and the upcoming new year 2012!
Friday, December 23, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
I wanted to share something my husband did recently that made me so proud of him.
My husband is a straight forward, tell you like it is, man. I've always admired that about him. There is no sugar coating with him. If you are doing something wrong, he'll tell you.
Recently one of his co-workers, who is married, showed my husband a rather explicit email he received from his ex-girlfriend. The man proudly showed it off as if implying, "Isn't that cool?"
Of course, my husband didn't hold back his opinion. "Are you crazy?" my husband yelled, while reminding him of his wife and children.
A few days later, my husband overheard his co-worker whispering on the phone at his desk at work. My husband knew he was talking to the woman, so he started sending him warning messages that popped up on his computer.
"Run!" he wrote. "Flee from it!" he warned. "Don't throw away your family" he reminded him. He then wrote a message illustrating his family as the light and the girl as the darkness, while admonishing him to choose the light.
After the man got off the phone, he came up to my husband and, with gratitude, thanked him for snapping him back to reality. He is a non-believer, but he surprisingly acknowledged Jesus in my husband for showing him the light.
Later that evening, my husband received a call from his co-worker's wife. Though she wasn't too happy with her husband, she was thankful my husband stopped him. She was grateful my husband didn't sit back and silently watch her husband be led astray by the seductive words of his ex-girlfriend.
"With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life." Proverbs 7:21-23
I am so proud of my husband for not keeping silent. I praise him for using Godly wisdom and fighting for that family.
"Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Galatians 6:1
If you are "flirting" around with temptation today, flee from it! Run and don't look back! The more this man "flirted" with the temptation, the more it blinded him from reality. If God hadn't used my husband to be the voice of reason, I'm sure he would have fallen into the deadly trap that would have cost him his family.
"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins man commits are outside the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
No doubt, my family loves gift giving! We sponsored a young man through social services and bought his Christmas gifts, as we have for the past several years. We send gifts to children through our church mission, and make donations through our school. And of course we give and receive gifts from each other. We love presents!
But the truth is, many folks think Christmas is JUST about the presents. And that isn't true. Christmas is about Jesus. We do love to give gifts. But the gifts are to draw our attention to the gift of eternal life we received through Jesus coming to earth as a baby on the first Christmas, growing up, dying on the cross, taking our sins with him, rising up from the dead and conquering death for us all.
Presents are what the wise men brought to young Jesus to honor him. Gifts are not a bad thing. But when you think Christmas is only about the presents you get confused. Christmas is about Jesus, and the fact that he came to earth, and gave us His presence. And through the Holy Spirit we can always have His presence with us. Christmas really is about presence!
Monday, December 12, 2011
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
Especially at this time of year, I find myself in a whirlwind of planning, preparing and perpetually worrying. I don't mean to worry, truly, I mean to be joyful and remember in each moment the truth about Jesus, His birth and the MAGNITUDE of this event in the hearts of Christian people everywhere. I mean to be prayerful about the unsaved being saved and about lives being changed as a result of our precious Savior. I mean to trust Him, however I can see my faith billow in the breeze as earthly things and life impede our big picture of Jesus and His life in it's entirety.
As I fret and fritter about, concerned with bows, baubles and Christmas dinner, the Lord stirs in my soul a sweet reality that Mary, Mother of Jesus was not busying herself with fret or worry when the angel Gabriel came to her. A woman (quite honestly, a teen) Mary does not falter as the angel reveals to her that she would be conceiving in the most inconceivable way! Her reaction was not that of disbelief or resistance. No, this young lady, a virgin from an obscure village in Galilee revealed unusual faith and amazing humility. How can I justify my selfish desires for the "perfect Christmas" when Mary so eloquently and peacefully showed her faith, above all things, as Jesus entered the world? I can't.
This year, our family has experienced any number of technical difficulties. Each one inconveniencing us and challenging us financially. We have replaced car parts, appliances and technological devices; we have handled health issues and vocational hiccups. Each event has greeted us with an inital panic replaced quickly by God's assurances that our needs will be met. Faith like Mary..."I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said. "Mary's servant heart and unexplicable trust make her a magnificent role model for our busy lives. I pray today that I will have faith like Mary. I pray that regardless of what comes to me, that I will be able to say with conviction that I am His servant.
Not only during this Christmas season, but all year long...is your faith like Mary's? Do we falter in the unexpected or shine beautifully reflecting the peace that passes all understanding?
May you bask in the peace that comes only from Jesus himself. Blessings for a peaceful and joyful celebration of our savior.
In His love,
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh;is there anything too hard for me?"(Jeremiah 32:27)
Monday, December 5, 2011
Occasionally a movie both entertains and challenges you. Courageous did that for Cheryl and me when we watched it at our local theater last week.
