No Luck

© PhotoSpin.com

Do you believe in coincidence? Life is full of a million variables. At any second our life could launch in countless different directions. Each small decision has the potential to greatly impact the rest of our lives.

There was a time in my life when I did believe in good or bad luck. I thought myself the master (or mistress) of my own destiny. Luck was the superstitious notion or force that could bring good fortune or adversity at random. Now that I am a follower of Christ, I have come to believe that God is in control and there is no such thing as luck. Everything happens for a reason—good and bad.

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

The ancient practice of casting lots was not unlike flipping a coin. Although it seemed to border on gambling at times, it was often simply used as a means of being impartial. Casting a lot might seem to imply that the outcome was random, left to chance, without design—but even a random act can be used to fulfill God’s purposes. The book of Acts even mentions that the apostles cast lots to replace Judas.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33

Luck is a worldly concept that does not acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but God, in his providence, does not leave our lives to chance. He guides us along a path of purpose, where every aspect of our lives—good or bad—is used as details of a greater plan.

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In the end, all things are orchestrated for our good. Even the things that cause suffering build character in us, teach us perseverance and ultimately give us hope. They teach us to let go of the physical world and to embrace the spiritual world.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  Romans 8:5-6

Knowing that our lives are not left to chance, we can find peace even in difficulty. When Joseph finally had a chance to confront the brothers that sold him into slavery, he told them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

No good luck—no bad luck—even the most minor events of our lives have greater meaning than that. I am much more than lucky to be a child of God.

Do you believe in luck?

© PhotoSpin.com


Fearless

BikerGirl

© PhotoSpin.com

I’ve been sitting on the sidelines recently. My leadership skills are unused. I’ve back-burnered my spiritual moxie. It’s simmering while I ponder it all. What are the biblical guidelines for women in ministry?

I recently moved from a somewhat progressive church in South Florida to a conservative church in North Carolina—from a church where I served for years as deacon and several other leadership roles to a church where woman may only lead other women or young children. Over the past months as I have struggled to come to terms with how God wants to use women in ministry and, particularly, how he wants to use me. I am going through a time of change and reflection. I have given it prayer and searched scripture for leading.

At precisely the time I was pondering and praying, an invitation to preview a new book arrived in my email. I was immediately intrigued by the title—Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead, by J. Lee Grady.

Despite his gender-neutral pen name, J. Lee Grady is not only a man and an ordained minister, but also the father of four daughters. I really liked that this message came through him.

In his book, Grady discussed the controversial Bible verses I was struggling with:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. I Timothy 2:12

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

Some churches interpret this verse to mean that women may not serve in leadership positions, but more likely Paul wrote them to address specific problems in struggling churches. Grady makes the point that the “assume authority” quoted in 1 Timothy 2:12 could be more accurately translated as “usurp authority.” The Greek verb authentein has violent connotations and Paul was commanding the women involved to submit in silence to proper doctrine.

Grady’s view on how these instructions should be interpreted for the churches of today? “We must stop viewing the role of women through the narrow filter of Paul’s words to Timothy or to the Corinthians. Women speak for God freely throughout the Old and New Testaments; why would we restrict all women based in these injunctions to heretical or immature churchgoers? We cannot use these verses as a blanket rule for all churches in all times.”

Fearless Daughters of the Bible will inspire any woman who is either actively involved in ministry or seeking more empowerment in Christian service. Grady illustrates his position through the lives of women God used in powerful ways with points firmly founded in the Bible. When it comes to serving God, we should all be fearless about using the gifts he gave us. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28

FearlessBook

Should woman be in ministry and leadership roles? Are we coming from a place of fear or operating on God’s power? 


An Engraved Heart

hearts

© PhotoSpin.com

I stumbled upon this recently:

Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their heart. Jeremiah 17:1

The visual of sin being engraved on a heart is sobering. It is a powerful illustration of stubbornness in sin. I lived this way for the first few decades of my life. I wanted to control my life and do as I pleased. I thought I could do it all on my own power.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

The world tells us we can be masters of our own fate and captains of our soul—but when we follow our selfish desires, sin becomes our master. We are deceiving ourselves if we think we are in control of anything.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:13-14

When we submit our lives to God, sin is no longer our master.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:15-16

While slavery to anything doesn’t sound appealing, it is that devotion to obedience that sets us free and results in a happy life. If we freely yield ourselves, we find a joy and peace no self-serving life could ever offer.

