Bonanza Life Lessons

Several years ago, when my children were much younger, some very dear friends of mine came over to watch our cherubs while my husband and I went to a conference.  When we returned, we were exhausted.  I fell onto the couch and did not want to get back up again.  My friends were watching Bonanza, one of my favorite shows from my childhood.  I sat back and began to watch the events unfold on the screen.  I missed the beginning of the episode so I don’t know how all this started.  All I saw was Little Joe looking up and seeing his rifle stuck on a very high mountain, with apparently no way to retrieve it.  He was quite upset by this and seemed on the verge of exploding in anger, however he remained calm. His friend was with him and I guess he didn’t want to give a bad impression.  Little Joe became angrier and angrier about losing his rifle.  Several times he rode by the mountain where his rifle still hung.  He would stare longingly up at it as if to will it down with his mind.  It took me awhile to understand why Joe was so upset over this rifle. He lived on the Ponderosa.  His father was a rich rancher. He had plenty of other rifles, why was this one so important?  Then, it hit me!  It wasn’t the rifle he was upset about; it was the fact that he couldn’t retrieve it because he was afraid of heights. As more of the story unfolded it became crystal clear that this was the issue.  So here Little Joe was, afraid, without his rifle, and probably feeling less of a man because he could not overcome his fear.  I watched in amazement as he decided he could overcome this obstacle without any help.  He parked his horse at the base of this huge mountain and began the harrowing trek up the face of it.  There were hardly any foot or handholds and poor Joe was getting dizzier by the second.  When he was about three-quarters of the way up, his father shows up.  Isn’t that just like our parents, just when we are in the middle of doing something really dumb, they catch us?  Pa Cartwright knows what’s going on with his son.  He knows his child; he knows his fear.  Pretty soon, in all his wisdom, Pa starts to climb to rescue his son.  By this time Little Joe is frozen with fear and cannot move from his place on the face of this mountain and let me tell you, it was a long way down. “Slide down to me Joe, come along side me, I’ll catch you,” Pa calls. “I can’t Pa, I’m afraid!”   Pa seems a little frustrated with his youngest child.  Just as he starts to take another step up this steep mountain, he slips.  He screams for Joe. “Joe I need you!  Help me!”  Wouldn’t you know it, Joe left his lasso on his horse. “Get the rifle Joe, you have to get the rifle and use it to pull me up.”   (You don’t think his dad planned this do you?) Joe takes one precarious step after another and reaches the rifle.  He and his father work together to climb the mountain and Little Joe conquers his fear. Isn’t it just like us, in all our humanness to try to do things on our own?  We can’t make it on our own although we try.  That’s when we end up on a mountain ledge with, what seems to be, no way out.  We get scared.  That’s when our Father calls to us.  “Come along side me.”  “I’ll catch you.”  “Let’s do this together.”  God knows we are afraid.  God knows what scares us, but He has promised to never leave us, to always be with us.  There are countless scriptures that speak of this crucial truth

Psalm 23:4  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”  Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 “…As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God sent His Son to rescue you. Yes, you!  He is with you.  Right now, right where you are.  In the middle of your trials and turmoil, He is beside you.  Perhaps you feel alone and you can’t make it through.  That you will never reach the end of whatever you are going through.  Ask your Father for help, surrender to Him, and allow Him to help you through.  Because you can’t make it on your own but with God, all things are possible.  (Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”)

