Patsy Clairmont shows just how artistic and humorous she truly is in the pages of “Twirl”. The simple fact that each chapter of this very easy, smooth, and gentle read stands alone makes this a book that can be enjoyed at any time and in any place. “Twirl” invites you to look to find enjoyment of life in the simplest of things as Patsy reminds you just how much fun twirling used to be. As you spend time among the pages of this wonderfully uplifting volume, you will realize that some of the things in your life that you allow to cause you tension can be made much more tolerable, if you simply think of them as you twirl around. The words on these pages will bring you many moments of unadulterated joy. So much so, you will find yourself with highlighter in hand, marking favorite passages for future reference. As you spend time among the beautifully written words of Patsy Clairmont, an original “Women of Faith” speaker, you will notice increasing numbers of people coming to mind that you want to give a copy of “Twirl” as a gift. You can rest assured, “Twirl” will be a gift very well received. This is a book that you will retrieve from your bookshelf many times over as you find yourself rereading it time and time again.
These days it seems there are so many tragic stories, so much pain. Between school and mall shootings, children and babies suffering and dying, and currently the flu epidemic and the fear that goes with it. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. All of these leave many people asking the question, “Why? Why does God allow this?”
Just last night, a tiny, newborn baby girl, beautiful and precious, left the loving arms of her mother and father and went to be with Jesus. This little girl being so close to my family that she may as well of been. She is the daughter of my son-in-law’s cousin, a young man we have had to our house often, eaten many a meal with and shared holidays and family celebrations with. I’m sure there are several members of this family currently asking those questions, “Why? Why me? Why, God?”
That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
Things didn’t get any better in the 21st century. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why is all of this happening if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Several years ago, a national survey asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response? “Why is there suffering in the world?” Interestingly, married people were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering.
But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when you or someone you love is struck. And Jesus warned us those times would come. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being imagined, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he assured us it would happen.
But, why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow that precious baby, and now her parents to suffer?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”
I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. 1st Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday, we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And honestly, I don’t think any attempt at theological explanation is going to do anyone any good right now; any intellectual response is just going to seem rehearsed. What is desperately needed now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that this young family has a loving church and family helping them through this difficult time.
But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. People, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. So let’s try.
Imagine driving along a highway in the dark, when it starts to rain heavily and suddenly you hit dense fog. You can barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road and that is what you are using to attempt to stay on the road! You can’t stop because then someone might come along and rear-end you. Talk about scary!
Just as suddenly a truck appears in front of you. You can just make out his taillights through the fog. You guess he must have fog lamps in front, because he is traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and somehow, you know if you can just follow those taillights, you’ll be okay, heading in the right direction.
I think the same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.
What are those points of light? Let’s take a look at some that people have found helpful whenever they have felt prompted to ask the question, “Why?”
The first point would be that God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did those things come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So, I think we can agree love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to choose whether to love or not. Why? Well, because love always involves a choice.
If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love. Think of those dolls with a string in the back, and when you pull that string the doll says, “I love you.” Does that doll love the string puller? Of course not. It is programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to be able to choose to love or not to love. Again – real love always involves a choice.
So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.
Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is. When in reality the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.
In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old saying, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”
The Bible says it’s because of sin that nature was corrupted and “thorns and thistles” entered the world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In other words, nature longs for redemption to come and for things to be set right. That’s the source of disorder and chaos.
To be perfectly clear, God did not create evil and suffering. However, He did create the potential for evil to enter the world, because that was the only way to create the potential for genuine goodness and love. But it was us, human beings, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into reality.
Some people may ask, “Doesn’t God have a plan? Couldn’t He have foreseen all of this?” And I have no doubt He did. But look at it this way: many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course — but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.
God undoubtedly knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him. He must have thought it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great pain and suffering to achieve their redemption.
In my next post, I’ll look at another ‘point of light’, the fact that God can use suffering to accomplish good.
I wrote this post a few days ago, when I learned that this precious 9 month old child had been granted all the necessary approvals and would finally be place on the waiting list. I was both happy and sad at the thought of her finally receiving the necessary treatment and preparations in anticipation off the chance for Baby Parson to receive her transplant. Meanwhile, another family is faced with losing their precious angel and answering questions about how they feel about organ donation, something they have probably never even though about. Don’t take anything for granted and remember, God IS always there. Even when you feel like there is no way He is anywhere around, He is there.
FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013
FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013
I will begin my second Daniel Fast on this coming Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. My plan is to go the entire 40 days of Lent. My goals for this round are, to establish a routine of Bible study and prayer at the same time each day. I plan to get up earlier than normal for me so that I can easily spend MORE TIME with God!! I also plan to actually do some working out this go around so hopefully, my weight loss will be much more significant!! I lost 16 pounds on my first round of only 21 days, so 25-30 should be reachable this time around!! Especially if I add exercise!
