Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trust and Live

The Most High God chose to leave the glorious realm of heaven to live like the dust of the earth, to live as a human, enduring all the difficulties, joys, sorrows, and trials of this life. He had mountaintop experiences and valley experiences. He experienced slander from his enemies and betrayal from his friends and family. He was bullied, ridiculed, laughed at, beaten, stripped, humiliated, tortured and finally killed.

His friends and followers were left feeling confused and hopeless. Their greatest hopes and dreams had been ripped to shreds, their faith stretched so thin it threatened to break at any second. They were left with questions. "Wasn't this the King we had been waiting for?" "How could we have been wrong?" "Did we miss something along the way?" "What do we do now?" "I guess we go back to fishing." "What's left?" "Why?"

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways  higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

Because He loves us...
His life on earth was to identify with us.
His death was the punishment that we deserved for all of our sins, past, present, and future.
But the Power of God could not be contained in death. He defeated death and rose again to life, real life, so that we could live with Him forever in Heaven.

Trust in Jesus Christ ... and live.

Sunday is Resurrection Day. It is the celebration of the day that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, defeated death and sin and it's hold over you and me. I hope you have a wonderful celebration of our Risen Savior.

My oldest grand-daughter has chosen to Trust Jesus with her life and will be baptized on Resurrection Day.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Do Not Exasperate Your Children


"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph. 6:4

My father generally had clear cut instructions for what he expected of his four children. We had to do our chores, respect our mother, obey the first time we were told to do something, and not fight with each other. Even though these rules were understood by all of us, we still got in a fair amount of trouble for violating them, at least the three boys, anyway.

Since our chores were often related to construction or farm work, it required dad to give us some instruction and training in how to do our job, whether it was milking cows or nailing siding. The procedure was generally to tell us what the task was, to show us how to do it, and then to watch us as we performed it. Praise or constructive criticism followed the completion of the task.

Respecting mom meant we had to listen to her when she spoke, do what she said, and not talk back. Talking back incurred the angry side of dad.

Obeying the first time we were told to do something was expected ever since we were very little. Dad permitted very few exceptions to this rule. When he said "hop," we did.

Not fighting with each other is probably the rule we broke the most, especially the three boys. We were smart enough to generally do our fighting when mom or dad was not around, but occasionally our displeasure with each other would get the best of us and we couldn't wait for a more opportune time. Yes, on those occasions we would get caught, and discipline followed.

I can think of only a few times when I got in trouble that I was surprised. Usually when corrective discipline was administered I knew I had it coming. I can remember a few times being greatly relieved that dad overlooked some misbehavior, forgot, or had a streak of mercy. Yes, at those times I knew I should have gotten in trouble but was blessed to escape it.

Some might think the parenting style I just described was too strict. At times it may have been, but as a rule I don't think it was. Within these parameters my siblings and I had tremendous room to act and play. We had our own farm plus thousands of acres of public land bordering our farm to hunt, fish, and roam. We played ball. We devised all kinds of creative games. Our childhood was a blast in many ways.

Within this parenting scheme is the fulfillment of Eph. 6:4. My parents communicated to us the level of behavior they expected. That is teaching or instruction. Secondly, they trained us. After verbally instructing us, they provided hands-on demonstration of what they expected. Sometimes this included an object lesson, such as pointing out the misbehavior of another child and saying we'd better never do that. At other times it included mom or dad physically showing us how to perform a task. Dad would frequently end such sessions by asking, "Do you understand? Ok, show me how to do it now."

I don't think our kids get exasperated because we give them too many chores. If anything, I question if many children today get enough responsibility given to them. (Growing in responsibility is something that helps us mature). What I think exasperates children is when we have high expectations for them without teaching and training them to perform at the level we expect. If we express disappointment in them and punish them without first making clear what our expectations are, and equipping them to live up to them, we fill our kids with a sense of confusion and futility.

We can get frustrated on our jobs if we don't have a sense of what our boss or company expects of us. It seems very unfair then for us to be reprimanded when we don't perform at peak level since we don't even know what we are supposed to be doing! It's no different for children. Giving them clearly articulated expectations for their lives, then teaching and training them to live up to those expectations, equips them to behave well and feel good about their lives.