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.  2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)

Who is your master? How does the world’s view of slavery and freedom differ from the Christian view? Have you been willing to break the bonds of slavery to sin and find joy in obedience?


Life, Death and Supernatural Events

© PhotoSpin.com

When my son turned three, my mother-in-law was battling cancer. The doctors had given her all the treatment they could and allowed her to travel back to my in-laws’ home in Florida where we—and more importantly, her grandsons—lived.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize how very brave she was. I can only marvel at her cheerfulness to the end. She cherished her grandsons. On Brendan’s third birthday, she baked him a cake and played on the floor with him, as she had always been known to do. For someone who knew she was dying, she was so very full of life.  Only five weeks later, we lost her.

At only three, Brendan was still new to the world and still possessed much of the purity he came into the world with. Children that young seem to have an innocence of this world that allows them to see a spiritual world we can’t perceive.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16

At Irene’s memorial service, Brendan was fidgeting and crying. We went to the cry room at the back of the sanctuary and watched the rest of the service from there. The windowed room we watched from connected with the outer sanctuary wall of stained glass windows and Brendan kept pointing to the window next to us and saying “Grandma!” I finally stopped to pay attention to what he was so intently trying to communicate and followed his little finger to the window that featured an angel. It gave me goosebumps, but with the emotions of the day, I couldn’t really process it. Later that week, as he was babbling away in his car seat behind me, he pointed into the sky outside his window and said “Grandma!” with a big smile on his face. Did she linger with us for a while? Were Brendan and his grandmother able to see each other after her life on earth ended? I’ll never know for certain in this life, but it gave me something to ponder.

Just this week, I received a book from Bethany House to review: “Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters: Real-life Stories of Supernatural Events” compiled by James Stuart Bell (a collection of similar stories I recommend as an interesting and thought-provoking read). I pounced on this book the day it arrived and blazed through the stories, many of which I could relate to. It brought many personal memories to life in my mind. Over the past few years my husband and I have lost three of our collective parents. Life, death and the afterlife are on my mind more these days. As this book claims, there’s more going on in the world than meets the eye. There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell your story in the comments.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

In loving memory of
Irene Dubicki Lynch

1942-2004


Honoring a Lost Soldier

My Uncle Stan … handsome guy, wasn’t he?

Every Memorial Day, I think first of my Uncle Stanley, who joined the Army at twenty, was sent to Vietnam, and never returned. He entered the U. S. Army on July, 11 1967, and was trained at Fort Lewis in Washington State where he grew up. He started his tour in December of 1967, turned twenty-one while serving, and died exactly seven months later in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Uncle Stan served as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist

He was a younger brother to my mother, an older brother to my aunt an uncle and an oldest son to my grandparents. I was the firstborn and the only niece he ever knew, two more nieces and two nephews came after me that he never had a chance to meet.

I mourn the man he would have grown to be, the uncle I never grew to know, the family man he never had a chance to be—but I am proud of his bravery and his sacrifice.

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Each day is precious. Take time to remember our friends who have laid down their lives for us. We honor the many soldiers who have served.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

In loving memory of
Stanley Lloyd Grunstad
1947-1968

Who do you honor on this day? Leave a memorial note in the comments.


For The Love of An Only Son

My sweet baby boy on a “benture” in the woods in 2005. (Photo: © Lauren Lynch)

In my last post, I shared that my son had played a role in saving me, and promised to elaborate on that claim …

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Like Eve, I was deceived in the past (1 Timothy 2:13-14), was lost in a life of sin, and discovered redemption through the process of bringing a life into the world. Women are uniquely cursed and uniquely blessed. Bringing a child into the world is a painful and exhausting process, yet if we continue to invest in our children, there is no greater reward.

May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! Proverbs 23:25

As women, our unique blessing—the opportunity to experience life growing in our bodies—to serve as a vessel of creation—brings immense joy. There is no greater way to learn of putting the needs of another first than to have a child. The single act of bringing a child into the world stripped away so much of the selfishness that was holding me back. I still need to endure in faith to finish strong (2 Timothy 4:6-7), but God used my son to teach me of sacrificial love, denying my self, of pouring myself into another.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Nothing could truly help me understand God’s sacrifice of his own son than to experience the kind of intense love I have for my son.  There aren’t many parents who wouldn’t sacrifice their own life to save their child, much less sacrifice the life of their child. The giving of a beloved only son is a gift beyond measure. I know how precious my own son is to me.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Children are a valuable inheritance from the Lord and our legacy after our life in this world ends. In childbearing, I was savedyet againfrom myself. And because of this, I will do everything in my power to encourage my son in his faith.