As a husband and father I was challenged to reassess my roles in both of these relationships. Do I honor my wife as I should? Am I consciously attempting to lead her closer to God? I was also encouraged in my role and inspired to keep at with joy. The role models in the movie for being a better husband were not based on guys who were doing it perfectly; they were guys who struggle with the every day issues of life. In the movie they failed, they suffered heart break, they wandered from active faith, and they had to realign their lives with what God wanted for them. They were very believable characters the rest of us guys could relate to.
Photo compliments of Jenny Ann Photography
All three of my kids are raised, so the parts of the movie that addressed parenting to younger children addressed a situation in my life that is long gone. But, that didn’t keep me from reflecting on my continuing role as a dad. Even though my kids are raised, and the nature of our relationship has changed (with the two older ones we are enjoying more of a friend relationship now than parent-child), I am still their dad. As such, I still have a responsibility to them to function as a husband to their mother and a father to them, though in a different fashion now. I am not responsible for their decisions and behavior, but I can still influence them. Courageous encouraged me to think about these things in a fresh and exciting way.
Photo compliments of Jenny Ann Photography
I appreciated the fact that Courageous addresses the role of a father in a way that is not condescending or judgmental. It is hopeful and encouraging. While the movie is about dads there is something for everyone. Men, women, teenagers and even children will enjoy Courageous and benefit from it. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t wait much longer!
Friday, December 2, 2011
While we were driving to the mall, we got on the discussion of how funny it is when our husbands try to give us what they need, thinking it's what we need.
One of the women shared how she's worn out from going to school full-time. When she comes home from class in the evening, her husband can't keep his hands off her.
She jokingly expressed, "You want to turn me on? Do the dishes. That impresses me." We all laughed and agreed that helping with household chores and the kids is what helps us feel more affection for our husbands.
It's interesting how different God made men and women, and how different our needs are. And unless we learn what our spouses need, we will naturally try to give them what we need.
I have noticed this in my marriage. Many times I try to do things for my husband to show him my love. I do his laundry, make his lunch, clean up the house and have dinner ready when he comes home from work. Though he enjoys having clean clothes and meals prepared, he'd rather have my attention and affection. That is what draws him closer to me.
I, on the other hand, feel loved by my husband when he goes out of his way to help me around the house. When he surprises me by organizing the pantry or folding a basket of laundry, it shows me that he cares about me because he's thinking of me. Though I enjoy his attention and affection, I'm more drawn to him when he helps me.
different than your spouse's needs?
I thought for the next couple posts on marriage (12/16, 12/30), I would share the different needs men and women have. When I ran an online survey for my book, I discovered the needs men and women shared were clearly different.
I believe God gave us different needs to compliment each other, not to frustrate us. As we learn about our spouses' different needs, and lean on God to help us meet their needs, we will draw closer together and truly be one with our spouses.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24, KJV
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Waiting…what does that word mean to you? Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking; in a small way - like waiting in line in the grocery store when you're in a hurry, or in a big way - like 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?
"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
Monday, November 28, 2011
"We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth." 3 John 8
Not long ago, a girlfriend of mine, who is especially generous, presented me with a bag. It had pretty tissue in it and proclaimed on the front, "laugh!". Enclosed in the bag was a gift. It was not a huge gift, but it was a meaningful one. How beautiful, my friend knows me well enough to pick up some special things just for me. As she shops or runs errands for her precious family, she remembers me, picking up and item here or there to bless my days. She called the bag..."Our Boomerang Bag", wherein we place special gifts to bless the other. We trade the bag back and forth. Such an amazing tradition, I feel fortunate to be part of an incredibly hospitable kindess.
With our boomerang bag being a conscious effort of exhibiting great love for a friend, I think of all the events that clearly show us our Heavenly Boomerangs. We may hear folks conveniently say, "Wow, that was a coincidence." But, I strongly hold fast to the truth and the hope of God's providence rather than subscribe to the notion of coincidences.
Four years ago, God set in motion a chain reaction of loving gestures that did not see the boundaries of time, finances or location. My husband and I needed a friend to accompany my husband to China to receive the magnificent gift of our younger daughter. My girlfriend, Gerry, understood well our need and she and her husband, Jim prayed about "who" would make the stressful trip. Her husband, never having met us, offered without hesitation. We were so grateful! We came to learn that Jim's scheduled vacation time fell directly over the time of our trip. That is no coincidence...it is none other than the mighty hand of God.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13:2
This year, Gerry and Jim's daughter and son-in-law have had the joy of becoming parents, mixed with the fear and reality of special needs their son was born with. Friends from our China travel group joined us in praying for Jim's entire family. One friend even worked with me to try to surprise the young couple with plane tickets for a trip they are taking to have a procedure done. We learned quickly that the Lord did not want us to take care of the tickets. He did, however, orchestrate a way we could help. That same friend has a dear friend who lives very close to the hospital performing the procedure. This gentleman and his wife offered, without pause, to pick up our friends, guide them to their hotel and bring them dinner. Boomerang...so often a kindess we wish to extend bounces out there, only to scoop up a blessing and bring it carefully home. If we are unwilling to make our needs known or if we keep hidden that which others require, we may miss the gift of boomerang blessings.