Our ultimate goal as fathers and mothers is to bring our children up in the Lord. Our training, instruction and expectation of obedience prepares them for the transition from obeying our voice to obey the voice of their Heavenly Father. God bless all of you involved in such important work!

Warren Baldwin

Friday, March 26, 2010

Precious Oil Of Unity

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard...For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalm 133:1-3

The apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. His calling from the Lord was unique and significant. He had urgent and important messages to convey and write about. Reading through Philippians 4 recently, I was struck by a few verses that Paul took the time to pause and write: “I plead with you Eudia and I plead with you Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with…the rest of the fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:2-3

The disagreement between these siblings in the Lord was causing division and disunity, so much so that Paul wrote about it in this public letter. The NIV Study Bible note indicates that Paul’s handling of the situation is a model for us. He did not take sides. Rather, he encouraged other believers close to these women to promote reconciliation.

In Christian marriages, we ought to pay special attention to these commands of the Lord. Disagreements and division between siblings in the Lord are distracting, painful and unhealthy to the Body of Christ. Divisions in marriage, if gone unchecked, unaddressed and unresolved, can be devastating. Even seemingly small divisions in our marriage can become cavernous if not given our proper, Biblical care. Note that the first sentence in the key scripture above ends with an exclamation point! “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Exclamation point! Good and pleasant!

The “precious oil” in Psalm 133 signifies total consecration and sanctified harmony. And as the “dew” would make the mountains richly fruitful, so would Christian unity make our lives richly fruitful. Our hurt, pride and selfishness cause us to dry up the fruit He so greatly desires to produce in us. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” John 15:8 (NIV) Oh how God desires our Christian marriages to be in sanctified harmony and bearing much fruit. As we yield are our hearts to Him and abide in His Word, this can be so.

We aren’t told the details of the disagreement between these two sisters in the Lord in Philippians 4. But we all know the discomfort and pain associated with such division. The Bible gives us valuable insight to some reasons for disorder and lack of peace and tells us that “wisdom from heaven” is our solution. James 3:16-18 (NIV): “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder…But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” This passage halts my heart before the Lord and begs Him to search it. Show me any offensive way in me, such as envy or selfish ambition, and lead me in the way everlasting. By Your grace and wisdom, make me a lover of peace so you can raise a harvest of righteousness through me, Lord. Let me be fully of mercy and good fruit. May my heart be pure, considerate, submissive, impartial and sincere. May it be so in my marriage and all of my relationships, Lord. Thank you.

We are called to “Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14 (NIV) Often we let ourselves linger in the uncomfortableness and ache of division with our sibling (spouse) in the Lord, rather than seeking peace and pursing it. The “good and pleasant” should supplant the division and pain.

Do you need to make peace and restore unity with your spouse (or someone else) today? Consider the precious oil and the rich fruit that bring Him glory. As God leads in His grace and love, prayerfully seek peace and pursue it. For there the Lord bestows upon us His blessing, even life forevermore.

Giver of New Life, search my heart and give me the grace and courage to seek peace and pursue it with my spouse. Mend any brokenness in our relationship. May Your precious oil pour down over our hearts. May the dew of your living water bear rich fruit through our marriage is it is anchored in unity through You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Cor. 1:10 (NIV)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:2-3 (NIV)

“Love must be sincere…Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10 (NIV)


© 2010 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guilty by Association

Think about the kid in your 2nd grade class that ate the paste. You know the one I mean. Now imagine all these years later that someone suggests you name your child (or dog) after this person. Ewwww! Not that name. I could NEVER pick that name. That's the kid who ate the paste!

Last summer I got my toe nails painted coral at the salon. Women's Day magazine had said coral was "THE" hot color for summer. When I got home, my daughter said "That looks like the color Nanny always gets." It did. Suddenly I didn't feel stylish, but grandmotherly.

In both these examples, the item itself is fine, but by association becomes "guilty."

