Cheesecake? I would Love Some!

~~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV84) ~~   “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

by Carley Cooper

Microsoft Office Copyright Free Images
Cheesecake with Fruit Filling
Ever notice how some things in life seem to be a ‘given’?  I mean there really is no decision to be made in some situations.  You just know what you want without even thinking about whether it is right or wrong; good or bad for you.  I was planning a huge party once.  I was at the caterer’s office with the person who was planning this ‘shin-dig’ with me.  We discussed the menu particulars and decided that roasted chicken would be the main entre, with potatoes and vegetables.  After we finalized the details of the appetizers and dinner, the next item on the list was dessert.  The lady told us that our choices were apple pie with ice cream or cheesecake.  My partner and I both looked at each other for what must have been a whole... 3 seconds.  We did not say a single word to each other, and then we both looked at the woman across the table from us and we said in unison ‘cheesecake’.  It was just a given.  There was no choice to be made for either of us.  Why would anyone ever want to turn down cheesecake? 

If there is any one dessert to be served to us one day in heaven, I have no doubt that it is cheesecake (with raspberry filling and drizzled with chocolate)!  OK, so that triggers the next thought.  If this incredible morsel is so absolutely heavenly than why is it sinfully delicious?!  Isn’t that a contradiction?  Could it be that cheesecake is just one of my weakest temptations?  Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between something really awesome and God-sent, and something that is a temptation from the enemy.  Appeal is the part that makes temptations so tempting.  If it was not for the appeal, it would not have any hold on us.  Whether you are a new Christian or someone who is very well ‘seasoned’, you will always have struggles with temptations in your life.  It is a guarantee that Satan will always use our weakest points, and in our weakest moments, to dangle that proverbial ‘big carrot’ in front of us.  Of course; ‘carrots’, for the average person are not tempting.  That is why the enemy chooses something equivalent to chocolate or cheesecake that is almost impossible for us to walk away from.  Then he will whisper in your ear “Just one time will not change your whole life”; or “No one will know, we just won’t tell anyone.”, “What’s the big deal, it’s not like anyone will get hurt”.

When we succumb to temptation then we have sinned against God.  The good news, though, is that temptation in itself is not a sin.  It is when we make the decision to willingly reach out and take that dangling chocolate we are committing a sin.  How are we to handle it when we are looking at temptations straight in the face?  Well, first we have to recognize that what we are looking at is a sin.  Anything that goes against the Word of God is a sin.  The Bible tells us that God will never allow us to be exposed to a temptation that we are unable to carry ourselves.  It also says that He will always provide a way out.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV84)  Therefore, when we sin it is always because we freely chose self-gratification over God.  How do we turn away from temptation?  First, we need to pray about it.  Ask God to lift this burden if it is in His will to do so, or for help to get through it.  (Psalm 55:22 NIV84)  Next, know God’s Word; as it is the best weapon we have at our disposal to fight with.  (Hebrews 4:12 NIV84)  It will guide us on what to do to get around the temptation and it will help us win the battle.  Also, praise God and thank Him for the struggle (Ephesians 5:20 NIV84) because He uses all things for our own good, and to show His awesome grace and mercy (Romans 8:28 NIV84).  Finally, for the extra reinforcement we need accountability.  If you do not have an accountability partner, you need to have one.  This is someone to whom you are accountable that will help you stay on the ‘straight and narrow’.  (James 5:16 NIV84)  For the times when we do reach out and take that ‘chocolate’ treat being offered to us; we are to confess, repent, and ask His forgiveness... ASAP! 

