Friday, December 31, 2010

An Accomplished Goal in 2010!!

 

"LORD, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. LORD our God...Your name alone do we honor."
Isaiah 26:12,13



December 31st!!!  We did it!!!  God's gets the glory.  Truly, as the verses from Isaiah 26 above say, anything and everything we have accomplished, HE HAS DONE FOR US!!  HIS NAME ALONE DO WE HONOR!!

As husband and wife, and as parents to our children, the single most important thing we can do is steep ourselves and our children in God's Word.

In 2009, I read the Bible through in a year using the NIV One-Year Chronological Bible.  In the beginning of this year, my dear friend, Cheryl, lovingly suggested that Jim and I read the Bible in a year with our cherubs.  I LOVED that idea!!!  Thank you, Cheryl! 

Each night after bath time, we would gather to read the day's scripture in the daily Kid's Bible.  There were some nights we would miss, and we'd make it up the following night by reading two days.  There were a couple times during the year we got several nights behind, but we diligently got caught up each time.  Great conversations from the heart started by reading God's Word together as a family.  We are very thankful. 

So, what was our real goal in reading the Bible in its entirety in a year?  Our heart's desire is to KNOW HIM.  John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.

Our true goal is to KNOW HIM.  By soaking His Word into our hearts each day, we know Him more intimately.  Our prayer for our children is that they love and hunger for God's Word, that His Word is the joy of their hearts, that His Word is their unshakable heritage and that it is passed on through them for generations to come.  Psalm 119:111 - Your statutes are my heritage forever; are the joy of my heart.    

So, this evening as we try to stay awake until midnight to see the fireworks in the sky above our little town welcoming in 2011, we will read together the final entry (from Revelation) in our Day by Day Kid's Bible.  We acknowledge God's goodness and grace in allowing us to accomplish this heart's desire together as a family.  We are hushed and humbled by His great love.

We are excited to see God's work in the hearts of our children and in our own hearts as parents as we continue steep ourselves in His Word in the new year.  May it encourage us, challenge us, convict us, guide us, bring forth a harvest of righteousness in our lives and bring us His life and light.   

I delight in Your decrees;
I will not neglect Your word. Psalm 119:16
Sharon

Friday, December 24, 2010

Titus 2 Poll

Merry Christmas!!!

As the writer's here at T2 are looking ahead to 2011, we want to know how we are doing. The reason we are here is to bless YOU, so please keep reading...

Have you enjoyed reading the posts on Titus 2 In Action? If so, we'd like to take the time to ask you a few questions (Please leave your answers as comments):

1) How often do you visit Titus 2 in action?

2) Is there a topic you would like us to cover that we currently don't?

3) What kind of column would you like to see us add in 2011?

From the writer's of Titus 2 In Action: We pray you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sonya

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Empty Boxes?

As I sat in front of the tree, it was a few days before Christmas. The house was very quiet. I was the only one still awake. And I started thinking... I looked at all our decorations from 26 years of collecting, the white lights all aglow. The blinking angel on top of the tree which quit blinking that night.. Beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, ready to be eagerly opened in a few days. The day that we so anxiously have looked forward to would soon be here and then as quick as it came it would be over.


All the list making, the many Christmas cards we sent out, the shopping, the money spent, more shopping, the wrapping of presents, the stuffing of stockings, the Christmas caroling. All the preparation of food and candy and cookies. All these things that preoccupied our time and lives would soon be behind us.

We allow all this to raise our stress levels, tire ourselves out and spend more than we need to spend. We get so overwhelmed by it all that sometimes we are ready for it to be over before it even starts. That in itself is the saddest part of the whole thing.

We miss the reason we celebrate. We miss the immaculate conception. We miss the angel. We miss Mary and Joseph. We miss the star. We miss the shepherds and wise men. We miss the baby in the manger. We miss Jesus.

We put so much of ourselves into the "things" that we think make up Christmas, that we neglect the only thing that matters.

The birth of our Savior. Born in a stable in Bethlehem. Born to become King. Born to save us from our sins. Born to die. Born to rise. Born to come again. Hallelujah!

In a few days, Christmas will be over and all that will be left is remnants of paper and tattered bows, empty wallets, empty stockings, empty boxes.

The empty boxes represent the emptiness in our lives without Jesus. Let's take those boxes and fill them back up with praise, worship, giving, love, forgiveness and kindness. Let's keep our boxes full of Jesus so that we don't miss Him in our daily lives. Let's fill our hearts to overflowing with the love of Christ. Let's fill our boxes with gifts to lay at the feet of Jesus.

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, God with us" (Matthew 1:23)

Beth

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas week and Christmas day, with family, friends, and plenty of good food.

I hope you also enjoy spiritual fulfillment. We rejoice in the birth of Jesus. But think of the cost of this birth to God. Revelation 12:1-5 pictures the birth of Jesus as a cosmic battle between good and evil. It was God's way of rescuing mankind from the power of the evil one.

So while we are enjoying this day, remember that it is more than a day off, it is more than a family day (although that is a great blessing of it as well!), it is a day to remember our great salvation.

We have tidings of great joy because God chose to rescue us through Jesus. And it began with the birth of a baby.



So, as you are enjoying a great day, remember to pause and say, "Unto us a savior is born. Thanks, God."

Warren Baldwin

Thanks to Marci Bruno of Pretty As A Picture for these great photographs.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Filling My Husband's Gas Tank

"By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established; 
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures."
Proverbs 24:3-4

Sometimes the seemingly small things we do for our spouse are the most meaningful expressions of our love, care and respect.  The beautiful treasures of our hearts can be shown through kindnesses that may even possibly go unnoticed by our spouse.  But God sees, and He honors our sincerity.  "Love must be sincere."  Romans 12:9

One of my favorite things to do for my husband is to fill his car's gas tank with fuel.  I usually look for an opportunity to drive his vehicle for a few errands on Saturday and, while I am out, I stop and fill up his gas tank.  Jim commutes several miles to work every Monday through Friday and usually has to fill his tank more than once a week.  When I fill his tank on the weekends, it saves him one stop during his very demanding work week.  Sometimes he notices and thanks me, and sometimes he does not, which is almost more fulfilling.  But it fills me with joy and satisfaction knowing that I have helped him a bit.  God sees my heart and gives me a little wink.  "I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly Your people who are here have given to You."  1 Chronicles 29:17

Another small thing I do for Jim is to make him freshly brewed coffee for his travel mug each morning.  I pray this daily morning offering represents to him my devotion, consistency and dependability as his wife.  "Who dares despise the day of small things...?"  Zechariah 4:10

On Saturday mornings, I love when I can surprise Jim with the smell of breakfast cooking when he wakes up.  Whether it is eggs and bacon or slow-cooked oatmeal, this small expression of love puts a spring in his step for the whole day.  And if your spouse is like mine, the way to his heart is through his belly!  A good meal is a huge deposit in his heart.  "You will eat and be satisfied."  Deut. 11:15

Especially during the busyness of the Christmas season, I want to pause frequently and intentionally bless my husband in small but meaningful ways.  Today as I write this, I am planning on making his favorite Christmas cookies - "Almond Crescents".  (The butter is softening now!)  He loves them.  While I usually make several kinds of cookies each Christmas season, if I only had time for one kind, I would make the Almond Crescents. 

