Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a saving faith

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped
for, the evidence of things not seen"
(Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is believing what we can't see.  It is a committment to God and His will. Total reliance upon the Lord and full confidence in Christ. Faith is the basis of our relationship with Christ.

* If your faith hasn't changed you, it hasn't saved you.

* Real, saving faith results in works, fruit and a desire for holiness.

* Holiness is getting the soul satisfying, saturating presence of God in your life.


We are saved:

BY grace
    THROUGH faith
IN Jesus


Faith WILL produce works. Our outward works affirm the change inside of us. True saving faith results in a changed life as evidenced by works. Our works don't save us but our salvation compels us to do good works.

"As a breathless body emits no indication of life,
fruitless faith exhibits nothing more than hypocrisy"
(Liberty Bible Commentary)

Thank you sweet Lord, that my salvation is not dependent upon my works. Thank you for that sweet gift of amazing grace that you paid the price for, in full, on the Cross. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you out of the overflow of love that you have placed in my heart. You are so worthy.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Lead With Strong Hands

Thanks to Nichole at Happily Ever After Again where I first saw this video.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Green Beans and Silly Things

One of my favorite memories, of when Jeff and I were dating, is this one evening when Jeff invited me over to his house for dinner. Jeff had prepared for me this amazing meal of baked chicken and rice and what obviously looked like a green vegetable, but I couldn’t quite place it.

Since I’m not much of a vegetable fan (that’s a bit of an understatement), I cautiously sampled a small piece of the green stuff. I was keeping a close eye on Jeff too. I wanted to make sure that he was concentrating on his own plate just in case I needed to discreetly discard the green stuff into my napkin.

To my surprise, I kind of liked it. So I just had to ask, “What is this green stuff? I actually like it.”

Jeff looked at me with an expression I couldn’t discern. Then, with a straight face, he replied, “Green beans.”

That’s just so like him, I thought. His typical dry humor always got me, but not this time.

“No way,” I argued, “I’m not falling for one of your jokes again. I know these aren’t green beans because green beans are short and soggy. But these things are long and crunchy.”

Again, he just looked at me.

I quickly realized that this time, he wasn’t joking. Kindly, he explained it to me. Apparently, they really were green beans. The fresh kind. Steamed.

Who knew? I was 29 years old at the time, and the only green beans I had ever known came in a can.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22

These days, whenever green beans make their way onto our plates – whether at a restaurant or at a potluck or, yes, even at home – we still laugh.

One of the things I love most about Jeff is the way he makes me laugh. We laugh at old stories, at ourselves, and at the funny things our kids say. We laugh a lot. It’s what I like most about our home. We laugh.

Do you have some favorite old stories that still make you laugh whenever you think about them?


Monday, March 21, 2011

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
~ Matthew 10:29-31

Spring is such a remarkable time of year. Snow and cold give way to budding, blooming and birdies. The soft, sweet tweets of earth are heard and almost inhaled as our pale selves venture once again into our yards and parks. Children especially value the newness of God's creation as spring bursts forth, running, jumping, playing...reaquainting themselves with oniony grass and daffodils, bikes, bumps and the occasional bruise and the tell-tale call of the ice cream truck.

Both of our daughters LOVE to walk. As the mild temperatures frequent our area and spring coats replace the warm fuzziness of winterwear, they clamor at the door just waiting to explore. When our younger daughter was first talking, she would cry out everytime she saw a bird, pointing and jumping like she were seeing it for the first time everytime. On one particular spring day, she and my mom were spending time together. They happened upon a little tiny bird, which flew away quickly, so quickly my mom was not certain what her little love was saying. Hannah repeated "bird" many times, each time met with my mom's response, "What?" After the fourth attempt, Hannah took my mother's face in her hands and said quite articulately, "TWEET...TWEET...TWEET." No confusing that.

Hannah is adopted. She came to us from Jiangxi province in China. Four years ago this month, God performed a miracle when He built another family His way. We cherish they way Hannah came to us, but have often been saddened knowing there was time in her life where we were not with her. In my design, this never would have happened, but in God's design, it is simply the way it is. Hannah spoke English quickly and though her words were tough to discern at times, she has always been incredibly clear about how very much her little mind absorbs. Her first and favorite song was, "His Eye is on the Sparrow". She'd sing with great abandon, particularly pausing at certain points to place inflection where she felt the need to be heard.

