Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Much More

I recently designed and printed this picture to add to my bathroom d├ęcor.  I love daisies, and this verse was on my mind a lot when I wanted a new picture.

Daisies Bathroom Verse 5x7 jpg

I’m so glad that I serve a God who has “much more” planned for me than I could imagine.  Who answers my prayers with “much more” than I asked for.  Who amazingly cares for His beautiful creation, and has promised to care for me “much more.”

We are embarking on a great step of faith.  We have really been living on faith since we arrived in New York City almost two and a half years ago.  Ben’s job has never paid enough or had good benefits.  But whenever there was a need, God has always provided.  I have kept a list, and it is over 3 pages long – of specifics needs God has met since we moved here.  I’m sure I have missed some along the way.

But now we take another step of faith – in excitement to see how God will provide, but admittedly in a little bit of nervousness at not knowing all of the “how’s” and “why’s”.  Our rent and utilities are increasing.  We are adding two more babies in a few months.  We need a bigger car. 

Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think of all the purchases we need to make in a short time.  I worry because I know there isn’t enough money for all of it.  But then I remember that I sere the God of the “much more.” 

He has made the daisies so beautiful, so elegant, and yet so simple.  They are fleeting – here for a short time and then gone.  But he has promised to much more care for me – for food, drink, and raiment.  He has proven Himself trustworthy in the past.  I know He will take care of the future.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

God is Good, All the Time

I had a professor in college who would sometimes begin class by saying, “God is good…” to which we would reply, “All the time.”  Then he would say it again in reverse order – “All time time…” and we would finish with “God is good.”

Sometimes in the midst of trials or difficult circumstances it seems hard for us to believe that statement.  Can God really be good, even in this?  It is at times like these that we must counsel our heart according to the truth of God’s Word.  Our feelings are not always true, and they are often circumstantial.  But God never changes.  The Bible tells us that Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  No matter what – He was, is, and always will be good.

There is a young woman in our church who is heavy on my heart right now.  Her husband just passed away in a diving accident.  She is ready to deliver their first child in a couple of weeks.  This should be one of the happiest times of her life, but it is overshadowed by deep sorrow.  She is now a young widow.  She will give birth alone.  She will raise her daughter…alone. 

And I found myself asking why this had to happen – to her, right now.  But then I remembered that God is good.  All the time.  Even in times of sorrow.  Certainly when we don’t understand.  And as believers, we can find the joy and peace of God in knowing that He is sovereign, He is in control, and He still has a plan.

I had my own share of difficult circumstances this week.  Nothing to compare with losing a spouse, but hard none the less.  I didn’t feel like rejoicing or thanking God.  I didn’t feel like He cared or was in control.  But I had to remind myself that He is.  His Word says He is.  I just have to believe it.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Token for Good

I remember vividly a chapel message from Bible college.  It was on this verse,

“Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.”   ~Psalm 86:17

The preacher, who I remember not-so-vividly, explained that sometimes it’s okay to ask the Lord for a token of good.  Something little or special that the Lord does for us, or a prayer that the Lord answers, to remind us that He cares for us.  To show us that He is involved in our lives.  To encourage us when things seem hopeless and overwhelming.

My friends and I used to pray for these tokens.  Or sometimes, usually at the lunch table, we would declare, “This is my token for good!”  I think that chocolate was a frequent token for good in the girl’s dorm!  But sometimes it was something more intangible – an encouraging word, a certain verse that spoke to us in our devotions, a favorite song in the chapel service.

Last week God gave me a token for good.  I was having a bit of a rough day.  A friend came over to go over some plan for an event at church.  When she left she slid a bag across the table and said, “These are for you guys.  Hope you like them.”  It was a dozen bagels. Brooklyn bagels.  And they were delicious.  A special treat we couldn’t have afforded, especially on that day.  But it was a little encouragement to me – a token of good – that God saw everything going on in my life, and He was still there, and He still cares.

IMAGE16
{source}

It sounds silly – bagels are a token for good?  But at the right moment, in the right circumstances, God can use even bagels to be a token for good.  You can ask God for a specific token of good, or you can just ask Him to show Himself.  Then you get to be amazed at the token He chooses.

What is your token for good?

Monday, September 10, 2012

He Knows My Path

Psalm 142 3 jpg

Even when I can’t see what is ahead. 

Even when it is hard to trust.

Even when I am discouraged

I can have hope – because God knows my path!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adorn it with Modesty



I've been reading in Titus recently.  Today as I re-read chapter 2, about the instruction which older women are to give to younger women, I was challenged.  And I was sad.  Because we don't seem to be as concerned with these characteristics anymore. 

Here are some thoughts.  As I read the characteristics in Titus 2, I realized that many of them are in real shortage today.  I may step on some toes.  But verse 15 says to speak these things. I am not claiming to be perfect on any of these areas.  We can always improve.  But I want my life...and yours...to "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (verse 10).  If that means that we need to change something, then so be it!
 
I have ben kind of discouraged lately by the utter lack of modesty that I find all around me.  I expect it from the world.  But I expect the church to be a safe place on this topic...a community all in agreement with God's principles of dress and modesty.  As I talk with others I find that this apparent disregard for modesty is everywhere.
 
:: Behavior that is Holy (verse 3)
This encompasses so much!  My words, my attitudes, my child rearing.  The books I read, the movies I watch.  My time management, and how much time I spend in God's Word.  And the things I wear.  Holy means set apart.  Set apart from the world and unto God.  I cannot be holy if I am blending in with the current fashions and trends in clothing.
 
:: Sober (verse 4)
Serious minded.  Not flippant.  Not foolish.  Not happy-go-lucky in all things.  But considering the serious ramifications of choices that we make.  It doesn't mean we have to be stern or grumpy or never smile.  But I do think we could use some more soberness when it comes to mothering, child-rearing {and discipline}, homemaking, and yes, even clothing.  Let's get serious about what our choices in apparel reveal about our heart.
 
:: Discreet (verse 4)
I struggle with this area.  I don't always keep secrets well.  Sometimes I say things I shouldn't...because I feel like I need to say something.  Discretion also encompasses clothing.  I selected the picture at the top of this post because I think that we could all use more discretion in how we dress.  We need to consider with each garment whether or not it will be a stumblingblock.  Will it cause a brother in Christ to struggle with his thoughts?  It's not just about pants vs. skirts, or high necklines and loose clothing. It's about discretion.  Does this dress "adorn the doctrine of Christ?"  Or does it cause me to blend in with the world?  Is it modest, and holy?  Is it discreet?
 
