Friday, April 30, 2010

Declare Your Dependence

Has pursuing the American dream turned into and endless pursuit of material prosperity? If material prosperity is a measure of freedom than surely Americans are more free today than they were 30 years ago, or are they?

Actually, according to U.S. labor studies, Americans are working on average 199 hours more than they did 30 years ago despite all the technological advances that have take n place in last few decades that should allow us to get more done in less time. So why are we working more? We’re working more, because American’s chose to take those increases in productivity in the forms of “more money” and “more stuff.” So much so, that we have found ourselves in a cycle of debt to the tune of over 2 trillion dollars…a rate that has more than doubled in less than 10 years. With all that debt to pay off, the average American is far from free. Longer work weeks, the need for households to have 2 incomes have taken a toll on our ability to meet the demands of our families, to take care of our children, to meet our emotional needs. We have little time to spend with friends and the stress of our everyday lives is taking a toll on our health. America is truly in bondage. Never has this been more apparent than in the past year. When the stock market began to tumble, and interest rates increased and people began to lose their jobs the balancing act that many Americans were barely maintaining toppled. Bankruptcies are at an all time high, as well as record numbers of foreclosures and divorces. The prosperity of America has not led to freedom but to tremendous levels of debt and bondage.

God gave man freedom of choice, however he never created us to be independent. He wanted us to be dependent on him. Not because He is on some big ego trip, but because as our creator, he know what we need and loves us and desires what’s best for us to such a degree that he wanted to take on that burden for us. When it comes to the issue of independence we really don’t have a choice as to whether we are going to be dependent or independent. Rather whether we recognize that we are totally dependent on God.

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Psalms 24:1

“Everything in the heaven’s and earth is yours O Lord.and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone and you are the Ruler of all mankind. Your hand controls p0wer and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great or given strength.” 1 Chr. 29:11-12)

He is our sole provider. This was made very clear to the Israelites by Moses in Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 when he said:

“ You may say to yourself “My power and the strength of my hand s have produced this wealth for me” But remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives the ability to produce ealth and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers as it is today,”

And then he gives this warning…

”If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to the, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.”

The Christian life is impossible to do by ourselves. Although nothing pleases Satan more than having us believe we can. Faith becomes totally unnecessary when we think we can do things on our own.

Faith comes when we finally realize that we can’t do it by ourselves.

I struggled with debt for many years. I would get myself in trouble and get myself out of it only to find myself in deeper than I was before. I knew the arithmetic of staying out of debt... adding up all my income and making sure that the sum was greater than all of my expenditures, but knowing that didn’t keep me out of debt. I was a single mom for 8 years and during that time I used credit cards to as a way to purchase what I felt my family needed

Here’s what was operating in my life at that time…


I was consistently robbing God of an opportunity to provide for me and show his glory and build my faith. Took on stress that I wasn’t built to handle because I chose to whip out that credit card.


By owing them money, I was forced to serve those credit card companies with my time and my finances.

You don’t even have to be in debt to be a slave to materialism. How much time and money goes to maintaining those possessions we buy?


I wanted to buy things not because I NEEDED them, but because I wanted them. I wanted them, because without realizing it, I was expecting those things to fill a void in my life that only God could fill. I thought those things were my ticket to acceptance and love and personal power. Whenever, we place ourselves, or other people or things in a position of priority, we are serving an idol.

Today, I am debt-free (except for my mortgage!) and that has only come about through my desire to depend on God for what I need and place Him in a position of highest priority in my life.

Declaring my dependence on God was the beginning of freedom.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Accepting Disappointment

Disappointment is a hard thing for me to accept. I tend to like getting what I want. But the hard truth is that I don't always get what I want. As a matter of fact, I often don't get what I want. It's part of life. From the time we're born until our last days we will meet with disappointment. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be able to accept disappointment and keep moving forward better than others? They have probably had a lot of practice and good guidance.

We can help our children and grandchildren to better accept disappointment while they are young by allowing them to experience it. I think this can be especially hard for us grandparents.  Allowing children to experience disappointment doesn't mean we cause it and I'm not referring to devastation here either. Allowing children to experience small disappointments and teaching them how to accept those little disappointments, trains them to better deal with the bigger disappointments they will experience later in life. So often we want to shield children from disappointment so we try to prevent it or make them forget it by giving them something much bigger and better. Often when there is more than one child we try to make everything "fair" by making it equal, but equal isn't necessarily fair or what is best.