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
A constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches over me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches (I know he watches)
(I know he watches me)

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me (He watches me)
He watches me (I know he watches me)
Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel
(She does not always sing verse 2 and 3)

She sang the words so frequently, I asked her one night why she likes this song so much.

Her very simple response, "I am His sparrow."

I am not certain she understands the depth of her words or the breadth of His love. I do find it comforting that in the days and months before she was placed in our arms that her Heavenly Father watched over her, kept her safe and she knows that!

We are each His sparrows. We are never out of His vision. I am awestruck by a gracious and loving God who knows even the number of hairs on my head. I am a worrier and God has reminded me consistently of His careful consideration of me. Hannah, at the tender age of 3, ministered to my heart with her assured conviction of her savior's constant glances and unfailing love. The sparrows are worthy and considered, we are more so.

Sparrows... insignificant were these little birds that if you bought four sparrows the seller would throw in one more for free. And the extra sparrow, Jesus said, "and not one of them is forgotten before God." (Luke 12:6-7) He cares so much ... it is surreal that even this extra sparrow is noted and observed by God! How praiseworthy it is that we are far more precious to God than all the sparrows combined.

Today, I am thankful for a little round-faced baby who IS one of His sparrows and for a gracious Saviour who does not become weary, but keeps His eyes firmly adhered to all of His sparrows.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
~ Psalm 83:1-3


Friday, March 18, 2011


A longtime neighbor and friend recently passed away.  He was in his late 80's and a Christian.

How did he live that long?  I wondered.  Did he eat well, exercise? Surely he aspired to be healthy.

Being healthy is on everyone's minds these days.  Eating well, and exercising are key words in 2011.  With so many answers out there, the only question is: Are we willing to follow the guidelines to good health?  It will require sacrifice, dying to self and even some temporary pain as we pursue longevity.

But like my neighbor, one day these bodies will give out, however, our spirit's will live on for eternity. Why isn't spiritual health a hot topic in mainstream media today? In light of eternity, shouldn't we be pursuing spiritual health?

According to Ephesians 6:11-12, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but with principalities and spiritual hosts of wickedness. We are told to put on the whole armor of God, in order to stand against our enemy, the evil one, in the day of trouble.

The only physical battle I can think of is to stay healthy so I live long on this earth.  Am I battling spiritually?  You bet I am!  I see the enemy attacking my family, my marriage, my friendships, my calling, my service, and even my mind.  How can I put on the armor of God? What does that really look like?

Come back on April 1st to find out how to put on God's armor, and how to stay spiritually fit for eternity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

we are not alone

I am so thankful that God gives us seeking hearts. I love the way the Holy Spirit whispers sweet words into my ear that draw me closer to my Lord. I love that the deeper I dig into the Word to know Him more intimately, the hungrier my heart gets for even more. I also love that He reveals Truth to our hearts and is always teaching us. When we cry out to Him, He hears us. He is always there for us.

Sometimes we think that we are alone in our troubles. But we need to know that He see us in our trials. He knows everything about us. Each hair on our head is numbered by Him. Each heartache and each anxious moment we experience doesn't go unnoticed by Him. He cares about even the smallest details of our lives.

He pours out the strength we need to face these trials, troubles and fears. He blankets us in love. His love is a perfecting love and pain is often a central part of God's plans for us. God allows sorrow in our lives and hopes that it will bring us to a fuller awareness of His deep purpose for our lives.

As we continue to seek to know and love Him more, let's always remember that He wants good things for us. He has a perfect plan for our life and will lovingly guide us down the correct path if we submit to His authority and power. His way will always be the right way. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will always be there for us. We just need to stay on our faces in submission, at His feet in prayer and in His Word in obedience.

"He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him" (Psalm 91:15)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Influence

Our Influence

The greatest testament to our influence is to hear our children say, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

We want our children to do well in school, to hit the ball squarely, to drive it through the uprights, to 2-putt, and to be paid substantially in their part time job. That makes us proud! We have groomed and trained them to perform admirably in areas that are important to us.

But those pursuits are short lived, lasting no more than a lifetime.

The confession of Christ, however, lasts forever.

I've seen numerous dads baptize their children. Then, still standing in the water together, the dad would give their child a big hug. The father's influence has taken on eternal dimensions.