:: Chaste (verse 4)
This is a word we don't often use anymore.  It is defined like this:  pure in thought and act, modest.  Our clothing choices must be chaste.  Many times I blush in embarrassment for others at how much their clothing reveals.  Too many times I have to warn my husband not to look.  And it's not just in society any more.  Sadly, sometimes it is at church too.  Let's be the kind of chaste women who dress how we would want other women to dress around our husbands.  Let's start a new trend of chastity and modesty.  Let's be above reproach, "that the word of God be not blasphemed" (verse 5).  Let's give no room for someone to point a finger at us.  Let's choose to put aside our own likes or fashion desires for what God wants, and for what will benefit our Christian brothers and sisters.  Is it really such a sacrifice to give up an article of clothing that may be "on the line?"
 
I remember when I was growing up that everyone at church dressed the same way.  It was a safe place.  Everything we were doing, in an effort to line up with God's Word, was supported by a community within the church that was doing the same thing.  I didn't feel awkward in my long dresses and high necklines.  Everyone else dressed the same too.  Now it seems as if we try to "push the envelope", getting as close to the line of immodest as we can without actually stepping over.  But many times we do step over.  Let's not flirt with sin.  Let's steer clear of the line.  I think it's time to be Titus 2 women.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be Ye Holy

So I was just talking with my mom about how we are to live differently from the world.  Several things along these lines have provoked my thinking recently, and I wanted to put them “on paper” here.

I live in Brooklyn, NY.  We have a large population of Orthodox Jewish people.  And no matter where I go in the City, I can tell when a person is Jewish.  It’s evident.  You can tell by their attire.  The men wear black suits with white shirts, and nice hats. I like their hats.  The ladies wear long skirts, stockings, and long sleeves.  Usually it’s just black and white, but sometimes they have a stripe or color in their blouse.  Many people would look and them and say “weird.”  Or “out of style.”  But they identify with their people, unashamed, and they leave no question about who they are.

How about Christians.  Can you spot them a mile away?  Can you instinctively tell when you are talking to another believer?  Sometimes.  But often I am blown away in surprise when someone tells me they are a Christian {or at least they claim to be a Christian}.

The problem is this.  They wear the same fashion as the world.  And I cannot help but blush in shame at the tight pants, immodest necklines, or short skirts that many professing Christian girls wear in public.  They listen to the same music as the world.  Their Facebook page boasts pictures from last night’s concert or talks about the latest movie they went to see.  They are pumping their minds with the same filth as the world, and any resemblance to the Christ they claim as their own is flooded out.  Overpowered.  Undistinguishable.

Gandhi said this: “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  So sad…but too often so true.

Then today I read Joanna Weaver’s blog post about holiness, and it summed up everything I have been thinking and wanting to say.  {You should read the entire article} She writes:

Holiness. Not a terribly popular word in Christian circles these days.

We’d rather talk about mercy and grace; the forgiveness and tenacious patience of our Father who is “not willing that any should perish.” All wonderful topics and the bedrock of our Christian faith. And yet, if we insist on seeing only a loving God we run the risk of never experiencing the power of a life-changing God.

But to stop at the cross and never enter into His resurrection and a new way of life would be a tragedy. For the same grace that saves us is also the grace that changes us. Sanctifies and purifies us. Sets us apart and makes us holy. Makes us more like Jesus and less like us.

But we have to cooperate with that grace. And therein lies the rub.

To choose holiness means we have to be willing to embrace certain limitations on our freedom. To allow certain restrictions be placed on our lives by the Holy Spirit, though we’re surrounded by others who seem to have no restrictions at all. Bottom line, if we want to be holy, we are going to have to call sin what God calls it. Missing the mark. Disobedience which not only separates us from His heart, but discredits our claims of love.

To be honest, even as I write, I’m convicted of black-and-white areas in my life which have grown gray over the years. Scruples that I used to live by which have slowly become muddied. Certain behaviors and past times I partake of that I had a strong sense of conviction against – a conviction brought by the Holy Spirit not a set of rules and bylaws. Covenantal guidelines that determined what I would watch. What I would read. Activities I would forego simply because I knew they grieved His heart and quenched His Spirit’s work in my life. Forgive me, Lord.

I don’t want to “tolerate through sympathy” with myself “any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.” A call to holiness may not be popular right now but that doesn’t mean it is no longer valid. Though we may have changed our mind about how we should live, God hasn’t.

In my devotions I am working through a book on the Incarnation of Christ.  He was not just a likeness of God in human flesh – He was God.  Claudia Barba says “Jesus Christ, however, is much more than an approximate facsimile of God.  He is the precise, perfect likeness of His Father, reflecting and revealing Him in every way.” 

That’s what I want to be.  Not a Christian in name only, and not just similar to the One I claim as Lord of my life.  I want to live holy, so that it is stands out in crystal clarity to a dark world around me.  I want to be as close to the precise likeness of Christ that I can attain here on earth, reflecting and revealing Him in every way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scrub the Grout

img_5953Last week I finally took the time to scrub the grout and tiles in my bathtub/shower area.  It’s a job I should do more often, but I dislike it so I usually put it off.  I should tell you that we live in a house built in 1905.  We have a dumbwaiter in our bathtub.  Thing are not very modern or up-to-date, including the tiling and bathtub.  There are stains and molds that I just can’t scrub away, no matter how long or hard I try, or what type of cleanser I use.  And so, even when it is really clean it still looks dirty.  For this reason, I often don’t bother to scrub it very well at all.  But I knew it had a been a while, and so I decided to tackle the job – one of the most unpleasant parts about homemaking, right up there with changing a crib sheet.

As I was scrubbing I thought about how the tiles and grout are much like my own life.  Sometimes I get so tired of falling, of getting tripped up by the same sin or temptation, that I just decide to not try anymore.  Or I relax my standards too many times thinking “it’s just this once” and then I find myself in a habit of sin.

My mornings and quiet times with God have been like this summer.  I don’t like to admit it, but I have been…not diligent.  I stayed up too late.  I slept in.  I had an appointment.  I wanted to get to the park before it was too hot.  So I skipped my quiet time.  Or I put it off.  I didn’t make it a priority.  And before I knew it, the grout of my day – that which is holding all of the tiles in place – was dirty and disgusting.  I had a bad habit.  Now I have to try to break it.

I noticed little bits of dirt and “soap scum” creeping into others areas too.  I didn’t scrub them away fast enough, and before I knew it they had built up.  Now they will be harder to scrub off.  Things like watching movies at night.  We don’t watch anything even close to “bad.”  Try black and white reruns of McHales Navy or the Andy Griffith Show.  But they leave my head spinning when it’s time for bed, and then I don’t rest well.  I fare much better when I read part of a book before bed.  Something to encourage me, challenge me, help me to understand more about Christlikeness or how to parent my children in a godly fashion.

