Friday, October 31, 2008
I find it quite interesting that so many are willing to follow this man, even taking on part of his name as their own. (http://http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/us/politics/29hussein.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) Isn't that what we do as Christians? Many have said they are happy to have someone leading that really desires peace, unity, wisdom, equality, and an equal chance for all mankind. Mmmm...are these really new ideas? I am quite certain that we already have someone to follow who has a heart for these very things.
Who? Jesus Christ, of course. I find it dis-heartening that as a nation we have drifted so far from what God desires for us, that we would be content to put our trust in man, instead of God. We, as a nation, have come to the place where our personal wants and desires trump what is next to God's heart. As Christians, we have the responsiblity to live our lives according to those things that matter most to God.
We stay faithful in our marriages, because it matters to God. We raise our children according to God's Truth, because it matters to God. We set boundaries for ourselves in the world concerning temptation, because it matters to God. We vote on the issues that matter to God.
Charisma is not on the top of the list of things that matter to God. Lest we forget the story of Moses, where he says to the Lord in Exodus 4:10, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." Did the Lord then disqualify Moses to be His chosen leader? No, God responded by saying, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."
Where do Christians get the notion that charisma is an important quality for our next president? If we are claiming the name of Christ, then we should be voting for the issues that matter to God. Period. We don't get to have a personal opinion about whether we like how they dress, how they speak or what they can "promise" us that sounds good. We chose to do that which matters to God when we chose to follow Him. When we took on His name as Christians, we took on His values and His heart. So, may I challenge you to spend some time in prayer and in God's Word to find out what He says about the issues of this presidential election and then vote His way. Vote for those things that matter to God, not to your personal preference.
I look with great sadness at our nation and wonder, how is that we have turned completely from the one Source of all we actually desire! We do not want to do it God's way because it will cost us too much. Where would we all be if God had thought at the 23rd hour, never mind, losing my son will just cost me too much. Sadly we have in the 23rd hour decided, never mind God, Your way will cost me too much. People want a tangible leader to follow. Someone that tickles their ears with what they want to hear. I do not believe that any of the desires we have as a nation are new, but the best way for us to achieve them is deemed radical, old-fashioned, and unattainable by means of following the Word of God. So, we have arrived at a place we have brought ourselves. A place of "man following" instead of God following. A place of desiring to follow charisma rather than character. God does not always choose that which is the most appealing. Let us not forget that He has chosen each of us. 2 Corinthinas 4:7 syas, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves."
I take great comfort in that which our country stands on, (although some would love to get rid of this thinking) "In God We Trust." That is where I place my trust , because God is sovereign and He is not surprised by any of this. He will still prevail in the end and His plans and purposes will come to fruition. All men, women and children are a part of God's purpose and plan. The nation may get for themselves what they want, I will wait to see if they will be pleased. I have a feeling it will not take long for us as a nation, a discontent kind of people, to be on the search again for that which will tickle our ears and please our wants.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Well, one does not have to spend too much time with the average child under the age of 6 to realize the truth of this verse. More importantly I wonder what does one think about that truth? Is it normal? Is it cute, because, well she is just so adorable. Is it heart breaking? Yes, I believe that should be our answer. This behavior in our children should be of great concern to us. Why? Because they are walking the path of unrighteousness, which is the way of darkness and death. Their foolishness separates them from the path of righteousness, which is the way of life.
This is the purpose of my responsibility as a parent. To train them in righteousness. My heart breaks when my child is lost in his foolishness, but I do not despair, because I know there is hope. The window of opportunity, although somewhat limited, is open...now! So what does God's word tell me to do? "Discipline your son while there is hope and do not desire his death." Proverbs 19:18.
What is the value of discipline and instruction? She is life, both to me and to my children. "Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life." Proverbs 4:13. It is a wearisome responsiblity to constantly be training your children, but I know it is important to God, so it must be important to me! A half-hearted attempt will not accomplish the task. I am confident that I am not the only mother that has spent half the day training a one year old not to touch the tv buttons. Was the effort worth it? Yes! Instead of storing away our household belongings, they are out and enjoyed because the children understand their boundaries.
I also have to admit, that was a much easier task, then what I now face at the age we have arrived. Why? The boundaries seem more valuable, yet harder to stay within. Each day I am seeing one of my boys battling his sin. Not just an occasional occurance, but a serious battle. Where is my role? Right alongside him in the trenches. He must come to the place of surrendering his own will to the will of His heavenly Father. It is my job to be the guardrails, the voice of truth and discipline. I must be on my knees to know how to reach the heart of this child. It does not rest upon my shoulders, because ultimately God is in control of this transformation, but I must be found faithful in my role.
