God Moments

What is a God moment? A God moment is a clear moment when God shows himself in special way. For example: a child can’t go to summer mission trip bc the family can’t afford it and out of the blue a silent donor steps up and provides the funds for the child to go to camp. That is a God moment.

I witnessed a BIG God moment recently. It was really someone else’s God moment bc it happened to them so I won’t detail it here -but I saw the moment too. I saw God in what happened to them and bc I needed a God moment in my life it became mine as well. It was as if God raised his arm and was waving a big yellow flag and saying “Yes I am here! Yes I love you. Yes I see your life and your challenges and I will help you! ‘

OK! Wow I see it. Why do I need these God moments to affirm what I already know – that our God is with us in our lives all the time? Why did I need it? Because I was losing hope. I was down. I was wondering when God was going to fix my problems. Where the heck was he? Well Anne, HE is here ALL THE TIME! In the muck and the mire he is here. When our hearts ache he is here. WITH US – ALL THE TIME.

We need to pay attention to God moments. They are not just gifts to the deserving and only lucky folks get them. No- God moments are for everyone. Sometimes we miss a God moment because it isn’t a big one like the one I witnessed the other day. Or we think of the moment as a blessing but not as God truly showing himself to us. God is in all things. Small moments are God moments too. We are just human-we sometimes need the pomp and circumstance of a BIG God moment to get our attention. We say “Oh wow- he is here.”  Gods like” I am here all the time- I just had to make sure you saw me. You’ve been missing me.”

Writer Jerry Schmoyer writes in Time Out (on Studentministry.org), “So appreciate the “God moments” as the “icing on the cake” special love notes from God, but do not limit God’s involvement in our lives to these. Realize that every activity and every event in our life is, in fact, a God moment.”

So it took a God moment given to someone else for me to be lifted up again with hope. It feels somewhat selfish to grab on to another’s moment – but it was a moment for me too- it just spoke to me and I think God truly wanted it that way. God is trying to tell me that He is here all the time. He is in every moment. I can take another persons moment and be reaffirmed bc God wants it this way. He wants to tap me on my shoulder to remind me to come up for air and breath him in.

Take a moment and look around – God moments are right there in front of you. It doesn’t have to bowl you over like it apparently needed to do to me to wake me up and get me focused. They are there to be seen and appreciated. What a wonderful God we have.

The God moment I wrote about in the first paragraph? The one where the child got to attend the mission trip? That was my daughter.  We were that family. I did not grasp that as a God moment at first- how things fell together to get my child to that trip. It was hard to accept that gift at first. It was easy for me in my bravado to ignore that it was a God moment but as I sat to write this column it dawned on me that I missed the subtle nudge from God letting me know he is right here taking care of me and my family. Our human minds can become so muddled we sometimes just do not see what is right in front of us.

We shouldn’t need BIG God moments to get us back on track or to help us have faith. We have God in every minute of every day. But the good thing is those moments are going to happen no matter what because we have a loving God who is glorious and is going to be part of our lives whether we see him or not. So we always have a chance to be knocked over by one of the big moments if thats what it takes. —Praise God for that!

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

Gratitude

I recently wrote this for my church’s newsletter.——–

Perspectives……..by Anne Sweeney

Gratitude-

I had one of those God moments this month. Where a word or thought has popped into my head a number of times. I just felt like God wanted me to write about that word. That word was Gratitude- hence my topic for this month.

What is gratitude? Gratitude in defined on Dictionary.com as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

What is gratitude from a Christian viewpoint? Gratitude in the Christian sense is a spiritual practice. It is about offering a deep thankfulness for the Lord’s work in our lives.

I don’t think I am always truly gracious from the Christian viewpoint. Oh, I give my thanks to those who help me, we say grace each evening, I pray and read the Bible when I can, and I try to thank God each morning that I wake up to another day. But I don’t find that I always have what I call deep gratitude. It’s more than just thanking God. It is the need to be more intentional in gratitude. As Christians we have so much to be thankful for.

When I realize what has been given to me by Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection I can hardly believe what I have been given. I surely don’t deserve it. The more I look into myself from a Godly perspective the more awful I seem. There is NO way I could ever get into heaven if it was not for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice He made. I have been given amazing grace!

