Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This is our 20th year Anniversary trip, celebrating 20 years of being friends! Wow--we're kind of old!
"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion."
- Mark Batterson
This was also one:
Feelings are attached to your beliefs. If you want to change the way you feel about something, first change what you believe about it. --Pastor Tony Evans
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What is concerning to me is where we Christians are spending the majority of our time. Are we spending it on the books that we are reading? If so, what are we reading? Are we spending it watching television? If so, what are we watching? Are we spending it on the computer--facebook, reading blogs, email? So, in doing all of these things, do we spend nearly as much time immersed in scripture? If we don't, than what is shaping our worldview? What we fill our minds with is what will shape what we believe. Period.
Some of the books being read by the average Christian (and being 'loved', I might add) is worrisome. One of those would be 'The Shack'. I'll admit that when I first read this book, I got caught up in the hype. Like many, my rationale going on inside my head was: 'it's just fiction--what's the big deal?' and 'it is 'out of the box' and makes you see God's love in a new light'. I even put it on my book list on the side of this blog. However, the more I thought upon this book, the more something didn't sit right with me. I believe now it was one of those Spirit checks--you know the feeling you get deep inside when you know something is not lining up with God's truth. The more I thought upon how God the Father is depicted in The Shack and how VERY contrary it is to God the Father in the Bible, I started to feel sick. Honestly, if you get down to it, it is absolute heresy. In The Shack, God the Father is depicted as a woman. What in the world? Seriously? Filling our heads with 'theology' contrary to biblical theology, is extremely dangerous. How can we say we believe God's Word 100% and yet read something that is in complete opposition to God's Word and not be put off by it?
Then there are the fictional books by Dan Brown--Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code. Again, someone might want to argue that these are just fiction. However, Dan Brown will tell you that he believes the things in these books to be 'truth' (even though they are based on half truths, out right lies and very flimsy conspiracy theories). Again, if we are filling our minds with all of this, but not immersing ourselves in The Truth, our worldview is going to be affected.
Filling our heads with knowledge that is partially true, yet partially 'off' is like standing on a slippery slope. When you stand on a slippery slope your feet slowly slide down until you are standing on different ground. And it happens so gradually you don't know how you got there. That is what is going to happen to our minds. Gradually we will come to a place where we are believing something that is in complete opposition to what the Bible says to be true. And we will wonder how we got there. The bottom line is: are we going to be 'grounded' in scripture or 'man-made' views?
And what about Twilight? Harry Potter? Even though they are fiction are they opening us up to the dark side of evil...little by little making it seem 'okay' and 'no big deal'? Can we run these things by the verse: 'whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admireable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things?' Phil. 4:7 If these things don't pass the standards of this verse, should we be filling our minds with it? 'Come on!', you might say, 'it's Harry Potter! He is harmless!' I just don't see how opening up our minds and the minds of our children to witchcraft and sorcery could be a good thing. And the recent Harry Potter movie seems to be even darker than the previous ones. Again, it's the 'slippery slope concept'--slowly, little by little, the movies are getting a little more risky, a little darker. Little by little, so that the audience doesn't even realize it.
And then there are the television programs....adultery, casual sex, violent killings on detective/police dramas, reality after reality show...all portrayed as the norm. I heard recently, that the average person will waste twelve years of their life watching television. Twelve years. Can you believe that? And we want to argue that this stuff doesn't affect us?
Jerry Rankin in the book Spiritual Warfare, points out that every single thing we do in life either glorifies Christ or glorifies Satan. There is no neutral ground. He quotes C.S. Lewis in his introduction of 'The Screwtape Letters': there is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch and every split second are claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. Rankin also points out that so often we live in the neutral zone. We don't pointedly choose the things of Satan. We don't want to follow the ways of the world. But neither do we consciously choose and submit to God and following Him. When our minds are in neutral we are vulnerable. We have to fill them with God's thoughts, God's truth, and a conscious commitment to Him.
