Thursday, April 30, 2009
I found this short post with some great questions to get us thinking~so go check it out and spend some time this next week with God getting rid of your idols. This is take us being real and honest before God, but He already knows. I also encourage you to ask a faithful friend or an older woman to keep you accountable to what you have said you will lay at the foot of the cross!
Click here to check it out!
"You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
My husband and I have been given the incredible privilege to be a part of a body of believers that is led by what we would call a "true shepherd." In the recent words of my husband he is a man who is "unwavering and unashamed of the Gospel. He sacrifices much to make God look good." A recent example of this is a sermon series he just finished on grace. Click here to listen on-line.
What was so wonderful about the entire series was that is was not about "saving grace," but something entirely different. It was about how we actually live out and grow in grace! Two weeks ago, Pastor Jim said, "God always gives us what we don't deserve and withholds what we do deserve. This also means that grace frees God to give us what love requires." I was literally silenced for the rest of the day! Just a side note: this is a rare thing! :)
You see, we were recently gifted with something far beyond what I would even call reasonable. Something that we knew we were most certainly undeserving of, yet in God's perfect ways He saw fit to "grace" us with. Why? I'm still not sure, except for the simple fact that God always gives us what we don't deserve. We are very aware that with this gracious gift comes great responsibility that we do not take lightly. A beautiful thing it has developed in me is this constant awareness of my thoughts concerning this gift.
I know this is also the beautiful hand of God at work getting me to return to a constant state of open communication with Him. He is so good to work that way. Kind of like letting us learn to be humble by giving us children to raise! If you have any, you know what I'm talking about, bless their sweet little hearts~
And speaking of children, through this series and the lavish gift of grace God bestowed upon us, He rendered my heart still at the thought that I had much room to grow in offering grace to my children. Honestly, this is sometimes hard for me because of the amount of training involved in raising two strong and charging young men! They sometimes seem so differently behaved than their peers and the things they come up with to do simple leave me speechless sometimes. I tend to lean on the side of firm, rather than grace.
But, you know what? I was chosen to be their mama! I was chosen to to do for them what no one else can do! I was asked by God to walk in the grace He has given me, in order to give that grace to these precious children entrusted to me for their time on earth. This does not always come easy, but then....am I not a child of God who is also sometimes acting in such a way that makes it difficult to be one who is shown grace? YES! I definitely am~
So, what I deserve is nothing even close to the idea of grace, but what I am given is grace in it's purest form. Love that springs from the heart of my Heavenly Father, because He desires for me to walk in grace, be strengthened in grace and live out grace to those around me.
Who around you needs to be shown the beautiful hand of grace? Are you aware of what you have been given, not just to be saved but to bestow upon others? Well, then to all of us I say, let's get to work "springing grace" on those around us! (You will understand this more after listening to the sermon series!)
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The following is a re-post from the original.
Blameless. Uncompromised. Uncontaminated. Above reproach. Morally upright.
Will I keep watching the same shows? Will I keep responding the same way? Will I go to the same activities and keep the same friends? Will I keep practicing the same habits?
All of these are decisions we must be intentional about making. Our lives should be reflection of Christ. Christ is always with us, so what do we have going on in our lives that would bring Him shame?
The heart behind what and why we do things is most important. My best advice is this: If you have aligned your heart with God, then follow what it tells you to do. Do not be swayed by friends asking, why don't you do this? why don't you come along with us? why? why? why?
You alone are responsible before God for your life. Set the goal to be found faithful. Use the questions and doubts from others as an opportunity to be a witness for the things that matter most to God.
This past week, the question was raised to me, "What do we do with our minds in our free time?" Have you ever given much thought to this type of question? Laziness in our thinking opens a wide door for temptation and distraction. How are you guarding your thought life?
Satan works very hard to lead us astray in our thought life by introducing all different kinds of distractions. Do you remember in Paul's letter to the Corinthians that he says, "I am afraid that...your minds will be led away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3) Nothing would please Satan more than to see us compromise in our own minds, because then our internal thinking will be the catalyst to throw off all of our thinking. When we are compromised in our own mind, we are more likely to find ways to "justify" that which does not align with what God desires for us.
You see our minds are powerful and they can come up with all sorts of scenarios all on their own. How many times when faced with an unknown outcome do we begin to "think" of all the possibilities, both good and bad? This is when we enter the door of trouble. So, here is the place where we must STOP!
How do we combat lazy thinking? Getting in God's Word. More recently, I keep hearing this answer for so many things. Does it sound cliche? Well, yes to some it may, but it is absolutely the right answer every time!
Why? Because in today's world we cannot afford to be lazy and give Satan open doors to our minds. This is the ultimate contamination! Purity is to be free of contamination.
Let this be our prayer this week:
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Paintings by Presto McDaniels
This book is a wonderful training tool for young boys, concerning guarding their pure heart. There is also a version for young girls. It tells the story of a young squire who accompanies a knight on a quest to rescue the Lantern of Purest Light. Along the way, he uses the commands taught to him by his parents from his scroll. An example is "Make level paths for your feet." A wonderful training tool and a good story with beautiful paintings.
One Boy.........Laura Vaccaro Seeger This fun book uses cut-outs within the page to help make words on the following page. Very fun reading with bright primary color pictures.
Inch by Inch..........Leo Lionni (Caldecott Honor Book) A simple and eye-drawing book of artwork with a story of a winsome inchworm who measure everything under the sun!
Charlie & Lola: But excuse Me that is My book................... Lauren Child Based on the television show Charlie and Lola, this book is very fun to read and look at! The pictures and print are whimsical and crazy. The story is about a book Lola loves that she is unable to bring home her favorite book, but finds something new and exciting!