Are there little things in your life that have the potential to lead to big temptations?  Telling ourselves “Just one piece of cake cannot hurt that much” in a state of weakness can lead to gluttony.  If food is your weakness, you must recognize it and be strong enough to say “No thanks” the next time someone offers you that extra treat.  Just like saying “We are just chatting and flirting online.  We are not hurting anyone” in a state of weakness can lead to adultery or sex outside marriage.  If the opposite sex is your weakness, than you need to restrict yourself from situations that may be too much for you to handle.  Or, maybe you look at your neighbour and think “I wish I had a house and a car like Jimmy”.  This is envy.  Next time you see someone with ‘better’ or more of something than you, count your blessings.  No matter how much, or little, you have; there are those who have less than you do.  Maybe, despite Jimmy’s ‘wonderful’ life; he is ‘up to his ears’ in debt, or he may be so lonely that he cries himself to sleep every night.  The list of temptations is endless.  What are yours?  What is God asking you to do to head them off?

Just like my friend and I cannot resist cheesecake; I know there are things that you feel are irresistible as well.  Turn to Jesus and ask Him to help.  Do not listen to those lies by the enemy.  Someone will indeed get hurt... you!  Someone does know... God!  He has already given us a way out of our struggle.  We just have to listen to what He is telling us and follow Him.

I have been thinking.  Cheesecake really should be a food group all on its own!  I wonder if Canada’s Food Guide takes suggestions for future adjustments.   

~~ Dear God ~~  I thank You for the path that You are leading me on; for the struggles that I battle with.  They are the things that are helping me build my strength and my faith that are helping me to become more like Jesus.  Please help me to always hear your voice and Your instructions when I am battling with temptations.  Thank You for the options that You give me that help me avoid taking that extra piece of cheesecake or chocolate in my weakest moments.  With each and every lie that the enemy whispers in my ear help me to remember the appropriate scripture verse from Your Word that will him.  Thank You, Father, for the wonderful grace and mercy that You have given me, that I do not deserve.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

What’s the Point, Anyway?

~~ 1 John 1:7 (NIV84)~~   But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

by Carley Cooper

Free Source Photo
Weekends are supposed to be our time off; a break from our busy lives to regenerate.  Ever notice that does not always seem to be what actually happens?!  Saturday’s there is cleaning to be done, kid’s functions to go to, shopping and errands to be taken care of, Aunt Esther’s 85th birthday party, and that is just to start with.  Sunday mornings are often the same routine as through the week.  You have to get everybody up and fed, and get ready to head out the door to church.  We go because... well, we have to go to church... right?!  Have you ever stopped to wonder why you go to church?  Truly deep down in your heart, what is the point?  Stop and think about that for a minute.

Was your first thought to the ‘why’ question something like ‘Well, I go because you’re supposed to.  It says so in the bible somewhere.”?  Well, if you are thinking along those lines, you certainly would not be alone.  However, this is not what God wants to see in our hearts as we go to His house.  Imagine if your family came to your house for a celebration dinner for your big promotion.  When you asked them why they came the response you got was ‘Well, I had no choice to come.  I knew you would freak if I didn’t come.”  That would not make you feel very loved or appreciated, now would it?!

God led me through a specific set of circumstances one day to bring this subject to light for me.  I was having a bad Bipolar Disorder episode and was quickly on my way to the bottom of a depression wave.  I got invited to spend the afternoon with my parents at their trailer at a nearby Christian campground.  I went because I did not want to disappoint them; but deep inside I was frustrated, irritated, had a big headache and I simply could not focus on any one thing.  The enemy had me believing that I wanted to stay home and wallow in it.  I listened to depressing music on my MP3 player to ‘drown out the world’.  The music I was listening to was the saddest songs I could find.  I really cannot say that I understand this next connection, but after a while it started to remind me of home.  That is, Newfoundland where I was born.  This in turn, reminded me that I love where I am living now more; and today, that is partly because of my church.  Thinking about the church reminded me of how much I love God, and how much He has changed my heart and my life.  Thinking about my blessings made me happy again.  I suddenly became very thankful that I decided to spend the afternoon in the park with my family.  Without that, I may not have come think about church and why I love it so much.  That is when I changed my music to something upbeat and stimulating!

