Have you ever noticed how people develop an opinion of themselves and cannot seem to get over it? Some think they are worthless and some think they are the center of the world. It is true that each of us, even the smallest baby, makes a difference in this world. Think about it, how many times have you seen people cooing and smiling at a baby? For a moment of time people are transformed with happiness at seeing a little-one. Every person has an effect on others, good or bad, but either way our actions make a difference. I am sure we are all well aware of the effect one son, Jesus, made and we can be assured it will be as enormous what the effectual working of corporate sons, his body, will accomplish.
It’s good to feel like we make a difference because it helps us believe we have a purpose. There was a time I wondered if everything we do and if everything that happens to us is God’s preordained plan then why should I try to make a difference? Why try to do what is good or right, why try to respond? I have come to the conclusion that all is of God but I see it perhaps a little differently than some. I view God as our Father and let me ask you, as a parent didn’t you make choices for the children in your charge? When they were very little, everything was done for them. You fed, protected and cared for them, but as they began to understand what was being said you started to let them make their own choices. I am sure you must have found times when you said “NO” and the youngster did not listen, so you allowed him or her to experience the not so pleasant results of disobeying you. Then if they continued to disobey, you finally came to the place where the “rod of correction” was necessary. What about when they became teenagers? By this age you had to hope the values you had been trying to instill would guide them in the trials they were yet to encounter. At some point, regardless of how you felt about it, you had to start letting them make their own choices.
I use this analogy because our Father uses the things of this world as examples of the things of the kingdom, Jesus used parables. If God scripted EVERYTHING AND man has no ability to express his own desires, doesn’t this negate the need for the sacrifice of Jesus? If God uses us as puppets, if EVERYTHING is by God’s command, how can we be held accountable? “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.” (2Co 5:10) If God is making me do EVERYTHING, why would he judge me like I had a choice? I mean, just how righteous could his judgement on me be if HE were making me do it? If God is completely controlling our every action, are we told, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape, those who refused him that spoke on earth, much more we shall not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven”? (Heb 12:25) I find scripture after scripture telling me that I am responsible for my choices.
So what did it mean to be a son? “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14) It meant that I was to be lead by his spirit. I had been listening for many years to what others told me about God, now I knew it was up to me to find the true identity of my Father and not trust that others had the answer. I obviously had to learn more about God if I were to be like him. Philippians 2:5-6 says it so well, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” WOW, what a revelation! All this was new to me, but because I was discipled by one of the world’s best teachers, Stacy R. Wood, Jr, my understanding advanced rapidly.
Well, I knew there had to be more than I was experiencing. I had come to a place where I was not happy just “introducing” people to God and leading them through the “sinner’s prayer.” I wanted to do more than teach in Sunday school, sing in the choir, I even wanted more than laying hands on the sick and watching them recover. Doing all these things are good and I had an “up-close,” personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, but I knew something was missing. When I met Stacy and he told me about “sonship,” something leaped inside me and I knew this is my answer. I had been called to more than just watching and waiting for the return of Jesus, I am part of his body! This was the company of God’s sons, the body of Jesus, for which creation was waiting. (Rom 8:19) (Please note that I am speaking of sons - plural). Now I knew I had a purpose. I no longer asked my Father to do everything, I had a part in his plan and as a maturing son it was up to me to do what I could to help others. No longer did I say, “Father please do this or that,” it was up to me to do what I felt needed to be done. If I see someone hurting, I can ask what I can do and then try to help them find the solution to the problem. Even when it comes to world problems I can take some action, such as writing letters to the heads of the government or Red Cross, doing whatever I feel I am able to help. Remember Ephesians 6:9 tells us that he has made known to us the mystery of his will, so in all these things I can find my opportunity to be like Father and make a difference in this world.