In close, I leave you with an excerpt from Jerry Rankin's book:
Scripture makes clear that renewing the mind is something we do. "You took off our former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God's likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth" (Eph. 4:-22-24). We are constantly putting aside that old nature, the flesh, rejecting it and denying it. We refuse to acknowledge it and give place to it. But how do we put on the new self that is in the likeness of God, that is, a Christlike life? We do that by renewing our minds, making the conscious decision to reject the old, sin nature and choosing to view our life as in Christ. We don't readily do this unless every day we are feeding on His Word and building up our faith in an awareness of God's truth. Only then can we discern and recognize when something is contrary to God's truth and Christlikeness.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
We were under great pressure,... so that we despaired even of life...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
Friday, May 15, 2009
This week we are discussing 'Sanctification'. As I have been preparing for our time together, God has brought this word up often this week in my bible study (God always seems to work this way, doesn't he?). I thought I would share what I have learned so far:
Sanctification: that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.
Santification takes place over a believer's entire life. It is a process. It is Holy Spirit led as the Holy Spirit within you desires to learn more about the Lord through studying His Word and prayer. As you study His Word more, you become more aware of who He is, you become more aware of His holiness, and you become more aware of how utterly sinful you are.
Sanctification consists of two parts: the gradual removal of the pollution and corruption of human nature and the gradual development of the new life in consecration to God.
When I think of sanctification, I think of the words 'through and through'. As you read and study God's Word, He is working His Word through and through every joint and marrow of your being. He is changing you and conforming you into His image.
A portion of my devotion this morning touched upon sanctification: You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it. You must "work out your own salvation" which God has worked in you already (Phil. 2:12). Are your speech, your thinking, and your emotions evidence that you are working it "out"? If you are still the same miserable, grouchy person, set on having your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you. --My Utmost for His Highest
As I have been thinking about sanctification, I have been thinking about where and how I spend my time and what I allow into my mind. Because whatever we allow into our minds will shape us and make us. You may think you can read certain books and watch certain television programs and not be affected, but it simply isn't true. Your worldview is being shaped by how you spend your time.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wow. Once again, my jaw has been dropping at the hatefulness spewed forth when someone respectfully disagrees with 'popular' opinion. I suppose I should not be surprised as our culture has subtlely, little by little been moving away from absolute truth. I am proud of this woman for standing firm!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
When he took the field, you could tell that he thought he was hot stuff. His face was one big smile. He actually made two outs and he is still talking about it. Watching the younger ones in their events is all the merrier because the older ones can share in the joy of cheering them on. For me, that is a priceless family memory--sitting together as a family and supporting and encouraging each other in our events.
This morning he came downstairs already proudly wearing his baseball hat. The best part of watching my boys play baseball and other sports is watching them do something they love. When they can't suppress the smile on their face you know they are operating in their 'sweet spot'.
By the way, there was a little boy on the other team that Sophie and I wanted to take home with us. He was the smallest one on the team. His shirt came down to his knees and he had on skinny little black jeans. His hat engulfed his little head. He was beyond cuteness. If I had had a camera I would have taken a picture of him.
Monday, May 11, 2009
We arrived at church. Still, I was in a pitiful state. Eric felt sorry for me and said if we had a light amount of infants I should go into church. I was hopeful. Surely, God wanted me in church this morning so he could minister to me. However, the other couple that was supposed to work with us--only the husband came because the wife had to stay home with their sick child. The other child care worker, which was a girl, was a no show. There has to be a woman in child care to change the diapers. It's a law, I think. As I realized this, I almost completely lost it. I went into the bathroom to compose myself. I felt forgotten by God. I felt unloved. I felt alone. Now, I KNEW in my heart that these things weren't true and it was just a church service, for crying out loud! What was wrong with me?! Pull it together, I shouted inside my head. There are wars being fought and people starving, for Pete's sake. Get a grip! As I was in the restroom I cried out to God: "Lord, forgive me for the state of my emotions. Forgive me that I am really letting this grief make me feel sorry for myself. I know I need to be thankful and count my blessings this morning. You have given me so much. But I feel forgotten by you. I know in my head this is not true, but in my heart I am believing something different". After praying, God again whispered: "Have a God Mother's Day".