A sacrifice has been made for you. Do you know how precious a gift that is? Have you acknowledged it today?


The Hour Has Come: The Story of Brendan

Brendan and I meet face to face for the first time. (Photo: © Patrick Lynch)

Before I brought a child into the world, I lived a very self-centered life. Although I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t have a saving faith until I married and had a child well into my thirties. The process of bringing my son into the world was a difficult path for me, but I would not trade it for anything. It opened my eyes to a whole new realm of truth.

During my pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes. I was also old enough and had enough other health issues that it was considered a complicated pregnancy. I followed the hospital’s suggestion of writing out a birth plan that included my desire for natural childbirth. After all, it was what women in my family did and they all seemed to have pretty simple childbirth experiences. I was so confident in this eventuality that when we missed the Lamaze class on caesarean births, I didn’t even bother to read up on it in my books.

That must have been some sort of insanely stubborn denial because I was completely surprised when that was what played out for me. My obstetrician had scheduled an induction date for me because of the gestational diabetes and for four days of varying levels of pitocin-induced labor, I labored in vain. I had strong “camel back” contractions without a single centimeter of dilation. No one had warned me that induced labor might not work.

I had entered some sort of zone of pain management in my mind. I fixated on my hands gripping the railing of my bed and the hours slipped by, but no amount of visualizing my cervix opening made it so. Still, I had my mind set on natural childbirth, so it actually surprised me when my doctor told me in the middle of the fourth day of unproductive labor that she had already assembled a surgical team and prepped the room for a c-section.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21

After the decision had been made, it all went relatively quickly. Within an hour, my baby boy met me on my head side of the blue curtain and I knew without a doubt that it had all been worth every moment of difficulty.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

This much-debated verse certainly has a personal meaning for me. I know that I received my salvation through God’s son alone, and yet God used my son to draw me to him as well. (More on that in my next blog entry)

How has (or would) bringing a child into the world changed you?

(Photo: © Patrick Lynch)


How I Met My Father, and …

How I Met Your Father – Part Two

© PhotoSpin.com

I don’t know why the kayak got to me so much (see my previous blog entry), but it did. It was just so darned adorable. Patrick has always been cute that way. He used to make these confetti bombs. I worked in a cubicle when we worked together. And that was back when film was still used in cameras.  He’d take a film canister and fill it with little bits of paper, then some compressed air and put the lid on. He was also pretty stealthy for a big guy. He’d sneak up and put his little happy bomb on the ledge of the cubicle and disappear—a few seconds later there was a mysterious explosion of confetti. I guess the funniest part about the silly bombs was that they were delivered by a man with a very dry sense of humor. He was also the office curmudgeon. How often do you meet a confetti-bombing curmudgeon? I had to make him mine.

Patrick and I didn’t marry until our early thirties. By that time, I had years of selfishness, shallowness and indifference under my belt. I had pretty much given up on finding a compatible life partner. I figured I’d eventually end up being one of those crazy ladies who spends all her money feeding birds from park benches then going home to a shack full of cats.

A friend who worked with Patrick got me the design gig where they worked. She told me she had a husband picked out for me. After I finished laughing, I eventually had to meet him to borrow a camera lens. A few minutes later, with lens in hand, I stopped by to visit my friend and let her know that I wasn’t seeing the possibilities—but that was before the confetti bombs and before I figured out how dry and amusing his humor really was. It is so dry, I am most amused by how many people miss it. It still entertains me to see how often it baffles people. Without knowing him, you can’t really be sure whether he’s kidding or not.  It’s just enough to make you wonder.

She gave me the disclaimer: he’s a bit of a Bible Banger. Looking back as the believer I now am, I wouldn’t say that at all, but he wasn’t shy about letting you know he was a Christian. He just let that part of himself shine. I am sorry to say that at the time, the Christian feature wasn’t a bonus to me—much less the necessity it should have been—but I had been raised in a Christian home, so it didn’t put me off either.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

Therein lies one of the greatest influences Patrick has had on me. After 30-some years of being a self-centered follower of fun, the Holy Spirit started to work in me. First, I had the very surprising and newfound interest in having a baby … for the first time … in my thirties! And God knew what he was doing. He sent a great guy, with an interest in marriage and kids smack in my path, so I practically had to trip over him.

