45th President

5 Things Every Christian Can Do For President Trump (whether you like him or not) and the U.S.

8:18 AM



Tomorrow the 45th president of the United States will be inaugurated into office.  I confess, I did not vote for Donald Trump. I'm one of those evangelical Christians that doesn't identify well with any political party nevertheless feels compelled to enact my right to vote in this country. My pick for president obviously wasn't chosen and so now what.?

Lots of people seem to feel passionately one way or the other about the President Elect Trump. I try to avoid saturating myself with media commentary, but headline after headline has to do with Mr. Trump's words, actions and selections for his cabinet and most of the mantra is leaning heavily towards either despising the guy or thinking he's the political savior of America. But even staying away from media, the people in my life have very strong feelings about the man who will be the leader of the free world in 24 hours. I have strong feelings too but they are tempered with a hotter and higher view of life than American politics and capitalistic economics. In thinking about where my hope lies, passion heats up. In thinking about what life is all about, faith rises.

I honestly feel embarrassed in my love for this country about the actions and words of our soon-to-be President Trump. Mr. Trump causes me to have to shy away from pointing my sons to the president as an example of decency and leadership. I don't like that. I want a president I can look to as a leader and a role-model. And I have some deep concerns about the tone Mr. Trump sets for multi-cultural and race relations in this country. But, because my hope doesn't lie in Mr. Trump and life isn't all about the United States of America I can breathe and not fear or dread the days to come. There are some things I can do though.

5 Things Every Christian Can Do For the President and the U.S. 

1. Live Like A Foreigner Here 

"Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." -1 Peter 2:11-12 

Beloved- that's you and me who love the Jesus we have never seen- we are not Americans first. We are citizens of the Kingdom of the Son of God's first, and forever. Our temporary visa here in the U.S. will not last forever. Only a lifetime- ours or the country's. We are sojourners here, exiles, foreigners, traveling through. So we aren't entitled people. We aren't begrudging people. We are thankful people who know this world is not our home. We don't settle in here. We're on the move. Running the race set before us. Eyes fixed on the Jesus our King.

2. Intercede Like A Priest Here 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. -1 Peter 2:9 

President Trump doesn't need to appoint me to his cabinet, or employ me as a spiritual advisor to have influence in his life. I don't have to be a Trump supporter to be praying for him. God's people are a royal priesthood called upon to make all kinds of requests and intercessions for all people, including tyrannical kings, and foul-mouthed presidents. Christ's church has greater influence on this country than any election result when we call on the One who appoints kings and brings down kingdoms.

3. Spread the Gospel of Peace Like an Ambassador Here 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. -2 Corinthians 5:20 "...and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace." Ephesians 6:15 

In a culture of violence, worldwide terrorism, racial tensions, and with a coming leader who seems to govern with guile and glib from Twitter, living in this country as ambassadors for Christ, with lives and words that implore people to be reconciled to God, we are the peace-peddlers that stand out apart. Tis human to jump on the bandwagon of criticizing one party or another, but Christian to draw attention away from all that to peace with God through Christ.  And we don't even need to enter the political arena to be an ambassador of the gospel of peace.  Our homes and marriages are a very good place to start reconciliation.  The war on the family and marriage is raging.  We should be self-sacrificing ambassadors of peace to our husbands and wives and children.

4. Stand Like A Good Soldier Here 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. - Ephesians 6:10-13 

Unlike the peace-core, many people- even our elected President- may not think it noble or cool when we stand as ambassadors for Christ in a culture that calls good evil and evil good. It's going to feel like a battle, even in our own minds and in our own skin to be known by our words and actions as Christians. And though, like Peter said, we should be doing lots of good in this world with a humble, servant's heart towards those who malign us, they will malign us. We are not doing good to please people or the president. If we are trying to please people we would not be pointing them to Christ. Pointing people to Christ is sure to get a battle going even though we want peace. So in the coming days we need to preach the gospel to ourselves, stand for the truth and remember who we are and whose we are and where we're going and why we're here and then stand firm, unwilling to be moved by the current cultural tide.

5. Serve Like A Son of God Here 

Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. - John 13:12-16 

We have a Lord, a King who is not lording it over us but has served us with his broken, rejected, despised life- washing our feet, building us up, calling us what we were not, making us Sons of God. We are his and we are free. And like him, we do not use our freedom to lord it over others or to join the world in godlessness, instead we go low. This is the god-likeness Christ calls us to.  In the coming days we Christians should be amping up our going low.  The needs are overwhelming- moms in crisis pregnancies, racial divides, an over-burdened foster care system, children being trafficked for sex, our elderly ignored and abandoned, disabled and marginalized people everywhere.  That doesn't even begin to cover the opportunities for the people of God to take off their Health and Wealth Child of The King clothes, and put on their Feet Washing Like King Jesus Did cloths.


