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


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}