God was also drawing me to himself. So I not only met the love of my life and my future child’s father in Patrick—I met my Heavenly Father through him as well.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

The rest is history. After only six months of dating, Patrick and I were married. A couple years later, we had our son, Brendan … but that is another love story.

Who showed you true love?

My guys on top of Pilot Mountain. Two peas in a pod …


What Kind of Love is This?

How I Met Your Father: Part One

© PhotoSpin.com

Last night my son asked me if I had ever loved anyone before his dad. He just turned eleven and these kinds of things are beginning to occur to him. I told him, that yes I had—but not in the way that I love his dad. It brought to mind the realities of true love.

For the first time, I wished I could use the intricacies of the Greek language to explain the various kinds of love we can feel, but maybe we do have it right in the English language. Maybe there is only one kind of true love—the only kind worth labeling as such. In either language, though, the various kinds are easily distinguished.

My husband, Patrick, isn’t a man of deeply expressed passions, but he is capable of the truest kind of love I have ever experienced. He is fiercely loyal and capable of both enduring and sacrificial love.

When I first met Patrick, it must have been right about the time his former wife left him to have a relationship with her supervisor at work. We had become friends through work and I learned details of his personal life here and there as I got to know him. It may have been Patrick’s treatment of his unfaithful wife that caught my attention first. He handled it all in such a respectable manner. During their one-year separation, while she dated her boss, he remained faithful and gave her every chance to return to their marriage. He waited patiently until she initiated divorce proceedings.

Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4a

Meanwhile a friendship had formed between us and we realized we had several interests in common—photography, scuba diving and kayaking to name a few.

Now—I must confess—Patrick wasn’t the kind of man that would have caught my eye in the past. I had many years of responding to vain, cocky, shallow types in my many years of dating before I learned how to look deeper. Patrick was an understated handsome minus the attitude—the kind that you can truly appreciate only by peeling back the layers. And, thankfully, there were enough layers to occupy my thirty-something, I’ve-grown-blasé-about-dating self.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4b

I always enjoyed boating and had done so often in dating relationships—both power and sail. So when Patrick asked me at work one day if I would like to see his new boat—well, I had the been-there-done-that attitude already forming at the back of my mind. Hmm, I thought, but he melted my inner sarcasm with a shy smile, and I took the bait. Okay, I said, wondering where I would have to go to see it. Was he asking me on a date?

Maybe not. He asked me to follow him. Here at work? Okay, that increased my curiosity. I followed him to the parking lot, and there, on top of his truck was a brand new double kayak.

Now, I’ve committed to not droning on more than 500 words or so and this story will become a bit longer than any blog entry should be. If you would like to hear how Patrick melted my heart some more, tune in tomorrow …

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

How did you first discover true love?
Leave comments—I LOVE A GOOD LOVE STORY!!

Patrick took this photo while we were kayaking and dating back in 1999. As you can see from the expression on my face, I was concentrating very hard on getting my little kayak through the big maze of mangroves.


Learning to Wait

© PhotoSpin.com

Being still isn’t easy. The world bombards us with over-stimulating messages, caffeinated energy drinks and opportunities for speed and convenience. We are losing our ability to wait for anything.

Becoming helpless—that doesn’t sound appealing, does it? How about letting go? We don’t like to do that either. Perhaps that is why so many people resist God. That is exactly what he wants us to do. In this upside down world, surrender sounds like defeat, but if we chose to follow Christ, we discover strength in our weakness–God’s strength.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

Focusing on God takes discipline, but if we learn to make that daily effort, we will be heard and we will find the answer we seek. Listen to the patience we can learn from the Psalms:

LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, “they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (Psalm 106:12-13) Does that sound familiar? Sometimes it is so difficult to wait for God’s timing.

Waiting forces us to draw closer to God, to listen for his guidance. I can be so impatient. I want to solve everything as soon as possible and push forward. In doing this on my own, I am not only getting ahead of myself, I am trying to get ahead of God. Now there is a scary thought. The right answer will come if I learn to wait on the Lord.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The peace of God transcends all understanding. We can’t find that kind of peace on our own. We can only seek it through him. Sit quietly with him. Rest in his presence. Connect with him through prayer. Trust–and wait for guidance.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

How have you learned to wait on God?

© PhotoSpin.com