I went back into the infant's room, resigned to the fact that the Lord had me working this morning for a reason and I needed to embrace it. Over the next ten minutes, a calmness came over me and I was able to carry on and even enjoy my time in the nursery.
The day went on. My emotions were all over the place--one minute I was feeling sorry for myself--the next I was 'okay'. Finally, that afternoon, Owen went down for a nap and Eric said to spend the next three hours doing whatever I wanted. I heard the fountain beside the Starbucks at the Summit calling my name. It was a beautiful day. So I left, planning on sitting outside by the fountain and finishing a book that I have been reading.
Right before getting there, I called a friend of mine to check on how she was doing (she lost both of her parents several years ago and Mother's Day is particularly hard for her). Right before hanging up, she said that she had been praying for me and Colossians 3:17 had come to her mind and she wanted to share it with me: 'Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.'
Well, I got my coffee, set down and opened my book. I began reading and couldn't believe it when I saw Col. 3:17 jump off the page. The next several pages were devoted to this particlar verse and Thess. 5:18: "Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The author, Jerry Rankin, was a missionary for several years in Indonesia. He told the story of how they lived five hours from any other missionary family and after two or three months would begin to feel isolated. So, every two or three months, they would plan a couple of days away to visit with the closest missionary friends for some refreshment. They always tried to leave early in the morning on these trips because if they didn't, it could take several hours due to traffic and be a miserably hot and dusty trip. One particular morning, they planned to leave early, but interruption after interruption occurred causing them to leave much later than anticipated. By this time, he was becoming more and more irritated and impatient but glad to finally be on their way. He goes on to say:
'We had to drive through town to get to the main highway, and right in the middle of town we had a flat tire. My patience had already worn pretty thin, and we had not even gotten out of town. I would have to change the tire, take time to get it repaired, and go home to clean up after getting dirty and greasy. The market was across the street from where I was changing the tire, and people began to gather around to watch. A big semicircle of people developed. No one offered to help and I could hear them laughing and joking, amused at the inconvenience of this foreigner who had a flat tire. I wasn't feeling a lot of love toward those people among whom God had called us to live and witness.
Just as i was putting the last lug bolts on, Russell, our son, who had been leaning out the front window of the car watching me, said, "Praise the Lord, we had a flat tire!" The last thing I felt like doing was praising the Lord. Whey did he say that? He was only four years old. We had developed a pattern in our family to praise the Lord in all things. When things go wrong, plans don't work out, one of the children falls and skins a knee, or a toy is broken, we just praise the Lord. Notice what happens when we praise the Lord. Instead of our focus being on the circumstances, it is redirected to the Lord. Once praise enables us to focus on the Lord, we are reminded that He is present with us....Praise restores us to a proper relationship with God and puts our circumstances in perspective.'
He also shared a story about another missionary in Indonesia:
'She said, "The best advice given to me before we came to Indonesia was be grateful and praise the Lord in all things. I have been discouraged recently as we have gone through challenging cultural adjustments; I have been struggling with doubts and have lost the joy I used to have. So the Lord impressed me this morning that I should write down some of the things that He impressed me to be thankful for.
- I praise the Lord for the courage God gave my husband as I practiced driving for the first time in Indonesia.
- I praise God for the days I feel worthless because I am reminded of God's strength during my weakness.
- I'm grateful for the strong stomach and bravery God gave me one day at my neighbor's house to eat meat with fur on it.
- I'm thankful for the lessons of servanthood I've learned from my household helper.