Filling my husband's fuel tank also fills his heart.  What small things to you like to do to fill your spouse's fuel tank??  Do share!  And I pray you and yours enjoy a peaceful, joyful and blessed Christmas season as we celebrate our Redeemer's birth! 


Sharon 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return…. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Luke 12:35-36a, 40

Waiting…what does that word mean to you? Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking, like waiting in line in the grocery store when you're in a hurry, or waiting for that phone call with the test results. Sometimes it can be exciting like waiting for your vacation or birthday. The Bible says we should be ready, waiting for Jesus to come again. What exactly does that mean - - waiting?

Dictionary.com offers several different definitions to the word wait. Which definition expresses how you are WAITING for Jesus to return? The first definition is “to remain inactive until something expected happens.” Like waiting for a bus. So are you inactive, just living your life the way you want, until Jesus comes?

Another definition is “to remain neglected for a time,” like a matter that can wait. Are you neglecting Jesus, not giving a thought to him or his second coming?

The third definition is “to look forward to eagerly.” That is a great definition of the attitude we should have as we wait for Christ.

But, if you dig deeper, you’ll find some archaic or ancient definitions of the word wait. One is “to be in readiness for”…we are to be ready for the return of Christ. Do you think you’re ready? If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, what would you do today? Why aren’t you doing it?

Finally comes the definition “attend upon, as a sign of respect.” We should be attentive to Jesus. How? By reading his word (the Bible), praying, and following his will as a sign of our respect. That is the real meaning of waiting for Jesus to come again. So which definition of wait will you use?

And how will it define you?

Dear Lord, most of us don’t like to wait. But how often do we even give a thought to the fact that we are supposed to be waiting for your return to earth? Help change our focus, so that we can be ready and waiting when you return. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Kelly

Monday, December 13, 2010

How is your Prayer Life?

"The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16b

It was a simple question. One filled with love and concern by a dear friend; when we were just in high school.

She was in the seat behind me on the bus, one chilly morning. I remember my breath formed small clouds in front of me as I attempted to answer her.

An upper classman, she was the epitome of what every high school girl should be; good student, excellent athlete, loyal friend, daughter, sister and most importantly unashamedly a beautiful child of God, who desired that everyone she encountered grow and nurture a relationship with Jesus.

"Good Morning. How is your prayer life?"

Those were her words to me that morning. Also a Christian, I can honestly say I was not quite sure. I was sure of the Jesus I believe in and I was sure that He loves me. But was I sure my heart was right with him and furthermore, at fifteen, was I sure that I was spending enough time with Him? The scripture says fervent; defined as "great emotion" or "ardent love". Our prayers are more effective when accompanied by great passion for our Lord and Saviour. Were my prayers simply a litany of begging and requests? Or was I adhering to His will and expectations? Was I an effective communicator with my Lord?

Today, I desire to leave my heart open that He might see. I ask Him, have I learned? Changed? Am I praying with a renewed knowledge of the the Word of God? Righteous...if I am not abiding in the Word of God, how can I be righteous? And therefore, what does that mean for my prayer life? I seek His will in all things, including my prayer life.

My friend's words reverberated to me, not just for a day or a week or a month, but for many, many years I would ask MYSELF each morning, "How is your prayer life?" Over the years, my answer would vary depending upon where I was in my spiritual journey. But, I was convicted that morning and in all the ones that would follow, that the Lord specifically wanted for me to examine these areas of my life as to form a deeper bond with Him. Many times, I'd pray for my friend, asking His mercy on her and as my faith and surrender deepened, I was ultimately aware of the impact of 5 seemingly small words. I never tired being grateful for her obedience and was truly thankful for her heart to minister to others.

Years would pass. We would lose touch. She went off to school, met a nice man who would become her husband. Eventually, she had children, as did I. Children have a remarkable way of refining our spirits. They bring forth the reality of what it feels like to love far greater than humanly imaginable and thus, creating for us the dependence on Christ differently than we may have felt it ever before. Fortunately, both of us, though seperately, were busy raising our children in Him and leaning on Jesus in ways we probably had not even dreamt.

Imagine the delight we felt when at our daughter's Kindergarten Open House, we sat literally across from one another, looking once again into each others' eyes. Years later, older, wiser, far more surrendered than either of us had ever been, I finally felt worthy of the question, "How is your prayer life?" and found that I now feel the bold call to say to others,

"Good Morning. So, how is your prayer life?"

Heather

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Better to Give

"It's better to give than to receive."  I think we've all heard those wise words at least once in our lives.  So, how can that relate to dating your mate?

Glad you asked! My date idea for today is going to take a little planning. First, you and your spouse need to take the time to go shopping together. Buy some items you would use for a newborn baby and ponder how Mary (Jesus' mother) must have felt preparing for the birth of Jesus in a stable after a long journey!

PhotobucketNext, put them under your tree until you've collected several items (diapers, clothes, toys, bottles, etc.).

The two of you can plan a trip to the local Crisis Pregnancy Center and donate the gifts in honor of Jesus' pending arrival.

If you have children of your own, take the time to ponder your favorite items from the birth of your child/children. Notice how much the items have changed over the years!

Service projects are a fun way to grow closer as a couple, and in your faith.

Sonya

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

whispers in the dark

About a year ago, my daughter, Megan, and I played hide and seek with Mikaela and Eli.  When we first started playing, Megan and Eli, who was 4 at the time, were partners and Mikaela was my partner.

When Megan and Eli were hiding, we didn’t have a very hard time locating them. Mikaela and I just had to listen carefully and we could usually hear Eli’s little voice whispering. Or a giggle. Or both.

