient but children that believe. We all know that people are quick to pass judgments most unfairly. If you are a ministers wife you know how closely your children are watched, unfairly so. Again, God is saying it isn’t about what is fair but about My name. It must be protected. If our children are drawing negative attention then ministering is being hindered and therefore we become a stumbling block. I don’t think God was saying our children are to be perfect ‘stepford’ children but they should respect their parents. There is no guarantee that even if you are blameless that someone one won’t be critical. This is where knowing we are blameless (not perfect) and have peace with God. So I ask myself, are things in order in these two areas?

Then God spelled it out for me. He showed me the character traits of what one who is blameless has and the characteristics he doesn’t have. If I am to be blameless I can’t be overbearing (self-willed), quick-tempered, not a drunk, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain (greedy). Okay, here is where I had to stop and ask the Holy Spirit for His insightful and discerning help. Am I or Jon overbearing, quick-tempered, drinking too much, violent or greedy? It is important for me to take the time and sincerely ask since the Scriptures tell us that the heart is deceptive above all things. Where I found myself lacking, I asked for forgiveness and help to be rid of the sin. Where I saw possible weakness in Jon or my children, I prayed for them. If God leads I will talk to them about what the Holy Spirit has shown me.
If I want to be blameless, I am told to be: hospitable, love what is good, be self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. After studying these words I saw a pattern. God wants me to love others by giving of myself, love doing good deeds, love others by not having to have the last word or getting my way, love by doing right. Woe is me; I am a woman of unclean ways living among a people of unclean ways! Let me recap what God is saying. We are to love others by sharing our resources. We are to love others intentionally, through our actions by doing good deeds. We are to love others with our attitudes; our thoughts and speech should be loving not selfish. We are to love God by obeying, being righteous, doing what is right in God’s eyes. We are to love God by being holy; we are not to treat ourselves or salvation as something common but sacred. We are to love God by walking by faith not sight; we can’t explain everything, we won’t understand everything but we will trust Him in all things at all times. This is how one remains strong in the things of the Lord. With the Holy Spirits help I again do some self-examination. If I am to be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer I MUST take the time to make the changes necessary.

Why is all this so very important to God? In one way or another we are all spiritual leaders. God has entrusted His work to us. I need to let that sink in. We should take this responsibility seriously. Sadly many who ‘say’ they are followers of Jesus don’t. I took another look at Titus 1:10-16. Here is a picture of those who are not blameless but irresponsible and dangerous to kingdom work. They are destroyers of whole households by what they are teaching and teaching for selfish gain. God says, “They claim to know God, but their actions deny Him.” “They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing any good thing.” I don’t want this be me.

O Father, I want to walk with You every moment of every day. I want to feel the tug on my hand when I am starting to go the wrong way and I want to respond with full cooperation and Joy. I want to go Your way. I so want to be blameless so that I can, yes, am fit to do kingdom work but mostly I want to honor Your great name. LORD, I confess I have many areas that need changing but I trust You and therefore I yield to You. You are my abundant life and joy.

Bragging on our God

Lisa's friend Rachel has a nephew who has had 3 holes in his heart that have given him much trouble. HAD!!! One hole is completely closed, another is almost completely closed and the biggest one is starting to close. IT was told me that the Dr. hadn't seen anything like it. I love how mf dear friend Lisa put it, "She (the Dr.) just witnessed the healing hand of God." Amen to that. Isn't God wonderful? I counted it an honor to pray for this little guy along side countless others that I am sure I won't meet till glory. How it thrills our heavenly Father to hear his children standing in the gap arm in arm for those in need. Let's never forget the power of prayer!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Here am I, send me...