Our country may be going down a path we feel alienated from, but we can live light and hands off here because our home is not the United States of America. Our 45th president may not be a man we can get behind and support, but he is a man we can ask our Father to grant repentance to and stir and move according to his will. Our political system, international relations and marriages may be embattled, but we can be peddlers of the gospel of peace with God through Christ. Our foundations of family, society and order may crumble, but we can stand covered from head to toe in the impenetrable armor of God's faithfulness, promises and salvation. Our neighbors and society may not respect and honor our Christ-clinging lives and words, but we can serve them anyway with love because we know who we are and where we're going.

2017

My Blog Facelift and a Little Mission Clarification

1:18 PM












Yeah I changed my name again. I started blogging about 8 years ago actually. If you read through my blog (which I wouldn't recommend... much better reading material out there) you'd find this blog has gone through several name changes and paint jobs. The content has had a similar theme along the way with varying emphasis which if I plotted on a graph would directly correlate to the current state of my marriage.

I am a mom and wife of 23 years to a man who does not share my love and worship of Jesus.  We met as teenagers, married while I was still a teenager and new believer, and have endured many hard times together and apart.  We've been separated twice and nearly signed divorce papers both times.  But, for God's reasons (which are worth a lifetime of a difficult marriage) we didn't and so the saga continues and I continue to blog as a public display of my affection for Christ in this hard life.

I believe the truly Christian life is not wasted.  It's invested.  In eternity in the lives of those around us.  We die daily but not in vain.  We die daily to ourselves because we've seen a glimpse of the glory of God in the Jesus we've never seen with the eyes of our hearts and we're hooked!  We want his glory... at all costs.  We want him to be high and lifted up in all things, especially our lives!  And we want our lives to reflect the true nature of the God we were made to image.

And so I change my blog wallpaper here periodically and the title changes too because I'm being changed all the time.  I'm being developed and matured and conformed to the image of Christ and I want to encourage someone else and comfort someone else and grieve with someone else and rejoice with someone else even through a blog.

My heart for my home to be my primary field of mission for living out my life as a Christian, desiring my husband and children to join me in that life, has been the driving force behind this blog and the changing of titles usually reflects that heart.  Being a homemaker is not just being a mom and wife who doesn't work outside the home.  Being a homemaker is what all mom's and wives are specially designed and equipped to do.  It's a big topic on which I could blog a lot, and have.  But the term homemaker, especially in the Christian circle, has taken on a meaning that can cut a lot of women out of the picture.  I don't want to just be a blessing to stay-at-home-moms (although I want to bless them too!).  I want to encourage women of all circumstances to find their identity in Christ and to walk with him through this life.  Hence my return to A Woman Found.  As far as Sojourning Sheila goes, yeah, that describes me.  But I don't want this blog to just be about me.   Nothing wrong with that, I just feel like I might encourage another woman out there more if I don't just use this blog to write about me and my daily life stuff- I'll do that too, but I want to share the comforts I have been comforted in by Christ, and the sorrows I share with fellow suffers, and the joys only those who walk with Jesus know.  Only women, and men, found by Christ will really get what I talk about here.  Cause it just doesn't make sense without being found by Him.  And I want those who may read this blog, who don't worship Christ, to scratch their heads and hopefully pique their interest.  Maybe they would want to be found by Him too.


Ok.  That's all.

Advent 2016

Advent: Christmas Day- When It Isn't What You Were Hoping For

5:36 PM

And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. - Luke 2:48-50

It's Christmas Day and it's a sunny 49 degrees outside and I've taken my young men to the park to ride their bike and roller blades, but mostly just to flee the thick-with-virus air that is our house right now.

Christmas day isn't turning out to be all I was hoping for.  My husband woke with a fever and fever blisters with a vengeance lining his mouth and throat.  The boys were up at 6 am wanting to open presents and begin the festivities, but the sick man on the couch next to the Christmas tree had just barely fallen back to sleep at 4am.  So kids got their first gift today: laying aside your will for another's good.  A hard gift to receive, says the 42 year old mom who's still trying to accept that one with a joyful heart.

