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Bumpy Ride

My car has been broken down for almost a month now. My wonderful, used-to-be-reliable car has a cracked engine block and needs a whole new engine. To be quite honest, I kind of miss it. I miss its smooth driving, its great sound system, and its amazing AC. I just miss driving my vehicle. You know, when you know a car and how it moves and its quirks? That kind of thing.

On the plus side, my best friend is super generous and has been letting me use her car since she can use a work vehicle. And guys from my church are working on my car situation. But it’s been draining. I don’t like having Natalie’s car because I don’t like forcing her to drive a camp vehicle. To say the least, I’m not a fan of cracked engine blocks.

So this week, I suddenly remembered that I have another car that I gave back to a friend to scrap. We put the battery back in and it started up! I was beyond happy to be able to give Natalie her car back even if it meant I was driving around a rust bucket for a while.

Why am I telling you all this? I do have a point. Also this week (it’s been busy around here) we had a missionary from Romania stay with people at my church. One night several of us gathered together to hang out and someone asked me if I had walked there. I half-jokingly replied, “No, unfortunately that tub of rust out there is mine.”

Do you know what that missionary said? “What do you mean unfortunately? You have a car! That’s great! What a huge blessing!”

Immediately, several “yeah, but” statements flew into my head but in the end I had to sheepishly own up that I actually have two cars. He was floored and kept talking about what a blessing that was! Whoa, was I convicted. Such a different attitude than what I had. Suddenly the rust, the smell, mice, lack of AC, no muffler (the list goes on) didn’t seem as important. Suddenly the fact that I have a vehicle that gets me from point A to point B, that isn’t inconveniencing another person, and that simply RUNS became something to be more grateful for. And on top of that, I have an awesome friend that let me use her car for a while and guys at my church who are working hard on my car to get it fixed!

I’m so thankful for that change in perspective! I’m thankful someone was there to point out how grateful I should be and he didn’t even realize what he was doing!

So if you hear me coming, don’t mind me. I’m just going to boldly drive around my rusty, leaky old car as long as I need to (and it holds up) because God gave it to me and I’m grateful for his provision!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2019 in blessing

 

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Tithing vs. Generosity

I’ve been mulling an idea around in my head for weeks but I’ve been REALLY spacey lately so I’m just getting around to putting it on…paper?

I’ve been thinking about tithing. The less money I have, the more I’ve thought about this. I’ve also found out that a surprising number of people don’t actually believe in tithing. So I looked into some verses. I think most people think of Abraham in the Old Testament when they think of tithes. In Genesis 14, Abraham tithed a 10th to Melchizedek. What I actually found is that there are numerous types of tithes in the OT. But once you move into the New Testament, tithing really isn’t mentioned (except a couple times by Jesus which we’ll go over.)

And here is where people split off in two directions. You can be in Camp A where tithing is just an OT thing and Jesus did away with it when he came, or you might be in Camp B which decides that since a common tithe in the OT was 10% that’s a good guideline to follow for life.

I think I’m going to have to pick Camp C unfortunately. What did you really expect? Hear me out:

Camp A has some serious flaws. Jesus did do away with several things when he came to earth. But he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. (Matt. 5:17, Rom. 3:31) We don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, but in Romans 12, we are commanded to offer ourselves as LIVING sacrifices. Also, Jesus does uphold the concept of tithing in Matthew 23:23-24 as he tells the Pharisees that they tithe but neglect to show justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He tells them that they ought to have done both. So I really have a hard time just throwing out tithing altogether simply because it’s not mentioned explicitly in the NT.

However, Camp B also has flaws. I would have a problem picking ONE of the tithes in the OT and declaring that that is the one we should all follow. I think if you add the OT tithes together you actually get about 23% of a household’s income so I’m not sure why we don’t use that figure? (Don’t bet your life on that math.)