Did you know that as Christians, we are the only Bible some people will ever see? So what are you saying about Jesus, by association? When you gossip with girlfriends. When you refuse to apologize for the feelings you've hurt, because they hurt your feelings too. When you don't include someone because YOU don't think they'll fit in with the group. When notice the speck in another's eye, while ignoring the plank in your own.

Jesus is found guilty, by association.

The irony is, that just as Jesus is found guilty by his association with us; We have been found not guilty by our association with him. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17) Jesus died on the cross, found guilty of our sins, so that we can stand here now and say NOT association.

James 2:10 -- For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

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


Monday, March 22, 2010

Be Flexible!

During the season of Lent, we have been doing a nightly Lenten devotion with our children.

On one Wednesday evening, the scripture was James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective."

We decided to go around the table and have each person confess one sin we wanted to work on. Then we would commit to praying for each other.

Trying to set a good example, I started. We decided to go in age order around the table. All was going well, and I even felt a sense of accomplishment as I heard my cherubs confessing the sins I already saw in them. One of my better parenting moments, I thought.

One by one oldest to youngest...WAIT! One of my younger children (I'll not reveal any more than this about the child) said, "I don't have anything that I do wrong."

Well, we were all dumbfounded. I shot an emergency look at my husband who smiled and said, "She's right, she's a perfect child."

To that, all of the other kids chimed in (at the same time) with sins that they thought she could use some help with.

There goes my perfect mommy moment, I thought.

"STOP!" I said, firmly! "No one is allowed to tell of a sin you see in another's life, because that is being judgmental!"

Then, sheepishly, my sweet daughter said, "Maybe I am a little mean to my siblings from time to time, so let's pray about that."

Ahhh, back to the proud mama status. *smile*

You see, when doing Bible studies with your children, be flexible because you just never know what they might say or do. Anything is possible!


Friday, March 19, 2010

"Dying to Self" --A Testimony.

I really enjoyed Sharon’s post last week about “dying to self.” I didn’t enjoy it because I LIKE dying to myself, :) but because in my own personal journey and in our journey as maturing Christians, we must die to ourselves, bit-by-bit, day-by-day.

Honestly though, who really relishes the idea? The word “death” in itself doesn’t exactly bring about a warm and fuzzy feeling does it? “Death” brings connotations of fear, pain, and misery…certainly not something anyone would gravitate to naturally if given a choice. Here we see again, that living in God’s “economy” is often counter-intuitive to the logic of us humans!

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25

I think “dying to self” can be hard because our desire to have our own way is actually rooted in “original sin.” It takes us back to the Garden of Eden. You know the story. Essentially, Adam and Eve did something God told them not to do. He told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. John Piper teaches that the phrase has special meaning in the Old Testament...

The "knowledge of good and evil" refers to the capacity and the right to decide for one's self what is good and what is bad; what is helpful and what is harmful. Therefore, what God was forbidding was not an arbitrary fruit, but what the fruit symbolized. To eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" would mean to reject God as the all-wise, all-caring Father who knows what is good for us, and in his place to put ourselves. Therefore, what God forbade man to do was to exchange roles with him. He simply said: Don't try to dethrone me. Don't try to take my place. Trust ME to fill your life with maximum joy and meaning.”

I personally, learned a lot about “dying to myself” when God began to deal with me about how I viewed money. I believe my wrong attitudes began with the woundedness I experienced as a child, which led me to have issues with self esteem as an adult. These self-esteem issues caused me to be deceived into thinking that if I wore the “right clothes” and hung out in the “right places,” people would see me as acceptable. Material possessions really made me feel better about myself. If I was having a rough day, I would go shopping and buy myself something new. I placed a lot of value on appearance because that seemed to be what was important to the rest of the world and I wanted to “fit in.” I bought things I couldn’t afford to appear “successful.” I would get into debt and get bailed out only to go into debt again. My spending was like an addiction. I often had trouble controlling it and it controlled me. Granted, spending money or being in debt is not a sin, but it is a bi-product of sin. It certainly wasn’t God’s plan for me according to scripture.

That stuff had an importance in my life that it shouldn’t have had. I was dependent on it for my self-esteem and for my security. It held a higher priority in my life than God. You could see what I worshipped by looking at my credit card statement or by opening up my check register. Jesus was not Lord of my life, “mammon” was, and that, plain and simple, is idolatry.