Ok, back to my claim that we make our own choices. I would ask, why are we told in Genesis that God gave man dominion, (Strong’s 7287 meaning to rule or reign), over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth and over everything that creeps upon the earth? (Gen 1:26 & 28) If God alone controls EVERYTHING, then what is he talking about? I understand, God is the one giving the dominion which means he has dominion over that which he has given dominion to, but it looks to me that he is letting us exercise authority. Could it be he is letting us make choices so we can grow up to be like him? “Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is you sword: From men which are you hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly you fill with you hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold you face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness.” (Psa 17:13-15) Did David not just say that the wicked are God’s sword and men are God’s hand? David knew there was a difference, he did not say that he was being used by God. He knew the wicked and men did not have a choice, God was using them to do his will, but David did have a choice and he wanted to be like, react like, his Father. David would not be satisfied until he saw his Father’s likeness within himself.
So what does this mean? I have choices to make daily. I can get up every morning and look around me and whine and snivel about how unfair things are and believe it is God who is making me the way I am, or I can get busy with what I feel I should do. I choose daily what it is to be like Father and I want to bless people. If my writing is a blessing and encouragement, then I want to write, if time spent volunteering at a school or hospital is going to be a blessing then I want to volunteer my time. Maybe I should babysit or clean someone’s house. I want to take an active part in showing Father’s righteousness. (Emphasis on active). If I feel that something is to be done, then I know it is up to me to do my part, whatever that might be, no matter how big or how small. In some way I can make a difference in this world.
There is a lady who corresponds with me monthly and shares with me all that is happening in her life. She has taken care of her mom for many years and it has become a struggle as her mom ages. Lately her mom has been placed in a care home because my friend is also getting up there in age and can no longer lift or carry her mother. Instead of being happy about the freedom she now has to “do her own thing,” she visits her mom five or more hours a day! What a story of love. How does this encourage me? It gives me opportunity to send her letters or cards telling her how wonderful she is and how I see God in her. You see, when I build others up I am doing the same for myself. I cannot give out of an empty pot, instead, my pot has to be stirred up and overflowing for me to help someone in need. How does my pot get to overflowing? I keep adding to it, and I do this by choosing to send email and cards and letters. I also give out of my abundance when it comes to money. That must be the reason Father established tithing, you know, giving from the first part of the blessing. I have found that it is absolutely essential that I give while my pot is full, for when my pot is getting empty, I have a tendency to want to hang onto what I have. I find there is no excuse for not tithing time, energy and money, after all, it is for our own good that we do this, so our joy might be full! Think of all the mean, nasty and unhappy people in the world, are they not the ones who only concentrate on themselves and the rest of the world, which exists around them, can find their own way? Look around and notice who is the happiest, they are the ones who are giving out of their ‘pot’ and helping others in whatever way they are able to help.
Have you ever noticed that you feel better when you are doing something for someone else? This has to be out of the fullness that is within us. If we do it out of feeling like we “have to” then we do not reap the reward. So much of my life I did things because I was told I “had to,” and not because I wanted to. There was no real joy in my giving. Today, as I give, I find joy abundant, for it is what comes from my heart, that which I want to do for others. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, at the beginning, you know, the training stages, I was not joyful in doing everything, but it was after the training became my nature I found joy.
It has come to my attention that I must take action immediately, for if I don’t act right away, then it will, (more often than not), be stolen from me. The fear and cares of this life rob us from the abundance God has prepared for us. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luk 12:32-34) Notice that he did not say give every dollar away you made from your sell, but give alms of it. We have allowed our thinking to say this scripture means we must be without a home or any comforts but instead if we look closely we will find that we have a bag and treasure. HUH??? The scripture is telling us that we are not to place anything above what we feel God wants for us. We have all heard of or known people who have sold everything and followed what they felt God told them to do. Stacy’s Grandpa, Roy Shook gave his entire estate away to a church he started, hit out on the road, and in time he replaced it all. Out of the fullness of our hearts, this is what it is all about. Don’t let someone else tell you what to do, for you have need that no man teaches you, but let the spirit who is within you teach you what to do. (Note), I am not saying that we are not to listen and learn from others, but we are to follow our teacher, the Holy Spirit.