"Freely you have received. Freely you have given. "
How many of us have been blessed only to return the blessing, without even thinking? I pray I boomerrang in the daily of everyday life. God calls us to that kind of love. I learned that important truth when we accepted the unthinkable, serendiptious response of a virtual stranger to travel around the world. That man, now, a treasured friend, entertained angels. Sometimes, we will do the entertaining and sometimes we will be entertained. It is the nature and very essence of the boomerang blessing. It may be as simple as a phone call or as complex as clearing a calendar to meet the needs of another. Regardless, when God speaks to our hearts boldly to bless and be blessed, He knows our need to experience both. Created in His likeness, each moment should be an attempt to live out His Word in our relationships.
"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 2 Corinthians 9:12
Friday, November 25, 2011
It's Thanksgiving week once again and time to give thanks to God for your life.
When I'm healthy and money is flowing and my kids are making good grades, it's easy to give thanks. But when someone in my house is sick, and bills are piling up, and the kids bring home a bad grade, it's not natural to be thankful.
But God doesn't ask us to do what's "natural". Instead He asks us to act out of faith and a knowledge of His word. The verse above clearly states when I'm supposed to give thanks - and for what. Give thanks in every circumstance.
It's one thing to just accept a bad circumstance, but to actually give thanks for it is quite another thing.
All across the internet, people are doing this giving thanks thing. It's on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc... But not once have I seen one of them give thanks for a bad circumstance. I'm not judging them, after all, just this morning I realized I'm guilty of falling into the same pattern of giving thanks.
Today, I will begin with a conscious effort to give thanks for all circumstances.
Today, one of my kids woke up with a fever, tummy ache and headache. I had to stay home from Bible study, and miss play practice at school (I'm directing a Christmas play at my kids school). Today, I thank you, God for my sick child, and your plans for me to stay at home to love on her and focus on YOU.
Wow, giving thanks in all circumstances really causes you to release control of your life to God. It's really an admission that He alone is in control. You should try it.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Even though God has done an amazing work in my family, we still have our struggles and He is still working. My prayer is that God would use my upcoming posts to encourage you that you are not alone.
I want to thank all the contributors here at Titus for inviting me to be part of their wonderful blogging family. I am looking forward to this opportunity to share what God has taught me in my marriage.
God bless you,
Monday, November 14, 2011
There was a girl who came to our wedding with her hair tied in bright pink knots. The wife of my husband's dear friend, she became known adoringly among my friends as "Pink Knots". It would have been easy to judge Pink Knots or misunderstand her, but to know her is to love her. She posesses a boldness and honesty hard to find in our culture. Pink Knots is the perfect combination of candor and compassion, she is usually the first to volunteer when there is a need or someone is hurting. Ten years have passed since our wedding and just last year, she and her husband and their two children moved quite a distance away. Fortunately, social media allows us to be closer in distance than perhaps we were living just around the corner.
When I suffered my first stillbirth, Pink Knots cried for our baby and came in the middle of the night leaving food on our doorstep and prayers in our hearts. Many did not know what to do, but Pink Knots reached out in a way I will never forget. It remains indellibly etched in my heart the kindness she showed during great sadness. I know I have learned priceless lessons from her about not serving man and about being thankful. She lives in a rural area where she and her husband hunt and enjoy the beauty of the vast expanse of land they have been blessed with. Hard workers, she and her husband take nothing for granted. Her attitude of gratitude has blessed me.
A few years ago, Pink Knots began on her Face*book page a series of Thanksgivings she titled "100 days of Gratitude" where she consciously found reasons to give thanks instead of complain or allow herself to be burdened with the heaviness or hardship of life. I loved this idea and so, about 75 days ago, I embarked on this journey myself. It is hard to place into words what this experience has done for my own relationship with the Lord. I find my prayers have changed, my quiet time has changed, my days are brighter, my service more meaningful, relationships are deeper, the little things look little and the big ones get prayed for more frequently. Why? Simply because in each and every circumstance, there is reason to give thanks.
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
The consistency of looking for the blessing rather than focusing on the hardship is a constant reminder of God's goodness as the author and perfector of our faith and our lives. Sarah Young writes of the Lord's longing desire for us to seek Him and chat with Him in the book, Jesus Lives "Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me (the Lord) and talk it out. Trust me by opening up consistently. Do not wait until you are already discouraged. As we talk about these matters, remember to thank Me. Your communion with me will bless you in another way also: You will find in my presence irrepressible joy. Whether or not I (the Lord) change your circumstances, you will discover I have given you a new song - a hymn of praise."