Dealing with disappointment is generally a matter of redirecting our focus in some way. At the center of disappointment is usually "self" so a part of overcoming disappointment is redirecting our focus from "self" to "other". When my three little granddaughters come over they often want to play Webkinz. Since they all want to be first we have a rotation setup so that each time they come over someone else is first. They spend a few minutes talking about who was first last time and working out what the new line-up is every time. As they do this, they are working through the disappointment and learning to accept it as well as learning to place a little more focus on the others.

Disappointment generally involves a loss so offsetting that with some sort of gain or joy can help to train children to look for something positive in the midst of disappointment. In the above example, the one who is last gets a little more time on Webkinz than the other two. This provides a little disappointment and a little joy to both the first and last position as well as making things a little unequal for all of them. I have noticed that the one who is last will sometimes remind herself that she gets a little more time instead of dwelling on not being first.

Life isn't fair and it isn't equal. We all face disappointments but we can learn to view life and disappointment from God's perspective and teach our children to do the same.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross... Hebrews 12:2

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Questions for Dads

Questions for Dads

To help facilitate our growth as husbands and fathers it helps to assess where we are now. Some questions posed by Gene Johnson and Mike Yorkey in Daddy’s Home can help.

1) What were your greatest concerns when you first learned that you were going to be a father?

2) In what ways are your style and actions as a father influenced by the personality and behavior of your own father or of another mentor?

3) What good role modeling are you offering to your children right now? What changes in role modeling would you like to achieve? (P.47)

Most of what we understand about our roles as husbands and fathers have likely come from our fathers. If our dads had good relationships with their wives and kids, then we probably received some healthy mentoring and role modeling. But if the key relationships of our dads were strained and broken, we may be carrying around some faulty views of our own about what our roles are.

Asking these basic questions can at least inform us as to how and why our perceptions have been shaped the way they are. We may then say, "Hey, my role models haven’t been that good. And if I am going to function as a husband and father the way my mentors did, I need to do some changing or my family could be in trouble."

The truth is, all of us, no matter how healthy or unhealthy our past may be, can learn and grow as a person, a Christian, a husband and a father. We can seek out other mentoring and educational opportunities for our growth and development. Two good places to look: healthy adult men in your church and good books recommended by a Christian counselor or minister.

May God bless us as we grow in the grace, mercy and ministry of God for the health of our families.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, April 23, 2010

When Sinners Say "I Do"

Hello, everyone. I had a completely different post in mind for today, but I am saving that for another time. Why? I want to point you to a resource on marriage. On Wednesday morning as I was driving to Bible Study, I was listening to "Family Life Today" with Dennis Rainey on the radio. His guest was Dave Harvey, the author of a book titled "When Sinners Say I Do". Just the title of the book speaks of the reality of Christian marriage, doesn't it? And the greater reality is that we abide in Christ, the only Perfect One in the Christian Marriage covenant, He makes our marriages sweet and fruit-producing for His purposes and glory. Beautiful.

This broadcast on Family Life Today was such a blessing that I wanted to share it with you. Click here to listen to the entire broadcast: "What Really Matters In Marriage"? Marriage resources grounded in God's Word are treasures. Our Redeemer is our hope and life. His Word is our perfect written guide. "...for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight." Proverbs 1:2

And if you've been following long enough, you know that I love give-aways of excellent marriage resources! So, we will be giving away one copy of Dave Harvey's book "When Sinners Say 'I Do'"! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!

Here is just a snippet of the conversation between Dave Harvey and Dennis Rainey on Wednesday's Family Life Today broadcast titled "What Really Matters In Marriage":

Dave Harvey: We begin to study Scripture, and we begin to understand how God views us and what God says about us, and it's those kinds of theological realities that need to come into the trenches of marriage so that we can understand – How does God see us? How are we supposed to see one another? That begins with the reality of our sinfulness. One of the statements that I make in the book is a quote from an old Puritan pastor named Thomas Watson. He once said that until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet. So the goal is not that we're just ever exploring our sinfulness and going on this journey into the labyrinth of our sinful heart. It's more that we discover who we really are; that we might be able to exalt in the gospel.