There was even a few times that I had spotted their hiding place right off and tried to act like I didn’t see them. I would call out, “Mikaela, I don’t think they are in here!” and Eli’s precious little voice would say, “Look in the closet!” So, you see, it wasn’t very hard to find Megan and Eli. It was funny to me because it just seemed like he wanted to be found. He just couldn’t stand it if we didn’t find him quick enough. He would help us out and give us hints while still in hiding.

When it was my turn to have Eli for my partner, I was determined to keep that little fella quiet! I even told him that we had to be very quiet and still so his mama and sister couldn’t find us.

As we were hiding in the back corner of Melissa’s closet, we were behind a row of long white bags of formal gowns. We were well hidden from sight in the dark closet. We had found a perfect hiding place. We waited for them to come find us and we were very still and very quiet.

Suddenly in the darkness this little voice whispers to me, “Nana?”. Quickly I whispered back to him, “Eli, we have to be quiet”. A silent hush filled the darkness and then…

This sweet little voice whispered, “But Nana, I love you”. As my heart melted and filled with unspeakable joy and love, I whispered back, “Oh, precious, I love you too”.

You see, Eli just wanted that reassurance in the dark that love was there. He just wanted that reassurance that he wasn’t alone. He desired some communication with me. He needed to hear my voice.

When we are ensconced in the deep darkness of our time alone with God, we too, long for that revelation of His love for us. We long to know that we aren’t alone. We long to hear His voice. We long for some sort of reminder that He is with us.

We revel in the quiet as we seek Him. We bask in the glory of His definite presence. We savor that sweet oneness that we feel as we commune with Him. We take joy in the intimacy we feel as we meet with Him in the dark recesses of our closets.

And then we long to hear. We long to know. We can’t help ourselves. Our voices whisper in the dark.

“I love you, Lord.”

And in the quiet darkness we hear Him say, “Oh my precious child. I love you, too.”

And then we have peace.


"Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
O Lord, hear my voice.." (Psalm 130:1,2a)

Beth

Monday, December 6, 2010

God So Loved the World

God So Loved the World


I don't profess to understand the level of love that sent Jesus. Nor do I understand the level of love that said, "Yes, I'll go."

But sure am thankful for that love. And I will celebrate that love, birth and salvation this season. Hope you will, too.

Photograph used by permission of Karli Bonnie Photography

Warren Baldwin

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Lead Me" - A Wife's Prayer

"A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." 
Proverbs 31:10-12

Click for Sanctus Real:  Lead Me

"Lead Me"
Prayer for Wives
(Inspired by the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real)

"Heavenly Father, You have called me to honor and serve my husband in grace, humility and love, and yet I so often let worry, insecurity and fear overshadow that calling.  Unburden my heart from worry and expectations.  Teach me to relinquish control of my life and marriage to You, for only You are strong enough to carry and sustain it.

Lead me to a place of deep trust and intimacy with You, so that I would seek no emotional fulfillment elsewhere, but would bring to my relationship with my husband a rich overflow of confidence and strength, making of our home and marriage a peaceful, restful haven.  Show me how best to love my husband, supporting and respecting him, praying for and trusting the work of Your Spirit in his heart and life.

Give me the wisdom to value what is eternal, so that I might be truly content with my present circumstances, and not fretful or anxious over family decisions and finances.  Teach me to be beautiful as You define beauty.  Let me be a creative and enjoyable friend and companion for my husband, gracious and kind, gentle in disagreement and quick to forgive.

Only as You lead me will I become the woman and wife that my husband needs.  So lead me, O Lord.  Amen."


Amen indeed.


Sharon

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Domestic Diva

I've never been good at "domestic" stuff. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, crafting....one can say I was challenged in these areas. So I decided to embrace my non-domestic ways. Me? Cook? Ha, never. I am woman, hear me roar! I became part of the feminist movement that says I don't have to do these things. Truth is, I was never trained. Growing up with a mentally ill mother left me challenged. But then something changed.

I joined a cooking co-op. If I would cook dinner just 1 night a week, for myself & three other families, then 3 nights a week I would have dinner delivered to me by another family. To someone who hated (aka can't!) cook this was a dream come true. What happened next was truly a surprise.

I had to meal plan. We set our co-op calendar 3 months at a time, so I had to pull out cookbooks and select meals. Once the calendar was set, grocery shopping was easier. And once I started putting some real effort into my cooking, the compliments (from my own families AND the other three families) started coming in! Soon I was buying fun kitchen gadgets (did I say fun and kitchen in the same sentence?)

I can honestly say now, I am a good cook. I can meal plan. I just had to learn how. I'm still not the best at decorating, but I am learning. Why is this important? Titus 2:3-5 says we older women are to teach the younger women to be "busy at home." That means cooking, cleaning, meal planning, decorating. I was never taught. But rather than carry on this omission, I am now teaching my children the JOYS of things like cooking.

Imagine my delight, when my then 4 year old came up to me with her baby doll and stroller in tow, and a backpack full of plastic food. She said, "It's my cooking co-op day." She's 6 now, and enjoys helping in the kitchen. She doesn't enjoy helping unload the dishwasher, but I am training her none-the-less, so she will never be domestically challenged.

What things are you challenged by? Instead of saying you'll never get there, why not put the effort into learning. Then you can train up those of the next generation. Now we're cooking!

Kelly

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Christmas Jar



Recently, we were driving down the road, and we passed a casino. Emily read the sign and asked me to explain a casino. She wondered why we didn't go to them and she wondered why there were so many cars there. I explained a casino to her. Her response?

Wouldn't it be amazing, Mom, if people took all that change and filled Christmas jars instead? Any of us convicted in the Lord's command to care for widows and orphans, any of us seeking to do His will here on earth, any of us who truly want to serve Him would agree with Emily's innocent, yet remarkably insightful suggestion to take all that change and serve with it.

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

Two years ago, our family began a new tradition. In the days leading up to Christmas, we place a jar on the kitchen counter. Every lick of spare change gets dropped into our jar and we commit to pray for the family God wants to have this extra bit of encouragement. It is a tangible, do-able way for our family to bless another family at the most joyful time of the year.

Last year, God literally showed us a miracle in our Christmas jar.