At 8 am, the too-sick-to-speak dad nodded his head yes to the question, "Can we open gifts now dad?" and the ripping of paper off packages began.  Ryland got his Rollerblades and the Frisbee and boomerang he wanted.  Connor got the all-things-survival gear and books he wanted.  And I got the joy of giving them some gifts I had been inspired to give recently:  The Gift of Time with Mom,  The Gift of Wisdom, The Gift of Responsibility and The Gift of Giving.

After listening to some messages this week on parenting with a God-centered vision, I put together these titled gifts.

The Gift of Time with Mom-  A $25 Starbucks card to be used only with one on one time with me and them individually.   I admit, this one is more of a gift for me than them, but I'm hoping it will help build bridges that'll need to be crossed in the future and someday seen as a real gift.

The Gift of Wisdom-  A challenge with a monetary reward (and prayerfully seeds planted with much longer lasting rewards than dollar bills).

  1. Read the book of John and discuss it with mom over desert. 
  2. Read the Proverbs and write 5 proverbs you like and what you think they mean and 5 proverbs you have questions about.  Discuss it with mom over desert.
  3. Read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, write a 1 page essay and discuss it with mom over desert.
  4. Read A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, write a 2 page essay and discuss it with mom over desert.
The Gift of Responsibility-  A $15 iTunes gift card with a contract for cell phone use to be signed.

The Gift of Giving- A savings account opened in their name with the following rule: Each month a fixed amount deposit will be automatically added to the account and each month they may withdraw 10% of the account for spending but only after withdrawing 10% for giving and selecting a charity they would like to give to.

I wasn't expecting lauds of praise for these certificate gifts wrapped in prayer and desire for seeds of faith to be planted.  They both said, "Huh.  Cool.  Thanks mom..." which was more than I expected and then set those things aside to play with the fun stuff they got.  That was good.  

It's the part about my husband being very ill and church starting an hour earlier than I had written on my calendar for today's special service that had today not turning out as I had hoped.  We arrived in the church parking lot as the service was letting out and I realized I had missed it.  

Today didn't go how I was hoping, and it got me thinking about Mary and Joseph.  I am sure, being the chosen parents of the Messiah didn't go how they expected.  And it's not just Mary and Joseph who had to deal with their expectations about the Christ.  The misguided expectations of the Pharisees and 12 chosen by Jesus and the crowds led to various conflicts too.   

I'm sure Mary and Joseph didn't expect that Mary would give birth alone in an animal cave and place the newborn Son of David in a feeding trough.  I'm sure they didn't expect him to leave them to go to the temple when he was 12 without telling them what he was doing and then when questioned about his actions say, "Didn't you know that I must be in my Father's house?"  I'm sure that when he started publicly showing himself to be the Messiah they didn't expect him to get himself betrayed and crucified.  I'm sure along Jesus' life here as the son of Mary there were many expectations Mary had to deal with and let go of and trust God for answers to.

Jesus still messes with his people's expectations.  His birth isn't what we would expect from the King of kings.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.  And his ways are not our ways.  They are much, much higher.  And other.  And good.

This life is hard and doesn't always make for happy holidays, but the One who's birth I celebrate today is greater than all my troubles and expectations.  It's him I go to with my questions and struggles and disappointments.  He exposes my expectations and causes me to lift my sights much higher. 

I hope your Christmas was flu-free and very pleasant.  But if it wasn't, I hope you could see the totally expectation-breaking God made into flesh- at least a glimpse- and breath in the out-of-this-world peace and indescribable joy even a glimpse of him brings.


Advent 2016

Advent Day 20: Waiting For God

9:38 AM



Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.  I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. -Psalm 69:1-3

Psalm 69 is not exactly a common Bible verse quoted at Christmas.  But I think it's perfect for Advent.  At least it's where I'm at right now.  Maybe you are too.

For lots of people, Christmas is not all joy and jolly.  For many it's a very painful reminder that they long for things to be right and happy and light, but in reality they find themselves in a place where things are wrong and sorrowful and dark.  If you find yourself in a place like that today, I pray this will encourage you as it has me.

I counted 11 times in my version of Psalm 69 where the writer asks God to save him in various ways.