What I learned on my summer vacation

Several years ago, my family and I decided to take a cross-country road trip. Three weeks just my husband, my children and me.  Three weeks of reconnecting with extended family members in different parts of the country. As I packed for this adventure I had my own ideas about how God was going to work over that time period. I knew God was going to give me opportunities to verbally witness to my Jewish family. God knows that I love my family, I care for them and I want them to know the truth; how else were they going to find out without me telling them. Of course, God was going to give me that opportunity. This was more than a vacation; it was a mission trip. On a warm Friday morning,  with kids and husband getting loaded into the mini-van and a sack full of tracts proclaiming the One and Only Way to Heaven, I had a picture in my head of how thrilling it was going to be to “tell” my family about Christ, how he is the Messiah that Isaiah spoke of.  I was beyond excited I was ecstatic.We pulled in to my cousin’s house in New York and all I could think of was OK God, here I am, I’m ready to witness.  Days went by, relatives were visited, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the laughter contagious and memories abounded, but no opportunities presented themselves to us to verbally proclaim the love of Jesus.  Yes we spoke of what God was doing in our lives, how He was working, we spoke of church and how God called us into various ministries, we prayed at meals, read the Bible.  But still no opportunities appeared.  I had it ready in my head, starting out with the Book of Isaiah and how he described Messiah, and how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy.  Again no opportunities came for us to speak the Message of Salvation. I have to confess to you, when we started home from New York, I felt like a complete and utter failure to God.  What kind of Christian was I?  How could I not be grabbing on to my family’s hands and telling them that if they died today, they would not go to Heaven because they do not believe in Messiah, Jesus Christ?  I verbalized my self-doubt and feelings of failure to my husband and through our conversations I looked back on our visit with my family.  Then God gently took his hand and hit me upside the head (that’s how He gets my attention sometimes).  Duhhhhhhhh!  We may not have had the opportunity to verbally sketch out the message of salvation but we showed Jesus in our lives, our actions, the way we held ourselves, and the way we interacted as a family.  We were different. Maybe that was what God had in mind all along.  For us to be a lifestyle witness?  Hmm, I wonder?  I remember our last night in New Jersey.  My cousin and his brother and sister-in-law were going to Atlantic City to gamble, they asked me to go with them.  Years ago, I would’ve been in the car before you could say slot machine.  But something inside me had changed, something inside me knew that it wasn’t for me anymore, (can you say Holy Spirit) surprisingly enough I had no desire to go I declined the invitation and stayed with my family.  Our lifestyle is the greatest witness we have, never underestimate the value of the way you live your life as a Christian. I realized that God sent me on this trip to reconnect the bonds that tie my family together, to reestablish relationships with cousins, aunts and uncles.  I believe in order for us to witness to someone, we need to know where they stand, what makes them tick, what they love, hate, dream about and want out of life. We need to get to know them on a deep and personal level. Only then can we share with them and they with us the most intimate of all issues, FAITH.

What did I learn on my summer vacation?  Not my will but HIS WILL be done.

Pursuing Perfection

You know when you’re at the check out stand in the grocery store and you have a couple of people ahead of you?  What do you do?  Well, I must confess that I read the headlines of the magazine articles.  Some of the articles sounded genuinely interesting and maybe I could use some of the information in my life, but others just make me want to scream.  The typical articles I found were of these type: “What makes a woman irresistible,”  “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days,” “Finding the perfect mate,” and my personal favorite (I’m being sarcastic here) “Bedside Astrologer: Your 365-day guide to finding true love, sexual bliss and total harmony.”  WOW!  This is fantastic.  All I have to do is read these articles and I will have total bliss, the perfect mate, be thin and totally irresistible.  Yeah. Ok. Let’s stop that fantasy train and get back to reality.  When I was younger I read all the articles, took all the quizzes and tried to change myself into something I definitely was not. Where did it get me?  Let me share a little bit about that.  At the age of 25, because I tried to change myself into this “perfect” person, I landed in a 30-day treatment center for eating disorders. I had starved myself, purged food from my body, and obsessively exercised until I thought I was perfect.  Well, 30-days in this facility with other women who had done the same thing, only showed me that I was still far from perfect. And no matter how thin I became, how athletic I was, or what clothing size I wore, I would never, ever achieve the perfection that I once thought was within my grasp.  While I was in this center a Channel 12 news crew came and wanted to do a story on the “Pursuit of Perfection.”  Well, my doctor was interviewed and then they interviewed me.  As we gathered around the news that evening and watched this report, I saw myself, (my face was blacked out) and I heard what I did, how I had abused my body to strive for something that is unattainable. Looking back, I believe that’s when God spoke to my heart, took me by the hand and said, “I made you the way you are for a reason, be who you are, I love you, I have a plan.” We need to stop trying to be something we aren’t and start being who God made us to be.  We are created in His image, His likeness.  Why would we want to be anything else?  To my knowledge there has only been and will only be one perfect person.  Jesus Christ!  We, as humans, are fallible, we have weakness, we backslide, make mistakes and we sin.  Jesus was the perfect, unblemished lamb that was slain for you and me.  He died for us, just as we are.  Human and full of imperfection.  God thought we were worth sending His Son to die for.  What does that tell you?  God tells us to come to Him just as we are.  We don’t have to clean up our act first, get rid of the sin in our lives, be 20 pounds lighter, or be irresistible to the opposite gender. Come as you are!  Let God take care of the rest.