Wednesday, August 31, 2011

an intentional walk

I daresay that most of us who read here desire in our hearts to go deeper with God. I would like to think that all of us are seeking to go Higher with Him than ever before. Our relationship with our Lord should be one that is constantly growing. Constantly changing. Constantly moving forward closer and closer to His side.

If we look back at our spiritual walk and we don't see that we are any closer to Him today than we were at this time last year, there is something wrong in our relationship with Him. If we are ever going to be all that we can be for Him and through Him and of Him, we have to be walking in the Spirit daily and we have to be on the path leading to Him.

Do you want to go deeper? Seek Higher? Our growth in our God is contingent upon our nourishment of His Word. We will only grow in knowledge through the fervent study of the Holy Scriptures.  We must make a daily effort to spent quality time with God in His Word. The more we do this, the greater  hunger we will develop for it.  The greater our hunger for Him and His Word, the more we will devour it and nourish our spiritual lives with it. 

As we sit before Him, let's sit with hearts wide open, eyes focused on Him and spirits ready to receive.  Let's pray that He will speak to us and enable us to comprehend. Pray that He will reveal the hidden manna from His Word to us and that we will grow in our intimate, personal relationship with our God.

His desire is for us to KNOW Him like never before. Let's be intentional about our spiritual walk and purpose in our hearts to nourish ourselves with the Word daily.

"For He satisfieth the longing soul, and
filleth the hungry soul with goodness"
(Psalm 107:9)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Be a Delilah

If you're not familiar with the story of Samson & Delilah, you should go pay a little visit to the Old Testament book of Judges. Samson's story starts in Chapter 13, but it is in Chapter 16 we meet Delilah.

We're told Samson, a man of great strength, was in love with Delilah. He told her the secret of his great was his hair, it had never been cut. And she told the Philistines (his enemies), and they cut his hair, and gouged out his eyes, and bound him with shackles, sending him to prison.

Samson loved Delilah. But she betrayed him by sharing his weaknesses. How about you? Are you sharing your husband's weaknesses? Oh, perhaps not with his enemies, but with your friends?

Proverbs 31:11 says, "The heart of her husband trusts in her." When we share our husband's weaknesses with others, we are in fact weakening him further. Keeping his weakness between you and your spouse will strengthen your marriage.

That isn't to say that as women we don't sometimes need a trusted girlfriend to share our issues with. That isn't what this post is about. But certainly you know who your trusted girlfriend is. It isn't the group of gals together at your ladies night out. It isn't even in your group Bible study. You can ask for prayer in a general manner without specifics. The Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit can intervene with others are praying for us, and don't need the details. As wives we must respect our husbands.

Finally, stay away from the proverbial scissors. We may not cut our husband's hair and take their strength - but we may cut them down, and in doing so steal their strength in our own eyes, and in theirs too.

Your husband, like you, is God's dearly beloved. Are you treating him as such? Don't be a Delilah.


Monday, August 22, 2011

525,600 minutes

LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Psalm 39:4-5

That is how many minutes are in one year.

What are we doing with those minutes?

A recent storm took our power for just a few moments. Everything stopped. The computer was forced to rely on battery power, the radio stopped, no warning, just yielded to the silence of our home, the washing machine ceased it's spinning and the air shut down.

Though the clock remained still, quiet, dark...time was still passing. Not even the rage of the storm could stop time. Time is something that stops for no-one. We can’t reverse it, neither can we regain it…what we have and what we do with it is fully within our hands.

In making the Sabbath Day Holy, or set apart for no work or labor – God was trying to show us the importance of making time for Him. As a child, I attended church every single Sunday. As an adult, it seemed natural to carry on the tradition. Truly, one hour per week...who cannot commit to that? There are 8766 hours per year, only 52 of them brimming with the expectation of worship. So, a challenge still remains – will we set aside time for our Lord and Saviour? Are we saving our time for Him, strictly for church, or are we spending time with Him daily in His Word and in prayer?

"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Mark 1:35

It amazing that for things we ‘want’ to do- time very seldom is a factor. We rearrange, reschedule, cut short, cancel, we make all the necessary changes to make ‘it happen’. But for God…the first fruits are not always reserved for Him. He just always seems to get the ‘timeouts’ of our life. Just a few seconds here and there, and then we wonder why life is passing us by. He calls us and we forgo calling Him back. He sends us His people tired, needy and desperately craving His truths and we busily hurry by them, missing the opportunity to share Him with them. What are you doing with your minutes? I know mine are painfully misaligned. I certainly don't mean it to be that way, however if my time is short, then I want to be serious about making changes to embrace the Lord