Could you be more purposeful in giving thanks everyday and in every situation? I have found so many opportunities I was missing to thank God for His grace, mercy, teaching, and for His love. Even in the hardest times, I can thank Him for being right there in my hour of need, for meeting me where I am, and for being the Alpha and the Omega when I am simply his little child.
What are you thankful for today?
Friday, November 11, 2011
Bullying is a current day issue - one that's been around for a long time. Even in Biblical times bullying played out. Many people bullied Jesus. Luke 22:63-65 tells of one such incident:
"The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, 'Prophesy! Who hit you?' And they said many other insulting things to him."
These were painful words unjustly spoken to a perfect savior.
How did He handle it? Even in the midst of persecution, Jesus asked His father to forgive them, stating how they didn't know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).
I've been bullied. In the 7th grade, I became the object of bullying on my bus. Every day before and after school, I endured relentless verbal abuse.
I thought of the above phrase, but having lived it, knew that it wasn't true. Their words did hurt. They ended up having an effect on my psyche for years to come. I didn't find complete healing from the pain of my childhood until I went to counseling and allowed God to teach me how to truly forgive. But the scars of those wounds will always be there.
This week, a 9th grader at our public school had her arm sprained by a school bully. According to the news, she has been enduring verbal abuse for two years now.
Should we teach her the above phrase and expect her to move on, unscathed by the event?
Proverbs 18:21a says, "The tongue has the power of life and death."
Romans 10:10 says, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
Our words are filled with power. Words will either edify or destroy the listener.
When we know of someone who is being bullied, we need to acknowledge the pain they've experienced and direct them to God. He is the only one who can heal the wounds of the soul.
And to the bully, we need to teach them the power of words, too. They need Jesus just as much as the one being bullied. The real reason people bully is because they are hurting inside.
Be careful to choose your words wisely, and teach these truths to our children. There's great power in the tongue.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Everyone who is reading this could use some reviving in their spiritual walk. We will never outgrow the need for going deeper with our Lord. God knew that our journey with Him would be ongoing and that we would need a little spiritual CPR along the way! His precious Word gives us the formula and a promise to go along with it.
First, we have to humble ourselves. Fall on our faces in raw humility of who we are and come to terms with our great depravity of spirit.
Second, we have to pray. While we are on our faces, we cry out to God and pour out all that is within us. All that he already knows, but is waiting for us to confess.
Third, we have to seek His face. As we are pouring out to Him our deep confession, we need to be seeking His will and His way for our lives. We need to hungering and thirsting for more of Him.
Now, this fourth step is where most people fail to go. If we are to be completely revived in Him, we must turn from our wicked ways. That means, whatever it is that we poured out to Him while on our faces, we have to turn from. We have to put it down. Place it at His feet and never pick it up again.
Revival will never happen in our lives if we aren't willing to do these four things. All four of these are necessary if we want to revive our spirits and grow closer to our Lord. We have to dig deeper and seek higher and He will reveal Himself to us. He will heal our land..
"Seek the LORD and his strength,
seek His face continually"
(1 Chronicles 16:11)
Monday, November 7, 2011
A college professor told us about the rigors of his routine as a Ph.D. student. He was in the library early in the morning, staying all day. After supper he either returned to the library or studied at home for hours. This routine continued for several years.
One of the students in our class asked him, "Did you have a family then?" "Yes," the professor replied. "How and when did you get to spend any time with them?" The professor smiled and said, "It’s not quantity time that counts, it’s quality time."
Quantity versus quality time is a tension for all families. There is a difference between the two. Quantity time refers to the minutes and hours we spend in each other’s presence. Quality time refers to the significance and importance of that time together.
Both quantity and quality of time is important. Quantity is important because it is the incubator of opportunity for meaningful conversation and events to occur. The eight hours working together boxing fund raising items in our garage prepared Cheryl and me to relax and reflect on what we appreciated about each other. The four hours of chasing a diapered kid around the house nurtured the moment when he or she threw their arms your neck and squealed, "I love you mommy, I love you daddy." The threads of quantity and quality intertwine. Unravel them, and you lose both quantity and quality.
I question if you can ever have much quality time without quantity. Quantity prepares and incubates the birth of the meaningful.
The holiday season is coming upon us, and beckons us to spend both quality and quantity time with our families. Let's not scrimp on either one!
Friday, November 4, 2011
He had only been home from work a few minutes.
“Where are you going?”
“The garbage trucks came by two days ago, but Kay’s trashcans are still on the curb.”
Jeff says this with a sense of urgency that I fail to understand.
“That’s nice, Honey, but could you bring them in for her after you help me get this boy into the bathtub?”
“Denise, she has M.S., remember? Maybe the cans are still out there because she’s having one of those spells. Maybe she needs help.”
I feel silly. Here I am, the person who is in this house every minute of every day, yet I am not the one who notices our neighbor’s trashcans still sitting on the street.
Jeff knocks on her door.
After a few minutes of no response, I assume she’s not home – even though her car is in the driveway.