Song of Solomon 2:15 says it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.  Those small things that we let slide, thinking they are no big deal.  But then they turn into really big deals.  So quickly and easily.

I don’t have kids in school, but I grateful for summer and all of its activities coming to a close so that I have no excuse but to get back on track.  To reform my morning habits and refocus my quiet times.  To evaluate my habits and my leisure times and make sure they are glorifying God.

How about you?  Do you need to scrub any grout in your life?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hope Thou in God

Hope thou in God 5x7 jpg

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11

  • The Lord will send HIs lovingkindness in the daytime(vs.8)
  • He will give me a song in the night (vs.8)
  • He is my rock (vs.9)
  • Even when the enemy presses hard upon me, I can have hope in God and praise Him (vs.10-11)
  • God is my strength (43:2)
  • He will send His light and truth to guide me when everything seems dark and hopeless (43:3)
  • He will give me joy and praise (43:4)
  • The victory will not be because of my own strength, but because of God’s power (44:3)
  • He gives us strength to tread down the enemy (44:5)

“Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way.” Psalm 44:18 

Hope thou in God!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What is Inside?

Zucchini Pie

I have just finished baking a beautiful pie to complement our dinner tonight.  Usually I have trouble making the crust look right, or it gets a little too brown, but this one looks just about perfect.  If I were to invite you over for dinner, and then bring my pie to the table, you would probably be licking your lips for some homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  Would you be disappointed when I told you it was a zucchini pie?

When I’m working in the kitchen my mind is usually going a hundred miles an hour faster than my hands.  So this was my thought as I made that pie…

It’s important that we are on the inside what we look like on the outside.  And vice versa.  Jesus talked about this when He was rebuking the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27.  He said,

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” 

The idea is that these white-washed, exquisitely maintained “buildings” looked wonderful from the outside, but when you took a peek inside you found only rottenness and decay.  The Pharisees were the same – they kept up all the appearances, but there was no spiritual vitality within them.  They were still dead in trespasses and sins.

So…are you an apple pie or a zucchini pie?  Does your coworker shake his head when he discovers that you claim to be a Christian, because He knows how you really live?  Do you shy away from close relationships with other church members because they might find out you are bitter?  Are you a “good Christian girl” only at church on Sundays?

And let’s flip the coin over.  If you have Christ in your life then it should be showing.  But are you cultivating the inner relationship with Him, or only making it look like you have your devotions?  Are you really demonstrating Christ in your service and actions, or is it just puffed up self-righteousness to make you look good?

Now, sometime I will make you a zucchini pie.  In the case of my pie, you may be slightly disappointed if your taste buds were geared up for apple.  But chances are, you won’t tell the difference.  And even if you are a little disappointed, I’m sure you will still enjoy it.  Zucchini pie is “mock apple pie” but it’s still delicious. 

Just don’t let your Christian life be the “mock” version.
Let it be real…let it be Christ in you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the House of the Righteous is Much Treasure

I’ve been trying to read a Proverb a day this month.  Since today is the 15th I read Proverbs 15.  Many of the verses seemed to fall into three categories: The tongue; rich vs. poor; and foolish vs. wise.  But the verses on rich vs. poor stood out to me.  Maybe because we have had some recent physical/financial needs for which God has abundantly provided.  Maybe because we are still trusting Him to provide several things.

    • Proverbs 15:6 In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
    • Proverbs 15:16  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
    • Proverbs 15:17  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
    • Proverbs 15:27  He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

These verses clearly point out that it doesn’t matter what or how much you own, but the quality of your family life is what is important.  God will provide what we need physically when we are living in His will.  And God will do things better…abundantly…beyond our imagination.

Sometimes we have a skewed view of what it really takes to be rich.  My bank account would tell you differently, but I know that I am blessed beyond measure.  I am rich…just not with money.

A word of personal testimony…I never had the money sitting in the bank to pay for my college tuition.  I never took out a loan.  My parents helped a little when they could.  But I graduated debt free in four years.  God took care of the college bill because I was following His lead to be there in the first place.  {He may not choose to do it the same way for everyone, but certainly He will provide for us to follow His will}.

Though my kitchen cupboards are overflowing from God’s last provision, I received “gifts” from three more people this week.  One lady called us to pick up some food at the church.  There was an abundance of meat in the bags {something we have been cutting back on since finances were tight}.  A free haircut and several bags of toiletries.  Bags of groceries that were treats for my kids – juice boxes, cookies, and snacks.  Clothes for my children for the winter.

I don’t say this to boast, but to encourage.  We live in a very expensive city, in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression, and my husband makes a small wage with no benefits. 

So to the student who wants to attend Bible college, but doesn’t have the money…go.  Work hard. Let the Lord do amazing things for you.

To the mom who wants to stay home with her children, but doesn’t think they can survive on one income…do it.  If God wants you with your kids, He will provide what you need {and maybe you can cut out some of the “extras” in order to help make it possible}.

To the missionary on deputation with the looming task of raising enough support to get to the field…God will bring in your support.  If He has called you to that field, He will make the way for you to go there.

Don’t give up on doing God’s Will for your life because of the finances.  Don’t let the world tell you what you have to have to be a success.  Step out in faith, eat a dinner of herbs if you have to, and watch God do amazing things to provide for your needs.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just a Note on “Profanity”

I’ve been bothered a little bit lately by several people referring to God or His work in “everyday” type terminology.  The Bible calls this “profane”, that is, taking what is holy and making it common or base.

God is not common, nor base.  He is holy.  He is God.  He is separate from us and the world.

One writer referred to the new church her husband was planting and said that “this is God’s gig.”  I have often heard “God is my co-pilot” or people calling Him “Dad.”  I just think those terminologies are lowering God from who He is. 

God doesn’t have a “gig.”  He has a church, and it is amazing beyond anything that we could conceive or do.  We are privileged to be a part of it.  God isn’t my co-pilot – He is to be my pilot.  My Shepherd.  My Guide.  He doesn’t help me do things, He does them through me.  And while one of God’s names is Abba Father which could be translated as “Daddy,” I think that we should refrain from always viewing Him in that common of a relationship.  Sometimes it is very comforting to realize that God is as close as a Daddy would be, but He is so much more than that.

{I also realize that while Jesus Christ was on earth, He was made like man in every aspect, so that He can say He bore our infirmities.  There is nothing that I can experience with which He cannot empathize.  He has felt and experienced it all.  So He is like us in some respects, and that can also be a comforting fact.}

As I was meditating on this, the thought occurred to me that when we profane God by lowering Him to a common level, we are trying to make Him seem just like us.  We are trying to put God into our terms.  To confine Him in our box. 