- I praise the Lord for the congested crowds of people, for they are a reminder of the multitiudes that live in darkness, and it keeps me on my knees.
- I praise the Lord for the times the Holy Spirit convicted me of my pride and my pitiful attitude and other sins that separated me from the Father so I could ask forgiveness and once again enjoy being in His holy presence.
- I'm grateful for the times our son has been sick so that I could teach him to pray for healing and trust God to meet his needs.
- I praise God for the struggle of knowing His will because through the struggle I listen more carefully and seek more diligently.
- I praise the Lord for the smog in Jakarta becuase I'm overwhelmed at the blessings and beauty of a bright blue sky on other days.
- I praise the lord for the sometimes gagging smells of the open sewage in front of our house because it's a reminder to me of how my sins and the sins of all of Indoniesia are such a stench to our lord.
- I'm grateful for my nosy neightbor and how she is a reminder that I must live the kind of life to which I testify.
- I'm grateful for the peace and confidence of my calling, even in times when my unbelieving father's words of disapproval and discouragement were hurtful.
- I praise God for the time I was ugly with my kids, and the Holy Spirit said, "out of the fullness of the heart speaks the mouth." And i was able to confess my anger and my ugliness to my children so that they could see me model humilty and forgiveness.
- And one thing I'm most grateful for is my husband, and how God has kept him strong when I was weak and kept me strong when he was weak, and how God has grown our love even during the struggle.
The Lord gently ministered to me through these testimonies. Those few hours of reading helped me see things from a different perspective--a God perspective. As I drove home yesterday afternoon, feeling renewed, refreshed and joyful, the Lord once again brought to my mind: 'Have a God Mother's Day.' Yes, yes--I could finally see it. My perspective had shifted. I was able to smile and thank the Lord for giving me such a day.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Jesus told his desciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1
The failure to persevere is the most common problem in prayer and intercession. We begin to pray for something, raising our petitions for a day, a week, or even a month, but then if we have not received a definite answer, we quickly give up and stop praying for it altogether.
This is a mistake with deadly consequences and is simply a trap where we begin many things but never see them completed. It leads to ruin in every area of life. People who get into the habit of starting without ever finishing form the habit of failure. And those who begin praying about something without ever praying it through to a successful conclusion form the same habit in prayer. Giving up is admitting failure and defeat. Defeat then leads to discouragement and doubt in the power of prayer, and that is fatal to the success of a person's prayer life.
People often ask, "How long should I pray? Shouldn't I come to the place where I stop praying and leave the matter in God's hands?" The only answer is this: Pray until what you pray for has been accomplished or until you have complete assurance in your heart that it will be. Only when one of these two conditions has been met is it safe to stop persisting in prayer, for prayer not only is calling upon God but is also a battle with Satan. And because God uses our intercession as a mighty weapon of victory in the conflict, He alone must decide when it is safe to cease from petitioning. Therefore we dare not stop praying until either the answer itself has come or we receive assurance it will come.
In the first instance, we stop because we actually see the answer. In the second, we stop because we believe, and faith in our hearts is as trust worthy as the sight or our eyes, for it is "faith from God" (Eph. 6:23) and the "faith of God" (Rom. 3:3 KJV) that we have within us.
As we live a life of prayer, we will more and more come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance. We will know when to quietly rest in it or when to continue praying until we receive His answer. from the Practice of Prayer
Wait at God's promise until He meets you there, for He always returns by the path of His promises. selected
My quick added thoughts: I don't think this addresses the fact that sometimes God says 'no' to what we are praying about. God will either realign our will with His and change how and what we are praying for or He will say 'no.' Either way, one thing is for sure: He is always faithful to answer us.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
- I can't wait to watch 'Little Guy' play his first t-ball game tonight!
- Our two year old has been delightful lately--ohhh, I hesitate to say that--I am going to have to eat those words!