“Come on, Jeff. Let’s get her cans for her and go home.”
But Jeff insists on giving Kay more time.
“She has to move slowly,” he says, “so we have to give her extra time to answer the door.”
I realize he’s right. Again.
A moment later, Kay opens her door. She looks tired, but she assures us that she’s fine. She’s just having a rough couple of days, physically speaking. We exchange numbers, though, so she can call us if she ever needs anything.
This happened more than five years ago. Everything was okay, but I learned an important lesson. We have a responsibility to our neighbor, in a real and tangible sense. And Jeff was much more attuned to this need than I was.
God calls His people to care for widows and orphans.
Over the years, I have observed Jeff, on more than one occasion, caring for widows and orphans. Because Jeff is an orphan himself, he has an expanded heart for those who have lost someone through death. Kay is a widow in her mid-fifties. She lives alone, and she lives with Multiple Sclerosis.
Through my husband, God has opened my eyes to see needs around me that I previously couldn’t see.
This past Sunday night, our doorbell rang. Kay brought over a large bag of candy and asked us to pass it out to trick-or-treaters. She doesn’t have the strength to get up and answer the door every few minutes when more kids come by, but she wanted to participate in the neighborhood’s festivities in some way.
So on Halloween night, she kept her porch light on, and she posted a sign on her door that directed foot-traffic to our house, where we dispersed candy from two different bowls: hers and ours.
It was such a small thing. But it made me smile.
Our relationship with our neighbor is due to my husband noticing something everyone on our cul-de-sac, including myself, missed. But Jeff realized its larger significance. And he took the time to care.
Monday, October 31, 2011
" To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21
The pediatrician passed us and then turned to do a double take. He called out to my elder daughter and myself. And his words cut me to the core.
"WOW, no more little girl..."
At the tender age of 9, I know she is still a little girl, but the Lord is preparing my heart. Just two weeks earlier, I had immersed myself in the tedious task of cleaning out our older child's closet. I discovered that there were pieces of her life I desperately wanted to hold on to. I kept some outfits, locks of hair, first pieces of art, her first transportation tag from kindergarten, etc. As I carefully packed away precious moments that were fading in my forty-something memory, the deep pit of my stomach ached as I wrestled once again with the undeniable reality that holding on will be counter productive as our children age. In His timing and with His guidance I will learn to "let go".
This prompted another thought...what else am I holding on to? And so I ask you, what are you holding on to? Are we harboring pride, pain, bitterness, greed? Any one of these are counter productive to OUR growth.
I often need to be reminded of the things I am holding on to and of God's beautiful teachings on why and how we can release those, making us free, content and joyful. Holding onto precious keepsakes of our children is sweet and even comforting, however clinging to the things of the world, (the earthly dangers that the Lord has specifically instructed us against) present a plethora of unease and peaceLESSness.
So how does the Lord instruct us?
This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away
from you, along with all malice." Ephesians 4:31
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you." Matthew 6:14
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth
corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt 6:19-21
As I contemplate these things, I find myself grateful that the Lord has addressed these issues...we know better. Though it is not easy to let these go, it is even harder to hold onto them. In that spirit, what can you let go of today?
Dear Lord, show me the areas I need to let go. Father, take those things and fill the voids with your perfect peace. Continuously remind me, Lord to release that which holds me back or stops my growth. Grant me your will Lord and not my own. ~Amen
Friday, October 28, 2011
It's that time of year once again. Time to set our clocks back an hour (on Sunday November 6). Time to get out our fall and winter clothes, and time to hunker down for the upcoming winter.
On November 6th, the newscasters will remind everyone to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Just a good time to prepare.
How about your spiritual walk? This might be a good time to check your spiritual batteries, and put on your armor. How about falling back into God's arms during this upcoming season in your life.
A new season is coming - we can smell it in the air. Are you ready?
During autumn, I've noticed the animals eat more. I suppose they do it to keep warm in the pending cooler temperatures.
This might be a good time for us to eat more spiritual food, too. If we are full of God's word then we will be ready when seasons of trials come our way.
Let's learn from nature, and be prepared for the next season - winter.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
“Your spouse completes you and together you are one. As God works in both of you, you will start to see how you fit together. We tend to only see what is in front of us right now. We often don’t look ahead to see the big picture God has drawn out for our families. We need to look beyond our problems and see our marriages as God sees them, restored and whole. I may not have a perfect marriage now and I am definitely not perfect, nor is my husband, but I look ahead to what God can change us to be. Amanda Beth, You Can Have a Happy Family, 60.
I asked Amanda two questions about her book, You Can Have a Happy Family. The questions and her answers are below.
1) What inspired you to write this book?
The Lord inspired me. I was leading Bible studies in my home when I felt a strong leading from the Lord to write this book. My husband and I had a rough relationship for the first half of our 15 years of marriage. Once God worked in our marriage, people started noticing. My husband and I were often asked by others how we had such a happy marriage and family. We would always tell people that it was all God. But I felt it left people wanting to know more. That's when I knew God wanted me to share the steps He took us through to help us find true contentment in our home.