When I realized the circle that God had just taken me on to pull me back into the light; I started to think about why some people go to church for the wrong reasons.  Whether we admit it or not, there are people who use the church for many bad reasons.  Things such as:
  • To get help with various needs and necessities of life; like food, financial help and other resources.
  • To hide from responsibility of spreading the gospel – to feel like you are being a ‘good Christian’ without having to step out of your comfort zone and do the work we are all called to do.
  • Position and power.
  • You like the pastor.
  • To find a spouse.
  • Because you are ‘supposed to go’.
  • Convenient location.
  • Networking with the ‘right’ people.
  • To place themselves in a desirable set of circumstances.

After thinking about this, I felt the need to re-evaluate my own reasons for going to church.  Here is what I came up with (in no particular order).  I go to church because:
  • It honour’s the Lord’s Day (Exodus 20:8)
  • It is a Home base for my life (read my blog post ‘How God Led Me Home’ for more details).   
  • I feel safe – there is a certain peace we all have at home that we do not usually feel elsewhere.  To have that foundation gives us something to build our lives on.  The same is true for our spiritual lives.
  • I have friendship and church family (read my blog post ‘Families are like Fudge’ for more details on how wonderful I feel my church family is).
  • I am learning who God is, what His Word says, and how to apply it to my life.
  • It helps me to be closer to God – God is everywhere; but many of us feel closer to Him during worship times when we are in His house surrounded by other Christians.  Not going to church, for me, would be a little bit like talking to Grandma over Skype and never going to visit her in person.  It is just not the same.
  • The Bible tells us to fellowship with other Christians (1 John 1:7)
  • I am exposed to more opportunities to serve God.
  • I am part of something bigger than me – I have a place and a purpose.
  • I am learning to safely step out of my ‘box’.
  • I am learning to forgive and trust again.
  • I am learning more about knowing when God is talking to me, and how to include Him in every part of my life.
  • It builds my faith (Romans 10:17)
  • It encourages me to do things I would not likely have done otherwise – such as writing, socializing and participating in ministries.
  • I am exposed to Godly people who help and teach me – counsellors, mentors and others.
  • I am exposed to unconditional love – from God and from my Church Family.
  • I am learning to build healthy relationships with others.
  • I am learning to see myself the way God sees me, and that I can do what He says I can do.
  • It gives me accountability (Hebrews 13:17)
  • God tells us that we are to go to church (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Do you truly care about going to church?  How often do you go?  Do you tell people you are a Christian and yet only go at Christmas, Easter, or special family occasions?  Does your family worship at home together?  How about, family Bible studies at home?  Are your decisions based on what God’s Word says?  Does your family pray together?  Is devotional and quiet time alone with God a part of your daily routine?  Are you part of a small group or Bible study group?  There was a time when I went to church only on special holidays; and I figured that was OK as long as I believed that God is real.   I thought that having to go every Sunday was a bit ‘over the top’.  Now, it is a different story.  I really love going to church.  Sunday’s are my favourite day of the week.  It is worship day!  Yea!!!  So, what keeps me going back to church every week?  There is only one good and perfect reason... because I love Jesus and I want worshiping Him to be the biggest joy in my life!

~~ Dear God ~~ Thank You for making me a part of the church home and church family that You have chosen for me - A family that strives to be disciples and to create disciples for Jesus.  Thank you for helping us to be so open that the Holy Spirit can move so freely among us.  Thank You for all the blessings that You have given to me through this church, because of Your awesome grace and mercy.  Please always let my heart always be open to receiving more lessons that will bring me closer to Jesus with each and every day.  Do not let me ever lose sight of the point of why I love going to church.  In Jesus name, AMEN. 