We had visited the city for the day. Our train was not scheduled to leave for some time, so we sat on a bench at the top of the steps leading to our track. Hannah quickly fell asleep, leaving Rob, Emily and myself to a rather interesting conversation. As we sat chatting, Emily asked who would receive our jar. I had a specific family in mind and felt convicted that they were to receive the gift. I had absolutely no idea if they "needed" the jar, but during my quiet moments with God, as I prayed, I sensed an urging to bless this family specifically. As we chatted about our prayers and who God had revealed to receive the jar, I watched, stunned as the very family God had laid on my heart came up the steps and walked past us in the station. There was no mistaking our confirmation to bless them. You see, they were not there to take in the sights and sounds of Christmas, they were there because they had no other way to get to the city to visit a family member who had just had a very serious surgery.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14


Hannah napped on Daddy while we chatted on the bench

"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands." 2John 1:6

It is always a humbling experience when the Lord shows us unequivocally His will and leaves us to be obedient. Our lack of understanding, especially at these times, opens our minds and our hearts to the true meaning of "faith". In our humbled state, our family returned home, joyful and hearts filled to bursting at the promise of living out His command and sharing His bounty readily.

Late, late, late Christmas Eve, we pulled up to their home and my kind husband, shimmied up the ice laden drive to leave the jar, with just a bow and warm wishes for God to bless them beyond measure.

We don't share our experience for any sort of accolade; this was not our idea. Somewhere along the line, this beautiful ministry was shared with us and we answered the call. Truly, this is God's plan...We share it now with you, that others might do the same, pay it forward, extend the body of Christ past our own doorways and driveways.

Go ahead, run out to the recycling bin...I am sure there must be a jar in there somewhere! :)

Blessings to you as you enter the season of Christmas. Be in prayer this advent that you might see the ways God will use you. Just as we find Him in our daily lives, He desires greatly a relationship with us, that we might know Him more intimately.

Heather

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you a Seeker?


I am a seeker. A seeker of God and a desperate seeker of His Word. I absolutely love to read the Word of God. I love to study it and let God show me new and amazing things nestled deep in the scriptures. He shows me familiar verses with new eyes. He reveals treasure in obscure passages and floods my heart with enlightened understanding.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15)

God's Holy Word. From His mighty lips to our hearts. Our needy and seeking hearts.

God-breathed. Holy Ghost-inspired. Living Truth.

I love the way everything in the scriptures just fits together so perfectly and proves itself true over and over. We see the prophecy of the Old Testament fulfilled many times in the New Testament. We see the perfection of the Word proved accurate and true time after time. Never contradicting. Never lacking in power. 

The Old Testament is full of such rich reading and is very important to our spiritual growth and to our Christian walk.  It is full of examples of God's power and sovereignty. Full of evidences of His wisdom and His might. Full of wonders for us to seek.

As we read the bible, both the Old  and New testament, we see God's people time after time, choosing to NOT follow God and His ways.  Choosing NOT to seek after God. And we see the evidence of God's punishment and chastisement that follows. Whether under the law or under grace, God's reaction to our disobedience is the same.

Jeremiah 10:10 says, "But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King. At His wrath the earth shall tremble and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation"

Wow. That is some pretty rough stuff. So many times we read passages like this and we think that they were only applicable for those times. Old Testament. Before Jesus. Before grace.

Not so. God's Truth then is the same as God's Truth now. Is the earth not trembling with the wrath of God today? Is God not certainly full of indignation with the state of our world and with those who profess to be His children at this present time?

See, the beauty of God's Word is that it is timeless. His Word is as pertinent now as it was then. It speaks just as loudly and distinctly to our hearts in this generation as it did back in the days of Jeremiah.

God's Word is powerful. True. Eternal. Holy. Immutable. Inerrant.

It is full of wonder and full of mystery. Brimming over with marvelous passages of rich history and generous grace. Overflowing with everlasting Truth. Treasure waiting to be found by our seeking souls and hearts.

Oh, Father, help us to open your Word each time with new and eager expectation of meeting with You. As we pour over the scriptures, help us to see the wonder of Your Word and fill us with new understanding. Open our eyes and our hearts and fill us with the desire and longing to obtain deep knowledge of who You are. Grant us an encounter with You that will blow us away and change us forever. Show us your Glory!

Seeking Him Higher,

Beth

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Memory

Thanksgiving Memory

Thanksgiving 1970 holds a memory for me. I was eleven years old. Hunting season was in full swing. Dad was off from work. This was my first year to deer hunt with dad.

Thanksgiving was usually cold and snowy in northern Vermont, and this day proved no exception. Dad took me to the edge of a wooded-area that faced an open field. "Sit here," he said. "A deer could possibly walk out into the open. I’ll take a stand further down the edge of the field."

My first deer stand. I was excited. But I was also cold and tired. I drew my arms in tight to my body for extra warmth. I pulled my hat as far over my forehead as I could to still allow my eyes some sight. I shivered. I closed my eyes. I dozed off.

How long I remained a tight bundle of shivering nerves I don’t know. I just remember the sensation that I was being watched. I opened my eyes and saw something, no someone, in the field watching me. It was dad.

For a moment I forgot being cold and tired. My racing heart revived me. How long had he watched me? Would he be mad that I feel asleep on a stand? Why was he just standing there?

He smiled, waived his hand, and said, "Let’s go home."

Grace covered me. And we’ve talked about it a lot through the years. With smiles. "Do you remember the time you fell asleep?" "Yes, I do."

Any Thanksgiving memory of your dad that stands out for you?

Warren Baldwin

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Lead Me"

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior."  Ephesians 5:23


My husband, Jim, called me on my cell phone recently and told me he had driven to work in tears listening to the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real.  He told me he made it a prayer to God for himself and that he wants to be the kind of husband and dad that is reflected in this moving song.  That touched my heart and brought me to tears.  As I drove the children to school, I put my cell phone on speaker as Jim played the song for us over the phone.  It was a tender moment for our family.  We are thankful to have a husband and daddy who are devoted to God and our family. 

The cry of the Christian wife's heart is that her husband would lead her with strength and gentleness, lead their family, lead their children.  "Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."  Col. 3:19  As this song says, from the outside, things may always look picture perfect in a marriage.  And while a woman's life may be indeed wonderful, still a deep desire of her heart for their marriage and family is for her husband to lead. 

Wives, pray this for your husband.  Share this song with him of the Lord leads you to do that.  Allow your husband to lead.  If he is leading and is spiritually grounded, give thanks to the Lord, build him up in encouragement and never stop praying for him.  