2) How do you hope this book will encourage Christian families?
My hope for this book is that the reader would know how much they are loved by the Lord. I pray that this book would give people hope and encouragement in their marriages and raising their children. I want the reader to walk away certain that God is fighting for their marriages and families. He truly wants nothing but the best for us.
Author, You Can Have a Happy Family
I am always looking for good resources for families. Right now my wife and I and another husband and wife are showing a video series on marriage to a young couple engaged to marry in June. There is a booklet accompanying the series with a Bible study on marriage and interactive questions. The next week we discuss our answers and then view the next video. It is encouraging to the two married couples, and even more so for the young couple. Biblical and common sense teaching on marriage and family is so important.
Amanda Beth’s book is a good resource for families. It could be used for personal reading or a small group study. You will enjoy it.
And now, the winner of the drawing to receive a free copy of Amanda’s book is ...
Thanks everyone for participating! And in a few weeks I plan on having another give away on Family Fountain.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I couldn't help but sigh. I guess the fact that my daughter called while I was unloading the dishwasher, her job, that she'd also "forgotten" to do before she left for school. And the fact that I had asked her, before she left, "Do you want me to pack your lunch?" But she had wanted to do it herself. Now she was calling for me to pack and bring her lunch which would force me to change my plans.
"Can't you buy your lunch?" I asked. She didn't like what they were having. I signed again and said, begrudgingly, that I would bring her lunch. "Nevermind, I'll just buy." Now I'd hurt her feelings. *sigh!* I told her it was no problem, and that I'd see her by lunchtime.
Grace? Discipline? Which applied here? Should I have made her buy her lunch, teaching her a lesson in responsibility? Should I have cheerfully agreed, showering her with grace? There are no easy answers!
I'm thankful for a heavenly father who knows just when to give discipline, and always acts in grace. I'd elaborate more, but now, I need to pack a lunch and run an errand.
Monday, October 17, 2011
We had a deep long discussion, the children and I...about the fish. It goes this way...no, wait, it goes that way...no, wait...
When I felt they adequately understood which way the ichthus should go on the rear of our family car, I shooed them to the front yard to have their daddy affix the fish. I didn't give it much thought, until the children were huddled around the back of the car before we left to go to school. The younger one smiled happily at the handiwork of she and her daddy, the elder child, with the slightest hint of attitude breathed heavily with a small stomp of her foot. The problem? The fish.was.on.wrong.
A former version of myself would have immediately gone storming to find my husband, but the "me" that God is working on, is relegating responses like that to my past and seeking to find more Christlike approaches to all things. I left the fish, as is, not moving it, because it is a great reminder of when I swim against the current, against a great big God, who seeks only to love me.
That small fish reminds me that in my desire to "change" the way that the fish appears, it is me and not the fish that needs to change! The positioning of our fish reminds me of my lack of perfection and more importantly, God's perfect plan that we would depend more heavily on Him, than on our own thoughts and abilities. That little fish is an outward reminder of an inward struggle, a visible bookmark that even with the best intentions, sometimes it doesn't turn out the way we envision. And so, our grace is necessary.
Just as HIS grace is necessary. How often do we require His grace?
"All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:15-18
What is the Lord using in your life to change your heart? How can we be less concerned with outward appearances and more concerned with inward growth? Praying that you and I are able to find those unseen eternal events that radically change our reactions and our story.
Friday, October 14, 2011
If we did have the money, I think we'd get over our fear of a hurricane and buy one. So how would we keep ourselves prepared for the pending storms?
1) We'd keep wood handy for battening down the hatches.
2) We'd have about a weeks worth of food and water in our beach house.
Next, we'd enjoy every moment of every day on the beach. Even though you know a hurricane will eventually come, none lives in constant fear of them. Once you are prepared, you simply enjoy and relax - until you see the storm on the horizon. But even then, you have the supplies you need to weather the storm.
It's the same with our spiritual walk. We want to live each day drawing closer to God in a good relationship. But, trials are coming, so we should prepare for them by:
1) Reading and memorizing scriptures.
2) Praying daily - developing a relationship with God.
3) Doing Bible studies and talking to other Christians.
Then, when a trial is spotted on the horizon, we brace ourselves and pull out our spiritual supplies. We draw closer to God and weather the storm together.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
“The man said, ‘This is not bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they became one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24
After Jesus quoted this is Matthew 19:5 He went on to say in verse 6, “so they are not longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” I don’t know how we can take that any other way. God places a high value on marriage and so should we.
Trust that no matter how bad your marriage is, God can and will change you and your spouse if you will trust and allow Him to. Change your thoughts to what God can do. When our thoughts and actions are in agreement with God, nothing is impossible.