In a society where we want this and that, and we feel entitled to this and that, we often feel angry when we don’t get what we want. We often blame God. We let the every day stuff stomp out the important things and the things we should have the most gratitude for – the love and grace from God.

Randy Alcorn from Eternal Perspective Ministries puts it like this (and I could not say it any better)” If only we could see our situation clearly—even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Uh- yes that gives me some perspective…how about you? When we realize what we , as Christians, have been saved from shouldn’t the gratitude to God and the smaller every day things just overflow from us? I know this does not always happen though. How can we be more intentionally gracious?
If we look at gratitude as a belief system and an intentional way of life- a choice – we can grow our spirit of thankfulness even when we are amidst the negative times in our lives. Jame A. Autry author of “Choosing Gratitude -Learning to Love the Life You Have” reminds us that “there will always be more reasons for gratitude than for despair.” In practicing gratitude the sorrow and bitterness will be replaced with joy and a humbleness for what we are being given but don’t deserve- grace and redemption. I have some work to do! What about you?

Thank you for reading!

Having Compassion…

I wrote this last fall for our church newsletter. It was election time and I felt that there was so much hate tossed around – it really made me sad. So this was what I wrote:

Perspectives……Anne Sweeney

Everyone Needs Compassion….

Today on my Facebook newsfeed, GodVine shared a sign that read “Don’t Judge Someone Just Because They Sin Differently Than You.” This made me really think about how easy it is for me to be judgmental. For goodness sake I even judge others for judging others! As if I have it all figured out. We all sin. All of us. Sometimes I think we humans feel like we need to belong to something so we join this bandwagon or that to feel important. We react before we think. Sometimes maybe we need to look at ourselves and the stand we are taking. Are we not sinners too? Some sins are easy to see and other times they are only known by us and God. But we are all sinners…it is just human nature to sin. I know I am a sinner!- and I know I am blessed to have my Savior Jesus Christ to save me from me. We need to try to separate the sin from the sinner and treat the person as a person. Isn’t it said “Hate the sin, love the sinner”?…I hope people do that for me… I hope I can do it for others.

Psalm 19:14 says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” This is a tall order for human beings! I can be so judgmental!Some days I feel like I keep thinking and saying things that are so unpleasing to God but I can’t seem to stop! Is it just my nature to think surly things and say unkind words? No—we all have moods…joy, sadness, anger, crabbiness, etc. When I am joyful it is so easy for me to be loving and non-judgmental because I am feeling loving and kind. When I am crabby, tired, stressed, those kind thoughts and words can be so hard for me to find! But I do have choices. I can choose to make the words kind and try to chase those negative thoughts out of my mind.

In having these choices we get to thoughtfully consider the plight of others. This can help us avoid harsh judgement against other sinners…or when others disagree with our beliefs….or live differently than we do. Looking at others compassionately may not come naturally but its a choice we can make. We can choose to step back and look at someone and their sin and if we can really separate that person as a person and see the sin as a sin we can see the child created by God. This is compassion. This is love. Love is a choice not a feeling.

The Bible tells us how important it is that we love each other. In Romans 12:10 it reads:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” We know Jesus said that we need to love one another. Jesus knew all humans are sinners – he knew none of us had a right to judge another. He had love and compassion for every person he met during his time on Earth. He wanted us to love each other and be devoted to each other because humans need other humans to support them through life. Ephesians 4:32 says: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. As Christians we are so lucky to have salvation. The only reason I need salvation is because I am a sinner! It is only because of the unconditional love and compassion of God that I have received this gift of salvation. Better for us to love the sinner the way we, the sinner, want to be loved.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t know. It just seems that lately I have seen a lot of hate. I don’t even watch the news and I cannot get away from all the negativity and judgement. Maybe it is because we are in the midst of voting for president. Hackles seem to come up more easily during these times, I suppose. It just bothers me to see so much hate and judgement. It reminds me to try to be less judgmental as I am in no position to be a judge. Disagreement and differences can be healthy if love and compassion are put forth. We can actually learn from each other –and sometimes just agree to disagree. My view may be naïve but I try to take what I learn from the Bible and the important messages that are taught there. What is stressed most is love and compassion. This earthly home of ours is temporary. We can make a difference in this world by just trying a love a little more, judge a little less, and show lots of compassion. I am challenging myself to improve in my tendency to judge. I want to show more love and understanding….I am choosing to do this…how about you?