Dennis Rainey: And notice where you start – you don't start with just how wretched we are, as individuals. You start with who God is, and I'm reminded, as you were talking about one of my favorite quotes by A.W. Tozer who said "the most important thing you think is what you think about God." Because if you see God for who He is, you'll see yourself for who you are, and two people, two imperfect people, who can tend to be selfish in a marriage relationship.

What we think, what we know, what we believe for sure about God....that is what everything in our life should anchored in. Knowing God. And how do we grow in knowing God? Only by making the time to spend with Him each day. Sitting quietly and thirstily at His feet. Knowing Him so we love and serve Him in every area of our lives. And serving Him in our marriages is a priority.

"Our love for Him will not grow unless we spend time with Him, listen to His voice, and experience His love for us. If we find that our love for Jesus has waned or that we struggle to serve Him, it is a clear sign that we must take time to sit at His feet. We may have been involved in Christian activity on His behalf and yet neglected our relationship with Him. After we have spent time in intimate fellowship with our Lord, and after we have heard His voice and received His love, we will be prepared to serve Him, even laying down our life for Him if that is what He asks." - Blackaby

Knowing God. Spending time listening for His voice. Steeping ourselves in His Word. He prepares us to serve Him....even in our marriages! "...even laying down our life for Him if that is what He asks." Soak that in today.

Remember, to enter to win a copy of Dave Harvey's book, just leave a comment. We have many many visitors who are tentative to comment, but we like to hear from you! So, venture out and comment! We are delighted you stopped by. We pray you were refreshed and encouraged in some small way.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where are You Sitting?

My 10 yr old doesn't use a car-seat. Legally, she doesn't have to, but my 6 yr old has to sit in a booster seat. Meanwhile, a toddler has to sit in a harness car seat, and a baby in a special infant seat. They all get different seats based on the ages. And none of them can sit in the front seat like an adult can. Everyone has an appropriate seat based on their age.

Sometimes as Christians we can judge other Christians on where they are "sitting." Yet all Christians are at different places along the way. Some may be in the infant car seat, others in a booster or perhaps even some in the front seat.

The apostle Paul puts it another way. He explained that some Christians needed Spiritual milk, not solid food because they weren't ready for it. They were still worldly. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

Where are you on your Christian road? How about those around you? If you are a a mature Christian, don't judge those newer Christians around you by the same standard you hold yourself too. They are still drinking spiritual milk.

Instead, why not consider coming beside them and inspiring them. Teach them the elementary truths of God's word and help them move up to the next seat. And remember even if you are in the front seat, it's Jesus who is in the driver's seat.

Hebrews 5:11-14 -- We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Step Aside

Parenting is a lifelong commitment. When you have your first baby, they don't give you a manual. But rest assured, that everyone you know (whether parents or not) will offer you their version of parenting advice to help you along the way.

Even with all of the sage advice you will receive, parenting will have many different challenges along the way. Just when you begin to feel comfortable with one age or stage of parenting, your child/children will surely outgrow that stage and you are both back to square one!

There is a side benefit to all of this parenting, though. All of the skills you are using on them, are being absorbed by your child/children. As they begin to mature, I encourage you to step aside from time to time and see if those seeds are ready to blossom.

Here's an example from my own family (I will refer to my children as child A and child B to preserve their privacy):

Recently, Child B (The younger of the two) was having a bad day. I had asked her not to place any liquids in her backpack, due to a recent rash of leaking water bottles which led to ruined backpacks. She unfortunately forgot my request, and placed an open orange soda into her backpack just before entering the house. Of course the lid was not on tightly and she screeched as she realized the soda had spilled onto everything in her backpack! Library books, notebooks, all soaking with orange soda!

I immediately jumped into clean up mode and began to soak up the orange sticky mess as best I could. All the while chastising child B for her mistake. This was probably not the best option for me, because my voice was raised as I was irritated with the whole situation. Child B immediately ran outside to get some air. I continued in clean up mode.

When I finally secured the area and realized child B was MIA, I raced outside, now I was in counselor mode. Child A was sitting beside her sister on the road and they were talking. Being in counselor mode, I rushed up and asked child B to take a walk with me.

She wiped her tears and began walking with me. As we strolled along, I found out that she was angry with herself for messing up. Child A had encouraged her to forgive herself, just as the Bible teaches. Counselor mom was not even needed here, so I gently applauded her and suggested that she hold onto the advice in case her siblings ever needed it.