Now, you might say to yourself, "yeah, but spending money and going into debt isn’t that big of deal. It’s not like you went out and killed somebody or something.” That’s what I thought for many years too. “It’s just a weakness I have. It doesn’t really hurt anybody.” But when I began to have a real relationship with Jesus, he wouldn’t let me stay where I was. He began to show me how my spending hurt other people. It caused issues in my marriage for one. Especially since my husband preferred to live frugally and felt much more secure by saving and investing money. He would get upset when I would overspend and I would vow to do better, but since I couldn’t control myself in this area, I would often fail and then in my shame try to hide the things I bought and then lie that I had “had the stuff for awhile.”

(That’s the other problem with sin. It brings us shame and makes us want to hide it and before we know it, we’re sinning to cover up our sin. Once again, just like Adam and Eve, back in that garden!)

The trouble was that I felt powerless over my spending at times, and the way I looked at money and stuff hurt my relationship with the Lord because I just couldn’t believe that He could provide for me what I was believing all that “stuff” for.

I know this sounds crazy, but you know how Jacob wrestled with God? I wrestled with God one time about my desire to buy a new outfit for my husband’s company Christmas party! (Stay with me here!) I felt him saying in my spirit not to do it, yet the thought of not doing it was probably similar to what a junkie feels when he thinks he’s about to miss a “fix”! I cried and carried on before the Lord because the thought of not appearing at that party the way I pictured that “acceptable” would look-- by not wearing what I thought people needed to see me in to like me and respect me-- was more than I could bear! (For some of you right now you’re thinking "what a nutcase!" But I suspect there are a few of you who may be nodding your head in agreement because maybe you have been there too?)

I remember actually saying out loud, “But God, what will people think?” It was like my self-esteem just crying out, “But what if people won’t accept me like this?”

It was a huge statement to make and it was the first time since being truly “born again” that I ever felt that I heard God’s voice well up boldly inside of me,

“Don’t you know I love you more?” He said.

And I cried and cried for quite awhile after that, alone in my bedroom, because I instantly reverted back to being that little girl from my childhood who longed to feel accepted and loved.

I went to the party that Saturday wearing something I had in my closet and you know what? I lived to tell about it! It was OK. I don’t think anyone even noticed I had worn it before! LOL!

That act of “dying” triggered a new direction in my life when it came to money. I continued to struggle with spending, but God provided opportunities to rescue me. He led me into bible studies that taught a biblical perspective on money, which helped me to realize what a wedge my view of money placed between my Lord and me. I desperately wanted to change, but it was hard. Like any “addictive” kind of behavior, you conquer it one step at a time.

The real breakthrough came the day I realized that I couldn’t control myself and I began to fast forward in my mind about what my selfish attitude about spending could possibly mean for the future of my children.

Would I put our family is the position of having to say to them one day, “Sorry, you can’t go to college because Mom had to have the latest wardrobe from Ann Taylor?”

My love and desire not to hurt my family, in combination with my desire to have a close relationship with the Lord, brought me to my knees and I asked for his forgiveness and begged him to help me “get this” because I didn’t want to have to learn it the hard way!”

Do you know what He did? He made it my job for a season of my life to have to know His financial principles inside and out so I could teach others!

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Cor. 1:27

I am blown away every day by the unbelievable grace God has shown toward me in this area of sin in my life. It really hit home about a year ago. I was asked to be on a panel of speakers at a church who was teaching a series on “How to Manage Finances in a Tough Economy.” They asked if I would do a segment on debt and I prepared my presentation for several days. A few hours before I was to leave to do my teaching, I was rehearsing what I planned to say and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Look what the Lord has done! Me, the girl who was in and out of debt, who was financially irresponsible and in a lot ways just downright ignorant about money, is about to stand side by side with a panel of corporate CFO’s, bank presidents and CPA’s and teach other people how God wants them to handle money!

It was miraculous! My area of pain and weakness-my “uncontrollable” area of sin, had been taken over by God and He was using it glorify him! The area of sin that Satan had intended to use to destroy me was placed in the loving hands of God and he turned it around and used it to save me!