Yet as an eternal being, God is beyond us, beyond what we can describe or define or package up.  God is trying to conform us into His image.  He is trying to make us like Himself.  Let’s stop trying to make Him seem more like us, and concentrate on becoming more like Him.

Monday, August 6, 2012

You in Christ and Christ in You

I think that if I condensed my spiritual year down to one lesson, it is that I have been learning to walk in the Spirit.  I grew up in church and I have heard preaching on this subject all my life, but I don’t think I ever really understood it.  The preacher always made it seem unattainable, hard to understand, maybe even “mystical”.  Like it was just this concept out there that no one could explain.

It is evident to me that my pastor here in Brooklyn walks in the Spirit on a daily basis.  He has been preaching on this topic, and victory, and union in Christ {they are all woven together} a lot.  I feel like things are clicking – making sense.  I am still learning, but I have seen the difference in my life when I walk in the Spirit.  And I have understood what I was doing, and when I was not doing it.

Yesterday in our Bible Study Pastor gave two Old Testament illustrations of “You in Christ” and “Christ in You.”  They helped to clarify the picture for me even further.

Will You Marry Me - Engagement DayIn Exodus 15:22-26 the children of Israel come to the bitter waters of Marah, after marching in the wilderness for three days and being in desperate need of water.  This pictures for us salvation – how we come to be in Christ. The waters were not drinkable and held only the prospect of certain death.  Everyone was thirsty.  Everyone would die without water.  Sin in a universal problem – just as the lack of water affected all of the Israelites.  But then the Lord showed Moses a tree which made the water sweet.  This is  picture of salvation.

The first tree was in the Garden of Eden, and when Adam chose to eat of it it brought sin and death. The second tree was called Calvary.  It is the tree of a second choice, and it brings life as salvation places us in Christ.

2 Kings 2:19-22 illustrates the Christ in You principle.  Shortly after Elijah’s translation to heaven, Elisha was brought to a city which appeared to be pleasant.  It looked good from the outside, but poor, stagnant, polluted water prevented the land from bringing a crop to harvest.  It was barren.  This city is a picture of the carnal Christian.  Everything looks fine.  They put on a great show at church. But inwardly they are living for self & sin, not walking in the victory provided by the Spirit.  There is nothing that says to others, “Christ lives in me.”

The burden of this city became so intolerable that they confessed their barren situation to the prophet.  They were moved to action.  Elisha threw salt in at the source of the water, and it was healed so that the city could be fruitful.  This is a picture of the life of Christ in me & you. 

Every believer has spiritual water in him.  But sometimes through self & sin our water becomes polluted.  We need to go to the Source of our water to be healed, so that we are restored to life-giving water.  The life of the Risen Christ within us heals the barrenness of the saint.  If we get “salt” in our “water” then the rivers of living water will flow to all of our other relationships.  When we have problems with “horizontal” relationships it is because we have not been pouring into our “vertical” or spiritual relationship. In reality, the only thing which can heal all other relationships is Christ in us.

In the first picture, the Tree heals the bitterness of sin. 

In the second picture, the life of the Risen Christ heals the barrenness of the saint.

Will You Marry Me - Engagement DayHe that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…”  {John 7:38-39}

How are your waters today?

Monday, July 30, 2012

If We Believe Not

“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
2 Timothy 2:13

I am reading through the epistles, and right now I am in 2 Timothy.  Verse 13 stood out to me in my devotions this morning.  Paul lists several if-then statements in this passage:

:: If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him
:: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him
:: If we deny him, he also will deny us
:: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful

Last week was a rough one for me.  I was not in God’s Word like I needed to be.  And I was struggling with several circumstances.  I felt like giving up.  I felt like not believing God.  I felt like His Words were not coming true.  {I know…we cannot live based on our feelings.  And we feel this way, we need to speak the truth of God’s Word into our minds and hearts, and let the feelings follow}.

But verse 13 tells me that even if I choose not to believe God’s Word, then He is still faithful. 

His Words and their truth don’t change with my believing or unbelieving. 

He will remain true…faithful…unchanging no matter what. 

Even when I don’t believe it, God is working in my life. 

Even when I cannot see His hand, it is there. 

Even when I cannot see His purpose, He is bringing it to pass.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thoughts on Prayer

This week was a little discouraging for me.  I found myself in a pity party and feeling ungrateful for God’s provision for us.  I didn’t really want to go to prayer meeting.  But afterward I was so glad I did.  The Lord really used the speaker, a visiting evangelist, to boost my spirits and get my perspective back on track.  The sermon was on prayer.  Everything he said was stuff I already know.  But I really needed to be reminded.

“God is not concerned with our happiness, but with our holiness.  We will have a millenia to be happy.”  My pity party had been focused on my happiness.  I needed to re-align my focus to that which is holy.

“The power source {for the Christian life} has often been short-circuited.  Because of fear of wildfire {or being labeled as charasmatic} we have ended up with no fire.”  I know I have brushed aside many a sermon on the Holy Spirit, but I am finally realizing in my daily walk just what it means to walk in the Spirit.  And I desperately need His power!

“The world continues to be more & more desperate, but the church isn’t.”

“Revival starts in God’s house.  Not the White House, the school house, or the court house.”

We normally break up into groups of two or three to pray together before going our separate ways for the night.  But our Pastor was moved to open the floor to those who would pray – as the Holy Spirit led them.  It was a very moving time.  Many eyes were wet with tears.  Many hearts were touched, I’m sure, as was mine.

I was so blessed that the very first person to stand and offer her prayer was a teenager.  So many teens and so many youth groups today are focused on the fun, and not becoming more holy.

I rejoiced with my brothers and sisters in Christ as we confessed sin, prayed for strength, gave God the glory, and sought the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t think I can quite describe how I felt – how I was moved – by hearing my church family pray.  Their words were even more precious when I considered the current or recent circumstances in their lives.  I have seen them grow, be transformed, and claim the victory that is provided for us in Christ.  Hearing them put words to their inner struggles and victories was very touching, and humbling, and I felt so blessed to be able to call them my friends.

Some people don’t make time to attend their church’s mid-week prayer meeting.  Some churches don’t even have a prayer meeting.  But as the speaker said on Wednesday, you can tell the health of a church, not by how many attend on Sunday morning, but by how many show up for the prayer meeting.  We all need the fellowship of our Christian brothers and sisters, and the prayer meeting provides a boost in the middle of our week - the encouragement to keep going, to not be weary in well doing, and to know that others are praying for us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Withdraw Thyself

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1 Timothy 6:3-5

Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from a situation, a relationship, an influence, in order to maintain godliness in our lives.  These choices are not usually easy, but they are necessary and I have found the result to bring peace and relief.

