Monday, December 28, 2020

Balance Sheet of Life

At the end of the year, many of us do various assessments on our life.  Some of us look only at the last twelve months and some of us look at a longer context. 

I do a lot of teaching for businesses on how to create a balance sheet.  Balance sheets for businesses are very important as it shows a "cumulative" snapshot of the business over time.  Assets must equal (balance) liabilities and owner's equity, and much of the assets should show up as owner's equity and not in loans.  We do practice sessions where we look at a business' balance sheet to interpret what is going on with the business.  It tells the story of the business - not the whole story of course - but important aspects.

One of our DML team members from Nigeria posted the following "Balance Sheet of Life" which I thought is an interesting way to look at ourselves.  It too is not the whole picture of course but becoming more and more like Jesus means I need to be increasing assets (from His point of view - not the world's point of view), decreasing liabilities, and keeping my eye focused on the goal of the business of my life, which is to glorify God, point to the Creator, and help the world (creation and its people) flourish.

Balance Sheet of Life:

Birth is your opening stock.
What comes to you is credit.
What goes from you is debit.
Your ideas are your assets.
Your bad habits are your liabilities.
Your character is your capital.
Your happiness is your profit.
Your sorrow is your loss.
Your knowledge is your investment.
Your age is your depreciation. 
Death is your closing stock.

And God is your auditor.

Always endeavor to keep your balance sheet perfectly balanced because your Auditor will come back sooner than later.  Keep your books in proper order! 

We can't keep our books in perfect order, unfortunately.  But thankfully, Jesus is the ultimate book-keeper who balances our books and keeps us in the Father's business!

I am thankful for this past year and all the good that God brought out of the significant challenges of this pandemic.  Our DML family has grown closer and has increased its spheres of influence despite the lock-down and economic challenges.  

I pray that you too may look back on this past year and see God's hand, despite the challenges.  May God bless you in 2021! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

We all have the virus. And we all can have the vaccine!

At our DML Christmas gathering, my colleague, Dr. Phil Walker, shared an analogy of Jesus to the COVID-19 virus. 

He shared that we all have the deadly virus of sin.  There is not one person who has not been infected.  As a result of this infection, we were not able to be in the presence of a Holy and uninfected God.

Prior to the vaccine, there were plenty of rules to follow in order to stay in fellowship with God the Father.  The rules were not pleasant or easy, but they were necessary.  Some followed with dedication, others did not.

But then Jesus came as a vaccine.  The vaccine was released so that we no longer had to keep all of the rules from before, like wearing a mask, social distancing, and limiting gatherings.  We still have the virus but because of the vaccine, we are set free to live a life of flourishing and of abundance.

Not all of us will take the vaccine.  Some will dispute whether it is effective or proven.  Some will believe that the side-effects make it not worth taking.  Some will continue to follow the rules and deny the existence of the vaccine.

And some will take the vaccine and then live life, forgetting to tell others about the vaccine.  They will see people wearing masks, struggling with loneliness because of social distancing, but not bring up the opportunity and the freedom found in the vaccine. 

For this Christmas, the analogy between COVID and sin speaks loudly to me.  I am so thankful for the gift of Jesus and the ability to lead a life of abundant flourishing, despite problems around me.  I am thankful for being set free from the tyranny of sin, and for the continued forgiveness, mercy, and grace that I receive on a daily basis as I strive to be more like Jesus.  I pray for this freedom and joy for those around me and am committed to sharing this good news!

May God bless you during this Christmas season, as you celebrate your vaccine as well.  

[Please note that this blog is not talking about COVID behaviors or the COVID vaccine.  It is only talking about the virus of sin and the vaccine of Jesus.  I strongly believe we need to love our neighbor by doing all we can to protect each other during this time of the COVID virus!]

Monday, December 14, 2020

Don't pray like a widow. Pray like a bride.

Don't pray like a widow.  Pray like a bride.

My Tante Janie's pastor said these words and I have to admit that they struck deep.  I asked my mom (who has been a widow in many ways for ten years, even though my dad still lives) and my aunt (who lost her husband twenty years ago) what they thought, and their responses are integrated in this blog.

So all three of us can all personally relate to praying like a widow.  