Save me O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck... (vs.1)

...answer me in your saving faithfulness. (vs. 13)

Deliver me from sinking in the mire... (vs.14)

...let me be delivered from my enemies. (vs.14)

Let not the flood sweep over me... (vs. 15)

Answer me, O LORD... (vs. 16)

Hide not your face from your servant... (vs. 17)

Draw near to my soul... (vs. 18)

Redeem me... (vs. 18)

Ransom me because of my enemies.... (vs. 18)

...let your salvation, O God, set me on high. (vs. 29)



Obviously the person writing this was in some sort of circumstance that made him feel desperate for God to show up and do something!  And apparently these circumstances had been there for awhile and the writer wasn't seeing God show up because he writes:

I sink in deep mire, 
where there is no foothold; 
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim 
with waiting for my God. (vs.2-3)

He's sinking.  There's nothing to stand on.  He can't keep himself up.  He's overpowered by his circumstances.  And it's not short lived so he's weary.  His faith-eyes are barely able to see any kind of hope because he's been waiting so long for God to show up and do something about this overwhelmingly difficult, long season.

There's a lot here.  The psalm describes the writers desperateness for God to do something about his circumstances.  He's specific about the circumstances- overwhelming numbers of enemies, lies, reproaches, shame, accusations.  He even says that even though he knows he's not guiltless- God knows the wrongs he's done- he knows these circumstances aren't because he did anything wrong.  "For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach..."  He's in these overwhelming circumstances because he is a God-representative.  He's in this despairing situation because of his identification with God.

At that point you may say, "Well, I'm out.  I'm in the situation I'm in that I wish God would show up for and do something about because of my own mistakes."  That might be true to some extent.  Like this Psalmist, none of us are free from the guilt of folly and wrongs that God knows about and may even be in part cause of our current suffering.  I too am in a long-lasting difficulty that is in part due to my own sins.  But in 1 Peter, Peter says something that always gives me hope and encouragement:

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13)

I know that the only person who can claim perfect sinless suffering for God's name's sake is Christ.  But, we who bear his name and love him and seek and him hate our sin and, like the psalmist in Psalm 69 acknowledge our sins before God, we have an "insofar as" sharing in this suffering that Christ perfectly endured.  And we need to see that and believe that, because that's where we will find the deliverance and redemption we long for from God.

The psalmist who wrote this was weary with waiting for God to come do something to deliver him out of these horrible circumstances.  You might be too.  I know I am.  And that's ok.  It's ok to long for God to do something to keep you from being swallowed up by the anger, bitterness, hopelessness and guilt that your circumstances threaten to bring.   What I find amazing in this psalm is that the writers very cry to God to save him and answer him and deliver him and draw near to him and redeem him and ransom him and set him on a high place, is exactly where he finds God giving him hope and a song and a word of encouragement for other fellow long-sufferers.

He doesn't find that his faith-dim eyes suddenly see because God comes in and changes his circumstances.  He finds that in his crying out to God, God is there with him, strengthening him to endure.

By verse 30 of the psalm the writer turns from crying out in desperation and vulnerable confession to praising God with his words.

I wil praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving...

When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the LORD hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
And build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall dwell in it. (vs.30-36)

This is what we, who are waiting for God this Advent, need to do:  SING and GIVE THANKS!

SING

I can't even tell how many times the simple act of opening my mouth and letting my soul sing, even while the tears flow, has caused me to find God is there.  He's there as I sing reviving my heart and reminding me of his promise: He will conform me to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29)  He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5).  He will not reject me or leave me (Hebrews 13:5).  He will judge rightly all that happens to me (1 Peter 2:23).

Don't know what to sing?  Don't have a great voice?  Here's a couple of my favorites to sing when I'm overwhelmed with my circumstances and sadness:









 GIVE THANKS

This is harder for me.  Singing seems to come out of me (with the assistance of YouTube or iTunes) more easily, and lifts me almost instantly into hope.  But the psalmist says he will magnify God with thanksgiving after telling him how dim his eyes had grown waiting for God to show up.

When the flood of hopeless thoughts, accusations and heartaches barrages you and threatens to take your faith down, you need to open your mouth Sheila and speak out loud what you are thankful for, or write it if you can't talk!  It will be a gasp of oxygen to your soul and some light for your dim eyes!

It's Christmas.  Everyone is decorating trees and you may feel like the world should be painted grey not red and green and glitter right now.  But what if you took out a piece of paper and started writing what you're thankful for and put it on a tree, or on a wall and decorated your hard, painful, weary-with-waiting-for-God Christmas with words of thanks to God.

Don't know where to start Sheila?  How about the fact that you have access to God's words that pulled you out of a sinking pit this morning?  How about the fact that you've been provided food and clothing and comfort and song and family and... the pieces of paper should cover the tree, or the wall.

Join me today in pouring out desperate cries for God to show up, singing songs of worship and longing and faith, and writing or speaking words of thanks to God that make you and I remember how big and good he is.



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