Oh my dear, this is where the battle begins for me. The daily distractions and responsibilities are ever knocking at my door and I am pulled in many directions. But, the value of discipline is life. So I trust in my Heavenly Father and rely on Him to do the heart work in my children as I do the laboring here on earth. I do not labor in vain or all on my own. Just as God loves me and disciplines me, I also love my children and need to discipline them.
This is more than just being consistent, but rather it is a life choice I make in being a mother. It is the daily sacrifice I make when I decide it is most valuable. Many things pull for the attention of my children, I must be on guard, so that I am first in line. Ready with Truth, which is the most effective weapon I have against the enemy. I will not surrender, I will not back down. I know that I am in a fight for the heart of my child. The world tries hard to distract me, so I must say no to them and Yes! to God.
Oh Father, I need Your strength to stay strong in the battle. I need Your wisdom to know how to speak to the heart of my child. I need You.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I had the privilege of co-leading a group last year with on older wiser woman and I am leading a group this year on my own. We are meeting one Saturday a month, so I thought on the Saturday we meet I would share one nugget of truth from Titus 2.
The first four qualities speak to the "older women," which by biblical standards is one of the approximate age of sixty. But, age alone does not qualify a woman to leave a godly legacy. She must be one who has done the work of raising her own chidren and honoring her husband, or serving the needs of the less fortunate and being devoted to good works. Her life needs to be an example of God's Truth in action. So, here we start with "reverent in their behavior". This is a complex topic that has many small bits and pieces. As we studied all of the qualities last year, we could always find our way back to starting with reverent behavior. So, are you ready for the defintion of "reverent in their behavior?" It is having God-centered daily living which flows from a personal relationship with God; resembling that which is important to God and stems from a heart that desires to obey God.
The heart of this older woman, sees all of life from God's viewpoint. If you were to watch her walk through her day, you would see what is next to God's heart! What a beautiful picture of bringing honor to God through one's daily life and choices.
I am not an older woman. I hardly qualify at the age of 31 with two small boys at home. So, what is there for me to learn from this quality for the older woman? Well, to be honest quite a bit. I will start by telling you that I desire to become an older woman, so I must be practicing! I will not just arrive at the age of 60, with my children grown and suddenly be wise, reverent and so on. No way, not on your life. How will I get there? It will be by my choosing to study God's word, to be obedient and to do this over a lifetime.
The only way I know how to to this is to never lose my first love for Jesus. He must permeate my life in every aspect. I heard Rick Warren say recently, "If you haven't prayed about something, you are doing it on your own." I have left Him out of the picture. How do I know what is next to God's heart if I am not pursuing Him? It is impossible. I think back to when my husband had decided he wanted to "date me for the rest of my life." We both spent a great deal of time seeking out ways to know one another better. He spent time listening and remembering what was close to my heart and I did the same with him. Now, after nearly ten years of marriage we know much of each others heart and we are still seeking to understand new facets of each other. As we grow, so must our devotion to learning about one another.
Now, God does not change or grow, but there is so much to know about Him, that even in a lifetime, I will not come to know all that is next to His heart. But I must be trying each and everyday. This will not happen by accident or luck. We, dear women, must make the time and take the time to learn about God, so that we can live our lives in such a way that we show the world what is next to His heart.
What have your family or friends seen in your life today that is a precious picture of God's heart? Where can you start to live this out on a daily basis. I pray we will all quiet ourselves before our Heavenly Father and seek to know what it is He desires for us to surrender, so that we do not lose sight of our first love. Oh Father, how I long to know your heart, so that I can live accordingly.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The boys and I were able to make our annual visit to the pumpkin patch this year, although Daddy was unable to attend with us. We had so much fun and I was amazed at the beauty of the land. God's perfect care of a patch of pumpkins, made available at the perfect time of year for us to come and enjoy. He is a God of details and I am so grateful. My heart is heavy at this time and I smile at the knowledge that God knows and is busy at work in my life even when I do not see it all. The simple laughter and joy of my boys settles the storm inside me. God's gracious gift of ever-living joy all around me. Thank you Father, I do not deserve your graciousness, yet you so abundantly enrich my life with your love.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Stop and think for a moment about what it looks like to be devoted to prayer. Would you consider yourself a woman devoted to prayer? Before attending the True Woman conference in Schaumberg, IL last weekend, I would have said that I am quite serious about prayer. I was wrong. While Fern Nichols, founder of Moms in Touch International, shared her heart for prayer, God struck my heart with the realization that I am not on my knees nearly enough.