Recently I was called upon to go and talk to someone about some major issues going on in her life. Because of who this person was I was extremely nervous about talking to her. I was doubting my ability to share anything of significance with her because her experiences were foreign in many ways to what I have experienced. I can remember Jon looking over at me at one time and saying, “You really are nervous, aren’t you?” I talked to God pacing as I did so. I asked Him, “Why me?” “Can’t You find someone who can actually help her?” “I don’t know what to say; I don’t know how to help her.” As I was pacing back and forth I hear Him whisper gently, “Isaiah 61.”

Let me go back a few months to March 16th. Another pause, many of you are wondering how I know the date. I JOURNAL and follow a SYSTEMATIC Bible reading plan. I knew where to look. Listen, without writing it down there would be so much of God’s works in my life that I would quickly forget. My journal is my way of building an altar every time I encounter the LORD. That’s what they did over and over again in the OT; they built altars so that they would have a visible reminder for themselves and as a testimony to others. This is exactly what I am doing today with this blog.

Back to March 16th. On that day God brought me back to Isaiah 56-61. He showed me again, that the heart of Jesus was to be my heart and my calling. I saw afresh that day that God loves people more than anything and He longs deeply for all peoples to intimately know Him. There are obstacles in their way and He wants them removed. God hears the cries of desperation. His ears are not dull nor His arm to short to save. Yet God has chosen me (you) to be His ears and His arm. God is appalled that in this dark world where He is light and has redeemed us that we may shine forth His light; He can find none to intervene. I answered that day, “Here am I, send me.”

So when God whispered, “Isaiah 61.” I knew exactly what He was saying. He was telling me that He was sending me to reveal His heart and purpose. Here is just a small portion of His heart and purpose:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

[2] To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,

[3] To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)

As I went obediently and willingly He poured out His Spirit upon me. His love and wisdom came out of my heart and mouth. Healing began that day for someone I love deeply.

Yes God heard her cries for help. Yes God heard my begging for release or help. But let me give a little thanks and praise to other prayers that were heard. My sweet sisters in Christ were heard and responded to by our great and loving Lord. I honestly knew with confidence that I was being prayed for. I truly believe that I would not have had the empowering I had without their intercession. So thank you sweet sisters; how my love for you has grown even at this distance.

Till next time lets’ love as He loves and go when He says go. Let me know when and I will pray for you as you take on His heart’s passion…people.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Fresh Beginning

I began this blog site out of the constant, non-relenting coercing and urging of my wonderful husband. Did I mention that he is persistent? Any of you out there that have been blessed to know him, know exactly what I am talking about. I have to admit that it is one of the things I love about him and our relationship. He loves me just the way I am but loves me way to much to let me grow comfortable or better put, stagnant. Through out the last few years I have often said to him that I want to learn to write. God shows me so much and I fear I can’t contain it without putting it in writing. His response; then write! A typical Jon Estes response; things come way to easy for him, especially the mornings. Doing the blog was another way he saw for me to write what God was doing in my life.

I recently was disappointed with my blog site and the lack of response received from God’s invitation for us all to brag on Him. I had this expectation of grandiose proportions. When those expectations weren’t met I quit. To be honest when Jon would question me about it, I couldn’t figure out the purpose behind it. Why do it? What was it to accomplish? What fruit was it bearing? If there were no obvious results then why waste the time?

I now have my purposes. It’s not necessarily for you out there but for Him….and me. I am His witness! I am not called to defend Him but to be His witness. I will declare how awesome He is in my everyday encounters with Him. I will testify of changes He is making in me. I will openly praise and thank Him for all things and in all things. I will proclaim His truth as He reveals it to me. I will worship Him. Will I challenge you? That will be entirely up to you and Him. Do I want to hear from you…of course but this blog will no longer be dependent on the response or lack there of. I may at times ask specifically for your insights, feelings and experiences to enrich and enlighten me as I teach and disciple other women. They need us and I need you.

So what will be the format for the blog, exactly what it is titled; my ponderings. Let me warn you I ponder a lot and they don’t always make a lot of sense to anyone else but me…and Him! Hallelujah for that. He does understand me completely and still loves me faithfully. He is good.