...And so it is with all our sin. He knows we can’t handle it. He knew back in the Garden of Eden. From the very time that man first sinned, God began to work on a plan to keep us in fellowship with Him.

“Dying to self,” is recognizing that your self conscious, self serving, self-reliant ways-- the very things you are trusting in to make you happy, may very well be the things that are making you miserable. God created us to worship and glorify HIM, not ourselves. May we choose to live in that calling…denying our sinful nature and accepting his sacrifice… allowing him to turn our lives around and make that “ugly” sin into something beautiful before Him.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jesus, Friend to Children

I'm fairly new at the church I'm attending having been there only about four months. As many of you know, I bring my three grand-daughters to church with me most every Sunday. At our previous church my oldest grand-daughter Word Girl went to a kids worship while I went to adult worship with both of my littlest grand-daughters. At our new church the two little ones go to their own kids worship and Word Girl comes with me to adult worship.

One day as we walked into worship we were met by a lady I had gotten to know a little who stopped to say hello. Almost immediately she introduced herself to Word Girl and began a friendly conversation with her. After a few minutes we said our goodbyes and Word Girl and I went to go take our seats. She had a big grin on her face and felt like she had just found a new friend.

Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there. Matthew 19:13-15

The word rebuke is defined "to express sharp, stern disapproval of; to criticize sharply; reprove; reprimand."

People were always trying to get to Jesus to be healed, to ask a question, even just to get a look at Him as Zacchaeus the tax collector was doing when he climbed a tree. Yet when parents tried to bring their children to Jesus to touch them, bless them or pray over them, the disciples were very put out. Jesus not only loved children but he paid attention to them. I imagine when the children were brought to Jesus He squatted down to their height, looked straight into their eyes with a big smile on His face and talked with them. He probably asked them their name, their age, and what they liked to do. I'm sure He listened to them with great interest in what they said and after He prayed for them He probably hugged them or jostled their hair.

The Bible doesn't give us all the details but no doubt, He met them at their point of need just like He did with everyone else, and I'm sure those kids left Him with a big grin on their face and feeling like they had just found a new friend.

We all need a little attention sometimes. Children are often overlooked in a crowd of adults even at church. When you are in church next time and they tell you to greet the people near you, see if there is a child nearby that you can talk to. Maybe you will make them feel like they found a friend, and it just might make an impact on them for life.

"Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me." Matthew 18:5

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Monday, March 15, 2010



Thank you for the comments on the post, Dad’s Two Hand’s #1. They were interesting. In case you haven’t read the post, I posed the question of whether dad should be made the bad guy in disciplining the children. Moms will occasionally tell their misbehaving children, "If you don’t knock it off I’m going to tell your dad when he gets home." My mom did it; my wife did it some. Is this fair?

I think so.

Parenting is ideally a two-person job, mom and dad. Each has strengths they bring to the task. Generally (not always, but most often), dad is the sterner of the two. When the children get overly rambunctious, or downright disobedient and rebellious, the tougher presence of dad may be better suited to stem the tide of their misbehavior. So, yes, I think it is ok for mom to tell the children, "I’m reporting this to your dad."

However, I think this parenting move can be pulled off in a manner that leaves mom in the driver’s seat, and enhances the children’s perception of her authority in the home.

Instead of just saying, "I’m going to tell your father when he gets home," mom can say, "Ok, you have disobeyed. For that you are going to be punished (then announce the punishment you think appropriate). And you are going to tell your father when he gets home."

This accomplishes three things.
One, mom maintains her role as an authority figure in her own right.

Two, the children will have to respect and honor mom’s authority role.

Three, dad still gets to be something of the "bad guy" in more of a supportive role. When dad hears about the misbehavior of the children, either from mom or the children, he reinforces mom’s decision and position by affirming the punishment she administered, or even adding to it some. So he supports mom and communicates to the children that mom’s voice rules. Mom and dad have cemented their position.

By the way, have you wondered where I got the title to these two posts, "Daddy’s Two Hands?" From Holly Dunn’s song:

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryiń
Daddy's hands, were hard as steel when I'd done wrong.
Daddy's hands, weren't always gentle
But I've come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy's hands.