It is necessary for us, his children, to grow up and take responsibility for our actions if we are going to become the sons of God who are going to set creation free! Face it, God could do it all himself without us, but instead, he has chosen us to do the work. I get excited when I think about my part in God’s plan. I want to become one responsible for my part. I want to be like Jesus who did what the Father did and spoke as Father spoke. Not a puppet, stripped of my mind will and emotions, but a mature one in charge of my mind will and emotions. One who knows that only Father is good and with my whole being I want to emulate him. Like King David, I will behold your face, Father, in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness.
God has put in us to will and do his good pleasure. “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself.” I ask, what would be the purpose of making his will known to us if he is controlling our every action? Some would suggest that “predestination” plays a part, and it is true that we are chosen out of him to be his children, those who obtain an inheritance. (Eph 1:3-14)We were not given a choice in this call to be his children, but you and I know children, those called by him, who are doing their “own thing,” and not following after the call of God on their lives. I do not think for one moment that God is scripting their path of destruction, but they have chosen the way they go because of disobedience. (Eph 2:2; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6) All these scriptures refer to children. I would ask, why would the wrath of God be against anyone if He is making all the choices for us? Why in Colossians 3:8 are we told to put off certain attitudes if God is making us do everything? Why are we told to put on bowels of mercies, etc., if it is God who is scripting our every action?
I want to know where, in the Bible, does it say that we are not responsible for our actions or thoughts? I gladly take responsibility for the consequences that arise from the choices I make. I can only be held accountable when I make a choice, but if it is God who is making me do everything, then the responsibility for the consequences is his, not mine.
I know I am told to take no thought for tomorrow for the evil of tomorrow is sufficient for that day. In this way I am giving up my right of responsibility to my Father. I am saying that I trust him to make my way, I trust him for my food and clothes and shelter. IF I have given up my right of choice then I trust him to be responsible for me. This does not mean that I do not have to abide in his law. It does not give me the right to choose to lie, cheat and steal. God forbid! This just means that I trust him to the point where I don’t worry about what is going to happen tomorrow. I still work, move and have my being. I still have to pick up the fork and put food in my mouth, take a bath and wash myself, brush my teeth, I’m sure you get my drift. I still am accountable to move upon that which I know to do for myself and for others.
I see that it’s all in our “mindset.” Let us be among those which believe in God and that we might be careful to maintain good works, things good and profitable for men. (Titus 3:8) Jesus, our head, humbled himself and put on the form of man. Let us shape our thinking to become like Jesus, in this world, to put on his nature so all creation might see him in us. I know that God has all power to make me and all of creation do whatever he wants done. He can change anything and create anything. He is the supreme creator, and as our Father, he gives us direction, allows us to be torment by the devil, (more on this later), he puts blocks in our path and restrictions. He has absolute control of his creation, but I see where he has given us, as sons, authority to rule and reign. (2 Co 10:13)
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1Jo 3:16)
On a personal note, I am feeling well. My Mom and Dad are also feeling better now that I have returned home. (My Mom has even gone from 85 pounds up to a whopping 93 pounds! I smile as I say this as I still want to lose about 30 pounds) I am in the middle of escrow. Father has provided a single wide, two bedrooms, one bathroom mobile home in Lakeside Village, down a few spaces from my niece and nephew here in Lakeport. (I am already acquiring furniture, as I left everything in Georgia and I need everything, from dishes to beds). I am assured that he will make it the perfect place for the PSM office, me and my sister. Perhaps the smallness is just what I need so I get back out on the road in ministry. I do so miss everyone and long to spend time with you.
I miss the physical presence of Stacy but I feel his spiritual presence often. Sometimes I still cry but only during the times of self pity, for I would not call him back with the physical problems he had in his body. I am thankful for the notes of encouragement you send me each month, they make me feel valued. On a lighter side, my new licenses plate number is 5YMY314. This holds special meaning to me as I have five why’s as to my 3/14. March 14 is the day Stacy’s physical form passed from this earth. Only God could have given me that number and only he could have drawn my attention to the significance.
I know you will love my sister, Terrie, and she will love you. We are excited about traveling from Topeka back to California and having opportunity to introduce her to the body! It is my great hope to start out across the U.S.A. this spring and end up on the east coast, visiting the body along the way. Truly, we are encouraged and built up in the faith as we share one with another.
Blessings & love,