Malachi reveals God’s ultimate plan for our marriages. “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15
Satan works hard to try to destroy our marriages because he knows God’s plan for us is to raise up godly children. He knows the power in two hearts, surrendered to God’s will, and the positive impact their generations will have. God’s plan is to take us from where we are in our marriages and bring us together as one. Satan’s plan is to convince us we need to find someone better.
Some spouses think they need to find someone better because they married someone they were not warned not to. God warns us not to be unequally yoked before we get married, and He warns us in many other ways for our own good. He gives us these warnings because He knows ahead of time the heartache and problems we will face.
However, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that we should get a divorce when we realize we made a mistake and married someone who wasn’t God’s first choice for us.
David in the Bible is a perfect example. He married Bathsheba after he committed adultery with her and had her husband killed. Do you think it was God’s will for David to have another man’s wife? Second Samuel 11:27 says, ‘David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
David acknowledged he did wrong and repented. God used their second son, Solomon, to be the direct line to Jesus. I believe God purposely did that to sow us that He sees light in every darkness.
God can bring light out of every wrong thing we have done. He can take any wrong and turn it around for our good if we turn to Him. ‘If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become dark around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12
God works with us in whatever situation we are in. He calls us right where we are. His commands are always His first choice for us. He gives us these commands because He sees what we can’t see, and He knows what’s best for us.”
From You Can Have a Happy Family (pp.58-62), by Amanda Beth. Used by Permission.
Note: Amanda’s book is an excellent treatise on marriage and family. It deals with practical issues in a biblical and common sense manner. You will enjoy it. Amanda has given me an extra copy to share with readers. Anyone who comments here will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of You Can Have a Happy Family. Amanda maintains a couple of blogs, Sharing the Truths Behind the Truth and Enjoying Your Family.
Friday, October 7, 2011
I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time making sure I spend enough time in prayer for the people I do know!
Of course, there are times when I pray for people I don't know personally. Sometimes I pray for the people our missionary friends come in contact with, especially when we receive another e-newsletter from around the globe. I also pray for some of you, my "blogging friends," whenever I read about a particular situation you may be going through. For the most part, though, I go about my days as "busy" as everyone else, trying to squeeze in some quiet time at night when everyone is in bed asleep.
So Paul's words are keeping me awake these days. He prayed. A lot. And for people he didn't even know. I'd like to be more like Paul when it comes to prayer.
Naturally, when I pray there are some names that are first to mind: Jeff, Simone, Brynn, and Parker. I don't think it's possible to pray too much for the people we love most. It's probably not possible to pray too much for anyone. After all, Paul said to "pray continually" (I Thessalonians 5:17).
So I think I'll sign off and go do just that.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The national news has recently reported about an Iranian pastor who is facing execution for converting others to Christianity and refusing to denounce his Christian faith.
As I read the stories about this pastor, I can't help but wonder would I be willing to die for my faith? This man is just 32 years old, and has two young children. Yet, according to all accounts, he is risking and may in fact lose his life for his faith.
Biblical and historical accounts tell us that John the Baptist, Peter, Thomas, James and most of the apostles were martyred. But as Americans we take for granted the religious freedoms we are given every day.
So today I challenge you with two questions:
1. Would you be willing to give your life for your faith?
2. If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there even be any evidence to prosecute you?
It's something to thing about, isn't it? Pray for the Christians throughout the world today.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Several weeks ago, the Lord had laid upon my heart one of my co-workers. She was sad and lonely and when probed for answers, she said simply, "I have lost hope." My heart was broken for her and I felt helpless. Though, her name sat on many of the pages of my prayer journal and my heart was poised to intercede on her behalf, she wasn't feeling it. My mouth uttered pleas to the Lord to provide her with just a glimpse of His glory in her life. A smidgen...simply a smidgen. That can't possibly be too much, right?
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
During my moments of quiet solitude with the Lord, he reminded me of my own valley and the way He showed up with distinctive instructions to bring me back to Hope! I was in my twenties, watching my marriage fall apart and desperately seeking God's direction for my life. A youth pastor nights and weekends, I needed additional income as well as benefits to sustain my modest lifestyle. After a particularly harrowing visit to the pharmacy, where I learned how expensive my Chrohn's medication was without benefits, I left the pharmacy with the medication once my parent's charge card was billed. Hurting, embarrassed and fearful, I can honestly say, I was searching for Hope. In between the giant drops of rain, I ran to the car and sat there...for a long time...wondering how I had arrived at this place.
And I cried. And cried. And cried.
As though my prayers were being answered in that very moment, the Lord firmly instructed me to "go to the administration building." My tears ceased and I found myself in a full fledged arguement with the Lord. Which administration building? Why? I did not see how this had anything to do with my situation...and yet, the Lord was offering me HOPE.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
In my flesh, this seemed crazy. However, I knew unequivocally it was the Lord speaking to my heart. He was spending time with me; He was answering my call for help. I was obedient. I went. I was hired for a job that would prepare me for many, many things in my life; all the while He allowed me the benefit of remaining in a ministry position proclaiming His name.
