Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jesus, the Sweetest Name Given in Heaven and on earth

My brother Robert recently incubated some pheasant hen eggs. Around twenty came into the world full of life, ready to make the most of their days here. But three little ones were immediately aware that life can be a place of suffering. Their little legs wouldn't do what they had been created to do. My heart bled as I watched their movements. They so desperately longed to do what instinct told them they could do...walk about freely. I so desperately longed to fix their legs and help them to walk freely, to free them from their prison, and the certain death that would follow such a handicap. They would never survive, helpless even to get a drink for themselves. I wanted to help, but instead, I could only watch helplessly. My daughters stood with me silently watching, eyes wide with sadness as they became aware of the suffering of these tiny birds.

I couldn't tear my eyes away from them...I cried silently inside, "Oh, God...God...help." I didn't cry only for three little pheasant chicks, but for all the suffering in the world and everyone affected by it. God created a beautiful world, perfect in every way. He wanted us to enjoy the beauty and serenity of it; instead we chose our own way. He didn't stop us from choosing our own way; He could have, but then would He truly be love? Forcing us to stay with Him where we are safe? Even though He knew what we were opening ourselves up for, He let us have the free choice to walk away from Him. Imagine the stabbing pain in His heart as He knew what our now-chosen father Satan, would do with us? He knew that our choice to serve ourselves and have our own way meant that we opened ourselves up for the enemy of our souls to wreak whatever havoc on our lives that he chose. He even knew of the suffering of three little pheasant chicks thousands of years later, that would be a result of this choice for man to be his own.

And He cared! Praise God He cared!!! He would not leave us in the pit we had dug, but chose to offer us a way out. We still have a free choice, and no one will make it for another. It is yours alone to make, but the way out is there. The hand of salvation is offered and we can walk in freedom from the hand of the enemy! JESUS, the sweetest name in all of Heaven and earth...there is none other name given wherewith we can be saved! Praise Him! When He hung on that cross bearing all the sin and suffering of every soul that has ever and will ever tread this sod and said, "IT IS FINISHED!", He meant that. At that moment it was finished. Those who believe in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins now reign! We are sons and daughters of God, with Christ's own righteouness imputed to us! When God looks at me, He doesn't see Amanda as the sinful person that she is. He sees me as Christ, fully righteous. 2 Cor. 5:21 "God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." And so, even though three little pheasant chicks still suffer unjustly, even though the battle seems lost, THE WAR IS WON! Hang in there, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We reign because of Him!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Recognizing Idolatry

How many 'idols' do I have in my life? This question has been burning in my mind for some time. A few months ago, my daughter Ava was going through a toy catalog with a typical carnal mindset. Every page that she turned to, she said, "I want this for my birthday and this for my birthday and this for my birthday." I went before the Lord for wisdom in how to get to the root of this materialistic attitude that I saw in her. It was tempting to simply deal with her behavior (the typical 'if you ask for one more thing, you'll get nothing'), but I knew that her heart was where she really needed attention. God revealed to me that her heart was building idols out of the things in that magazine. Idolatry? You may think that is too harsh of a term for a three-year old. However, truth remains that anything that we want more than God, we are idolizing. I went to Ava and asked for the magazine. I told her that it had become an idol and that we would have to put it away for a time. She shed tears, but handed the magazine to me willingly. After about two weeks of distance from the magazine, God poured out onto Ava's heart the strength that she needed to look at the magazine without idolizing it. Praise His Worthy Name!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Fresh Perspective

Last night as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me, my mind was reflecting on my many shortcomings and weaknesses. I said to Kevin, in a rather discouraged voice, "I am so weary of dealing with my flesh." Once more we lay in silence, until Kevin, tongue in cheek, said only this, "I like your flesh." We laughed together and enjoyed a special moment of shared tenderness.

I am so blessed by a husband who loves me without reservation, who is my spiritual leader, and yet, at just the right moment, gives me a fresh perspective and helps me to laugh at discouragement. In Christ, we ARE overcomers. Because of this TRUTH, we can laugh at the hopelessness of becoming holy, because it isn't us that does it. We can rest in Him.

Thank you, God, for the blessing of a husband who is just plain FUN to be around, and who keeps this serious-minded woman from caving in on her own seriousness.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blessed be His Name

It is only right for me to give my Maker some sugar after all He is to me...God, you are awesome! Thank you for all the good and perfect gifts that you give. It is fast becoming a joy to give up my will for Yours. "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it."

Well, hello! I am Amanda Swartzentruber and we do live down Gardenia Lane. Lots of life happens here and we are blessed. We are a household striving to serve the God of the Holy Scriptures, and although we are most certainly unfinished, we are finding the grace to overcome as the needs arise. (And do the needs ever arise!!!) God is so faithful. May you find refuge from the storms of life in His arms...blessings to you and yours.