My point really is this. The NT actually does say quite a bit about tithing but it doesn’t use that word. Is that really what is tripping people up? Besides all the times that Paul took up collections for the saints in various places, here are just three of the passages I found:

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Are you catching the drift here? I would contend that the NT is a huge proponent of giving BEYOND what you think you can afford. Now I’ll be totally honest, some weeks I look at my bank account and think, “Gee Lord, 10% seems like a WHOLE heck of a lot!” I get that! And other weeks I know I can do more. That what I love about that last passage. What you have decided in your heart. A question I ask myself a lot is, “Okay, I give regularly to my church, but am I giving generously??” That’s a challenge for myself and for you and you are going to have to decide what that looks like.

Another thing I’ve come across personally and I’ve discussed it with others is that sometimes it can be much more fun to give to things besides your church. Organizations that are good, you love, and you are passionate about. Oh, that’s a struggle for me. I think both are important but I cannot give to the organizations and neglect my church. I’ve heard the argument that you’ve been burned and now you don’t trust your church with your money and I would say that you first need to examine your heart and motivations for giving. Are you cheerfully giving or coming up with an excuse not to? And secondly, if you REALLY don’t trust your church financially, that’s a problem that you should address with your leadership.

I love that the believers in Macedonia gave beyond their means and begged Paul to take it for the saints. What a precious blessing that must have been for them! And what a great example for us.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in church, uncategorized

 

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Secured by God

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently on salvation, mine in particular. Whenever I used to tell people my testimony, I would always start it out with, “Well, it’s pretty boring…” But one day I was really convicted by that. I realized that ANY time God takes a dead person and breathes new life into them and gives them the gift of salvation, it’s INCREDIBLE! It’s MIRACULOUS and AMAZING! Who am I to call God’s work boring??!

So I’m here to tell you a story of Amazing Grace. To be quite honest, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in Jesus as my Savior. I know there must have been, but I don’t recall that. I actually remember being in 1st grade or so and my Sunday School teacher told us the gospel and asked who all in the class believed it. Well of course I did! So I raised my hand. And then she had all of us close our eyes and pray “THE” prayer after her. You know what I mean. And I literally remember sitting there and telling God that I thought this was silly and didn’t understand why I needed to pray this because I was already saved. Those 6 year old minds. 🙂

It’s only been recently that I’ve realized what a huge blessing I’ve had all these years. I know A LOT of people that struggle with doubt and I never did growing up. Ever. God says it. That ends it. It’s true. God is who he says he is. It was pretty simple. I never doubted the Bible or my salvation.

2018 was hard. God and I alone know it. And let me tell you folks, it’s extra hard to be on three medications that cause depression. A sinful heart is enough to handle without that! And I struggled a lot last year. In my loneliness and desperation to be close to God, I worked so hard. I worked myself to a frazzle praying and doing my devotions because I so desperately wanted to feel that Presence that was once there.

And there came ONE awful day. The first and only day in my life where I have questioned my salvation. Suddenly I looked at how hard I was “working” and verses and sermons flew through my mind and one single thought crept in out of nowhere, “You don’t understand salvation at all.”

I have been through many bad days but none as bad as that one. I can’t even describe the hopelessness and darkness that I felt on that day. And I felt powerless against it. No matter what Scripture I read or what I forced myself to think, nothing helped.

It wasn’t until very late that night that God gave me the thought I needed:
“You know what? I don’t understand it. It’s waaaay beyond me. But even if I wasn’t saved before, God can save me right now.” With a rush every assurance came back. And with a immensely grateful heart I thanked God that my salvation was secured by him and not by me!

As I reflected the next day, I wrote in my journal that I never wanted to have another day like that again. It was terrible and confusing. But I can see how God has used that one day. I have NEVER been able to understand how people doubt God or salvation. But now I have a small point of reference, of empathy, of feeling. A way that connects me with my friends and helps me pray for them better, with a hugely humbled heart.