Sometimes, His silence is our answer. Sometimes, His immediate movement of our feet is our answer. Sometimes, there is a waiting period. Regardless of the timing or the answer, HE has complete and total control over the hopeless moments in our lives. HE is the answer.
Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5
This is my prayer for my co-worker and for anyone seeking hope. There really is no place like HOPE, that beautiful place of confident expectation. Hope is not boxed in by circumstances or earthly notions...hope is rooted in the surety of Jesus Christ. Be blessed this day as you build your HOPE in HIM!
Friday, September 30, 2011
"I don't know!" I blurted back at him, annoyed at his persistence with such a futile question.
Growing up with an older brother obsessed with such global questions seemed a little confusing to me.
Now that I'm an adult and have children of my own, I find myself asking them the same question, only with a twist, "What do you want to become when you grow up?" Ironically, I still find myself musing at my purpose in life (but don't tell my brother!).
Until three years ago, being a wife and mom to six kids would have been my answer. But now, I realize God has a different definition for my life's purpose.
"He has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time," (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)
We are here to become His holy vessels. In each one of us, it will look quite different, but we are all going through trials of various kinds so that the trying of our faith will produce steadfastness. Once steadfastness has its full effect, we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Paraphrase from James 1:2-4)
That's why pastor's can say, "no matter what you do, do it unto the glory of God." No matter what path we take or what curves life may throw our way, we are all striving to become holy vessels - lacking nothing. In this way, we will be ready to spend eternity with our perfect Savior!
Now I just need my brother to ask me that question once again..."What's your purpose in life?"
When he does ask me, I'll be ready and confident with my answer: "To become God's holy vessel."
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sounds simple, but a clear understanding of one’s identity is critical. A business has to know if it makes shoes or bakes bread. A church has to know if it honors Christ or not. Identity leads to the next item in the game plan.
Purpose is the fulfilment of one’s identity. If it is a show or bread company, they will produce those products.
Vision grows out of identity and purpose. Vision is the view for the future. Businesses ask how they can better produce their product, publicize their company, and market their product. Churches may envision reaching a particular neighborhood or segment of the population with the Gospel. Vision is where you see your self in one, five or ten years.
Function simply means the company or church is now doing what it’s identity, purpose and vision leads them to. For a church, it would be preaching, teaching, leading others to Christ and maturing them in faith. For a business, it might be producing a product or shipping someone else’s product.
How does this apply to home dynamics? Businesses or churches can slip into daily routines and habits and never answer the larger questions of who are we? Why do we do what we do? What is our vision for the future? And what is the best way for us to do that?
Families can avoid those questions, too. Family life can become a series of routines: going to school, rushing to school and athletic functions, going to work, watching tv in the evening, going to church on Sunday. But where is the family heading to? What is the family becoming?
It is healthy for mom and dad to have some definite objectives for all their activity and function. A long drive to a ball game can become a meaningful event if the parents include some heart-felt discussion of an important spiritual or moral issue; church can become an opportunity for genuine spiritual revival and spiritual growth; school can become a conscious stepping-stone to advanced study or career preparation.
With definite identity, purpose, vision and function, families can become more than just harried robotans rushing, rushing, rushing, without any sense of cohesion or underlying purpose. They can become a unified whole moving toward something worthwhile, such as a closer-knit family, a place where Jesus is honored, and a community preparing for heaven.
Family can wander around in uncertainty and indirection, or it can march toward higher levels of relationship and function. The difference is often in the game plan we follow.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I, however, cannot say that his newfound delight peaked my interest very much. (Forgive me; I think I was busy reading some seriously theological stuff at the time, like the Left Behind series.)
I remember the basic financial principles though. They were something like, “Blah, blah, blah. Emergency fund. Blah, blah, blah. Snowball. Blah, blah, blah. Debt free.” Yep, that about sums it up.
In all sincerity, though, I thought it sounded very nice. Very responsible and all that. Very Jeff.
But, like I said, I didn’t really get into it with quite the same fervor. It was more Jeff’s speed. And I was more than happy to let him go about his merry way, planning our finances and our future, while I moved on to another book series. (Forgive me; I think it was Harry Potter.)
Fast-forward to a crashing economy and a three-year run of company-down-sizing.
Um, gee, what can I say? I’m glad I married an accountant. Actually, I’m glad I married Jeff. He had the foresight, not to mention the self-discipline, to prepare us for darker days.
Our church is currently offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It’s a 13-week series to help people get on track with their finances. We’ve enrolled, and I have to say that my attitude is different this time. While the information is the same, I am much more willing to participate in the program’s plan, and I am no longer defaulting to Jeff’s strengths and letting him take on the bulk of this responsibility.