I love to blog.  I love to read other blogs.  I have a few old standbys which I frequent often, and I am always on the lookout for a new blog to add to my favorite list.  But recently I have had to remove several blogs from my reader.  I found that the organizing blogger was actually feeding discontent as I compared my rented home to her beautifully renovated and redecorated space.  I found that the mommy blogger who claimed to be a Christian was writing about parenting without filtering it through God’s Word.  Her ideas on child rearing and discipline were in complete opposition to God’s Word.  To continue to read the blog will only cause me internal confusion and perhaps even lead to doubting or questioning God’s Word.

I have several friends who have left social media sites.  They were tired of professing Christians posting pictures, activities, and links to movies which clearly do not honor God.  To continue to read these status updates each day fills the mind with wrong thoughts….things we should never be meditating upon in the first place.

I love a good book…especially a novel.  But I found that too many romance novels {especially in high school and college…before I was married} were giving me a false idea of “Mr. Right.”  Because contrary to all of those “great books” – he is not perfect!  To continue to flood my mind with perfect love stories was giving me false expectations for my own love story – which I wanted God to be writing.

In these verse in 1 Timothy Paul tells Timothy that sometimes you have to withdraw thyself.  Get away.  Break the relationship.  Stop the influx of ungodly material.  Step apart so that God can continue to work in your life. 

Sometimes it may be a temporary withdraw, though I don’t think that is the tone Paul is using here.  I have at times felt the need to “unplug” myself for a while so I get priorities back on track.  Take a TV “fast” or a Facebook vacation.  Stop the constant stream of the world’s view and listen to what God has been trying to speak all along.

Sometimes the withdraw may need to be more permanent.  When I found friends to be consistent in living contrary to the God they claimed to love, I had to choose to “unfriend” them on Facebook so as not to see their constant stream of ungodly activity.  God wants us to love others and to encourage them to godliness, but if they are going to consistently choose to live in opposition to God’s principles, then perhaps a break in that relationship is necessary {or at least a break from constant influence}.

These hard choices are right in line with God’s Word – when someone is teaching anti-Biblical things, or even just ignoring God’s doctrine {teaching} – withdraw thyself (vs.3).

If someone is proud and causing constant strife – withdraw thyself (vs.4).

If it is the influence of an unbeliever – someone destitute of God’s truth, greedy, worldly, or corrupt – withdraw thyself (vs.5).

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…”  2 Corinthians 6:17

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lessons from a Little Girl

Last week was busy.  We had Vacation Bible School at our church.  We were gone…late…every night.  We were busy and up early each day.  My kids were tired, and so was I.  We had some grumpy, selfish moments and quite a few discipline issues that had to be dealt with.  And in the middle of it all, my little girl taught me a lesson.

We are teaching Elaine this definition of sin: “Sin anything I think, say, or do that makes Jesus sad.”  One morning she had been particularly resistant to obeying me.  Long after the discipline was done and the hugs were given, she burst out with a question.

Nolan's 1st Birthday Party“Him sad, Mommy?”
“Is who sad?”
“Jesus.”
“Why is Jesus sad?”
“Because I a bery bad girl.”
“Yes.  It makes Jesus sad when we disobey, doesn’t it?”

She was still considering what her actions had done to Jesus.  They made Him sad.  Disappointed.  And then I realized that sometimes when I am resisting the Lord’s work in my own life, I don’t consider what my delay or my disobedience is doing to Him.  I am only thinking about myself.  But, Lord, I can’t handle this.  Or, Lord, I don’t want to do that.  The good news is this – once I get it right, and ask for His forgiveness, He has promised to forgive me (1 John 1:9).  He even goes so far as to remove my sin – as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He doesn’t bring it up again, or throw it back in my face the next time I sin.  He wipes the slate clean and gives me a new start.

The very next day we again had obedience issues.  This time it was both of my kids.  I didn’t respond properly, and I lost my cool with them.  Though I had confessed my wrong to my kids, Elaine wanted to be sure I had “made up” with Jesus too.  We were praying together, and she was telling Jesus that she was sorry for her sin.  When we said “amen” she looked up at me and said, “We need pray and tell Jesus you a bad girl too, Mommy.”

I was again pricked in my heart.  She was tender.  She wanted the slate clean – for all of us.  She sinned.  I sinned.  Now let’s make it right and move on.  But so many times when I sin against the Lord I don’t want to humble myself and make things right.  I don’t want to admit that I was wrong.  So I continue in my sin and stubbornness.  I want to be tender to the Lord – so that at the first hint of sin, I make confession and restore the relationship.  So that there is never a break in our fellowship.

Kids don’t miss much, do they?  They see my hypocrisies and imperfections.  They see the real me – as I am – everyday…at home.  But they are tender too.  A prayer, an apology, a hug and everything is restored.  They accept me back again and go on as if nothing happened.

I’m thankful for my little girl’s tenderness, her bluntness, and her forgiveness.  But even more I’m thankful that God is infinitely tender as He constantly draws us closer to Himself.  I’m so amazed that He continuously picks me up when I fall, He forgives, He restores.  And I want to have that sensitivity too, so that I am always right with Him.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Whose Story Are You Telling?

I wrote this as part of the Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday meme.  I shared it on my personal blog, but I thought it would be appropriate here too.

The prompt is:

Story…Camping in Pittsfield for Nolan's 1st Birthday

Every day our lives are telling a story.  The story of self, or the story of Christ. 

Just when I think I have this “Christian life” thing down pat, I find myself going back to the basics.  Learning again to depend on Christ.  Learning again to soak up His Words and make them my guide for living.  Learning again His Will for me.

Some days I really depend on Him.  I can hear Him speaking His words through me.  I can see His patience with my children.  I can feel His strength when mine is all gone.  Those days I am telling the story of Christ.  The story of becoming like Christ.  The story of sanctification.

Other days my self rears its ugly head and my day is filled with strife, wrong thinking, and selfish mothering.  I get annoyed with my children and frustrated when my plans go awry.  Those days tell the story of self, as if I were unredeemed.

I am often amazed at the things my kids pick up.  Soak in.  Learn.  I see them do something and I wonder, “Who taught you to do that?”  They learn so much, so quickly, so easily.  And they learn much from watching me.  From living with me.

And so each day I want to tell them the story of Christ.  I want them to see Him in me.  To hear Him in the words I speak, and the tone I use.  To sense His patience and grace in discipline for wrong-doing. 

Because in the end, if my words tell them the Gospel, but my life doesn’t live it, I have been telling them the wrong story.  And they will sense the hypocrisy.

