Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Don't Bet on It

I appreciate John’s honest comment on my post Just This One Time. Author of the blog John’s Life Without Gambling, he admits the troubles that an addiction to gambling has caused him – loss of family, home, jobs and more. But he is in recovery, and I hope anyone who reads this post will say a prayer for strength and healing for him as he puts his life back together.

Just the other day, I heard another report of how gambling has brought down a young man’s life. This teenager was in his freshman year at one of our state universities. He’s an all-American, clean-cut kind of guy, raised in a good home. Not the sort to get in any serious trouble. Last winter he decided to join a betting pool in his dormitory. I think they were betting on ACC basketball – not an uncommon venture in this part of the world.

The second time he joined the pool, the group asked him to take the money pouch over to the dorm next door. On the way, he was intercepted by police. And they found more than money in his hands - drugs were hidden in the bottom of the pouch. Now, instead of pursuing a degree, meeting girls, and enjoying college life, he is serving three years in prison. How hard this must be for him and his family.

I do believe God can redeem this experience, if he submits it to the Lord, and that some good can come of it. All of us make mistakes and step outside God’s will for our lives, and our stumbling is not in vain when we turn it over to Him. But, as I’ve said before, if we obey God and seek to live holy lives, we can avoid a lot of negative consequences. Ask God to protect you from evil in this world and to help you live a pure life.

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils: it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” I Timothy 6:9-10

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Help Wanted - NOT

Last week our youngest daughter appeared to be having some friendship difficulties. So on Wednesday morning, I devoted some time to praying for her and her relationships. That afternoon, as I picked her up from school, she got in the car with a tightly clenched fist. As it turned out, she was clutching a few tiny friendship gifts from one of her friends.

I was pleased and told her how neat I thought it was that God had answered my prayers from the morning. In an outraged tone, she replied, “you do NOT need to pray for me.”

As a Mom, it’s love that compels me to pray for my children. Especially in situations where I feel I have little other influence. Obviously our elementary schooler viewed it differently. She saw it as meddling. And I believe, in that circumstance, she felt she had everything under control and needed no help from me or God.

Now where do you think she gets that attitude from? Ever heard the expression: “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” She probably learned it right in my lap. Oh, how I regret the many times I have consciously or unconsciously rejected God’s “meddling” by refusing to bring things to Him in prayer. It brings to mind the classic hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I googled the words and found the tune and lyrics here in someone’s online devotion, including these lines:
Oh, what peace we often forfeit.
Oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we need to invite God’s meddling. We need to pray about everything. And whether she appreciates it or not, I’ll keep praying for my precious daughter. But maybe I just won't tell her about it. :)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Carnival Time

The latest Christian Carnival is up at Semicolon. Check it out.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just This One Time

Our middle schooler asked me the other day why I am against a lottery in our state. "Is it because Nana is against it?" he asked. My Mom is a bright woman so it's not that farfetched to follow her lead. But no, I have other reasons. A major reason has to do with the addictive nature of gambling. Many people think they can play a lottery (or blackjack or poker, whatever) without getting hooked, but you don't really know. Some people seem more vulnerable to a gambling addiction than others.

And some fall into alcoholism easier than others. Or pornography. Or drugs. Even sex. Addictions are hard to predict. As mentioned in last week's post, many teens fall hard, often when they leave home and head to college. They are convinced they won't be hooked. Teens tend to have an "it won't happen to me attitude," and then they go ahead and dabble in whatever it is. And when they fall, it is hard to get back up.

For example, have you seen photos of people addicted to meth - aka ice, crank, or speed? They get what is known as Meth Mouth , horrible decay and rotting of their teeth. These people can see the damage they are doing to themselves, they look in the mirror every day, and actually see the horror right there on their faces, and they cannot stop using. I bet, pardon the pun, most victims started out thinking they'll try it just once.

God's Word is like an umbrella of protection. When you obey His commands and live by the wisdom in the Bible, you can avoid many of the worst pitfalls such as a drug habit or a sexually transmitted disease or a drunk driving accident - at least insofar as it depends on you. God promises when you face temptation to provide a way out. I hope you will look for that escape and stay under His protection. Don't fool yourself into believing you can handle it on your own. How much you depend on Him and stay close to Jesus will determine whether you wade through the temptations of life victorious or defeated.

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I Corinthians 10:13

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Firm Foundation

Our family has been in the process of designing (with professional help) a home. We've learned a great deal about the importance of a good, solid foundation. Pretty paints and light fixtures are great, but not much help if the foundation goes bad.

I've heard some sad stories lately from friends whose children have gone away to college this past year and lost their way. These friends are wonderful Christians, involved in loving relationships with their children, and are at a loss to explain why their children, also committed to Christ, got so far off track. They appeared to have a strong foundation.

So what do you think? How can students best prepare to go to college and face temptations successfully? Many do. But many don't. My heart goes out to the ones that fall. Feel free to post any thoughts on this in the comment section or email me at gracenotes@nc.rr.com.

"In the path of righteousness is life, but the way of error leads to death." Proverbs 12:28

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hiatus

Sorry for the inconsistent posting of late. The children have been out of their various schools on various days for various reasons; we have at least two major personal projects in process right now; and to top it off, it's spring in North Carolina. We must enjoy these rare glorious days of dogwoods and cool breezes before summer's mosquitos and humidity descend.

From where I'm now sitting I can see five white dogwood trees and at least six pink and red azaleas in bloom, floating above a spring green carpet of, well, sorta grass, sorta weeds. In spite of the weeds, some of which like the dandelions even augment the view, God's handiwork is stunning. Did you know he made you like a work of art, fashioned in your mother's womb? Even if you're an identical twin, there is no one else like you in the entire universe. You are awesome, so awesome He created you and He died for you and He welcomes you into His presence 24/7.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. ... All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bloggers for Christ

I recently discovered a weekly "Christian Carnival" of blog posts. It's a compilation of highlighted posts by Christian bloggers - all linked together on one host blog's site. The host moves around week by week, giving them exposure and giving the bloggers who submit entries extra traffic as well. This week's carnival is here.

As I looked through this week's entries, I noticed one (of many) I thought you might enjoy reading. The blog is called Marginal Comments. The specific post describes the author's teenage conversion to Christ. In a column titled Just Say Yes, he addresses a similar theme to yesterday's Grace Note post about our indecisive puppy. So click on Just Say Yes and enjoy!