If done appropriately, kids can see that their dad has two hands, one hard and one gentle, and that is ok.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Husband Asked Me To Pray

"Please pray to the LORD our God for us."

Jeremiah 37:3

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were enjoying a lovely dinner date chatting about all kinds of things when he leaned toward me and said, "Honey, can I ask you to please pray about something?" I love when my husband asks me to pray about something specific for him. It brings us closer, and it is a privilege to pray on his behalf. Praying for our spouse's specific prayer request deepens the intimacy of our hearts. I love it. With excitement I responded, "Yes, of course, you can ask me to pray about something for you!"

This, however, was a different kind of prayer request. This was not a prayer request for my husband really. It was a prayer request that would require my heart to change...completely. "Honey, would you please pray about getting a dog for our family? The kids would really love to have a dog." What??? This is not quite the prayer request I was expecting! My husband's respectful request for me to pray reflected his desire to grant the children's prayer for a dog. His heart as the head of our home was to now bring a pet into our family. Clearly, I was the only hold out in the family.

For months and months and months our children had been praying daily for a dog. They had talked about it a lot. I put it off....I thought successfully. You see, I am not much of a pet person. I am not an animal lover. To say it very plainly, I didn't want a dog. For the full 17 years of my marriage, I haven't wanted a dog. For my 9 years of motherhood, I have not wanted a dog. My sweet husband knew that. However, he now was asking me to pray about it. I did mention that this was not the type of prayer request I was expecting, right? This prayer request involved me surrendering, dieing to self and asking the Lord to change my heart and fill me with His joy in the process.

Was my husband asking me to pray for something completely out of my comfort zone and for something not on my personal wish list? Yes. Was he asking me to pray about doing something unreasonable? Not at all.

I did honor my husband's request and take this prayer to the Lord....only once. At that point, I knew it was a matter of honoring my husband's desire, which was communicated clearly in his request for me to pray. It was a matter of completely dieing to myself and surrendering my will. It was a matter of asking the Lord to change my heart.

The testimony of how the Lord brought to us a West Highland Terrier named "Holly" to adopt just a few short weeks later is a wonderful story for another day. She is the perfect dog for us. God is so gracious and good. He made this rather easy for me. But believe me when I say this was a "death to self" on many levels, and boy did I cry and grieve for a few days. Dieing to self can be ugly. However, in honoring my husband's heart for me to pray and his desire for a family dog, God is already showing me His faithfulness and blessing. He has changed my heart and filled me with His joy in the process.

It really goes without saying that I am a very imperfect wife. I am a wretched sinner saved by His amazing grace. When I die to self, I can go down kicking and screaming sometimes. However, I do love and fear the Lord. And I do want to honor my husband. Is God honoring that? Yes, He is. He quiets my heart with His love. He fills me with His wonder. He humbles my heart to where I can barely utter a word in His presence. He knows the depths of my heart for Him and my family. Today, just a few short weeks after my husband asked me lovingly to pray, we have a dog. And you know what? I like her.

Holly is being groomed today. When I pick her up later, she will look something like this:

Is your spouse asking you to pray about something? Does it involve a complete humbling, surrendering and change of your heart? Take it to the Lord in prayer. See the beautiful work He accomplishes!

"How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures."

Psalm 104:24


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stopping Jesus's Miracles

Are you holding Jesus back from performing miracles? The people of his home town did!

See Mark 6:1-6:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith, and he could not do any miracles there. The text says "could not," not "would not." We don't have to have a huge, unwavering faith either. The Bible tells us that we simple need a small, honest faith. Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Another time (in Mark 9) a man asks Jesus to heal his son, if Jesus can. Mark 9:23 continues, " "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" " Jesus healed that boy.

Today let's look to Jesus and say, "I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!" Look for any areas in your life that need renewed faith, and open the door to His miracles.

But remember this final note: Sometimes God does say no to our prayers in His wisdom. A prayer answered no, does not denote a lack of faith. We cannot cause miracles, only prevent them.


