Friday, April 29, 2011

Think on This

My son wasn't his normal happy self as I brought him home from school the other day.  By the time we reached our driveway, a mere 15 minutes, he was about to explode with anger at his siblings - another out of character thing for him.

Instead of continuing with my planned activities, I chose to go for a short walk with my boy and let him vent about his day.  Immediately, the anger turned to hurt as he recounted some injustices at school.

I did the normal half listening and half praying thing as he unravelled.

We ended up on our swing set.  His venting ended and I had nothing to say.  The truth was, he had a rough day.  So now what? I thought.

God put this verse in my mind:

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

I shared it with him and suggested we take turns verbalizing something we were thankful for.  Not naming things from the past or future, but the here and now.  I said I was thankful for the blue sky.  He reluctantly followed my lead.  

Immediately his mood lifted.  I hadn't "solved" his problems, but we no longer focused on them, and they no longer held the same power over his mood.  

What an amazing lesson for me.  I will keep this illustration in mind as I encounter difficult days in my future.  God's word is Living and it works.

PS. I'm thankful that you took the time to read my post today! 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

to be Holy as He is holy

 If we are called by His Name, we must reflect the very nature of God. We must strive to be Holy as He is Holy.

As soon as we accept Him as our Savior, He begins a process of purification in our lives. God begins to reveal our sinful nature to us and convict us of the way we fall short of His glory. As we start to see the depths of our depravity clearer and more readily, He begins to replace that sinful part of our lives with one of righteousness. And cleanliness. And holiness.

The closer we are drawn to the side of Jesus, the closer we become to looking more like Him. We begin to circumcise our hearts of all unrighteousness and fill them with those things that please the heart of our God. We begin to walk worthy of our calling.

"For God hath not called us unto
uncleanness, but unto holiness"
(1 Thessalonians 4:7)
Sweet Jesus, as we strive each day to walk in your righteousness, strengthen us to resist those things that take our eyes off of you. Give us hearts like yours and fill us with the desire to be Holy as you are Holy.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Passing the Baton

During my brief middle school career in track and field, I discovered that I didn’t enjoy running the relay race. Something about being dependent upon teammates bothered me. I didn’t want to lose just because someone else on my team was either too slow, or worse, dropped the baton.

I preferred sprints. All by myself. Win or lose, there was no one to blame but myself. Of course, the last time I participated in a track and field event, I was about twelve years old. And, clearly, I had a lot of learning to do when it came to the value of teamwork.

Few things, if any, can be accomplished on our own. Interdependence is a necessity in life, especially so when it comes to marriage. Jeff and I continue to learn the art of teamwork.

This weekend I left for a writers’ conference, and I passed the baton to Jeff. He graciously took some time off of work so he could taxi the kids around and be Mr. Mom for a few days. What a blessing. I couldn’t have experienced all that was in store for me without my husband tending to everything at home. Teamwork.

There will always be moments, sometimes even seasons, when we need to pass the baton. But that is the beautiful thing about marriage. We have each other. We’re a team.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Armor of God

If you haven't read part one click on this link, Spiritually Fit - No Foolin!

God's word tells us our battle is spiritual, not physical. How can we become spiritually strong? Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the devil, our enemy.

We are told to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness. Your feet should be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We also need to take up the shied of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. Lastly, verse 18 tells us to pray in the Spirit on all occassions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

The bottom line:  Pray, pray, pray and Study, study, study the Word of God.  There's no other way to be prepared for the spiritual battles that will be occurring all the time around us.

Do you have a regimen of taking vitamins and exercising daily?  If you want optimal health you answered, "yes".

If you want spiritual health, your regimen must include daily reading and memorizing God's word, as well as praying all throughout the day.

Which regimen is more important?  Which one will improve your life the most?  They are both good, but one will take you into your eternal life healthy.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

the resurrection power

The gospel of Jesus is powerful. Powerful enough to set us free from the destructiveness of sin. Powerful enough to saturate us with the complete fullness of God. This almighty gospel entails three very important aspects. The cross, the resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit. All too often, our focus lies solely on the cross. But the truth of the matter is that the work that was accomplished on the cross was only completed in the resurrection. Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.