God desires to transform husbands into great leaders and a tender warriors for Him.  Remember that WITHOUT WORDS you can win your husband over and spur them on in their relationship with Him.  They can be won over by your pure and reverent behavior. "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."  1 Peter 3:1-2  (Note that God felt the need to tell us wives that this could be done "without words".  Smile.  He is indeed wise!)

Husbands, may you be blessed, encouraged and spurred on by this song.  




Lyrics to "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real
I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone
Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone


The song ends with the husband asking our Heavenly Father to lead him so he can lead his family.  Perfect order.  God's perfect plan. 

Click HERE to read the "Lead Me Prayers" for husbands.  Next time, we will share "Lead Me" for wives.   

 "This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'..."  Isaiah 30:15


Sharon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

See or PhariSee?

I tend to be good about seeing a situation and sizing it up appropriately. I can read body language and gestures, tone and inflection, attitudes and appearances. Some would call that being astute.

Police officers are trained to check out situations and size them up appropriately as well. By reading body language, gestures, tones, attitudes and appearances, they try to determine what illegal activity may be going on. That is called profiling.

But at what point does sizing up, or inference, become judgment? When do we go from seeing to “PhariSeeing.” That is, being like a Pharisee in the Bible. Pharisees were the religious leaders in Jesus' day. They were considered to be self-righteous rule-followers. They were more concerned with following the letter of the law, than the spirit of the law.

The internet encyclopedia Wikipedia states “An important binary in the New Testament is the opposition between law and love. Accordingly, the New Testament presents the Pharisees as obsessed with man-made rules (especially concerning purity) whereas Jesus is more concerned with God’s love; the Pharisees scorn sinners whereas Jesus seeks them out.”

Matthew 13:15 says, “For this people’s heart have become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.” The Pharisees had great knowledge about God’s word, but they closed their eyes to those around them

I have to admit, sometimes my "seeing" becomes "Phariseeing." Sometimes it's more important to me to be on time, than to stop and lend a helping hand. Sometimes I "size someone up" and think we could never be friends, without getting to know them first.

What friendships have I missed out on because of my "Phariseeing?" What witnessing opportunities have I lost by judging instead of ministering?

It's important to be able to have eyes to see the truth. To do that I need to make sure I'm measuring what I see through God's eyes, not mine. Then I may see things justly and fairly. Then my view will not be phariseeing, but fairly seeing.


Kelly

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Value of "I'm Sorry"

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9




Our younger daughter was playing. She happily settled at the couch where our cockapoo puppy was blissfully sleeping. Without much warning, in a sweep of her little hand, our daughter shocked the puppy as she pushed her from the couch to make more room. My husband and I looked on in disbelief. Just as grown ups are sinners, desperately in need of the mercy of a loving and forgiving father, so now was our daughter in need of forgiveness from her Heavenly Father, her parents and from her trusted pet, who looked up at her quite surprised by her actions.

A quote from a famous movie says, "Love means never having to say you are sorry." WRONG! Quite the contrary, love means accepting accountability and also offering to one we have offended a verbal demonstration of a heavy heart, burdened by our sin. My husband and I showed our disapproval for our daughter's actions and she was none too happy about it either! And then we required she apologize. We also prayed with her to teach her the value of taking the burdens of our sin to our Father. Her feeling bad was part of the process and I am most thankful she felt remorse and sadness. However, as she executed her request for thanksgiving, it was obvious her whole heart was not in it. Looking for our affirmation that she was done her penitence, we shook our heads and advised, "You have to mean it!" At four, I am not surprised by her reluctance, but it speaks to our own childlike behavior in our own reluctance to bear our sin nature to the people we love. There have probably been a time or two when we missed the opportunity to humbly offer regret for our words or actions.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

When we confess, it is not for God's sake. It is for our hearts. God knows already the depths and breadth of our hearts. Moreover, He has paid dearly for our sins. He knows when our hearts are not in it. Fortunately, like my husband and I in that moment, God offers grace and mercy for our repentant hearts. Hopefully, when we approach loved ones with genuine repentance, they too will want to forgive quickly and in love. Our responsibility as Christians in repentance is to take our transgressions to the feet of our forgiver and also to offer our sincere apologies to friends or loved ones. "I'm sorry" is a powerful phrase, that heals many wounds. The goal of any act of repentance is true change or "turning away" from that which seperates us from God.

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16

Perhaps God is calling you to utter an "I'm sorry." to someone. Perhaps the four year old in all of us wants to run from the necessity of humbling ourselves before Him and others. But it is as it was designed...heed His truth and allow Him to help you profess your sins, to God and to others.

Be blessed,
Heather

Friday, November 12, 2010

Give Thanks

The signs of autumn are everywhere. The crisp cool mornings, brightly colored leaves, and the smell of apple cider lets me know that Thanksgiving is approaching quickly. What are you thankful for?

We give thanks 2 Pictures, Images and Photos

Each year we try to thank God for His many blessings in our lives. Have you thanked Him for your spouse lately?

I recently heard someone speaking on the topic of marriage. She said, "A thankful couple, is a healthy couple." Next she asked us to each list 10 qualities in our spouse we were thankful for. She suggested we keep the lists and refer to them whenever things are challenging in our marriages. After all, it's important to focus on our strengths.

My date idea for the latter part of November is to plan a time when you and your spouse can be alone. Bring two sheets of paper and two pens (no excuses for not doing this!). Next each of you take some time to write down your own thankful list. Write down 10 good qualities you see in your mate. Next, take turns reading them to each other. Finally, exchange your lists and be sure to keep them for a rainy day.

Marriage is a relationship filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, we need to be constantly working to improve these relationships so they will stand the test of time.


Bubble Bath Pictures, Images and PhotosPS. For a fun twist on this date idea, get two hand-held mirrors and two tubes of inexpensive lipstick. Next prepare a hot steamy bubble bath and drinks of your choice (I love sparkling cider). Invite your spouse to join you, and then write your thankful list with lipstick on the mirrors. Of course, you'll want to transfer those thankful thoughts to paper or computer later on. Have fun with it!

Sonya

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are we prepared to seek?