The Perfect Masterpiece

~~ Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) ~~  From the Life Application Bible ~~  We are God’s masterpiece (work of art, workmanship).  Our salvation is something only God can do.  It is his powerful, creative work in us.  If God considers us his masterpieces, we dare not treat ourselves or others with disrespect or as inferior work.

by Carley Cooper

Painting by my Grandmother, Laura H. Mercer
(Painted in her 80's shortly after she first started painting

with no education or previous experience)
Title unknown
Photo by Carley
Are you a creative person?  Maybe you do some sort of art work; painting, sculpting, pottery.  Perhaps your talent lies in music; and you are a musician or a singer.  Then again, you might be a designer; of clothes, houses, gardens, cars, teddy bears, or graphics.  Possibly you are a writer, or an architect.  Even if you are none of these, or you feel that you have no creative talent, I think that everyone knows what it feels like to put your whole self into something you are doing.  You work hard on a project.  Every part of your being; mind, body, and soul goes into it.  For me, when I am writing I can completely forget about the world and not even be aware of what is going on around me.  There are other projects that I have worked on that kept me focused on one thing for weeks at a time.  Often, I am even at the point where I forgot to eat because the only thing on my mind is this one mission. 

How did you feel once you completed your vision, or accomplished a goal?  It is an incredibly awesome feeling, isn’t it?!  To know that I created a masterpiece brings a feeling that I can only describe as fulfilling.  Its existence came about from something that started as just a thought in my brain.  I find that to be a fascinating concept.  A painting... did not exist, now it does.  A book, or a song, or a building, or a dress; started simply as a notion in someone’s mind.  Then it was developed into an idea, followed by a plan, and then the work to create it.  It is enough to make one feel incredibly proud.  You might even say you love it, since you put your whole heart into it.  It is called ‘good workmanship’ or ‘taking pride in what you do’. 

Now, imagine how you would feel after completing the biggest project of your life that took you days, weeks, or years of your time working on.  You put all your blood, sweat and tears into this venture.  Visualize that this project was something that would change the life of your family, city, or county for the better.  Maybe you built a new house for your family with your own bare hands.  Perhaps, you helped design a new building for low-rental housing in your own community.  Possibly you wrote a hit song to raise a lot of money that will help benefit hungry people in your own country.  Now, picture the person you love the most in this world... the person you would give your life, literally, to protect.  Imagine this person showing up with a group of their friends and destroying your masterpiece, without a good reason for doing so.  It does not even sound logical, does it?  Why would someone you love, and who loves you, do that to you?  The new house that you built was burned to the ground; or that new low-rent high-rise was levelled, or the only copies of that potential hit song have been erased.  The only explanation you got from the person who did this was something like “I thought it would be fun”.  How would you feel?  It would be like a knife in your gut.  Your life’s work; all the resources, energy, work and sweat that you put into this work of genius.... all for nothing.  It would be devastating.  Personally, I would feel angry and betrayed just to start with. 

Well, guess what?!  That is exactly what we are all doing to God’s masterpiece!  He created this world to be the perfect place for us to live in harmony with Him.  Then, before the planet was even populated, we walked in and wrecked the place!  Almost immediately the laws that He put in place for it to operate properly were broken.  We succumbed to temptation and willingly sinned.  Not only that, but we continue to do it.  We change God’s laws, as if we know what we are doing, to suit our own purposes; and have the gall to call them ‘good’ because ‘the times are changing’.  Then, to top it all off we do things that are slowly and continually helping to destroy, not only the planet but our own bodies as well.  Dangerous gases are allowed to flow into the atmosphere.  All sorts of electronic waves are filling up the environment around us.  Garbage and chemicals are being dumped into the earth.  The worlds resources are being used without thoughts of replenishment, as if there will be no tomorrow.  Governments and big business make laws based on profit; not on what is best for the people, the earth, or our future.  We drop bombs on things and people just to prove which country is the ‘toughest kid on the block’.  We continually pollute our minds with all sorts of filth, which is all around us.  Our bodies are slowly dying, because we eat things that our body was not designed to consume.  We over-process the life out of our food supply by filling it with medications, chemicals, preservatives, and hormones.  We are killing ourselves and the earth. 

Much of humanity does not realize it, but justice must be done.  We broke God’s laws and damaged creation.  By God’s very nature, He cannot be in the presence of sin.  We are all sinful.  He loves us and wants to be with us, so ths issue must be reconciled.  We have to be made aware of the magnitude of the harm we have caused, and then be held accountable.  In God’s court we are guilty of a lot of serious crimes.  Not one of us can be found innocent.  Romans 3:23 tells us that “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. 