 The power lies in the resurrection. Our faith hinges on the fact that we serve a risen King! Christ's resurrection from the dead is where the victory over sin was won. It's the hope of our salvation. The resurrection is about experiencing Christ in our lives. It's not just about knowing Him, but about living Him. It's about allowing Him to make necessary changes in our lives as we go from a head knowledge of God to a heart knowledge of a Savior.

In Henry Blackaby's book 'Experiencing the Resurrection', he lists four steps that are part of this growing process.

1. You must know the truth and understand what God has done in the resurrection.

2. You must believe it's true for your life.

3. You must receive the truth into your life. It's not good enough to know the truth or even believe the truth. You must embrace it as yours.

4. You must live the truth. That means taking what you've learned and acting upon it - making it part of your daily life.

Once we grasp this entire process and apply it to our own lives, we will find new life in Christ and experience Him in ways that we never imagined possible.

"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection"
Philippians 3:10
Seeking Higher,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Inspiring Confidence

Inspiring Confidence

A careless encounter with barbed wire had my friend, Jeff, in the emergency room. "I’m afraid this is going to take some stitches," the doctor said. To the pain and blood could now be added fear.

When the doctor approached him with a needle to numb the pain in the wounded area, Jeff cried out. "Dad!"

"I’m right here, son. I won’t leave you." Throughout the ordeal on the table my friend’s dad was right there with him, holding his hand, speaking comfortingly, and giving the 11-year old some peace of mind.

Years later Jeff still tells this story of how his dad inspired confidence in him. "That’s what a dad does," Jeff adds.

Fathers inspire confidence at key junctures in their kids’ lives. In a hospital. Attacking their studies. Persevering in sports. Facing defeat. Trying again. Earning a living. Being a gentleman. Being a lady. Being a Christian. Functioning as man/woman, a husband/wife, a father/mother.

"I’m right here, son."

The lessons a father teaches his sons and daughters live long after the moment. They reside in their hearts all the days of their lives.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, April 8, 2011

"I Do"

When Jeff and I got married, we wanted to write our own vows. As the wedding day grew nearer, the busyness of preparations seemed to absorb every minute. Finally, just days before the wedding, I realized that I hadn't yet written my vows. So I stole away for a few quiet moments to reflect on what all ribbon and flowers and tulle were really about. And, of course, the day wasn't about any of the those things at all.

Then the day came.

We memorized our vows, and despite all the furor of the day, when the moment came to exchange vows, we did so without forgetting a single word. When I said, "I do," this is what I said:

"Jeff, today we come together to become one,
so that together we may become more
than we ever could apart.
I promise you love and laughter,
commitment and compassion.
And without reservation, I will honor you,
and I will trust in your leadership.
As God resides in our hearts and our home,
I promise to do all I can to make our home
a place of welcome for our friends
and a place of peace for our family.
I will keep a soft heart,
and with a quiet and gentle spirit,
I want to serve you.
And above all else,
I will let grace reign in our marriage."

For our first anniversary, I wanted to write the words of my vows in the card I was planning on giving to Jeff. Bits and phrases came to me, but I couldn't remember the exacting wording. It had only been a year, and already the busyness of everyday life converged upon my memory. I had to watch our wedding video in order to hear my own vows said back to me!

I decided to print our vows and put them someplace where we wouldn't ever forget them.

This plaque hangs in the entryway of our home. We can't come through the front door and make it to any room in our house without passing a written reminder of the vows we made all those years ago.

Everyday life still gets busy. Sometimes we get caught up in all the lists of things to do. But we mustn't ever forget what brought us together in the first place and the vows we made.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Repeat Offender

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!
Romans 6:1,2

“I FORGIVE YOU.” These are hard words to say after someone has harmed you mentally, physically or emotionally. Yet imagine after you said these words to someone, they immediately repeated their offense against you saying, “Well, you said you forgave me.”