"And he did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD"
(2 Chronicles 12:14)
~~~~~~~~~~
Are we preparing our hearts? Do we truly have a desire to seek the Lord?

Are we hungering after the deeper things of Christ in a way that propels us to make our hearts ready?  Are we actively seeking to go higher in our knowledge of Him?

In today's busy whirlwind of life, we find ourselves seeking after many things. Things that occupy our time and our money. Things that occupy our thoughts. Things of the world that keep us focused in the wrong direction. There is too much 'stuff' vying for our attention.

We have too many toys. Too many gadgets. Too many activities. Too many choices. Too many. Too much.

Therefore our minds are flooded with earthly pleasures and worldly thoughts and we haven't left any room for Jesus. We've left no space in our minds or lives for our Lord to reside. We've made no preparation in our hearts to truly seek after Him. Just as there was no room in the inn for our precious Lord, there is no room in our busy lives.

We have left out the most important person. The One who should be first and foremost in our thoughts and actions. So, how do we rectify this? How do we begin to prepare our hearts to seek after Him?

1. Fall out of bed and fall on your face. Begin each day at the feet of Jesus. Cry out, pour out and receive a blessing! Prayer is the key to intense communication with God.

2. Get in His Word first thing every morning. After you have met with Him in prayer, meet with Him in the Word. Inhale the scriptures deeply and let Him speak.

3. Memorize His Word. Even if you only learn one memory verse a month, it will be one of the greatest blessings you will receive. Hide God's precious Word deep in your heart.

4. Commune with Him all through the day. Small prayers of praise. Little talks with Him. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to Him and you will be surprised what He will reveal to you. Maintain an attitude of prayer at all times.

Oh friends, if we are to keep ourselves from doing evil, we have to make preparation ahead of time. We have to be fully determined and purposed in our walk. We have to keep ourselves armed with the Word through prayer and study.

We must be actively seeking the abundant and effective Spirit filled life that Christ
desires for us.

Prepare our hearts! Seek after Him. Make room for Him in the inn of our lives.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am so blessed to be joining the group here at Titus 2 In Action. I am looking forward to being part of a team whose purpose is to encourage one another and spur others on in their journey to go higher with God.

I chose 'Seeking Higher' as the name for my column, because that is my hearts desire for my own life. I am seeking to know Him deeper and striving to go to a higher place with my Savior. I pray that God will use what I write to minister to hearts and encourage spirits.

I count it a privilege to be a servant of Christ. May all I do and say always bring glory to Him.

Seeking Higher,
Beth

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marion & Violet

Marion & Violet



On Friday Cheryl and I made a quick trip to Wyoming to visit with an old friend. The trip was short and had a specific focus: to visit with an old friend who has recently been placed in hospice. Our friend is Marion.

Marion and his wife Violet were older members in the congregation in Cody, Wyoming when we moved there to preach in 1990. Cheryl and I were both 30, had two kids, and were a long way from our homes. My parents lived in Tennessee and Cheryl’s in Florida. With two little kids, another one arriving two years later, and living over 40 hours away from family support, we welcomed the nuturing care provided by this couple.

Marion and Violet’s home became our home as well. We were welcomed there at any time for visits and meals. My kids knew where Violet kept the candy.

Marion was an avid hunter, and he taught me some of the skills needed to successfully navigate (and survive) the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Many times we returned to his home after spending hours in below zero weather to a hot pot of stew and coffee that Violet had prepared for us.

But we shared more than just simple fun times. Marion and Violet had decades of wisdom about marriage, surviving health crises, raising children, figuring out problems, and working with churches that they shared with us over the years. And Marion, an old Arkansas boy transplanted to Wyoming, was a storehouse of old-time southern wisdom.

Marion was very big on living with honor and integrity. You did the right thing simply because it was the right thing, not because you hoped for any reward. He shared with me that one of his greatest accomplishments in life was living with integrity in a situation that was stressful to him.

Truth was a big part of his honor and integrity system. He told me, "I used to have employees steal my construction equipment and materials. I didn’t like it, but I understood it. They may have been low on money and needed the tools or wood to work a job on the side. It was wrong to steal from me, but there was a rationale to it. But lying? There is no rationale to lying. It is the same as stealing, except you really don’t get anything for it. If you steal from me and get caught, you can give back what you stole. But if you lie to me or about me, how does that benefit you? And if you are caught, what can you return to make restitution or repair the relationship? Lying is just stupid and wrong. You can understand a thief; but a liar you can never trust again."


One more thing: Marion honored Violet. They had been married for 40 years or more when I first met them. Together they had raised two children and had four grandchildren. They survived health problems, financial stresses, church leadership pressures, and two major moves. In their 60s they moved miles from their home to spend their later years enjoying the mountains together and helping a small church. And through it all, they remained best friends. During our long drives over mountains and through valleys exploring the wonders of the Rocky Mountains, Marion and I would talk about life. And when the subject of marriage or wives came up, Marion always talked about Violet in appreciative terms, and praised her. Violet went to be with the Lord on Nov. 7, 2008. To the end, after 60+ years of marriage, they remained best friends.

Cheryl and I drove to Wyoming on Friday to visit with Marion. Gathered around him was his daughter, her son and daughter-in-law, his son and his wife, and numerous friends from his church. He was receiving the honor due a man who spent his life living with Christian character and living for his family, friends and church.

Our trip was short. We had to leave on Saturday. But I drove off thinking, "I hope my life counts for something worthwhile, like Marion’s has." We pay tribute to a good person when we sit by his/her side and ask, "Do you remember when ...?" But we pay even greater tribute when we try to emulate their lives.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mirror Messages

"I write this greeting in my own hand...
Grace be with you."
Colossians 4:18
 
I was recently inspired by my girlfriend's daughter when we were invited to their home for a family dinner.  She used dry erase markers to write scripture on all the mirrors in her bedroom (and being a teenager...there were lots of mirrors!).  Each time she looks in her mirror, God's love letter is kissing her cheeks and piercing her heart with His truth.   

A few weeks ago, I was travelling for four nights away from my husband and children.  While I was thankful to go on the Girl's Get-Away Weekend hosted by Karen Kingsbury, my heart was aching in preparation of leaving my precious family and my favorite place on earth...home.  I was up most of the night before I left spending time in prayer for my husband and my children. 

After praying, while Jim and the kids were sound asleep, I went to every mirror and wrote love notes to my family.  As I wrote my note to Jim on his mirror in our master bathroom, I was very aware that our children would see the note.  So, it needed to be not-so-intimate and yet meaningful to him.  I also prayed that my note to Jim would be impressionable on our children's hearts, that they knew it represented the truth of my heart and that it was always authenticated by my actions in our home.  Here's a little of what my note said to my hubby:

"Dear Jim:  You are the best husband, brother in Christ and best friend I could ever have.  I love you with my entire heart.  I can't wait to be home in your arms again!  With all my respect, Sharon"  (The "with all my respect" closing was completely inspired by Emerson Eggerich of Love & Respect Ministries.)

I prayed that as Jim and our children looked in the mirrors, they would feel kissed by the love of their wife and mother. 

Write some love notes on the mirrors in your home today!  Wives, if you are an empty-nester or the parents of babies/toddlers who can't read yet, go ahead and write your note to your hubby in lipstick instead of dry erase markers! 

Song of Solomon (Chapter One)
He
 15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
   Oh, how beautiful!
   Your eyes are doves.
   She
 16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
   Oh, how charming!


If your children are going to see what you write to your spouse, (be discrete and...) know that your words of love to one another are breeding security and confidence in your children's hearts, too!!!

Reflecting His image in our marriages requires sincere love, humility and the complete yielding of our hearts to the Holy Spirit.  Demonstrating our love can be done in creative and memorable ways.  Writing reflections of His image in your home will pour lavish grace into your family's hearts and kiss their cheeks with His love!  

Stop back here at T2, leave a comment and let us know what Mirror Messages you are writing today!     



"As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart."
Proverbs 27:19


Sharon 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sock Stealer

As I sat on the bottom steps to put on my shoes and socks, as I often do, I noticed one of my socks "disappeared." "ANNIE!" I shouted. Annie is our golden retriever...and chief sock stealer. She pulls socks out of clothes baskets, gym bags, and from unsuspected folks putting on shoes and socks on the stairwell.

As I stood up to go after her, I noticed my missing sock. I had some how managed to sit on it, and I had it all the time! "You blamed Annie, and she didn't even do it," my daughter and Annie's #1 fan exclaimed. She was right. But it offered a chance for a teaching moment.

When you are characterized by a certain behavior, whether good or bad, people will assume it from you. When people know you for having good character, they don't believe otherwise. However, once you become known for a bad behavior (sock stealing, for instance), when socks turn up missing you get the blame, even if you didn't do it! You only get one chance to build your character, and once it's built badly even when you "re-build" it, it takes a long time for folks to see the new you.

This isn't a "life sentence" for those who have started out on the wrong sock foot. The great thing about God is that even bad characters can receive grace and forgiveness if they truly repent. You'll have to be patient, however, as mere mortals will need more time to trust in the new you. But time can and will show your true character.

Let your good behavior shine so that people can see God through you. Then people will no longer consider you a sock stealer, and when it comes to good character, you'll be a shoe shoo-in.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16


Kelly

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blessings from a Friend

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11




Until I had my first child, I had never experienced the true gift of a homecooked meal.

Delivered.

To my home.

For me.

Just because.

But as my life changed forever and I assumed the title, "Mom" several special and wonderful people did this very thing for me. And I was blessed. With a new baby and a husband who went back to work quickly, it was such a delight to see five o' clock roll around and know that a delicious and nutritious meal awaited us. I felt like a good mother, allowing another's generosity of spirit feed my body and nourish my soul. I felt like an obedient and trusted wife, placing on our table the culmination of another's energy and love. I felt the body of Christ surround me and nurture our family, in the way that only the body can nurture.

When we experienced the death of our son, two of our dear and cherished friends were first on our doorstep, pasta and sauce in hand, apple cake, still warm, ready to provide comfort. And comfort us it did. Our lovely, lovely friends left an indelible embrace in the form of a homecooked meal.

One of my nearest and dearest friends is a tremendous cook. God has given her the gift of whipping up memories. Recently, for no specific reason at all, she blessed our family with a chicken pot pie. This lip smacking, belly pleasing, pie plate of joy brought squeals of delight from every family member. Far and beyond the temporary euphoria of a great meal was the lasting impression that we were important enough to warrant a gift of this magnitude during a busy and hectic week. As I prayed for her family that evening, I also prayed that God would reveal to me practical ways to express His love to others.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

I hope that I am "that friend". Whether it comes in the form of a cup of tea, a phone call with a bright and cheery message, or a simple note of encouragement and prayer...blessings from a friend are always necessary. They strengthen us. God calls us to share His love willingly and openly, in word and in action. May our relationships always include our pouring out His love graciously and with great zeal, in all circumstances.

"Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8

In His love,
Heather

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Language of Love

I Love You Pictures, Images and Photos

The language of love is a beautiful thing, when it's being spoken. Are you and your spouse speaking love to one another?

There are several books out there about the different love languages.  The five most talked about are:  Personal Touch and Closeness, Words of Encouragement, Acts of Kindness, Quality Time, and Gift Giving.

While the books emphasize finding our top language and then expecting others to speak it, I've learned we should be speaking all of them to our mate at different times.    The problem usually lies with us.  We tend to speak the love language we are craving while our spouse may be desiring a different one.

For my date idea, I would like to challenge you to use the five love languages listed here to communicate to your spouse over the next week.

Make a list of at least one thing you could try each day to express love in a different way.

Here are some examples:

Gift Giving: Buy him/her a small trinket that they would like, or even a special treat from the grocery store that you put in their lunch (if you pack their lunch).

Words of Encouragement: Spend the day making a list of their good qualities, or of the things you've noticed that they've done around the house over the past few weeks. Try leaving the note of "thanks for all they do" on their pillow.

Quality Time: Plan a romantic breakfast, lunch, or dinner where you draw them out and try to be a good listener (remember this is about them not you!).

Acts of Kindness: Take over one of their chores (without them asking first). Go to the dump for them, or take out the garbage for a few days. Mow the lawn, or weed eat for them. Make it something they will notice so they feel the love.

Personal Touch and Closeness: Watch a movie together holding hands, go out to eat and sit on the same side of the booth so you can play footsie's and hold hands.

Love is the universal language, let's all speak it this week!
Sonya

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DISCIPLINE IS LOVE = Part 4 Wrap-Up

DISCIPLINE IS LOVE = Part 4
Wrap-Up
by Stephanie K. Brower © 2010

Respect [for God’s and the parent’s authority] is developed through discipline. Take time to properly discipline your children. Properly, meaning: with thought, with action, at the time when the problem occurs. It may not always be easy. It might even be embarrassing, but the closer you bring the discipline action to the time of the incident, the better. Your authority as the parent and your follow-through, is key for the child to know that the boundaries you have set in advance – hold!