However, all is not lost because there is hope!  We are blessed because we do not have to worry about paying a big fine, or doing jail time.  Our sentence has already been taken care of.  We have a wonderful Friend who loves us so much that He was willing to take our place; pay our fines and do our jail time for us.  His name is Jesus.  Invite Him into your heart to be your saviour, and He will be your Friend too!  He lived a perfect sinless life.  Then He willingly went through a horrible death; taking our place upon the cross in the sentence that was ruled for us.  But, Jesus conquered death and rose again.  He is alive today.  Without Jesus, you will have to pay your own fine and do your own jail time.  Jesus is the only possible way out of this sentence (John 14:6 NIV84).  He loves you so much, that even if you were the only one; He would have done this for you anyway!  How awesome is that?!  How could anyone not want Him as a friend?  Even though we walked away from God and damaged His wonderful masterpiece He forgives us.  That is because, He loves us and He can fix it.

~~ Dear God ~~  Your word says that You are the Potter, and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8 NIV84).  Please mold me, shape me, and make me into a masterpiece that You can be proud of.  Please forgive me for all my many sins that contribute to the destruction of the world, my mind and my body.  Please teach me how to live a healthy life so that I am not disrespecting You, myself, other people, or the earth.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus; to pay the penalty for my crimes to You.  Do not ever let a day go by in my life when I am not thankful for this incredible gift.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Pay It Forward

~~ Matthew 7:12  (NIV84) So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

by Carley Cooper

Homemade Baked Goods to Give at Christmas
Photo by Carley
Have you ever seen a movie called “Pay It Forward”?  The synopsis of this film is a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who launches a good-will movement.  It is all about passing on the blessings that have been received to the next person.  Imagine how quickly the whole country could be ‘covered’ if every single person were to do a kind deed for 3 people this week.  I do not know the stats on this thought, but I am sure that it would not take long before every person in the country would have received a kind deed from someone.  Now, imagine it spreading to all of North America, then to Europe; and the whole world.  What a wonderful place it would be.

This idea is not a new one.  Jesus gave us what we now call The Golden Rule; “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 NIV84).  In our society today, though, it seems that this concept has been all but forgotten.   We live in a society that is all about focusing on our own happiness and instant gratification instead of the well being of others.  One of the greatest gifts we can receive in our lives comes in the form of giving to others.  I would like to think that nothing I could be given would feel as good as seeing the happy face of someone else that I just helped in some way.  My heart is always filled with so much excitement as I pass on a blessing to another person.  Waiting to see the reaction feels a little like the anticipation one feels, as a child, when you were waiting for Christmas morning to come.  Re-learning to share love with each other is something that we need to make a priority in our lives. 