Monday, March 8, 2010

School is NOT Over!

Most of us were perfect parents, before becoming parents ourselves.

Remember when you saw a child having a temper tantrum in a store and then thought, "If only they would just ..." We knew it all - before we were parents.

If you are reading this post, you are probably a parent. So how do you measure up today? For me, perfect parent, is not a title I would give myself. More like, totally and completely dependent on God! Can I get a witness?

Having six children, I am always amazed at how completely different each one of my children are! The idea that genetics played any part of it is just unbelievable to me. It would be like baking the same cookie recipe each time only to get completely different desserts when they emerged from the oven! Are you still with me?

Why? What is God's purpose in giving us unique individuals as children?

For one thing, it is to prove to us that they are NOT OURS - but His!

We are supposed to be training up these blessings to serve Him - not us. So how can we accomplish this?

One key ingredient is to become a student of our own children. If we realize and acknowledge that these are God's future generations, then we must raise them to be exactly who God needs them to be in His kingdom. They will NOT all turn out the same. They are each unique and called with a unique calling.

So watch them. Make a note of their talents, their strengths, their likes and dislikes. Then spend time in prayer, asking God how you can best nurture His child/children to be the adults that He wants them to be.

I don't believe that God is calling us to be perfect parents, but to be dependent on Him for their care and upbringing. Keep your eyes focused on Him and keep your ears open to His leading. Then throw out any idea you may have had of raising all your children the exact same way. God loves variety. If you don't believe me, then try to find two identical snowflakes, they don't exist!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Does "Entitlement" Begin At Home?

We hear a lot about “entitlement” these days. Government “entitlement” programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the current administration’s proposed Healthcare system, have all had a great deal of media coverage for the past several months. We hear this word, “entitlement” a great deal in the debates that go on between the political parties.

So what exactly is entitlement? Essentially it is simply a “right” granted by law. When it comes to government programs, it means that the government provides benefits directly a specified group by way of law. It hinges on the belief that one is “deserving of,” or “entitled to” certain privileges. I remember this was a defining moment to me in the debates before our last Presidential election. When both candidates were asked whether health insurance was a “privilege” or a “right,” their answers were completely and very remarkably in my mind, DIFFERENT.

Entitlement programs in our government, account for more than half of our federal spending and have been on the increase. Is that biblical?

This past week I was interested in the resurrection of a quote from former President Ronald Reagan, who said “It is very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.” This brought to my mind what we are told in scripture about Satan “disguising himself as an angel of light.” It is the very reason that the Proverbs implore us to “Seek wisdom” and “Get understanding.” We must embrace the wisdom found in the Word of God and apply to our lives or we will be vulnerable to being deceived.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

We must not do what seems like the right thing to do, but what is actually prescribed as right in the sight of God. Volumes can be written about how far we as a society have strayed from this very point. Reagan was in actuality, backing up what we see in scripture. It is easy for someone to cloak their wrong motives by disguising them in the garb of compassion and vice versa! How many times have we as Christians been demonized as “intolerant” and “mean-spirited” because we adhere to godly principles?

The fact is that money and government programs are not true compassion. The entitlement mentality preached to us as being “right” and “compassionate” is in direct contrast to God’s word. Our founding fathers actually had it correct! We have a right to “life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness.” We have a right to life and freedom and to our own pursuits. But that does not relieve us from having to live with the consequences of our actions.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall reap life everlasting.” Galations 6:7-8

God has provided us the freedom to choose for ourselves. But there are consequences to our actions. In regard to “entitlements” our heavenly father wants us to look out for the needs of the poor and the oppressed, but he clearly states and demonstrates all throughout scripture that we, as individuals, have a personal responsibility to do what we can for ourselves.

In Matthew 17:27, Jesus sends Peter to the sea to cast in a hook and take the first fish, open his mouth and take out a piece of money to pay taxes for both of them. That flies in the face of the entitlement mentality. He did not send Peter to the other disciples to get the tribute money.

In 2 Thess. 3:10, we read, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

An “entitlement mentality” robs individuals of self esteem. God created us with the responsibility to do work.