Please pray for me that I am able to reach these goals! Thank you all so much for your support and concouragement. You will never know just how much that encouragement means to me!!
Today is Friday the 13th. To many people that is a very bad thing! It is a Friday and to be the 13th, OH NO!!! Bad things will happen to all who are not VERY careful and do not fear the unknown!! HAHAHAHA!!!
Friday the 13th is just a day that follows the 12th and comes before the 14th. It is a day that God has made just for us! If we truly believe bad things are going to happen, then there is that possibility; but if you go into this day expecting great things, appreciative to God for this glorious day, then guess what? Great things can happen!! You do not have to fear the unknown when you ask God to walk beside you through your day!
Such a simple thought, yet so many ignore it! WHY? Why do so many professed christians fail to begin their day with a simple conversation with our wonderful, almighty God? There are several reasons that I know of…
1. They forget— Now, how do you forget if you are truly a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? Easy, you aren’t as faithful as you should be. You have not taken the time or made the committment to make your day begin and end with a conversation with our Lord! It takes approximately 21 days to create a habit according to some researchers. So here is challenge #1 for you. If you do not already, make it a point of talking to God EVERY SINGLE DAY, BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED!!! And then talk to Him again, every night, BEFORE LAYING DOWN TO SLEEP! EVERY DAY for 21 days. Then see what happens on the 22nd day. I bet you don’t even think about it. You will just lay there awake and have your morning conversation with God.
2. Laziness — We are too afraid of getting lazy by sitting for any amount of time and praying, talking to God, so we get busy with our day and tell ourselves that we will pray later. RIGHT!!! Usually does not happen. Again, start your day with a conversation with God!! HE WANTS YOU TO!! 21 days…..
3. Too busy — We jump out of bed and get our day started and before you know it, supper time has come and gone, you are exhausted from all you have done in the course of your day, and you have not once spoken with God. Stop right there. Consider this. How would you feel, if someone you loved dearly, spouse, child, friend, etc., went an entire day without speaking to you, AT ALL!! Not very good huh? Maybe like they didn’t really love you so much after all? Well, how do you think God feels when we don’t take the time to spend with Him? We leave Him out of everything! He is like the poor little wallflower at the school dance, just standing off to theirself, noone paying them any attention. And they go home feeling lonely and unwanted. Let God know you love Him!! TALK TO HIM!! 21 days….
4. Your afraid — Either you are afraid of not saying the right things, or you don’t know how to pray or you are afraid of what your family might think of you if they hear you praying. First of all, your family should KNOW you pray!! You should be praying WITH your family!! Not always, you need that alone prayer time with God, but you should definitely involve your family in your prayer life. Afraid of not saying the right things or how to pray? It’s simple. Just start talking to God, just like you would your best friend. After all, isn’t He your best friend? He should be. As you start talking to Him about what you expect from your day, ask God to lead you through this day. Thank Him for what He did for you yesterday and last night, (you slept didn’t you?) Thank Him for waking you up this morning. Thank Him for any and all things in your life, even the BAD things! Yes, I said even the bad things. Because those bad things, those trials and tribulations that we go through, are being used by God to teach us. There is always a lesson in what God takes us through. Notice I said TAKES us through and not PUTS us through. Because, everything we go through, if we ask Him, God is right there with us. But He wants you to invite Him. 21 days…
5. “I tried and nothing changed” — The problem there is that we expect immediate results. We have become a society of instant gratification. We want warm food, zap it in the microwave; need to get a message to someone, send them an IM or text message. Need to know some facts about something, google it! God doesn’t work that way! He does everything in His own time and we have to be patient and wait upon the Lord! That in itself is a lesson on patience, something we can all use a bit more of! Keep talking to Him. He is there and listening. God always answers prayer. His answers are either, yes, no, or not right now! 21 days….
Talk to your Father in heaven, about anything and everything. He already knows, but He wants to hear from you!
Thank you Lord for another beautiful day you have given us! Father you give us so much that we fail to thank you for. You are so good to us, much better than we deserve. Father I thank you for the continued blessings you give me and my family. You bless us each day with food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads, and other material things that are above and beyond what we really need. Father, YOU are my hearts desire! I pray for your guidance throughout each and every step I take. I ask you to lead me and keep me from all temptation. Forgive me Father, for the things I may have said or done that were disappointing to you. Help me Lord to forgive those who I feel have treated me badly. Help me to be the loving and forgiving person you want me to be. Lord, it is my desire to be the representative for you that you would have me to be. I want there to be no doubt when someone sees or speaks to me, that I am YOUR CHILD!! I love you Lord God, my wonderful heavenly Father! I love you so much and I thank you for all the wonderful things you have planned for me in the future. I thank you for taking me and my family through the trials of the past year and helping us to see You, Lord, at work in those trying times. I see you still working on those things and I know that all things come together for good for those who love the Lord. I know that good things are coming for my family and I thank you so very much for that! I ask you again Father to forgive me where I have failed you. Help me to be a good disciple for you and to give you all the honor and glory Lord. Thank you Father, I love you. I pray all these things in Jesus precious name, AMEN.