So take heart friends! I know the journey can be hard and thoughts creep in! God is ALWAYS faithful- that’s the ONE thing I’m positive of.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2019 in salvation

 

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Two Cars, A Job, and a Great God

In case you didn’t know, on June 9th, I was officially 6 months seizure free! You’re probably thinking, “Hooray! So what?” Yeah, I know. But actually, it was a really big deal because you have to be seizure-free for a six month period before your driving privileges are graciously placed back in your hands. So yes, I WAS counting those days. Somehow, I thought it would be a pretty simple process but my doctor had to send forms to the BMV and they had to send forms to ME and I had to visit my local BMV so it took longer than I thought it would. Basically you have some of the slowest organizations communicating with each other over one person. No driving on 6/9 which was a bummer but that’s ok. All the paperwork eventually got in order, my new license came, and I’m now good to go.

The problem was, back in 2016, when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive for a while, I had sold my car. Car shopping is LITERALLY one of my least favorite things to do. Some people really like it. Not me. But that was next on the list. I looked and looked but I couldn’t find anything in my budget that actually still ran. Fortunately my work is a 3 minute walk away so it wasn’t an immediate need but still a need.

Enter Car #1: Edna. Some really good friends of mine had an extra car lying around their house. To be honest, they were planning a project with the engine because the car had some issues but they said that if I wanted it while I looked for something else, it was mine. No charge. They are really generous and I felt SO blessed. I’m not kidding. While everyone else saw the rust, smelled the mice, and heard the engine, I felt the freedom of having a car that was my own. Not having to coordinate rides to go to the store or see a friend. Being able to surprise my best friend by showing up at her house for the night. I knew it wasn’t a long term solution because there’s no way I would drive this car farther than 20 minutes from my house, but it worked for the short term.

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There was just one problem. Next month I have a rather significant birthday coming up. Not necessarily the number but what happens on that number. I have to come off my parents’ health insurance. Sad day. It’s been wonderful. I doubt they’ll miss me as much as I’ll miss them. 🙂 And although I work full time now, they don’t offer insurance so I have been job hunting for a little while. A couple weeks ago, I was offered a position at a small bank. The hours are great (like, I don’t have to work till 9pm anymore!), they have full benefits, and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. It felt like a good fit but it’s around 30 minutes from my house and I honestly wasn’t sure my car would last long doing that every day.

Enter Car #2: Peri. I was pretty sure I was going to accept the job offer and see how long my car would make it before I had to get another one. Last Saturday though, I was thumbing through FaceBook and a car popped up on my feed. I wasn’t even on Marketplace or anything. It was just there. It caught my eye because it was a Honda but listed for several thousand less than Hondas run for around here. And I saw it two minutes after it was posted so I knew if I messaged the lady, I would have a good chance of being the first person. I contacted her and set up a time later that day to come look at it without really knowing why. I literally prayed on my way there, “Lord, I really can’t afford this car so I don’t see a point in test driving it. Why am I even going here?” But I went and not only was it super nice with regular maintenance and low mileage, it had several “extras” on it. Like a dark tint on the windows, black tire rims (which, apparently, is a cool thing?), new headlights ready to be put in, and a sound system complete with a subwoofer that takes up most of the trunk space. Actually, funny story on that. When I was looking at it, the owner excited told me to try the radio. I turned it on and up to about 7 and told her it sounded great. She looked kind of disappointed and said, “Oh. Well. I think it goes to about 50 or 75.” I asked her if I could pray about it and give her an answer the next day and she said she wouldn’t let anyone else look at it if I let her know by noon the following day. Which was super kind of her. (Oh, did I mention the owner was a believer???) The following day I told her I would take it but I asked if she would want to take the sound system out (because I certainly won’t use it) and would she be willing to take the cost of it off the car? Otherwise, I said she could leave it in and I will just take it out myself and sell it. She said she really didn’t know how to take it out but she would DROP THE PRICE OF THE CAR BY $200 and I could keep the sound system. I probably read that message 4-5 times before I responded because I wasn’t sure I had read it right. Uh, yeah, I’ll take the car.