I am a woman who desires to leave a godly legacy and I am grateful to God for exposing an area that I have not invested in to it's fullest potential. "Prayer," said Nichols, "is an everlasting legacy, an eternal investment." Ian Bound said, "God shapes the world by prayer and prayers outlive the ones who pray them." My prayers will outlive me? Ok, help me understand this, I was thinking.
Enter the idea of a prayer bowl. Nichols held in her hand a beautiful cream ceramic bowl and asked us to think of one person for whom we had been praying. Now, imagine that your prayers are all in this bowl and that they are put in a secure place. At just the right moment, in God's perfect timing, He reaches into the bowl and pulls out a prayer and answers the heart of your prayer. Two days, two months or twenty years ago~
Yes, the tears were flowing. The sight in my mind of God safeguarding all my most intimate thoughts, questions, fears, doubts and hopes for both myself and others was breathtaking. I know there are some of you that have been on your knees for the salvation of a loved one, the mending of a broken relationship, a prodigal, and many others. Do not lose hope because God, at just the right time, will reach down into your bowl and pull out a prayer have the perfect answer.
Does it look just like we desire? Probably not, but I have found that God usually outdoes my hightest desire or by way of saying no has protected with His hand of mercy. We do not have because we do not ask. Have you heard this before? It does not say we do not have because God forgot. No, he says in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."
I long to have a deeper more loving relationship with God my Father and I know that through prayer that is developed. I know that God is trustworthy and will work in the best interest of all that I lay at His feet. Even when I am no longer here, my prayer bowl will still be in a safe kept place next to the heart of my Father. I long to pray with a heart that longs for what God wants. Oh gracious Father, may I be found faithful in being a woman devoted to prayer. Thank you for being the kind of God who treasures the broken words of your children so much that You safeguard them over time and do not forget.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I will be posting several different special insights the Lord showed me over the three days~
To start, I would like to share something Pastor John Piper shared in his message on Friday night. He started his message by stating that, "Wimpy theology makes wimpy women!" Womanhood was not an afterthought of God in the process of creation. It was in His orginal design! So what does this tell us?
In Piper's words, "Do not settle for wimpy theology, it is beneath you!" Wimpy theology finds at it's core the idea of women-centeredness. Now ladies, how in the world are we to magnify God if we are centered on ourselves? Simple. We are not able to magnify God. Is that scary? YES!!
Piper stated, "True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of God in ways it would not be displayed, if there were no womanhood." Yes, go ahead and read it again. It did say that we, as women, are called to display God's glory in a unique way. This is exciting to me! I know that as a mother and wife I have a high calling on my life, but to know that my womanhood alone is capable of displaying God's glory is humbling.
Now the obvious question is, "What does this kind of womanhood look like specifically?" When thinking about the purpose of her being in a wheelchair for 40 years, Joni Eareckson Tada sees God's divine hand at work every day of her life. What does she have to say about it?"This paralysis is my greatest mercy." Just sit a moment and soak in what she said. Does this sound like wimpy theology? Not even close. If she was a wimpy woman, she would have said that her paralysis was God's greatest injustice to her and her family. But, that is not even close to where her heart is. Why? Becasue she is close to her sovereign God and she trusts Him.
The other statement I loved from Piper's message is his challenge to us that we would, "Be done with small thoughts about God's design for womanhood." The world tells us through every possible avenue that womanhood is unecessary. We can have children on our own, climb the corporate ladder on our own, create our own happiness, be aggressive, in-control, successful and powerful. Why would we possibly want to settle for just being a wife and a mother? What a waste of a life, says the world.
What do we think? Do we fall prey to this thinking? I confess that I do sometimes wonder if I am doing enough. As if being about the purpose of serving my husband and helping him do what God has called him to do for His kingdom is not enough. The training of children in righteousness. Does that actually sound like a weekend project?
My role as a woman in my home as a helpmate and a mother, is profoundly valuable to God. He is trusting me in these roles to display His glory. Can anyone else do for my husband and children what I can do? No~ Can anyone do for my God what I can do? No~
What a beautiful picture to me. The sacrifice of myself as I wash and hang clothes, knead bread, teach my son to read, memorize scripture for training my children, type my husbands Sunday School notes, organize his numerous papers for study, get up before my body actually desires to be awake...what do these things do? They, with the attitude of serving God alone, display God's glory. Each of us is sacrificing daily for the needs of others. Do we see the sacrifice through the lens of displaying God's glory? We definitely should.