In the months to come, child A had reason to get upset with herself and she retreated to her bedroom. Soon, I noticed child B heading for the bedroom door. After a few minutes, they both emerged seemingly unscathed by the events of the day. A little later that evening, child B quietly told me that she knew this was her opportunity to bring back that sound advice to her sibling.

It is a beautiful thing, when the parenting skills we strive to learn, are not only effective, but produce future fruit!

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man (or child) who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23 (NIV parenthesis mine)


Friday, April 16, 2010

"Tough Love" in Today's Economy

Several families from my church got together recently to do a 4-week bible study that Crown Financial Ministries offers for parents and children called, “In God We Trust.” In the first week, the study had us looking at Jesus’ conversation with a rich young man, who wanted to be assured that he would have eternal life so he ran up to Jesus and asked him, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus tells him that he must obey the commandments, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat, honor your father and mother. The rich young man answers him saying, “I have kept all of these commandments since I was a boy. And the scripture says that after he said that, “Jesus looked at him and loved him and said ‘One thing you lack, go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.’And the man’s face fell and he went away sad because he had great wealth.”

As we discussed the story with our children, I couldn’t help but be struck by the challenge that Jesus made to this young man and how he used it to expose the barrier that could keep the young man from seeing the kingdom of God. Jesus challenges him by instructing him to: “Go and sell everything he has and give to the poor” Think of the implication of that challenge in terms of showing us how that young man viewed the ownership of his stuff. He obviously saw the things he owned as belonging to him. Let’s face it, if someone came up to you and said, “Hey, will you go and sell all my belongings for me and then take the money and give it to the poor.” We might wonder why the guy wanted to do such a thing, but we wouldn’t have a hard time with actually doing what he asked because it wasn’t our stuff. We didn’t have any attachment to it. Compare that to: “will you go and sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor.” Now the request gets more personal, which is exactly one of the things that Jesus sought to reveal to this man.

He was revealing the fact that the man viewed his possessions as being something HE had obtained through his own effort. If he thought otherwise, it would have been easy for him to give those things up. Jesus was revealing that the young man did not recognize that God owned everything he had.

In addition to that, in making such a request, Jesus was essentially exposing the young man’s sense of priority. He is asking him, “What’s really important to you? Where does your sense of security lie? What does your money really mean to you?” Jesus certainly doesn’t expect everyone to sell everything they have to follow him, however, we should have the attitude that what we have belongs to God and should be used to honor him and serve others. What Jesus was really getting at, was for the young man to examine the position that money and material possessions had in his life. He wanted him to see that his attitude toward his “stuff” had gotten in the way of his relationship with God. Remember Jesus already knew the condition of the man’s heart because he tells him ”one thing you lack” He knew the man’s possessions were more important to him. He just wanted the man to come to realize that as well.

During our small group we all examined ourselves in the same way. What earthly possession do we have that would be really hard to give up? If Jesus came up to you and asked you to give up your home or your car or perhaps your flat screen TV, could you do it? Would you do it? What if he asked you to to reduce your level of income or take a lower position at work? The way WE react to such request, just as in the case of the rich young man, says a lot about our attitude about money. It shows us who our true master is. Is your money your master or is God?

He does this in our lives today by putting us in circumstances that challenge us in the very same way…

How do we respond when we lose a job or are asked to take a pay cut? How do we respond when we don’t get that promotion we think we deserve or when someone else has something that we think we should have? How do we respond when we are asked to give more? All of these circumstances reveal the condition of our hearts in regard to money. Do we think we are in control of these things? Do we think we obtained our things as a result of our own effort and so they BELONG to us? Do we derive our identity or our security from these things or from God?

What I really love about this story is seeing firsthand how the Lord goes about teaching us. He is so loving in his approach... Jesus knew the young man wasn’t perfect, (certainly not as perfect as he thought he was :) ), but rather than condemning him, Mark tells us that he looked at him and “loved him.”

Even though he knew the condition of the man’s heart, he loved him too much to simply enable him to stay the way he was.