For us, it means praying from a position of deep sadness, of mourning, of loneliness, even despair.  It comes from a position of weakness, not one of strength.    In many societies, widows suffer greatly, feeling unloved and often forgotten by society.  For many places, widowhood is closely associated with poverty, losing not only the husband but children, home, and community.  The expectation for the future can seem dark, gloomy, and empty.  A new search begins for trying to find where to fit, how to fit, and with whom to fit.  Widows may live in a place of self-pity, especially in looking at other couples around them, and sometimes they are treated with pity as well.  

These feelings can translate to all humanity as we go through periods of darkness, loneliness, emptiness, and it can feed into prayers.  As a result, we often spend a lot of time praying in a position of lament and supplication.  

But, of course, if we know what it means to pray like a widow, we also know how to pray like a bride!

A bride is full of expectation.  A bride feels full of joy, happiness, and fully understands the feeling of being deeply loved.  The expectation for the future is bright and sunny.  A bride has found the one who brings joy and a bride isn't looking for anything or anyone else.  

When we pray as a bride, we pray with delight and favor.  We pray with joy, expecting the goodness of God to come down.  We pray with confidence, with laughter and with dancing.  We are eager for intimacy, we are eager for conversation, or eager to just spend time together.  

As the church, the people of God, the body of Christ, we are called to be His Bride, and that means that we need to pray like a bride.  

I know I don't always feel like a bride nor do I always pray like a bride. However, I do believe that actions can influence emotions.  It would be akin to a front-wheel drive car:  the front wheels are the actions and the back wheels are our emotions.  When we begin to act a certain way, our emotions can follow.  We don't have to wait until we feel like it, we can act like we feel like it!

Thankfully, we have a God who does not forsake His bride, even when she disappoints.  We have a God who deserves every bit of our adoration, delight, joy, and praise.  


Monday, December 7, 2020

The Fellowship of Family

I am thankful to report that I made it safely into Canada.  It was close - when the border agent realized I would be staying with people over the age of 65, there was much concern but they decided that if my mom approved of it, then they would be alleviated of any risk.  

But they did inform me that I was not to leave the property of the house where I am staying for fourteen days, and that the fine for breaking the commitment had increased from $750,000 to $1,00,000.  When I asked why the fine went up, the border guard said that it was "to put fear into people for compliance."  I told her that I was afraid at $750,000!

The fellowship of family is a wonderful thing.  I have had such a blessed week with my mom and my aunt.  I haven't left the house but I haven't felt the need to either.  I have an office to work in, coffee breaks with my mom and my aunt, and evenings full of rich conversation.  [My aunt is very much like me - not very good at chit-chat, so we get to deep, deep topics almost immediately together!]  I think that being in my 50s brings a different level of understanding of these important relationships that earlier decades see in a different light.  So I am learning, listening, laughing, and loving!

On Saturday, we spent a part of the day making a plaster cast of my mom's and my hand together.  It was a lot of fun and we are left with a beautiful stone that captures the unique characteristics of each of our hands.  It is something that we will both treasure together.  

At the same time, the COVID numbers continue to go up for Faith Manor in Holland Christian Homes in Brampton, where my father is living.  We had a Zoom call with him on Tuesday, which his nurse Marlene facilitated.  He had no idea that we were there on the Zoom call but it was good to see him for a few minutes.  We are thankful that he is not aware of the pandemic at all nor is he in any discomfort.  The staff, however, are very aware and asked for prayer as many are afraid.

Here is a picture from that Zoom call.  My sister Liz is on the top left, then my mom and I on the top right, and my dad is below.  It looks like he is smiling (which would show recognition of us being there) but alas he is in fact grimacing as he itched his leg.  But it looks like a smile!

And while I quarantine, I continue to be amazed at the doors that God is opening for DML.  We had conversations last week with different groups that would allow for opportunities in Puerto Rico, Cuba, a new denomination in Liberia, and a new Bible Education organization in Cameroon.  This week will also bring some new speaking opportunities, for which we praise God!

Thank you for all who prayed that I could get into Canada.  I am most grateful!

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Children's children are a crown to the aged and parents are the pride of their children."  Amen!