Thanks for reading!

An Authentic Life?

I wrote this in May 2012 for the newsletter for the church that I attend…

Perspectives…by Anne Sweeney

Am I living and Authentic Life?

I attended a memorial party for a friend who lost her life recently to cancer. During that party they showed a video of pictures taken throughout her life. They were just beautiful and such a reflection of who she was and the life she led. She was really a wonderful, funny person and during her 16 year battle with cancer she lived her life to the fullest. What I call an Authentic life. Maybe when a person is faced with a life threatening illness they know they need to live their life as best they can…maybe the reality of facing death takes the fear out of living life.

What is an Authentic Life? Mike Robbins author of “Be Yourself- Everyone Else is Already Taken” defines an authentic life as “enjoying a new sense of freedom to be who you really are – yourself, natural and without a mask.” He explains that there are five principles of authenticity –
1) Know Yourself – this refers to self-discovery and growth about yourself
2) Transform your fear – a willingness to express, own and face your fears
3) Express Yourself – honestly express your emotions
4) Be Bold – going for it- even it you are scared
5) Celebrate who you are – loving and appreciating the person you are.

I would add a sixth principle to the list above – trust God who gave you life – to help you to find an authentic life. Without a relationship with God I see the five principles above being hard to reach. It is God who will carry us through every trial. God wants us to live an authentic life.

I have done a lot of changing over the years. I used to be trapped in trying to please everyone, I had trouble saying no and I often did things that others thought I should do. As I matured I realized I wasn’t happy conforming to what the norm was for others. So I sought out my own normal. Often when I had an idea that was out of the norm a lot of people liked to tell me why I shouldn’t do it. Then I knew that my idea was a good one for me! Take our farm- we would not be here if we had not followed a “normal” path. It was our faith in God and ability to step out of the box that led us to this place.

I still battle with having an authentic life. I battle with anxiety – and sometimes fear stands in my way. But my relationship with the Lord has helped me so much. The more I trust him the better I am able to face my fears as in step 2 above. I am not always authentic..my opinions are often different than others – should I be real and express them? I think if asked my opinion I should give it and that is when being real can be hard. Questions like “who are you voting for?”- can make me mute- should I answer with the truth even though I know this person is voting for the other guy and he might get upset and argue with me? Or should I just go along with the conversation to avoid argument? Maybe politics is a bad example but you get my drift.

I often don’t want to offend people by talking too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do I do that? My relationship with Jesus has only brought amazing blessings to my life. I look at life in such a different way. It is a gift I long to share but I often feel like I will offend someone if I share with them. But to be truly authentic I really need to feel I can speak about something that defines who I am. So I am a work in progress. Where are you in this journey? Maybe you had never thought about this until you read this article! Maybe you never will think of it again! But for some, maybe your like me – on a journey to find the most authentic life you can. I can’t think of anything more freeing than living a life authentically. But it is getting to that freedom that is the journey.

I think being able to bring who we really are to the table will enhance our relationships. Deepen them. You know how it feels to see an old friend from the past- one who you knew when you were young? There is so much comfort there probably because at some point when we were young we felt freer to be ourselves. So the connection is deep.

The Bible tells us the type of life we can live. All of Paul’s letters clearly show us what is important in living life. Proverbs is another source to find the life God wants us to lead. The Bible can be a guide and a comfort in a journey to be more authentic. Jesus was completely authentic. He could not have been anything but. He was who he was – he spoke what he felt and taught what he knew God ,his father, wanted him to teach even when he knew many people would dislike him – hate him- fear him – for what he said and who he was. It is hard to live that kind of life because as humans we want to be accepted and loved. To live authentically though we have to understand not everyone here on earth is going to love – or like us- but there is always one that loves all the time- that is God the Father. We also have to let others live their lives authentically.

There are some famous people who understood the need to be authentic:

Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to search for authenticity in his own life. He is quoted as saying “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Thoreau went to the live in the woods in order to find a more authentic life.

Steve Jobs said: ”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

We don’t need to go to the woods to live to find our authentic life. We can look inside ourselves right in our own homes. We can trust God to lead us to the life He planned for us. And He can be the bridge over our fears.

When in doubt read Philippians 4:6-7 says “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). Bring your worries to the Lord and he will give you peace.

Thanks for reading….