He didn’t come right out and condemn the young man. Jesus never operates that way. But, he didn’t just give him his approval to make him feel good either. Jesus gave him truth. By challenging him to look at himself to determine where his own heart was, Jesus was allowing for the young man’s heart to convict himself. And he obviously was convicted because the scripture says that he went away sad because he had great wealth. He wasn’t willing to give up what he had on this earth. He had everything, on earth but was unwilling to sacrifice it for eternal life, something he obviously wanted. He didn’t have enough knowledge about who God is to make that sacrifice. He didn’t have enough faith in God’s promises to make that sacrifice. He couldn’t see beyond his current circumstances to realize God had something better for him and so he couldn’t TRUST God. He knew it and it made him sad.

These are tough times we are living in. It’s easy to forget what the Christian life is really all about. Is Jesus using circumstances to show us, just like that rich young man, where our heart truly is? Could it be that He is using these tough times to get closer to us? Could it be "tough love" so to speak?

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven…Matthew 19:23


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Encourage Children to Share Jesus

As parents we often don't really want others teaching our children about their religion. We think they don't have the right to impose their beliefs on our kids. We don't want anyone leading our kids astray. The same is true of non-believers. They don't want us Christians filling their kids minds with thoughts of Jesus. The fact is, we are in a spiritual battle all the time. You are one side or the other, there is no in-between.

We can and should keep our children out of situations where they will be wrongly influenced when that is possible, but we should also equip them to handle those situation when they are in them. We should teach our children how to discern right from wrong, how to make good decisions, and how to share Jesus with their friends.

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

I remember when I was in elementary school my best friend Deana was Jewish. To me this girl was "set apart". I was fascinated by her different lifestyle and the different holidays her family celebrated, and the way they celebrated. As a result I asked a lot of questions. Our kids go to school with kids who have many different beliefs and many different Gods. Our culture is blending many beliefs (including Christian beliefs) into a universal religion that is all inclusive and looks the same no matter what. Do our kids appear "set apart" as Deana did to me? Is there a difference in their lifestyle, activities, and celebrations or does it look just like everyone else?

I remember one day Word Girl was telling me that satan was Jesus' brother. Where did she get that inaccurate bit of information? From a friend at school. Children aren't afraid to talk to each other about their beliefs. They are going to influence each other, and I think sometimes we forget that God can use our children just as effectively (if not more so) to plant seeds, as He can use us adults.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." Jeremiah 1:5

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Little Things

Little Things
Parents deal with lots of big issues, like teaching our kids about abstaining from addictive substances, remaining sexually pure, learning to forgive themselves when making big falls, and planting their feet on the right path. It can seem overwhelming sometimes.
The good news is, not all of our responsibilities are big, tough ones. Many of them are about little things, and even many of the big issues can be dealt with in little pieces over time.
Some of them are even fun, like crawling on the floor with your 18-month old, rolling a ball with your two year old, and jogging with your teenager. Big things? Maybe not, and they are certainly fun. But add all these little things up over 18 years, and they add up to a lifetime. Looking back, we realize that these truly were big things.
And in the exercise of the little things, we wind up taking care of many of the big ones, too.
What "little things" do you have planned with your kids this week?
Warren Baldwin

Friday, April 9, 2010

Healing Words From My Husband's Heart

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)

We know the value, importance and impact our spouse's words have on our hearts. Scripture after scripture instruct us that the words of our mouth should be pleasing to the Lord. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

A husband's words, heart and actions toward his wife must demonstrate unconditional love "as Christ loved the church". A wife's words, heart and actions toward her husband "must" be respectful unconditionally. As a wife, we honor and obey God by being respectful toward our husbands at all times. There is no "if he has earned your respect" clause in Ephesians 5:33. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (Ephesians 5:25, 33) God can use wives who are respectful and reverent in speech and action to win their husbands over to Him. "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your 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)

Our words reflect what is in our heart. "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) We must therefore keep our hearts yielded to the Holy Spirit. We have the privilege, blessing and responsibility of being our spouse's greatest encourager...and most often that is with our words.

Our words have the ability to pierce and tear down. They also have the ability to bring healing and to build up. "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18

My husband has said many things throughout our almost-18-year marriage that have made an impact on me. I want to share with you a time when my husband spoke words that brought such healing and reassurance to my heart. His words were God's healing balm in my life. I share this in order to demonstrate the weight of our spouse's words.

Jim and I had asked another couple to meet with us to talk and pray together. I had felt a huge division in my friendship with the wife, and the Lord put it on my heart for us to get together with our husbands so we could communicate and restore unity in our friendship and in the Body of Christ. I asked her to please tell me anything I had done to contribute to the division and unhealthy state of our friendship so I could apologize and put my heart before the Lord with understanding.