Here are some ways that I have shared love; and others have shared with me:
  1. Not too long ago, in a supermarket, I was looking over some baskets of kiwi that were on sale looking for a good quality batch.   A little old lady came by and asked me what it was.  She had never seen kiwi before.  I explained to her that it is a very tasty fruit that is green on the inside; and is very good for you.  Some people like to eat the brown fuzzy peels, while others do not.  She was very happy with my input and thanked me for telling her about kiwi.  It made me feel very good to know I helped this wonderful woman.  It really did ‘make my day’!  (On a side note: eating the peels will increase your fibre intake up to three times, not to mention the extra nutrients and antioxidants.  Wash and cut a kiwi into pieces, with peels on, and mix into yogurt or a fruit salad and the juices soften the peels.  Very tasty and very healthy!)
  2. I helped a friend do some painting in her house when she was preparing it to put it on the real-estate market.
  3. I found out I was moving only 4 days before the moving day.  I spent those few days preparing; packing, arranging for utilities and various services, movers, and much more.  By the end of the day, on moving day, I was exhausted to say the least.  I needed dinner.  The cookware was packed somewhere in the mountain of boxes, and I had no energy left to dig it out.  My wonderful friend came over; with her own food and cookware, and made me dinner. 
  4. I do not have a car right now.  Because of this, I have a few friends that give me rides whenever I need them.  They take me to church, grocery shopping, to appointments; and more.  I love them dearly for it.  To them, “it’s nothing”.  To me, it is a wonderful ministry that I am very thankful for.  One day when I get a car, I intend on making it a ministry of my own to ‘pay forward’ all the years I have been given rides by my family and friends; by giving rides to others who need them.
  5. My family has a habit of inviting others to spend Christmas with us.  At least one of us is always bound to show up with a guest for the holidays.  Our attitude has always been “the more, the merrier”.  Last year, I invited a special friend from Toronto who would have spent Christmas alone.  We welcomed him into our celebration; placed gifts for him under the tree, and had a very fun holiday that everyone will remember.
  6. My parents were superintendents in a large senior’s apartment building.  One year we realized that many of these tenants did not have anyone to spend Christmas with.  So we planned a huge Christmas dinner and invited all those who would have been alone otherwise.  My Mom, my sister-in-law, two of my Aunts, and myself; cooked and prepared dinner (and all the fixings) for approximately 40 people.  It was a lot of work, but it is one of my most treasured Christmas memories ever.
  7. I gave someone the book that helped me get past my divorce; when he found himself in the same situation.
  8. I have a friend that comes to my apartment now and then with a movie; and sometimes dinner, to keep me company.  This is something that I very much appreciate as a single person living alone; who suffers from Bipolar Disorder.
  9. My new-apartment building does not allow dogs.  I have some friends that have been taking care of my dog for me in the past year as a result of this.  Without the incredible generosity of my beautiful friends I would be left in a terrible bind.  However, I never give up faith that God will find a way to reunite me and my baby.  
  10. A wonderful person from my church family; who is unknown to me, left a card of encouragement for me in my mail slot at church during a time when I needed some support.  I keep it pinned to my message board at home where I can see it and be reminded that God, and my church family love me.
How have you shared love with someone lately?  What gifts and blessings can you pass on to someone else?  As children of God; we are called to be like Jesus.  God wants us to share the love, so that other people will see Jesus in us.  He is the most selfless, giving, loving person there has ever been.  God wants us to develop our character to be like that of His Son, who was willing to be a sacrifice in order for us to be saved.  There has never been a greater ‘Pay It Forward’ gift?!

CHALLENGE for YOU:  Try to ‘pay it forward’ by doing 3 good deeds for someone this coming week; then come  back here and share your stories with everyone in the comment section below.

 ~~ Dear God ~~    Your ways are so wonderful that I never cease to be amazed.  The gift of giving is the perfect reward.  By giving selflessly, I am rewarded in return.  Please help me to always find incredible loving joy in giving to others.  Let others always see a reflection of Jesus in me each time I ‘pay it forward’.  Never let a week go by in my life where I do not bless someone in some way.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

The Flip Side

~~ Luke 15:32 (NIV84) ~~ But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.  

 by Carley Cooper

Gravenhurst, Ontario
Photo by Carley
Remember your senior year of high school?  I bet it felt like the longest year of your whole life, as though it was twice as long as other years.  Why?  Well, it was because you were anxiously waiting to finish high school, to start your life as an adult.  Do you remember the day you left home; I am guessing, because you were leaving for college?  It was an awesome day.  You got to move into your own space, and do your own thing.  Mom was not there to tell you that you have to eat broccoli.  Even better was that she was not there to tell you that you cannot have sugary cereals, for dinner; or cold, left-over pizza for breakfast.  There was no curfew, you could watch whatever you wanted on TV, and party with your friends all weekend long.  Venturing out into the world without a chaperone looking over your shoulder; was the ultimate freedom.  It probably never occurred to you to feel like you were lost.