I really enjoyed the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  In it she describes how our femininity and roles as a wife and mother can adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Careful Interpretation

Bible Pictures

Recently there have been several instances that underscored to me the importance of careful interpretation of God’s Word.  We really need do need to be careful.  It is dangerous to say, “This verse means _________ to me”, or “I think God meant ___________.”  In the end it’s not about what we think.  It’s about what God meantGod’s standard is absolute.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He is not going to be lenient on us in judgment just because we operated on what we thought He meant in His Word.

:: In our Revival meetings at church the evangelist taught on 2 Corinthians 12, and Paul’s thorn in the flesh.  He looked carefully at the verbs and the words, and made the case for the fact that Paul’s “thorn” could very well have been a person, rather than a circumstance {like physical infirmities}.  Why?  Because the word used for messenger is never used of an inanimate object in other scriptures or uses.

:: A friend posted about child discipline, and using a verse from Proverbs she said, “To me the rod is gentle discipline.”  Well – that’s nice, but what did God mean the rod to be?  What word did He use?  Is it open to interpretation or able to be applied in many ways?  Or is it a specific word, with a specific meaning and application?

This is where James 1:22-25  comes in:

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

The word “looketh” means this in the original Greek: to stoop to a thing in order to look at it 2) to look at with head bowed forward 3) to look into with the body bent 4) to stoop and look into.  It brings the idea of careful inspection – digging, detecting, searching – of God’s Word.  I always think of Sherlock Holmes – searching for the little clue to solve the mystery.  Attention to detail.  Context is very important in this search – we cannot just lift a verse out of it’s context and make it to mean what we want it to mean.

God’s Word is recorded for us in Hebrew for the Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament.  These were specific languages with very great word pictures and meanings.  Some of that is lost in translation.  While each of us may not be Hebrew or Greek scholars, we definitely have a wide array of study helps and tools from those who know the ancient languages intricately.

Certainly some passages have multiple applications.  Certainly we can apply principles from stories or others’ lives {in the Bible} to ourselves.  Some Scriptures were written specifically to the Jewish people.  But we can draw an application for our own lives {in some cases}.  But let us be careful in our Bible study – not just reading, marking off a list, or scanning a summary.  Let us dig deep and understand what God meant in the passage.

John closes his Book of the Revelation with a strong warning to any who would add to or take away from the words that he had penned {specifically, the book of Revelation} under inspiration:

Revelation 22:18-19  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

I think it illustrates that God takes His Word seriously.  Let us be careful to interpret God’s Word correctly!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ministry is Inconvenient

More from Erin Davis and the 30 Day Mom Makeover

Matthew 15:29, we find Jesus trying to rest on a mountainside. He barely sat down when a crowd of people came to Him looking to be healed. How did He respond? He healed them.

“When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.  14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” Matthew 14:13-14

On the night before Jesus was betrayed, He didn't hide out. He didn't run away. He spent the evening with His disciples. He even took the time to serve them by washing the mud from their feet (John 13:1-17).

If we look closely, we find an interesting pattern. We know that Jesus spent His time on earth serving others. But have you ever considered how often He ministered when it was inconvenient?

He served others when He was tired. 
He served others when He'd have rather been alone. He served others when He was sad. He served others when He'd been serving non-stop for days and days. 
He served others when things went terribly wrong in His own life. 
He even served others when He knew His own death was right around the corner.

I am deeply challenged by this truth. You see, I don't mind serving others when it's convenient for me. I like to help out when it works into my schedule or fits into my agenda for the day. But there are lots of times when serving others is inconvenient. This seems especially true with my family. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I've got more important things to do than to meet the needs of those around me. Under those circumstances, I feel justified in giving priority to my own needs and temporarily ignoring the needs of others.

But this isn't how Jesus lived. It isn't how Jesus served. And it isn't what He wants from you and me.

The reality is, serving others requires sacrifice. If we only do it when it's convenient, we're missing the point.

What's keeping you from serving like Jesus? Will you let Him inconvenience you today?

Note: Scriptures changed to the King James Version and emphasis in bold is mine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stablish.

This word seems to be turning up in my Bible reading a lot.  I assumed it meant the same thing as establish.  And basically it does.  I don’t know NT Greek like Ben does, but I can look up words in Bible Works and Strong’s Concordance.  It seems that there are two main words for establish or stablish, but they have basically the same meaning. 

:: To set fast, to literally turn resolutely in a certain direction, or figuratively to confirm.  To establish, steadfastly set, or strengthen.

2 Thessalonians 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17   Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,  17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:  13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Romans 16:25  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

1 Peter 5:10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

James 5:8   Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Who is it that does the “stablishing”?  The Lord.  Paul preached.  Paul labored.  Paul poured himself into the people.  Paul wrote epistles.  But it was the Lord that had to do the establishing.  It was the Lord who would make that faith hold fast, and be turned in the right direction.  It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:6:  I {Paul} have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

When I think of established, I think of all the signs on business and sometimes in a home that say “est. 1879” or whatever the date was.  There was a pharmacy in my neighborhood which proudly bore their establishment date on their sign.  They had been in business for over 50 years.  Several generations in the family.  But now they are gone – out of business.  What seemed firm and reliable was not. 

Only when God does the establishing is it sure.  I want Him to stablish my heart and my life in Him, so that when the storms come I am unmovable.  Like those big boulders in the Rocky Mountains. They have been there for a long time.  Countless people have climbed on them.  There have been snow storms, avalanches, and wind.  They have held fast.  Firm.  Unmovable.  That’s how I want to be.  Stablished on the Rock.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Process of Sanctification {Personal Holiness}

1 Peter 1:13-16 
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

The last night of our church’s revival meetings with Evangelist Jim VanGelderen brought this message.  It was just what I needed!

Before we can obey the command to “Be holy as God is holy,” we have to obey the commands in verses 13-14. 

  1. Gird up the loins of your mind: Put off the wrong thinking so that it no longer hinders me.  Embrace right thinking.  This is a crisis.
  2. Be sober: Maintain right thinking.  Just as with alcohol, do not allow the inebriation of the wrong thought processes to re-invade my thinking.  This is a condition.  This takes place when I put the word of God in my heart. 
      • Memorization puts God’s Word in my brain
      • Mediation puts God’s Word in my heart, as I make it second nature and use it.
  3. Hope to the end for the grace: I have to live expecting God’s grace at work in my heart.  With reckless abandon, I must have this hope.
      • Hope is expectant reliance on God
  4. As obedient children: We are to expect the grace so that we can take steps of obedience. The attitude is “I want grace so that I can obey.”   There are 3 areas of obedience…
      • Godly Appearance – Clothing.  Whatever is in your heart should be advertised on the outside.  So don’t dress like you did when you were hell-bound.  Don’t identify yourself in your clothing with pop-culture’s ideas which are anti-Biblical.  This is an insult to the Gospel.  Grace is not looking like the world – and loving it!  Grace is not about the rules.  Grace is bigger than that!
      • Godly Actions – all manner of conversation.  This encompasses media choices, music, etc.
      • Godly Attitudes
  5. God graces me with supernatural enablement when I take steps of obedience.  Grace shows up when expect it, and in our obedience it enables us.  Grace loves to obey God even if all the other Christians aren’t.  It’s not about doing what other Christians say is okay – it’s about obeying God’s Word.