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I told a friend of mine that I almost feel a little embarrassed by my car now because it has all these things on it that I would NEVER put on any car I owned simply because I wouldn’t spend the money on it. And she told me that it should just be a reminder of how great God has blessed me.

And she’s SO right. As I was driving home after signing off on Peri’s title I actually started crying, just amazed at how God works. How he not only provided one car that got me about for a short while, but yet another one that I can trust for long distances and my new job. How he provided the finances I needed. How he went above and beyond anything I would have even dreamed of asking for in a vehicle. I am amazed.

But I didn’t begin praising God when he started giving me things I wanted or needed. That’s not the reason he gets praise. He deserves it simply for being God. Everything else is simply another reason to thank him!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in blessing

 

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In Case of Emergency

The other day I had to fill out an online questionnaire. (You have officially read the most boring opening sentence ever.) HAD is the crucial word in that sentence because it was a long, and in my opinion, meaningless, questionnaire but it was something that I really did have to do. I sincerely hope that the people who received it were able to get some sort of information from all the random questions they asked.

Anyway, one of the questions read something like, “In the event of a real emergency, how many people do you have in your life that you could count on to help you?”

Somehow my brain translated that question into “How many people would you call in the event of an emergency?” and I actually answered with 1. I thought of the time I needed to go to the ER and literally all I did was call my best friend, she came home from work to take me in, and contacted all my family. She handled everything. So in my mind I just thought, “Well, I’d call Natalie and go from there.”

I was about to click to the next question when I glanced over it again and realized my error. Oh! How many people could I count on?? That’s a totally different question! The options were 1, 2-5, 6-10, or 11+. Suddenly I knew my answer and at the same time how incredibly blessed I am.

I realized if I REALLY needed someone to help me, not only would my friends and family drop everything and come, but my church family would do the same thing. And the other churches in the area would respond too. How do I know? I’ve experienced it and I seen it over and over again. Suddenly 11+ seemed like waaaaayyy too small of a number for this question.

My guess is that the people reading the questionnaire can probably see how long I spend on each question and if I change my answers. They probably thought I was rigging my answer when it switched from the lowest number to the highest.

Nope. Just remembering the kind of community I have in Christ and what a blessing it is.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in blessing

 

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A Parched Mollusk

Today I have the very special opportunity to share a story with you from my best friend. She wrote this up a week or so ago and has such a talent for communicating so I asked if I could post it. I hope it blesses you as it did me.

IMG_2047“So, how can I tell if it’s alive?” I questioned a stranger on the beach. “Hmm, splash a little water on it and see if it moves.” the stranger offered as she walked toward me. She drew in closer as I scooped a handful of cold ocean water into the shell. I caught this quick picture as the mollusk poked out of his shell. “O yah, it’s alive!” she exclaimed in her Wisconsin accent. “It’s just been out of the water for a while. I like to throw ’em back in and give ’em a second chance.” she said pointing at the water. I nodded in agreement and tossed the little guy back into the ocean.

This simple interaction sparked a life-giving conversation that moved me to tears.

You see, that morning I went to the beach feeling much like that stranded mollusk. Spiritually parched and so far away from God’s life-giving, soul-refreshing, Living Water. Feeling and looking rather dead and hiding from the light. Not that I didn’t KNOW or BELIEVE in God’s goodness and the fact that he is my source of life… it’s just I hadn’t FELT that abundant life in a long time.

While certain circumstances played a big part in feeling spiritually drained, the bigger culprits were sin issues and neglecting time with the Lord. Since my work is in a Christian ministry, I felt like I had to conjure up the appearance of spiritual vitality. I was exhausted from trying to keep up the facade while my heart was withering inside.

That week I was on a trip to Florida and had designated that day as my “Jesus” day. I was going to ignore my phone and other distractions and just focus on resuscitating my relationship with the Lord. In the past, I found spending time outdoors and acknowledging God’s hand in nature to be great faith-builders for me.