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

This summer, God has quietly led me through the first part of a year-long journey through His Word. I look forward to our quiet time together and anxiously scroll through the readings eager for His wisdom and prayerful about what He is doing in my life. In encouragement and love, I share with you that "I don't always get it." However, the Lord has made it clear to ALL of us that our understanding is not His understanding. Ultimately, I do desire to understand clearly, however, for this minute, I am at peace spending critical time with the Lord each day, trusting His guidance and wisdom to make ALL of my minutes more meaningful, with His purpose and not my own.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12

With Him, life goes from being just good to great; discernment helps me manage my time better. He has shown me how I need to prioritize differently. Our minutes need to "count", my minutes with Him make the rest of the minutes worthwhile. If I can do "it", whatever "it" may be, to His glory and serve Him gladly; 525,600 minutes hold great purpose.

We are assured that if we seek Him readily, he seeks us also.

What are you doing with your minutes???


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

do you want more??

Do you want to know God in a more intimate way? Do you desire to have a deeper, more personal relationship with our Creator? Do you just want to seek Him higher?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, God is ready for you to take the steps necessary to make this happen! God pursues us and His desire is for His to purposefully pursue Him right back! He wants us to have a deeply intimate relationship with Him and when we are earnestly seeking this, He will NOT disappoint us.

The WORD tells us in Jeremiah 29:13, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart". Dear friends, He is telling us that when we seek Him we WILL find Him!! How awesome is that thought! He wants to be found by us. His heart is yearning for us to yearn for Him!

I don't know about you but that just fills me with such a deep longing to go face down and begin this seeking process right now! Oh, I want to be a true seeker of God. I want to be passionate about my pursuit of Him.

If this is your hearts cry, start each day in fervent prayer with our Lord. Pour out your heart to Him and tell Him your hearts desire. As you seek Him in purpose and prayer, He WILL be found by you...


Monday, August 15, 2011

What Makes a Dad

What Makes A Dad

God took the strength of a mountain, The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun, The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature, The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages, The power of the eagle's flight,

The joy of a morning in spring, The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity, The depth of a family's need,

Then God combined these qualities, When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it ... Dad

~Author Unknown~

Pretty high praise for a dad here! And I like it! I don't know if we are always that deserving of the praise provided here, but for those dads who ...

- place a priority on the home

- work hard to not let work encroach upon family functions

- honor their sons as young men

- honor their daughters as young ladies

- honor their wives as best friends, lovers, life partners, one flesh

- honor God above all ...

this praise may be fitting.

The bad fathering we see done, and the generational problems that ensue, might cause us to question the wisdom of the above poem. But when we see a dad playing ball with his kids, catching them at the bottom of the slide, carrying them around on his shoulders, and walking into the worship assembly with them, we know a masterpiece is still possible.

Warren Baldwin

(Note: Photo compliments of Amy Free Photography

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Crucible of Marriage

In the beginning, God announces, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So God makes Eve for Adam.

Then Paul comes along in the New Testament and proclaims, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am” (I Corinthians 7:8).

So . . .

It is not good to be alone.

But . . .

It is good to stay unmarried.

What are we to make of this apparent contradiction?

I appreciate the way Gary Thomas spoke to this paradox. In his book, Sacred Marriage, he says:

If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question – stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise. (21)

Thomas makes a valid point. If we want to serve Jesus, then remaining single frees us to do so more than we could if we were married. But if we want to become more like Christ, transformed into His image, then marriage is a sacred, God-designed relationship to help accomplish this.

Of course, we can still serve in the kingdom as married folks. And, of course, unmarried folks can become transformed into the image of Christ.

The real point being made is the nature – the intended purpose – for the marriage relationship.

Throughout the Old Testament, the analogy of marriage depicts God’s relationship to the people of Israel. Then in the New Testament, the analogy of marriage depicts Christ’s relationship to the church, His bride.

The marriage relationship is how God describes His love for us. Thus, in our own marriages, we have the blessed opportunity to love God by loving our spouse. As Thomas explains:

The real transforming work of marriage is the twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment. This is the crucible that grinds and shapes us into the character of Jesus Christ. (22)

Perhaps thinking of marriage as a crucible sounds harsh. Or painful. That’s because it can be. But the beauty of marriage is what comes out of the crucible. A heart molded by God’s hand. A love shaped by Christ’s sacrifice.

To marry, or not to marry, is not the question. Rather, what do I envision the purpose of marriage to be? Do I see marriage as a means to my own happiness? Or do I see marriage as a way to love God and love another person and become transformed in the process?

What are your thoughts on God’s purpose for marriage?



Monday, August 8, 2011

The Widows and the Orphans...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

I often refer to the above scripture as it relates to our family. As an adoptive mama, I am fiercely protective of our choice to adopt and also prepared for questions. I love that scripture has called us to this task and does so in several areas of His Word. But, what about the widows?