So the process of personal holiness is this:

Reject wrong thinking
Embrace right thinking
Put God’s Word in my heart
Expect grace
Take steps of obedience
God graces me

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thoughts on Thorns

Here are some highlights from a sermon preached by Evangelist Jim VanGelderen at our church’s Family Revival Meetings this week.  This sermon really touched me, and many in our church.  It is from 2 Corinthians 12.

Many Christians want Christ’s strength {the end result} but they despise the ticket to getting that strength {the means}.  The ticket is weakness.

The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh.  Brother VanGelderen pointed out that this “thorn” may very well have been a person.  His argument comes from the Greek word for messenger in verse 7.  This particular word is never used of an inanimate object, but always of a being – whether human or angelic.

So Satan can use “thorny people” in our lives to provoke us, to cause problems, to tempt us to sin.  But God wants us to take that thorny situation and depend on Him for strength.

We cry out, “Lord change ___________”, but God responds
with “I want to change you.”

Thorns reveal our weakness.  They are our ticket to God’s strength.  But we avoid the thorns because we don’t like to be reminded that we are weak.

We tend to think of strength and weakness only in physical terms.  We think, “Lord I can do this maybe 25%, but I need you to give me the strength for the other 75%.”  However, the word for weakness is really just the word for strength, negated.  It means zero strength.  Not little strength, but absolutely no strength.  It is speaking of spiritual strength.  Jesus said, “for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). 

This really resonated with me because that is exactly how I think.  I think that I can sorta do it, but not well, or not completely.  Then when He helps me do it I get proud and think that I did it myself.  Then I stop depending on Him.

So I don’t just need help to do it.  I need God to do it for me.  Through me. 

Our weaknesses need to scream so that we realize it is God doing it.  When I allow the weakness to make me a channel for His strength, then my weakness can scream so much that others are blown away with the power. They may see my weakness, but they will see what God can do with weakness.  They will want to be used by God too.

Every weakness I have is a potential channel for His strength.  He keeps thorns in my life so that we never forget that we are weak.  I  can realize my weakness, and live expecting His Divine power to work in me and through me.  Human strength is powerless to stop the enemy, but inside of me is He Who is Strength.

2 cor 12 7-10 jpg

A City Without Walls

prov 25 28 without walls jpg

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sharpen Your Arrows

Psalm 127:3-5  Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

At my high school graduation, my mom shared these verses.  They were the verses that helped my parents decide to homeschool all three of us kids, from kindergarten to high school graduation.  In her speech, my mom said something like this {I found this file buried on the hard drive of my computer}…

“The message was that we are in a spiritual battle and our children are like the weapons of a mighty warrior. A warrior takes time to be sure his arrows are fit for battle strong and straight and the feathers shaped just right. He is sure the arrows are sharp and will fly to hit their target. A warrior would not think of taking his arrows to someone else to be formed and shaped – they may surely come back with the feathers missing or with a dull point. God’s obvious hand leading me was in convincing me then that I wanted to have kids that were sharp and on target for Him. And who could I trust to do that forming and sharpening that would care more than your Dad and I?”

Parenting is an important job.  The more I realize how much my little ones are absorbing {things that I am not even trying to teach them}, I realize that it is a job with eternal consequences.  I really enjoyed Erin Davis’ thoughts on this same passage from Day 14 of the 30-Day Mom Makeover

This passage from Psalm 127 is a deep, deep well. As mothers, we are wise to dip our buckets down into it and draw up truth often. The key message is that children are a blessing. We will unpack that little gem tomorrow. But today, let’s focus on the arrow analogy and how it applies to continuing to see our family as a mission field.

This passage describes children as arrows. But not arrows left sitting in an unused quiver or arrows gleaming but unused in a display case. No. This passage says our children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. They are to be taken in to battle and used against our Enemy.

Jim Elliot explained it this way, “Children are arrows in a quiver, and they are to be trained as missionaries and shot at the Devil.”

The purpose of raising kids who follow Christ isn’t so that you can line them up as evidence of good works on your mantle. The purpose is raise children who will eventually be dangerous to the Enemy by championing the cause of Christ.

That “sharpening” requires that you seek to know how God has uniquely equipped and gifted your children and then partnering with God to grow them toward Kingdom work. Your job is more important than raising kids who use the potty, stand well in line and make good grades in school. You are called to a much bigger task of equipping your children to be used by God to accomplish His purposes.”

Go do some arrow-sharpening today!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It’s All About Him

I’m reading through First and Second Thessalonians.  Several times, Paul mentions “walking worthy of God” or “being counted worthy.” 

1 Thessalonians 2:12  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

2 Thessalonians 1:5  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

2 Thessalonians 1:11  Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

The second epistle opens with a charge to keep enduring the persecution and tribulations which they are suffering.  Paul isn’t specific about what they were suffering, but I think that helps us apply this principle to our own lives.  My trials and tribulations look different from yours.  But each set of circumstances is crafted by the Master Artist to paint a beautiful picture out of our lives which will ultimately be a masterpiece.  A reflection of Himself.  Another piece to bring glory to His name.

The trials and difficulties of life are reality.  We face some things everyday – like the taunting of unbelieving family members, or the pain of a debilitating disease, and certainly the unfriendliness of a godless society toward our faith.  Some things we only walk through for a season.  Right now I am in the “terrible twos” phase of child training.  I can’t wait for this to end!  It may be a broken marriage, the death of a parent, or the rebellion of a prodigal son.

But no matter what you face, or what I face, it can be faced.  Because while God is the one who allows the pain in order to increase our faith, He is also the one who hands us the grace – which is always more than enough – to face our particular circumstance.  So let’s have the Thessalonian attitude toward suffering:

2 Thessalonians 1:2  Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 4  “…your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.”

Verse 5 “…that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12   Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:  12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

{emphasis mine}

He gives the grace.  So keep enduring.  Then you will be counted worthy.  Keep on persevering, and allow God to complete His masterpiece.  Because in the end – it’s all about Him.  It’s about bringing glory to Him.  When I think of life in these terms, everything else seems so insignificant.