Forgiveness does absolve someone of the offense they committed against you, however it is not permission to repeat the offense. Forgiveness expects that the offender is truly sorry for their actions and will use every effort not to repeat them.

In the same way, the Apostle Paul says that just because God has given us His grace, there is no reason to go on sinning. Just as God’s grace extends forgiveness to us for our sins, the expectation is that we should use every ability to not continue sinning. Through Christ’s death, the consequences of our sin died. Through our baptism, we are reborn to a life seeking holiness. This can be found by continuing to seek God on a daily basis through Bible reading and prayer.

If someone continues offending us, we may struggle to offer our forgiveness. Even after we forgive, we may terminate the painful relationship to prevent further offenses. Thankfully, we have a heavenly Father who continues to forgive our every offense without ending our relationship, but instead shows us grace and mercy.

Every time we ask, God replies, “I forgive you.”

Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it today.


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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shadow Tag

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1

Recently one of my students asked me to play shadow tag with him. He was skipping and jumping, joyful that after many days without sunshine, there was finally light to create shadows. I happily obliged and watched as he giddily searched to hide in shadows, so his shadow could not be seen. There is a true dichotomy to this scenerio.

Generally, we choose not to allow ourselves to be in the shadows. We tolerate it when the Lord places our lives in the shadows, we wait, seeking searching, praying our Christian lives will BE the light. However, when found in someone's shadow, the connotation is that we are overlooked while another gets recognition. We think of shadows being dark places of danger. Trolls, spiders and sorted characters are found lurking in shadows. Psalm 23 speaks to the "valley of the shadow of death". Yet, scripture confirms that we are safe in the shadow of our almighty savior.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:8

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.Psalm 63:7

In the actions of one little boy, I was reminded of the beauty of the shadow. Thought the shadows can be sad places, they are the places where the Lord does His most magnificent works. He blends seamlessly the darkness of our shadow times with the light of His love to transform lives and give us hope for His glory.

Do not be discouraged by the shadows that creep into our lives. Embrace them and allow the Lord to do His magnificent works. The Lord uses these times to bring vision out of darkness, song out of silence and peace out of suffering. Allow yourself to hide safely in His shadows, that yours may be illuminated by His light.

Tag, you're it!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Spiritually Fit - No Foolin!

It's April "fools" day today.  I've never liked April 1st because I don't want to make others out to be fools - or see myself made a fool. The devil wants to make fools of us, conversely, God wants to give us wisdom.

James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him."  (NIV, Bold mine.)

How does that pertain to becoming spiritually fit?

Lifting Weights Pictures, Images and PhotosThe world tells us to be physically fit. God says in Ephesians 6:11 to "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." And in verse 12 he goes on to say, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

There's no amount of brawn that can help with this type of battle.  Ephesians 6 goes on to tell us how to be spiritually fit.  In verses 14-18 we find out how to put on God's armor.

Verse 14 tells us to stand firm with the belt of truth around our waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place.

I looked up the word truth in this verse and it means: a. What is true in any matter. b. What is true in things pertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth.

Righteousness means: a. The doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God. b. Integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting.

How can we "put on" a belt of truth or breastplate of righteousness each day?  Spending time in God's word!  We are told that the Bible is truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (KJV)

We are called to not only read the Bible, but to study His word and pick it apart, until we have a real understanding of its truths.  I like the verse that talks of meditating on the scriptures. We are told to talk about them all throughout our day to our children and friends.

Warrior of God Pictures, Images and PhotosI want to encourage you over the next two weeks to begin a practice of not only reading the Word of God, but pondering those words all day long.  Talking about them with others will give you more insight and depth as you let His words become your belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness.

Just like starting a new exercise program at the gym, this will not be easy.  You will have to be determined to take on this new practice of meditating and talking about God's word all day.  Remember the phrase, "No pain, no gain."  This applies to spiritual and physical aspects of life. 

Check back in two weeks, on April 15th to begin the next phase in your spiritual workout (more of God's armor).