21 days….. Not as difficult as you think.
I meant to post this two days ago, but just never got to it! I am now on day 9 of my Daniel Fast. My goal is to make it for the entire 21 days, and I do believe with the Lord’s help, I will make it.
I have lost 3 pounds! But more importantly, I have been spending much more time in God’s word!! I am actually doing more for my Lord than I was. I have had a lot of realizations over the past week.
First realization; I can’t go an entire week without coffee. I finally had to break down and make some on Friday morning, but I made half-caf, and I only had one cup. Started a second one but it got cold before I could drink much at all, so I just tossed it out! Took care of the horrible headache I had. I can tell it is getting time for another cup soon. Since it is pretty chilly here today, and I have plenty to do should it keep me awake, I may go ahead and make me some!
Second realization; I am not going to learn everything there is to learn in the Bible. I am learning much more than I ever have, but even if I have a marathon study session and spend a couple of weeks of doing absolutely nothing but Bible study, I won’t know it all. And, I am okay with that!!
Third realization; I don’t think God expects me to know everything there is to know about Him or what is in His word! I do think He expects me to try to learn as much as possible, and to continue that learning process as long as I continue to live on this earth, but I don’t think He is going to condemn me because I haven’t learned all the stories there are in there!!
Fourth realization; There are A LOT of things, very interesting things, in the Bible!! I don’t mean to sound like I have never read the Bible before. I have, in bits and pieces, sporadically. But now, I am just so HUNGRY to learn more!! I crave hearing the Holy Spirit speak to me through the word. I desire to be able to memorize some passages that I can share with others when the time is right.
I am happy about the weight loss, but I am elated about the way God is working with me and on me right now!! I know He has great things planned for me and I believe He is grooming me for whatever those may be right now! So I say, groom me Lord! Show me what you would have me to do. Lord, lead the way and I will follow. Whatever you ask of me Lord, I will give it 100%.
I am so grateful to God for the way He is working with me, but also for the way He is helping me with this fast. If it weren’t for God, there have been several times when I would have already been off this fast. I’m not going to kid you, it’s tough!! But, I can already see the benefits of it and everyday I feel a little closer to my Father in heaven, which makes me want to just continue on with this fast, no matter what! So, thank you Lord, for all you are doing with me and for me!
Father, I beg your forgiveness for the times I have disappointed you by words I have said, or something I have done, or something I have left undone that you wanted done. I ask you to forgive me Father for any time that I may have caused anyone pain or discomfort in any way. Lord, I ask you now, please show me if there are other areas that I need to ask forgiveness for. Father, I forgive those who have hurt me in the past, in any number of ways. Whether the hurt inflicted by them was intentional or not, only you know that, but I wish to forgive them. I ask you now Lord for your continued blessings on me as I continue this fast and beyond. Lord, I know that I receive not because I ask not, so at this time I am asking you for guidance in figuring out what to do about our housing situation. While we have a roof over our heads, and it is paid for, there are so many repairs that it needs. Father, do we go ahead with repairs and make plans to add on to this house, or do we look for another, safer home? I ask for your protection of my home and anyone who may cross my threshold, bless them with safety, love, and please supply their needs. I thank you Father for keeping us safe and giving us this home we have now, and Lord if it is your desire that we stay in this one, I know you will provide for us a way to make the needed repairs and improvements. I thank you Father for staying so close to me through this fast. In all of the difficult times, I know all I have to do is call out your name and you are with me, giving me strength and comfort. Thank you so much for that Father. Lord, I love you so very much! Again, I thank you for the many blessings you have given me. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Well, today has not been a good day. I have been grouchy, seems like I can’t find anything appealing to eat, seems like everything is getting on my nerves today for some reason. I must be getting rid of some big-time toxins! This is starting to get pretty tough.
I know I just need to put a little more thought into what I am eating and what I am allowed, and come up with some recipes. I have some vegetable soup I made with no animal products whatsoever in it, which is really good with some whole wheat pasta mixed in. But, a person can only handle so much pasta.
I’ll make it over this hurdle with God’s help. I know that is part of the problem also. I have wasted the majority of the day today, haven’t spent time in the word like I need to.
So, I believe I will be off here to do just that.
I need to talk to my Father, and spend some time in His book. I ask you for your prayers as I climb over this hurdle, and prayerfully, I will be giving a much better report tomorrow!