Photo compliments Karli Bonnie Photography.

Our ultimate job is to so live that we encourage the sanctifying of our wives (Eph. 5) and we lead our children to the savior.

By our speech, life and love, we not only let the little children go to Jesus, we lead them to him.
God's blessings upon the dads who consciously bear their children to the savior.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Remembering Sarai

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” is when the mom explains to her daughter who the “head of the household” is. She concedes that, yes, the man is indeed the head of the household, but the woman is the neck. And she can move the head in any direction she so chooses.

It’s a funny scene – probably because, as women, we can relate to this desire to tell our husbands what to do. After all, part of the curse given to Eve, and all of womankind after her, is the desire to rule over her husband (Genesis 3:16).

As a Christian wife, I desire to be obedient to God’s Word, and I know that it tells me to respect my husband and submit to him as the leader in our home (Ephesians 5:22). Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done. But there is one thing that helps me to be obedient in this area.

Whenever an important decision needs to be made and I am tempted to convince (or manipulate) Jeff of a certain direction, I remember Sarai.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” (Genesis 16:1)
This sounds like the advice of a crazy woman. But the desperate measure that she was willing to go to indicates the deep shame that she suffered because of her barrenness. Maybe Sarai got impatient, but her old age indicates that she actually waited a very, very long time. It’s possible that Sarai truly believed she was being helpful, especially since God had already promised to give them a family. Perhaps she even considered her choice a selfless act of sacrifice.

However, Sarai’s “helpfulness” ended up causing tremendous pain for everyone involved.

I need to remember this because, every once in a while, I want to tell myself that I am being helpful too.

Jeff and I always talk about a decision together. Then we pray about it. And most of the time, we agree on the necessary course of action. But on those rare occasions when we can’t agree on something, I remember Sarai.

Regarding a particular situation, I may sometimes think that I know best. But I also know that decision-making is a privilege, and with that privilege comes responsibility. And, ultimately, both the decision and the responsibility belong to my husband.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Charged Up

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3

I HAVE A RECHARGABLE VACUUM that is great for quick cleanups around the house. I say quick cleanups because while it starts off strong, after a while the motor begins to slow down, and the vacuum requires a recharge. It has to be plugged in for its battery to get more power. After a recharge its power is increased, and it’s ready again.

Our faith is like that vacuum. We need to be plugged into God’s power. Once we are charged up through worship, prayer, and our faithful following of the Bible’s examples, then we have His power to go out and spread the Good News. His power energizes us to make a clean sweep of the sin in our lives.

After a while however, we may see our energy decline. We can even get burnt out. We need a daily recharge. We must continue in faith to be plugged into God’s power for our lives. We still have to strive, but it is God’s power that achieves His purposes for us. His grace fills in the gaps left by our short circuits and power failures.

Don’t be left powerless. Plug into the One who not only recharges our faith, but is also the everlasting Light of the world. Like the famous bunny in the battery commercial, He keeps going and going.

Plug into the Bible and get recharged today.


This devotion by me originally appeared in Light from the Word. Check out their devotions on-line!

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's In the Translation

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Our generation should be some of the best communicators, constantly plugged in and forever clicking away on blackberries and mini laptops. I must admit though, with all of this technology and immediate gratification, some things may be getting lost in the translation. Just maybe, I think, it may have been our parents' generation that had better information sharing methods. My parents have always had a pretty consistent manner of communicating with one another. There were many years my father travelled extensively for work and they had to have a system. However, it is important to note, when my father was very young and in the service, he worked on airplanes. Very NOISY airplanes. So, he is virtually deaf in one ear. Now, I am no expert, but I would venture a guess that the other ear is not so great either :) This little tidbit has wreaked havoc on my dear dad for years.

Many things have been lost in the translation with my dad, orders in restaurants, questions from his students, the grandchildren speaking to him. But, make no mistake, my father is a good willed and fine man. He has more integrity in his little toe than most men acquire in a lifetime. As far as his faith and his ability to share his love with us, that is certainly not an issue. But, the following encounter has rendered our family hysterical numerous times over the years.