ABCDrive........Naomi Howland A fun alphabet picture book that uses all the many different things we see as we travel for the alphabet words.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.......Virginia Lee Burton If you have not been exposed to Ms. Burtons artwork, it is enchanting! The sweet story of enduring friendship and loyalty will inspire your children to look out for the best for others.
The Little House......Virginia Lee Burton This is one of my all-time favorites! The precious story of a little house that struggles to not get pushed out of her homestead as the city grows all around her. A very special person soon comes to bring life back to the Little House as the story comes to a sweet ending.
Island Boy.......Barbara Cooney This book tells of a boy name Mattias and his lived that is well-lived. From the beginning of his life to the end, he made choices that were for the good of his own heart and those whom he loved. The artwork is amazing!
How My Library Grew by Dinah...........Martha Alexander A very sweet story of how a little girls town library is built and how she and Teddy find something special when it is all finished!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 300°~ Do this first thing!
1. Place pecans in zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3
2. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
3. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
5.Add 1 c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalms 34:8 and John 3:16.
6. Beat the mixture on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
7. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
Friday, April 10, 2009
And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no guilt in this man."
Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him." But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. (From Luke 23)
Tonight, we are going to go the cross and spend some time in prayer and share with our two sons what today means. How might you find some time today to stop and just say "thank you." Although for such a free gift, thank you seems quite small, let God see your heart at sometime today. Honest before Him in absolute awe and gratitude for what He has done for all humanity.
Pray for someone that is not a believer and share the true hope of Easter this year with someone God's places in your path. Find some way to remember today, so that your heart will sincerely be ready to rejoice in the hope of Easter morning!
Come back tomorrow for a special Easter Cookie recipe to share with your kids Saturday night & Sunday morning!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Who is this King of Glory?
Yesterday I had the privilege to read from my favorite chapter in the Bible, Isaish 53. The words of this precious chapter in the Bible cause my heart to stir with much grief and gratitude. How could I despise such a Savior? How could He endure the scourging and shame for someone as wretched as I?
The smallness of my mind and the greatness of God's collide at these thoughts and I bow out and accept that I will not understand His ways, for He Himself tells me, "My thoughts are not your thoughts and neither your ways My ways." (Isaish 55:8)
Who is this King of Glory?
I am starting this week humbled at the thought of my Lord soon walking the road to the cross on my behalf. I am intentionally choosing this week not to just let Friday slip by, for without Friday, we would not have a glorious Easter to celebrate.
So take some time today and meditate on the words of Isaiah 53~
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. " (verses 3-5)
Who is this King of Glory?
Friday, April 3, 2009
Well, so often that evil little three letter word creeps in...
This is what I have come to realize about that little three letter word is that it negates everything previously said.
Yes God, I know you are sovereign and working in my best interest, but....
Yes God, You have proved yourself faithful time and time again, but....
Yes God, I know what Your word says and I believe that it is inspired by You and applicable for all times, but....
So, in one small word we have lessened the sovereignty of God, His absolute faithfulness and made His word less powerful than it most certainly is! It is not always blatant, but if it is there than He knows our doubt and we so often act on that instead of acting on faith.
Now, what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the hope of things not seen." Things not seen is a very real idea to us, especially in today's economy. We cannot see the future of our investments, we cannot see how we will make it through the week without any income, we cannot see how we will go another day with so little sleep, we cannot see how our fear will not overcome us. The list goes on and on. Yes, it does seem quite rocky in our world today, but honestly, we have never been able to "see" all that was ahead! Not even in the times of plenty and little concern. Can you think back to a time of "plenty" in your life? Were you trusting a little easier then? Probably you were. I know that I would say I did.
Unfortunately it is probably because we felt like we were more secure. Uncertain time cause us to be uncertain. When in all honesty, they should cause us to have more confidence! Why? Becuase the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE is working on our behalf. I once heard John Piper say, "God is busy at work doing 1,000 things in your life right now, that you cannot see." Ahh! There is that "hope for things unseen." What a beautiful picture of God Himself at work on my behalf. I also love that just because things in my life change, my God does not change.
My husband losing his job, does not make God less sovereign.
My children stubbornly remaining in foolishness, does not make God less powerful.
My finances lost in the world market, does not make God less than a perfect Provider.
My unanswered questions and fears, does not make God out of touch with me.
In complete contrast, the ways of the world, which fail so often, should cause us to burst out in thanksgiving and strengthen our faith because we KNOW God has NOT changed! And, the other beauty in faith is that is only has to be the size of a mustard seed and God Himself will strengthen it! Nothing will be impossible for me, because God is on my side.
The other amazing thing about God is that He doesn't shut down the work site. When I stumble in my faith, when it is incredibly weak and I am questioning, He is still at work. He is not getting paid to do what He does for me and for you, but He is faithfully working hard for us! Some of the things we are doing right now with our lives do not seem to be collecting any benefits. Does that make them worthless time spent? Absolutely not, because we know that " in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:9)
Are you carrying a heavier load right now due to the ways of our world? It has caused many of us to save more, work more and do with less, which is honestly sometimes a little more work. But because we can trust, we can keep doing. We do not want to be the fool talked about in James: "Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?" (James 2:20) We want to be those found faithful in the end, hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant." ( Matthew 25:21)
Saying we have faith in our God, yet not doing the very things He is asking of us is showing that "faith apart from works is useless." We cannot fake trust. We either do trust or we don't, period.
So, where are you having to trust right now that seems beyond your own ability? That's it! You have found the perfect place in which you need to be absolutely obedient and say yes to God. For me, it is that God is asking me to work less and be home more. (Which I am more that happy to do!) Is there some fear? Yes, because lessening our income in today's world doesn't make that much sense, but... I have very clearly heard my God say, "Just trust me, ok?"