Who are they?

Where do they live?

Is this really our responsibility?

Well, simply, yes. And they are close by, I assure you.

I recently visited my grandmother in the nursing facility of her home. Due to our schedule, we arrived just at lunchtime and I considered leaving, as not to disturb her during mealtime. My grandmother does not know who we are...she brightens with great aniticpation when we enter, with certain familiarity, but struggles with what significance we have in her life. She LOVES seeing the children, an area she disliked when her memory served her faithfully.

Truth be told, we have only been in my grandmother's life for 20 years. She married my grandfather after my grandmother had gone home to Jesus. I have been blessed with TWO wonderful grandmothers in this life. So, even though my grandfather has now also gone home to be with Jesus, I still feel called to visit and spend time with this remarkable lady.

On the day we arrived at lunchtime, she was seated with three other lovely ladies. The conversation turned to the children and remained there for quite some time. During a particularly spirited part of the conversation, one of the women reached out to one of my children and asked quite boldly for a hug. And then she replied with sadenss, "No one comes to visit and it has been a really long time since I have been hugged."

Needless to say, this was HUGE push from God for our family to more clearly see how He wants us to care for the widows around us. I have them in my family, in my neighborhood, in the home where my grandmother resides. Are there folks hurting in your community? We can take them a special gift, sit and spend time, read to them, pray with them. I share this because it may be that God is calling you to tend to someone needing a hug this very day. Will you outstretch your arms?

" that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 14:29


Friday, August 5, 2011

Unconditional Faith

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

Have you ever heard the phrase "unconditional love"?  As a married woman I'm quite familiar with it.  I've learned to have unconditional love for my husband and children using God's example.  I'm not always great at it, and I find conditions creeping up from time to time. But those are the times when God gently reminds me to show His love (which is always unconditional) to my family, and I quickly change my tune.

I remember the first time God told me my faith was conditional.  It was 2005 and my nephew had just died of cancer.  I got angry at God for choosing not to heal him, when we had been praying with faith for his healing.  I had a whole arsenal of scriptures to prove He had to heal my nephew!  Only He didn't.  My nephew went to heaven, there is no question about that.  But with no understanding of why God chose not to heal, I went numb to prayer.  I wasn't sure how God's word could be true. After all, I had faith that God would heal. 

It was during this dry time when God first whispered to me, "Your faith is conditional."

How can faith be conditional? I thought.  To have faith means to believe, right?

God began to show me that just as my love could be conditional - based on the actions of my loved ones, so my faith had been conditional - based on whether or not God acted the way I told Him to.

OUCH!!!  He was right!!!  Because He chose not to physically heal my nephew, I got angry and my faith became conditional.

In the years since this revelation, I've watched my faith go back and forth between unconditional and conditional, but now I see it happening and quickly remember to focus my faith on God and not the outcome I'm hoping for. 

How's your faith? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a heart like David's

"I will praise thee, O LORD, with my
whole heart; I will show forth all thy
marvelous works."

"The LORD also will be a refuge for the
oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will
put their trust in thee: for thou,
LORD, hast not forsake them
that seek thee"
(Psalm 9:1,9,10)

I love how King David got right to the heart of the matter. He always got straight to the point and always went deep into the precious heart of God. He was surely anointed of our God. And because of His open and sincere heart, God spoke power through the heart and lips of David. 

The Lord is our refuge and when we earnestly seek Him in prayer, He will not forsake us. He will not abandon us. He will hear our cries and attend to us. 

If we are to go higher with God, we have to make sure that our hearts are open and receptive to His Word and calling. We have to make sure when we petition Him, our hearts are bare and truthful and sincere.  When we come before Him in all humility and are truly seeking His perfect will for our lives, He is more than able and willing to fill us with His mighty Spirit.  We need to come before Him like King David did. Humble, repentant and with a servants heart. Eagerly seeking and ready for God to do a mighty work. When we pour out to God, He will pour out to us.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

“Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope you’re having a good day so far.”

Thanks, Jenny.

“Want to go out with mom and me for lunch for your birthday, Dad?”

Sure, Kristin!

“What book do you want for your birthday? Something by John Ortberg, or a book about Tim Tebow?”

Either one, Wes.

These are all calls I’ve had from my three kids in honor of my birthday. It’s a good feeling.

Family rituals are important for establishing cherished traditions and allowing the children to be fully integrated into the family’s life. Each nuclear family needs those rituals, and it is healthy for the extended family to share them, as well (such as enjoying holiday meals together, occasional reunions, etc.).

For years Cheryl and I made a big ritual out of our kids’ birthdays. Now it is coming back to bless us.

Thanks, kids.

Warren Baldwin