“ The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15

Where does this “entitlement mentality” come from? Ultimately it comes from not knowing and/or obeying God’s word. Right thinking and behaviors are no longer demonstrated in our homes first and foremost. One of biggest culprits in my mind is that children, for the past several generations, have been seeing less and less of a connection between work and income or possessions. This “disconnect” on top of the increase in availability of credit has created a society where people simply don’t understand the value of money as it relates to work, nor do they have a healthy appreciation for what they have, because they have not invested anything personally to receive it.

When children do not connect work with receiving income in order to obtain the things they want or need, they begin to expect that things should simply be given to them.

We as parents have often neglected to teach this biblical connection between work and material blessing either because we ourselves don’t make the connection, or because we just haven’t thought about how the connection gets obscured. Furthermore, we have an innate desire to be “compassionate” to our kids and take a short-sided albeit well-meaning” approach to giving them the things they want.

My husband recognized this attitude in our children early on. When our kids wanted to have high priced items, they had to come up with all or part of the investment after answering a few good questions…

How much is the item?

How long will you have to work to pay for that item?

Did you allow for taxes in that calculation?

What other costs will be associated with having that item?

Do you still want the item?

Sometimes the answer was “no,” but if it was “yes,” the kids had an entirely different appreciation for the thing they purchased because they had to wait and save for it and because they were fully aware of the investment they had made and therefore it held a different value to them. They appreciated it more and took better care of it.

This is just another example. If we want to change the way the world thinks, it starts in our homes. We have to be intentional about teaching our children what God says is true in all areas of life or the world will do it for us. The economy is no exception!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Teaching Them How To Pray

Have you ever sat down to a meal with someone who asked their child to lead in giving thanks and the prayer was spoken so fast that you didn't even hear it? Did you ever do that when you were a child? Did you have a specific prayer that you said at every meal or when you went to bed? I did a Google search on children's prayers and was surprised at how many little poem type prayers for children there were. Here are a few examples you may be familiar with.

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.


God is great,
God is good.
And we thank Him
For our food. Amen.


Lord, Bless this bunch, while we munch our lunch. Amen.


Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
God bless our family and our friends.


(And the politically correct version.)

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
May angels watch me
through the night and
wake me with the morning light.

While these are cute, ammusing, and poetic little prayers, they miss the mark of what prayer actually is. Prayer is talking with God. It is relational not religious. When we teach our children to pray a memorized prayer that was written by someone else, it becomes a set of words that can be recited at the speed of light without a thought. It's important to teach even the littlest child to talk to God from their own heart.

As adults we should also participate in the prayer and not always let the child take the lead. We are the ones who need to model prayer to our children and grand children. Jesus modeled prayer for us in Matthew 6.

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."  Matthew 6:9-13

In the same way, we need to model prayer with elements of praise and adoration for God, prayer for God's Kingdom and His will to reign on earth, requests for our provision, forgiveness for our sins and for those who have wronged us, for protection against temptation and against Satan. Not that all of these elements need to be included in every prayer but that they all are frequently modeled in our prayer life. In doing this we will teach our children how to develop relational prayer with God, and as we listen to them pray we will also gain insight into their hearts.

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. Psalm 54:2

...but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Psalm 66:19

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7

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Monday, March 1, 2010



"If you don't stop I'm going to tell your father when he gets home!"

That line brought my three siblings and me under control more quickly than anything else my mother could say or do to us when we misbehaved.

It's not that mom's discipline wasn't effective; many times it was. But when four kids, especially the three oldest brothers, got overly rambunctious and disorderly, it took a particularly strong hand to bring them under control.

Dad had that hand.

Years later I've wondered about my mother's practice of making dad the bad guy. I've had other dads tell me that they don't like it when their wives threaten the kids with dad's arrival home. "Wait until your dad gets home. He'll take care of you." And, I've also had the "pleasure" of being made the bad guy in my home a few times with my own kids.

I have my view about this which I will share in my next post. But, until then, how about sharing your views. Should dad be made the heavy hand in disciplining the kids?


Note: Cheryl and I are taking our teenage daughter, Kristin, to a heart specialist today for test for Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) and Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC). We appreciate your prayers. Thanks, WB