I was in college at the time. I still lived at home. My mother worked at a local department store and my father picked her up after her shift on the weekends. That Saturday night, my dad asked if I wanted to ride over with him. It was very late and my mother got into the car.
She innocently asked him a simple question,
"Did you kill the wasps?"
(A wasp's nest was overtaking a tree in our side yard) to which he replied,
"Yes, yes, I did a load of white."
My mother chuckled.
She clarified for him, "No, no not the wash, the bugs, did you get the bugs?" Still, the ears were not with him,
"Rugs, why would I wash the rugs?"
We laughed until we cried. I know it is one of those moments you had to have been there to understand, however almost twenty years and a hearing aid later, we still have those moments.

Consequently, my dad had sprayed the wasp's nest, in addition to the other tasks he performed that day. But, I always find it noteworthy it takes so little to misunderstand the intentions of those around us. Dr. Eggerichs (of Love & Respect fame) pointed out in a marriage encounter my husband and I attended, that people are generally good-willed, most of those around us are good willed people. My father was certainly good-willed that day, however, it was his ears that failed him.

So, how often is our translation of a conversation vastly different than how the other person meant it? It amazes me how one single glance can speak volumes, while a fifteen minute dissertation to my children on loving one another can result in two defiant mini-me's casting blame from themselves and to each other, just wanting to "win". After all, they are incredibly good willed people, right? Right.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119:89

So, though our earthly selves may daily struggle with interpretations of our interactions with others, there is something in our Christian walk that is unchanging. Regardless of the version of Bible we choose to use for our quiet time, the message is the same. It is stable, viable and steady.

As I deeper study the Bible, I am fascinated by the translations of the written word of God. There may be many; however, it becomes abundantly clear that there is very little wiggle room in translating the hard and fast facts presented in Word of God. We attend Bible studies and many times we take away different things, perhaps it meets us where we are in that moment. We go to church and as the Pastor breaks down the Word, verse for verse, we nod and praise the God that so clearly and carefully spelled out every single thing we need to know in one perfect handbook. We humble ourselves in prayer, meditating on the truth that comes only in verses encapsulated in our Holy Bibles.

Where is your Bible? Good willed as each of us may be, our walk will falter if we are not daily seeking, noses in our Bibles, putting to action the commands and truth as only articulated in the great Word of God. Some translations may not be as reliable as others, but we are called to study, seek and press onward in His Word.

Praises, moments of great joy, hardened hearts, anger, bitterness, laws, promises...they are all there, the answers within. If you have been away from your Bible, the Lord will rejoice at your return to His Word.

"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6

It is that simple, no translation needed.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Time for Spring Projects!

Spring is in the air! At least it is here in Virginia.  The trees are budding and the crocuses are beginning to bloom.  With the onset of spring comes those spring projects you've been pondering all winter long.

So here's my date idea for March:

Plan to accomplish one of those long talked about spring projects together.

My husband and I have been talking about cleaning out our garage all winter long!  We are planning to set aside an entire weekend to get this project done - together.

Think of it as a team building activity!  Don't be afraid to take on something new like putting down a new floor or painting a room in your home together.  If it's something neither of you are experienced in, check with your local hardware stores for "how to" classes that you might be able to take together first.

The feeling of accomplishment when you have completed this project will be wonderful!  Then it will be time for a celebration dinner!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

nothing like a good soaking...

(my 6 precious grandchildren)

 What do you get when you take one filthy little child with sticky hands and dirty face and dunk them in a tub filled with soapy water? Miracle of miracles, you get a squeaky clean little one looking just like they did when they started their day fresh. They come out smelling so clean. They come out looking brand new! There is nothing like a good soaking to get rid of the dirt we accumulate during the course of our day. I can't help but think about this whenever I watch my daughters bathe their children. When I lift one of these precious grandchildren out of the tub they look quite different than when their mama  plopped their little body in there. They go in dirty and come out clean!

As Christians, this process is also a necessary part of our daily lives. As we go through our daily lives, we get a little sticky and dirty and get in desperate need of some cleansing. I am so thankful for the cleansing blood of our precious Lord. I am thankful that when I accumulate a little "dirt" in the process of my daily life, I can go to Him for a little dunking in some sudsy living water and come out squeaky clean. I can be washed as white as snow. A fresh start... a fresh feeling... ready for a fresh encounter.

Thank you, Lord for the cleansing power of your Word. Thank you, Lord that we can come to you and get rid of the filth we collect during the day. Thank you for sanctification through Jesus.
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)