I was just reading the story of a girl I knew in elementary and junior high school.  She is married now, and she was told that her baby would not survive the pregnancy.  In an interview, she said that she was able to face this news with hope, because ultimately everything God does is for our good, and His glory.  That’s an amazing thing to say when you don’t know if you will ever hold your baby! And God had a different plan for that family, because her little girl, who was born prematurely and weighing less than a pound, is a miracle story.

My friend had it right. It’s all about Him.  Whatever He is doing in my life, or in your life, right now, is for His glory.  May we live worthy of this calling.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Little Feet

Little Shoes

Someday, the feet that wear these shoes will leave my home.  They will go places.  In the world.  What will they do?  Where will they go?  Who will direct their steps? 

As “Mommy” I get the incredible privilege…and responsibility of pointing my little people, and their little feet, to the Word of God. 

As they learn to surrender their “where’s” to Jesus, He will guide their steps. 

He will take them to amazing places. 

He will use them to do great things for God.

If these feet one day carry the Gospel with them, then they will be beautiful to God…just as these little baby feet are so beautiful to me today. 

And as their feet are only little for a short time, so I have a very short time to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Today, I want my mothering to count for eternity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Return the Favor

Recently I signed up for the 30 Day Mom Makeover from Erin Davis and Beyond Bath Time.  Each day I receive a short devotional with key thoughts and actions, all related to being a mom.  I really appreciated the thoughts from Day 6, and I wanted to share them with you.

Kids make mistakes. Lots of them. Sometimes those mistakes are pointed squarely in our direction as moms. We understand that missing the mark is part of the learning process but when we are extra tired, extra stretched or extra raw as we mother all of that disobedience, anger and loss of our personal property can sting.

God gives us a radical example of forgiveness in action. He doesn’t hold our patterns of sin against us. He never says, “You always do that!” or “I’ve told you not to do that a million times!” Instead He throws our sin one way and chooses to walk in the opposite direction. We are loving our children well when we offer them the same undeserved, all-encompassing kind of grace.

Author and fellow mom, Rachel Jankovic writes, “If breaking the window has been forgiven, act like it. Forget it. Do not hold past incidents over your children, especially if you've told them you've forgiven them. Let it go all the way, every time, ‘as far as the east is from the west’” (Psalm 103:12).

I find myself thinking this way too often, and I needed to be reminded that God doesn’t treat me that way when I fail Him, over and over and over again

You can sign up for the 30 Day Mom Makeover here.  There is a green subscription box on the left hand side.  I think you will be encouraged, especially if you have little kids.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Path of Life

Psalm 16 11 jpg{photo credit, copyright Andrea Hamilton}

I’m so glad that I don’t have to flounder through life, struggling to find my way.  I have His promise that He will shew me the path of life.  And as I draw near to God, He will draw near to me, making it even easier for me to hear His still, small voice as He gives me His directions for life.  And like Abraham’s servant I can say,
“I being in the way, the LORD led me…” {Genesis 24:27

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Law of Kindness

I have been mulling over something for a while.  Chewing on it – trying to really let the Lord teach me what it means.  I don’t have it completely figured out yet, but He is making me aware of it’s truth in my daily circumstances.

Elaine's new pink coatOf all the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman, I think I struggle with this one the most.  Proverbs 31:26 says, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  More and more I have been becoming aware of the fact that my tongue does not always speak kindness.  Whether it is my actual words, my tone of voice, or the attitude and thrust behind what I say, I need to have more kindness to those whom I am addressing.

As I was meditating on this I started to think about that word law.  What is a law?  The first thing that came to my mind was the speed limit law.  It is easily, and frequently, broken by many.  Is a law really something that can be so easily disregarded?  Next I thought about laws of physics, science, and mathematics.  We call it the law of gravity.  It is something that is always true – consistent, dependable. You can’t just decide to disregard the law of gravity.  Because it is always in effect.

I looked up the word law in the dictionary.  Here are some of the facets of this word:

  • A binding custom or practice
  • A rule of conduct or action
  • A statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions

The Hebrew word for law is hr'To and it comes from the root word which means to throw.  According to TWOT {Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament}, “The word tora means basically ‘teaching’ whether it is the wise man instructing his son or God instructing Israel.” (Volume 1, page 404, word 910d).

So what does all of this have to do with my tongue?  If, as a virtuous woman, I am to have the law of kindness in the words I speak, then it must be something that is invariably true.  Kindness must be the major characteristic that others can expect every time I open my mouth to share something.  It must be a law – binding, rule of conduct, invariable under the given conditions.

I find that my tongue varies from kindness most easily in stressful situations.  I get frazzled, frustrated, or overwhelmed, and I lash out with my words.  Maybe I just speak too hurried and rudely.  Maybe I tell my little girl to be quiet and leave me alone.  Sometimes I vary from kindness when I myself have been hurt.  I want to make someone else feel the pain that I am experiencing, so I make unkind and untrue, or even exaggerated accusations.  An exaggeration is something that is not completely true, and that is not kind. Even under these conditions, my words must be invariably kind.  The circumstances don’t change the law.  It is consistent.

And if I am always speaking that which is kind, it will have an effect on others.  It will teach them how to be kind themselves.  Just like the word tora – I can be a wise woman instructing others.  That goes back to the beginning of our verse: she openeth her mouth with wisdom.  I want my children to learn the law of kindness.  And they will catch it best by watching me live it out.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” {Ephesians 4:32}

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In the Way

P7250075In the summer of 2006 I had the great privilege and opportunity of completing my missionary internship in Basque, Spain with Roy & Lou Ann Keiser.  It was a wonderful summer.  I learned so much – about missions, depending on the Lord, the ups & downs of ministry, and being faithful to the place where the Lord has called you.

Mrs. Keiser now has a blog entitled In the Way.  I think you will be blessed by what you read over there!  As an artist, Mrs. Keiser has a unique perspective.  When I lived with her for two months, I realized that she had never yet met an ugly person.  She finds beauty in everything.  As an author, Mrs. Keiser seems to have a gift for looking at an ordinary circumstance and drawing a spiritual truth or application from it.

Her latest post was on the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in Great Britain.  It’s just a news snippet to most of us, but I encourage you to read the lesson that Mrs. Keiser was able to draw out.  Head on over to In the Way and come away encouraged today!

{photo: Me, David, Lou Ann, & Roy Keiser at the Aqueducto in Segovia}

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Consume my life…

I found this quote in the flyleaf of my Bible.  I had forgotten that I wrote it there during college.

Jim Elliot Quote jpg