Where has God called you to display his glory? How are you doing? Oh I pray that each of us will find the joy in surrendering to the fullness of true womanhood. Answering the call to do that which displays God's glory in all I do with my life.
If you would like to hear John Piper's message in complete form, please check it out at http://www.truewoman.com Click on re-live True Woman 08 Conference. You can also access Joni Eareckson Tada's message at this same link.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I am in the mission field of training two young boys into the righteousness of the Lord. So, I thought it would be fun to have Child Training Tuesday~ Each week I will post new aspects of training our child's character, which inevitably will also train our own!
A dear friend and mentor shared two great books with me that I will be using as references for some of the information shared here on Child Training Tuesday. If you are interested in ordering the books, they can be found at amazon.com/books.
What Every Child Should Know Along the Way (Gail Martin)
A Child's Book of Character Building: Book 1 (Ages 3-7) (Ron and Rebekah Coriell)
Investing time into building your child's character is a big commitment, but I feel that is one of the most significant things I can do for my sons. Some days we play and bake quite a bit and the method of formal training doesn't really happen. But I am still given many opportunities to train their character~sweet teachable moments.
Attentive: Listening with my eyes, my ears and my heart.
Proverbs 4:20-21 "My son, give attention to my words. Incline your ear to my sayings, do not let them depart from your sight."
Obedience: Doing what I am asked to do with a happy & submissive heart.
Ephesians 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
Each morning we start school with prayer, pledge and music. Then we come to the table for character training. My boys stand in "listening stance" (like a soldier) and I ask them one at a time, "What is attentive?" They answer by stating what is written above. My (almost) three year old, does need some help, so I have invented signs to help remember the words to the definition and verse. We continue this through all the character qualities they know this far. We also do a sticker chart for remembering them correctly. Then we follow it with...
Who made you? God made me.
Genesis 1:27 "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
What else did God make? God made all things.
Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and
This catechism information can be found at: http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/child_cat.html
Why do I think this is so important? God says that it is important. Enjoy this with your children and remember that God will also give you wonderful opportunities to flesh these out in your own attitudes!
"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Father I pray that no matter what he is planning in his heart, that Your purpose will prevail in his life. (Proverbs 19:21)
O, that he would have heart of integrity that desires to follow hard after You. Give him a narrow path to follow with a wide vision for what You want to use him for in accomplishing good for Your kingdom~ Amen
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I went to bed that night, after getting half of the things accomplished, in prayer about the right motivation. I feel that at the core of me there is great desire for accomplishment and great organization, but in the daily routine it competes with many distractions. I have found that I am not alone in this struggle, but I longed for God to show me how to make right my attitude and my motivation.
He is so faithful. Our church is currently in "Simplify" mode. We are focusing on doing what matters most and as a church whole we are studying the book by Rick Warren, titled The Purpose Driven Life. This Sunday the focus was worship. I was created to worship God. Our pastor posed this question at the start of his message: "What one phrase would capture the message of the Bible?" Ok...no small amount of effort here to answer such a loaded question. How would God have anwsered? Mark 12:30 "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
This is the one thing God desires and it must come from the four origins listed above: heart, soul, mind and strength. Each of these holds great truth to what kind of source is involved in loving God. Can you guess what the heart is really dealing with? Yes...motivation! I wonder at his faithfulness and timing they are both perfect, without delay or confusion. So, our pastor stated in his teaching this morning that my motivation must not be out of obligation or coercion. It must be simply from a heart that desires to love God. Period.
The four sources of love cause my daily living to be an example of a life that from it's core, or, my very being, is choosing to love God because it makes sense. I am also living out that kind of expression of love by actions that match my motivation. So, practically speaking I am finding motivaton to do the things that need to get done, simply because I love God. I desire to honor and please Him. So, what is this called? This daily living in the state of pleasing God with my life? It is called worship.
Motivation is about my desire to worship God because I love Him from the inside out. I maintain my love for Him by choosing to serve in the life He has given me. If I am looking for motivation to get things done, I have stepped away from a life of worship and made it about me and not God. He alone is my motivation to get things done, because a life that is all about the things that matter to God is a life that is pleasing to Him. Why do I long to please Him? Simply because He is God and that is enough reason for me~
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1
If you would like to hear Pastor Jim's entire message please check it out by clicking here: http://www.colliervillebible.org/327576.ihtml
Click on Simplify-Lesson 2 Why am I here?