During our conversation, she asked me to tell her honestly if I had been judgmental of her. This took me off guard, and my knee-jerk reaction would be to say "no, of course I have not been judgment of you". However, this was a serious question from my friend and I wanted to respond with care, truth and reverence before the Lord. I told my friend that I didn't think I had been judgmental but that I would like some time to ask the Lord to search my heart.

After a few moments of silence in our conversation, my husband gently and confidently spoke on my behalf. His words hushed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. His words were God's healing balm to my heart, which had been hurt and confused in this friendship. He said, "Sharon and I are very transparent with one another. We talk about everything. I have heard every inch of Sharon's heart over these several months of the division in your friendship. I've heard the hurt, the anger, the sadness and the confusion. I've heard her care for you, her love for you and her desire for unity and peace. I've heard the best and the worst. Through all the hurt, I can honestly say that I have not heard one judgmental word from Sharon's mouth toward you. In my opinion, Sharon has not been judgmental of you at all."

I will never forget my husband's words at that moment. Jim is a man of truth and would not have said that had it not been so. His words were God's healing balm to my soul. His words brought assurance to my heart. His words were used to restore confidence in this friendship. His words healed and built up.

I am challenged and humbled by the example of my husband. Am I building him up in truth continually? Are my words like a honeycomb, sweet to his soul and healing to his bones? Are the words of my mouth always pleasing to the Lord? Does my mouths speak words of wisdom and do the utterances of my heart give understanding? My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding. (Psalm 49:3)

Today, ask yourself these questions as well concerning your words towards your spouse. Get into God's word and ask Him to search your heart concerning the posture of your heart and your words. Yield your heart continually to the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the words or behavior of your spouse, speak the truth in love so you will grow up in Christ. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Ephesians 4:15

Turn and steer your spouse's heart toward the Lord with the wholesome, sincere and encouraging word of your tongue, flowing forth from your heart. "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body..." (James 3:3-5)


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring

We were having exceptional thunderstorms! The first "boom" around 1 a.m. brought my youngest scampering into the bed between my husband and me. The second "boom" brought in my oldest daughter to sleep in the floor of my room the rest of the night. The winds blew. Sometime it felt like the house shuddering when the big thunder bolts hit near by.

It reminded me of a children's song, you may have heard. It tells how the wise man built his house upon the rock, the foolish man built his house upon the sand, the rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the rock stood firm, but the house on the sand went CRASH! I’ve heard this song many times, and realized the metaphor.

The house represents your life. The rock is Jesus Christ. The sand is the “world,” or building your life around things such as money, success, status, or even your kids or family. The rains and floods are the problems in life. If you look at the song, you will see both the wise man and the foolish man experience the rains and the floods. Having your house built on the rock, or your life built around Jesus does not mean you won’t have problems and trouble. The difference, simply put, is whether or not you stand firm or go “crash.”

This children's song is based on a Bible verse. Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-27,
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (NIV)
Knowing that Jesus said it (and not some children's song writer) makes me ask myself: “Is my home built on the Rock?” When the storms of life come in, am I going to be able to stand firm, or will I crash? Whether in the huge or smaller struggles, I’ve found that a relationship with Jesus can make the difference in every aspect of my life.

So how about you? Are you ready for the rain?


Monday, April 5, 2010


Isn't it amazing how helpless a newborn baby is. At first they can only eat, sleep, wiggle, and a few other not so pleasant things. Next they learn to use their limbs to reach for things, and they begin to smile and cry in order to communicate with us. Before long they are sitting up, crawling, then taking those first coveted steps - WooHoo!

Just last week I was remembering when my clan were all young babies, so helpless and innocent. Now my children are maturing and certainly more self sufficient. So why was there a gum wrapper on the steps for 4 days?!?

From a physical perspective, they are capable of picking up the trash that they drop, right? Then why is it so challenging to instill in them the same sense of "ownership" that I possess over our house? My husband and I have pondered this question for some time now - with no real resolve.

I've talked with them numerous times about being responsible and taking care of our house as if it were really theirs. Then it hit me... It's not their house in as much as they don't have to pay for it. They also didn't have a "say" in picking it out. In reality, the house belongs to my husband and myself. We are the owners and caretakers of the house. We are also mature enough to understand the importance of keeping it clean and picked up. They haven't reached that maturity level yet.