- 'Case of the missing toothbrushes': solved. There is a small whole about an inch in diameter in our drywall behind the bathroom door (where our doorstopper ceased working and caused the door handle to pierce our wall). No, I am not kidding. Owen has been throwing our toothbrushes into this small whole, never to be seen again unless we tear down the wall. So, there sits our six toothbrushes...forever.
- Last Friday we had the most lame day of school ever. I turned on the History channel and we learned all about the blizzard of 1977 that hit New York and Chicago. Ask my children anything about this. They are now experts.
- We are SO READY for school to be OVER!
- I want to go on vacation so I can read the ten books piled up on my bedside table! Life is getting in the way of reading :)
- God made the husband the head of the household. It is not a co-leadership. The man is the head, period. The woman was created to be his helper, period. The man was created first. The woman was made for him and from him. The Lord brought the woman to the man.
- The man being the head of the home DOES NOT mean by any means that he is a tyrant or that he lords this authority over his wife. NOT AT ALL. Quite the contrary. He does it by loving her so much that he'd die for her, if necessary. Ephesians 5:25-29: 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.'
- Okay these last two points are my favorite: 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word' ... Husbands are to be the spiritual leaders of the home by discipling and mentoring her through God's Word and bathing her in prayer! It is not the other way around! It is the husbands leading the wives in this area!
- Lastly, Voddie discussed that the husband is to come up with a spiritual vision for their marriage. He needs to have a vision: 'okay, this is what our purpose is, this is where were going, this is what we are going to be passionate about. Now, woman, you go do the day to day stuff.' Okay, he didn't say it quite like that. It was much more eloquent but you get the picture. That women need to know what their purpose is so that they can do the day in day out functions and that that purpose can spur her on through the mundaneness of life.
- By the way, I think someone needs to preach on Biblical Womanhood and our role in marriage and put us women in our place :) . God is and has been convicting me in the area of submission, especially lately. The book 'Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free' by Nancy Lee DeMoss has an excellent chapter on marriage and the lies we believe about marriage. It has helped me in reframing my mind with God's truth concerning my role, as I am constantly bombarded from all fronts by the world's view. This book is incredible in all ways--I highly recommend it! I think every woman should own a copy and read it every year or so!
If you are interested in hearing this sermon, I can find out from where you can download it. By the way, Voddie wrote an excellent book entitled 'The Family Driven Faith'. I highly recommend it, too! It is about having a family integrated church. It is excellent.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The wicked witch of the west moved in and established residency in me on Thursday and stayed two days, casting spells upon all who got too near :) ...okay, kidding about the casting spells part but not about the witchy part....oh my, I was a witchy woman and prickly all over. But now it's over and the witch has moved on to indwell in some other moody lady. Actually, the Lord is trying to teach me through these moody days that like to come around every four weeks or so. It is an invitation to rely on Him solely, to cast all my cares, anxieties, moodiness, anger, and frustations upon Him. The tough part is doing this when I am absolutely so very tired and such a grump that I don't feel like it. You ever been there? You know that land of no return, when your attitude is so far south that you think 'forget it--it can't be turned around'? Honestly, I think we women just like to chalk it up to hormones and 'that's just the way it is'; I think we do this because it is far easier than having to wrestle the thing out in prayer and 'choosing' to be joyful when everything in us yells 'Woe is me!' It requires effort when we don't feel like giving any effort.
I really feel like the Lord is trying to teach me to see these times when my emotions feel out of control as opportunities for Him to display more of Himself and His power in my life. It is an opportunity to pray for God's grace to be sufficient in my weakness and to experience that I really CAN do all things through Him who strengthens me! This struggle really just comes down to the one thing that all struggles in our life come down to: 'I need more of HIM and less of me'. Yes, more of HIM, less of me.
The next time this moodiness comes around I hope to be better equipped to deal with it--I am going to put on my prayer boots and get in the trenches and fight this battle head on--and win!
'But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' 2 Cor. 12:9-10