Well, for some, you are now on the Flip Side; you are now the parent.  You are sending your own kids off to college for the first time, and you are feeling scared half to death to let them go off into the big scary world alone.  “My baby is growing up way too fast.”, “How am I going to protect him when he is in another city?”, “What if he gets sick?  Who is going to take care of him?”, “How am I going to save him from dating the wrong type of person, or from getting involved with a bad crowd?”, “How do I protect him from peer pressures of drugs, sex and booze?”.  The list of things to worry about is never ending.  Every fibre of your being wants to hold that child, protect him; never let him experience any hurt, disappointment, or hatred.  If you had your way he would never even experience a cut finger.  Above all else, you certainly do not want your sweet baby doing the things you did in college!  You want only love, laughter and joy in your child’s life; for his whole life.

As a parent, you are most certainly not alone in those things you are feeling.  Every parent who has ever had to let go of a child has felt these things and much more.  Now, for just a minute; imagine what it would feel like if your baby went off into the big world and then stopped all contact with you.  What would that feel like for you?  There are no emails, no letters, no text messages, no phone calls, and no visits home for the weekends or holidays.  Even worse than that, all your calls and messages go unanswered.  You have given this child everything that he has ever needed, guided him, moulded him, and loved him with your whole soul more than life itself.  It would be excruciating to have him willingly walk out of your life without an explanation. 

The feeling that you would be completely lost without your child is something that Jesus understood very well.  In Luke 15, Jesus tells us parables of the ‘Lost Sheep’, ‘Lost Coin’, and the ‘Lost Son’.  When the lost is found, in each parable, the Master has a celebration.  Nothing else matters, except that the Master is reunited with the lost.  When we venture out into the world alone, without God, and determined to live our life according to our own agenda, we get separated from Him.  We are lost.  More than that, God’s heart is missing us and longing for us.  He wants us with Him.  We may not even be aware that we are lost because we are too busy enjoying the scenery on the journey we have laid out for ourselves...  or worse, we are just coasting along without a plan, not knowing or caring where we are headed.  The problem here is that we end up, either, on a dead end track; or one that is leading straight to the edge of a cliff.  God is trying to get your attention to let you know that only He can move us onto the right track.  He wants to protect us from getting lost, falling over the edge, or ending up in the middle of no-where. 

God has the most amazing blessings waiting for you if only you would call home.  He is as much a member of your family as your spouse, kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even pets. With every decision you make, every trip you plan, every holiday you celebrate; Jesus should be included in the plans.  For example, I wake up every morning, no matter what the weather, look out my window and say “Good Morning, Lord.  Thank You for the wonderful day; and thank You for the wonderful apartment in this wonderful city.”  He is a member of my home and I like to greet Him as I would anyone else when I get up in the morning.  I have also learned to make decisions according to what He would like me to do.  I pray to Him and wait for an answer.  Sometimes I do not get the answer I would prefer, but I have learned not argue with Him anymore as I used to do.  It is a little bit like chasing your own tail... completely pointless.  A friend once offered me the most incredible gift; of a trip of a lifetime to travel Europe.  I turned it down, because the specific circumstances surrounding this gift would have placed me in a position that would likely cause me to stray away from God.  I am not willing to take that risk.  I do not ever want to live without God in my life, again.

Do you make God a member of your family?  Do you include Him in decisions you make?  Do you talk to Him every day?  If not, He is calling you.  He is your Father, and He loves you.  He misses you, just as you would miss your kids or anyone else in your family that would suddenly drop from the scene.  So, before you go about your life without including God; put yourself on the Flip Side and imagine how He is feeling having to live without you.  He is waiting to celebrate your home coming.

 ~~ Dear God ~~  The plans that You have laid out for my life are perfect.  They include dreams and blessings beyond anything my imagination can come up with.  Please always keep me close to You, and do not ever let me wander off into the world alone to follow my own track.  I love You and I do not ever want to live my life without You.  Just like the lost Son, in Jesus’ parable, I want to come home to live my life with You, and I am looking forward to the celebration that You have planned.  In Jesus name, AMEN.