So for now, I will probably pick up most gum wrappers that are dropped here and there. BUT, I will also continue to lovingly teach them about responsibility and ownership. A better expectation might be to have them become solely responsible for the upkeep of their own bedrooms (and a few household chores).

Now when I see trash on the floor, if I'm home alone I simply pick it up. If the kids are home, I assign one of them to pick it up. I'm a lot less angry about these issues, and armed with the right expectation, a great deal more patient.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put chldish ways behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)


Friday, April 2, 2010

Bread of Content

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
 And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. Proverbs 30:8b-9

How would our lives be different if we trusted God to provide for our daily needs? Not just the basic physical needs, but ALL of our needs; our emotional needs, our financial needs, and our spiritual needs?

I was pondering this very question this week as I meditated on this particular chapter of Proverbs. (I have taken up the challenge that Solomon posed when he said, “Get wisdom. Get understanding.”)

“Give me just enough…” There is profound wisdom in the contentedness of “just enough.” Instantly my mind flashed to the Israelites in the wilderness and God choosing to feed them from His very own hand by raining manna down to them every morning. They were told to gather just enough to feed everyone in their tent for that day. If they took more than that, or if they tried to save it for another day (aside from the Sabbath) it became full of maggots and began to smell!

What was God trying to teach here about His provision? First of all, he told the Israelites that at twilight you will eat meat and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God. He wanted them to know that HE was their God because HE was the one providing for them. Secondly, God told them to gather enough for that day because this was His way of testing them to see if they would follow his instructions. Our actions prove what or whom we place our faith in. Do I trust God to provide for my needs or do I only trust in myself or other people?

All throughout scripture we see that God wants us to be satisfied with “enough” while He goes on to prove that He is much MORE than enough. Think of the feeding of the 5,000…there was more than enough! What about the widow’s oil? More than enough.

In the book of John, Jesus tells us, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He will provide what we need. HE is enough.

These days we tend to worry a lot about money and the economy. We are worried we might not have enough, but how are we defining “enough?” Enough to meet our needs or enough to live the lifestyle we think we deserve? This brings us back to our Proverb…

We don’t want to have too much because then we tend to forget who our provider is. We begin to believe that WE are our own providers and we place ourselves in the position that God should have in our lives. So what happens when we lose that job or can’t pay that bill? We come to a crisis of faith! If we have too little, we can become desperate and once again because we trust in ourselves and not God, we can easily fall into sinful acts such as lying, cheating, or stealing to meet our needs. The ability to be content hinges on our faith in God’s promises and on our obedience to his word.

What things am I always “complaining” or worrying about just like the Israelites? Does my impatience with His timing make me behave like them? Think about it. Did they realize how awesome it was that God was miraculously feeding them from His very hand each day? All they had to do was go get it? Do I do that?

Never was the hand of God so strong upon them as when they were in the wilderness yet they failed to recognize their incredible favor and took it for granted. Worse yet, they became so spoiled that they began to focus on what they DIDN’T have.

We tend to apply this scripture to God’s provision of physical needs but what about applying it to our spiritual needs? The question that came to my mind was, Do I spend so much time begging God to “show me” what He want me to do, that I’m missing what He IS doing in my life right now? When I read and receive revelation from His word can I be content and enjoy that time in His presence? Admittedly, I get so caught up at times with what I’m receiving that I constantly find myself saying, “What do you want me to do with this Lord?” I struggle a lot with just being content to receive and not DO!

I saw the silliness of this when I pictured the Israelites standing out in a field full of manna and saying, “God, this is awesome! This is wonderful! This is certainly from the Lord! What do you want me to do with this Lord?” And Him saying,

“Good grief, JUST EAT IT!” Ha ha!

Lord help me just to be in awe of your faithfulness and your miraculous presence in my life. You ARE my daily bread…my source for existence. Help me to just be content to receive that. Thank you for giving me what I need for today. You know what I need to sustain me. Help me not to constantly want to run ahead of you that I might “disown” you and believe that I can do anything by myself or become complacent and fail to see the opportunities and blessings you have put right in front of me for today.

I can enjoy where I am because you are always more than enough. You are my bread for content!