If your children are a bit older, these are great passages to share/discuss with them from God’s Word.

Jeremiah 6:16 [NIV]
This is what the LORD says:

"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'

Proverbs 23:10 [NIV]
Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,

Parents must discipline together – on the same page – with the rules and boundaries laid out for the child/children in advance! Be consistent. Be firm. Show grace to the child if it benefits. And give lots of hugs and kisses before and after discipline to affirm your love for them, especially if they are young. In doing so, you can teach them to do the same.

Luke 11:17 [NIV]
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. [emphasis added]

Children love and need boundaries so they know where the line is drawn. Boundaries set forth in advance must be held up by both parents.

Proverbs 13:24 [NIV]
He who spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

No other verse should be pondered more than this last one. Do I hate my son or daughter? If we do not discipline, the Bible says that we hate them. That’s pretty strong language from God’s heart. It must be very important. The best gift we can leave our children is a heart of discipline in love. They may not thank us for it when they are young – but they will later.

Proverbs 19:18 [NLT]
Discipline your children while there is hope.

Otherwise you will ruin their lives.

I will be leaving Titus 2 in Action because of other added responsibilities. Many thanks to Sonya Thompson and the other writers, for allowing me the opportunity to share God's Word on this site. And thank you to all the visitors who care enough to read and ponder what is offered here! Remember to pray for your children and grandchildren to become Mighty Warriors in the kingdom of God for His glory and purpose!

May God continue to richly bless you. I love you all!

Choosing JOY,
Stephanie

Monday, October 25, 2010

Heritage

HERITAGE


"Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your fathers." Proverbs 22:28

I have a vague memory of boundary stones on our farm in Vermont and my two acres in Wyoming. Those markers set the limits of my property. They also set the limits of the property bordering mine. We knew where Our property and rights extended and ended. No questions. Like fences, boundary markers make good friends. They establish borders, determine rights and provide order. If both sides of the boundary stones respect the markers, there is peace and order.

So, Solomon says, respect those markers! Don’t move them. You threaten a person’s livelihood if you move a marker and deprive a landowner of his property! In ancient Israel, and even for some in modern America, the land provides the food and the income for a family to survive. Deprive that family of income potential from the land and you may bankrupt that family.

Those ancient boundary markers did more than guarantee property lines and rights; they provided a sense of continuity. In ancient Israel the property that God blessed each household with was passed on to succeeding generations. Fathers passed the land on to sons who then passed it on to their sons. Generations of a family would be raised on the same property, harvesting the same fields, wading the same creeks, and plucking fruit from the same trees. Those boundary markers provided a very important sense of stability for families, and that stability became an important element of the family’s, and society’s, heritage.

So, if you moved an ancient boundary stone, you actually did more than disrupt the livelihood of that family, as important as that was. If you moved that stone you "destroyed the social order and well being of individuals in the community." (Bland, p.206-07). You upset the order and tore at the heritage.

There is great importance to this verse. Is there anything in our lives that provides a sense of heritage for us, a sense of continuity with our ancestors, a connection with our past? Is there something we can hold on to as a connection to grandma and grandpa, even great grandma and grandpa? Fortunate are those who grow up on a farm and can say, "My dad and his mom were both born and raised on this farm. I’m the fourth generation in my family to farm this land." That is happening less and less.

In my own family it was the construction business that helped provide some of that heritage for me. I remember seeing tools of my dad’s marked, "Baldwin and Baldwin." "Are these tools from the business you owned with grandpa," I asked dad. "No," he said. "These are tools from the business your grandpa owned with your great grandpa." At age 13 I was assembling some of the equipment my great grandfather used back in 1930. That is heritage, a connection with my past, a boundary marker that establishes order, permanence and stability.

My own children did not have the benefit of being raised on a farm or in a business that had been worked by four generations of my family. But I have found something that does serve as such a boundary marker for them, something that promotes heritage and stability. It is worship. My kids worship with their mother and me. At the same time and in other places, both sets of grandparents are worshiping. When a certain song is sung, I can lean over and whisper to one of my kids, "That was one of great grandpa’s favorite songs. When I was your age, I remember him leading this song all the time. He would sing it with his eyes closed he knew it so well." And with that I plant a boundary marker that will remain in place throughout the lifetime of my kids. It is a marker that connects them with grandparents, great grandparents, and even great, great grandparents, a marker that will weekly remind them of who they are, who they belong to, and how they are to live. Worship is an "ancient boundary stone set up by our fathers," so let’s plant those markers deep into the hearts of our children and grandchildren.

Warren Baldwin

From: Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems From Proverbs

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beloved, Come Away

"Beloved, come away..."
Song of Solomon 8:14

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from Naples, Florida
10-18-10

Getting away as husband and wife.  It's essential.  I'd even say it is biblical.  "Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages."  Song of Solomon 7:11

Jim and I were blessed earlier this week to "come away" together.  He was attending a conference for work in Naples, FL, and was invited to bring a guest.  While some Pentagon-level planning was required by me to have things in order at home for the loving care of our cherubs, I knew God ordained this time for Jim and I to get away together. 

Away.  Away from the demands of life.  Away from the endless household chores calling our names.  Away from piles of paperwork needing attention.  And yes, even away from our cherubs.  Though my heart was literally aching from missing them, it was good for Jim and me to get away for a few days together.  It was good for them to have us away, to enjoy time with their grandparents who came to stay with them, to grow in the Lord in maturity, courage and faith in ways that can only happen when daddy and mommy are away.  Room to grow.  

Getting away occasionally gives us all room to grow.  The children grow.  The husband and wife grow.

Quiet conversations that have been cued up for weeks, if not months, are enjoyed.  Holding hands while walking, rekindling young love.  Savoring meals together as best friends and favorite companions.  Away.

Even when I want to really enjoy rich time with our children with great conversations and lots of laughter, I get them away.  Away to a local state park for several hours or away to a casual restaurant for lunch. 
 
Though it may only be once or twice a year, get away with your spouse!  "Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers."  Song of Solomon 1:4   If you have an opportunity to join your spouse on a business trip, prayerfully say "yes"!  Ask a friend with a beach house if you can use it for a weekend.  Look for affordable deals on an overnight stay at a hotel close by.  Or even just get away for the day. 

It doesn't have to be expensive.  It just has to be worth it.  And it is.  Plan so get away with your spouse soon.  Beloved, come away.  

"Arise, come, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me."
Song of Solomon 2:13 



Sharon