I decided to wake up early that morning and go for a walk on the beach to spend time in creation. As I got ready in my hotel room, I begged God to show himself to me that day. Like so many of my previous prayers, I felt like it fell on deaf ears and I was just talking to the wall.

As I walked toward the beach, the cold ocean air whipped through my hoodie and I wished I had stayed in bed. When I got to the beach I looked around and forced myself to come up with praises. (Not the right attitude, I know.) My heart said, “God you are so powerful that you control the tides.” Then my head butted in and said, “The moon controls tides, you dummy!” So my heart responded, “God, I’m so thankful for your control over ALL things!” Then my head came back with, “God if you are in control of all things then why can’t you fix…?” Ugh, not a very good start.

With a conflicted spirit, I reached down to pick up the little conch shell and noticed Sherry, who was walking several paces behind me.

We were two of only a handful of people willing to brave the 40 degree weather on the beach that morning. After tossing the mollusk back into the ocean, we started walking along the beach together.

Almost instantly she brought up her church and we started talking about faith. I learned that she grew up in church, but had fallen away a few times before returning the final time decades ago. She shared about her love for Compassion International, her passion for serving young adults in her church, and her interest in traveling. When she mentioned a life-altering career change to follow God’s leading, we talked about the blessings and sacrifices of the Christian life. I can’t even remember everything we talked about, but the conversation flowed so easily, it felt as if we had known each other for years.

For nearly two hours we walked along the beach together: gathering shells, tossing back mollusks, and talking about life. I found myself opening up to her about details of my life I don’t usually even share with friends. Her honesty, wisdom, and kind encouragement felt like cool water to my thirsty soul. What she was saying resonated so much with me that I felt like her words were a direct answer to my prayers.

As we neared the end of the walk, we hesitated, almost wishing we had more beach to walk and more time to talk. We both acknowledged what a mutual blessing it was to spend that brisk January morning together and felt God had ordained us to meet. Sherry gave me a big hug and we prayed together before a final farewell.

When Sherry first met me, I was that lowly mollusk that had been out of God’s life-giving water for far too long. With her encouragement from the Lord, she gave me a second chance by tossing me back into God’s great ocean of Living Water.

As I walked alone on the road back to my hotel, tears streamed down my face. For the first time in a long time I didn’t just KNOW and BELIEVE, I FELT the love and the presence of God in a real way. God had answered my prayer in a way I didn’t expect and I still don’t fully understand.

My revived soul spent the rest of that day soaking up God’s Word, talking with the Lord, and worshiping him. Only this time it wasn’t forced or conflicted, his praises came overflowing out of the abundance of joy in my heart.

Praise God!

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 68:1

~Natalie Frueh

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in encouragment

 

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How Very Blessed

Sometimes, I don’t feel blessed. I can hear your gasp and see your shocked face…but it’s true. Sometimes, I feel like my life is awful and I just don’t want any more uncertainty and I want to go home. There are days when I just want to lay in bed and cry all day. Days when the problems of my friends get me down and inject stress into my life. Days when I long just to have my baby brother tell me he loves me and to feel his arms around my neck. Days when I don’t feel blessed.

Now, I realize of course that I am blessed. I have a wonderful family and I have a baby brother TO miss. I don’t have many of the fears and problems of my friends. I have a home to visit. I have tons of people who sincerely care for me. I have plenty of food and a warm place to live. I am blessed.

But, you know what? That isn’t enough. History would tell of millions of people who had all that and more but who weren’t happy or content. They were missing the greatest blessing of them all. The blessing of salvation.

But I have that. I have the assurance of things hoped for and I know the evidence of things not seen. I know my name is written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that his hand of grace and mercy is upon me in salvation. I know that the struggles of this life are merely a shadow and that the glory of eternity is mine. I know that my Lord is faithful and just to forgive my sins and that he remembers them no more. I know that my God reigns forever and that he listens when I call to him.

Sometimes, I don’t feel blessed. And sometimes, I just need to be reminded of how very blessed I really am.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in blessing

 

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