Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"The New Birth Produces Love" by John Piper

The very thought that those I love who are not saved will know how to love once he/she is saved, makes my soul rejoice!

The New Birth Produces Love
By John Piper

...new birth creates the connection between God’s love for us and our love for each other. If anyone ever asks, How does the fact that God loves you result in your loving others? the answer is: The new birth creates that connection. The new birth is the act of the Holy Spirit connecting our dead, selfish hearts with God’s living, loving heart so that his life becomes our life and his love becomes our love.

Click HERE to continue reading.

Romancing the Hero

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there's someone somewhere
Watching me

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach
Like the fire in my blood
(Steinman, Jim. "Holding Out For A Hero". 1984.)

There have a been a couple of times in my life where I was "holding out for a hero". I had a preconceived notion as to what that person would be like. Is it just me or does anyone else do that? Maybe waiting for "Mr. Right" or perhaps a "knight in shining armor" to rescue a "damsel in distress"?

The chorus of the above mentioned song goes,
I need a hero...
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight...
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's got to be larger than life.
(Steinman, Jim. "Holding Out For A Hero". 1984.)

"Larger than life." What would that person look like? Would he or she be a "super hero" in a costume with a special ability to fight crime? A military personnel or soldier? A firefighter? A police officer or deputy? Medical staff/ doctors and/or nurses? A judge or lawyer? The district attorney (DA)? A body guard? A politician? A social worker? A celebrity? An astronaut or scientist? A teacher? A television or radio personality? Someone who fought for the rights of others? A missionary? A family member?

Each time I roll this over in my mind, I catch myself focusing on tangible things. Something (or someone) I can see, touch, embrace, hold (or by which or whom I can be held). But, at the end of the day, my "hero" is an idea...a belief...a faith! As cliché as it sounds, my #1 hero is Jesus! Also, Pastor John Piper stated the following,
Here is one small contribution. In spite of all the legitimate warnings against hero worship, I want to risk waving a flag for holy emulation—which includes realistic admiration. Hero worship means admiring someone for unholy reasons and seeing all he does as admirable (whether it’s sin or not). Holy emulation, on the other hand, sees evidences of God’s grace, and admires them for Christ’s sake, and wants to learn from them and grow in them.

This theme is strong in the New Testament.

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

“[Do] not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (2 Timothy 3:10).

“Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Timothy 3:14).

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7).
(By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Relationships Are Gone

Doing my Christmas cards, this year, gave me time to reflect on the people who have come...and gone...during my life, so far. I think it is safe to say there have been thousands... hundreds of which I call "friends". But, sadly, I have been so bad at keeping track of some of them. That is something I hope to remedy. This Christmas, I updated my address book. Next year, I will add to it even more individuals, who are dear to me, I have lost track of along the way. My goal is to send out 300-400 cards each year. (I thought that was a lot until I saw a friend of mine has over 800 true friends!) I thank you, Lord, for truly I am blessed!

...The cry of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our people is for a fresh, decisive emphasis on relationships of Love.

Therefore we eagerly embrace God's call for new, visible manifestations of love toward each other, our guests, and our neighbors. With a fresh openness and outgoing spirit to each other and to all new people, we henceforth put understanding above accusation, forbearance above faultfinding, and biblical unity above the demand for uniformity.

The value of relationships. We will take new practical steps to develop an atmosphere where personal, deepening, supportive, faith-building relationships of love are highly valued as expressions of our passion for the supremacy of God's love.
(By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org)

I honestly do not know where I would be without the amazing relationships I have (and had) in this vapor of a life! Each one has brought something wonderful with her/him and has a special place in my heart. Whenever I am in need of guidance, encouragement, and/or advice, God provides all that (or who) is necessary. I especially miss those who have gone before me.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lost Tooth

The Little Chef lost a tooth, is so stoked, and wanted to blog about it. So here you go:

This one of my favorite teeth and now it's out. It's been loose for a while.

2000 Posts!

I've hit the 2000 posts mark! Woot woot!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

When Our Children Grow Up

Truly, I am blessed beyond measure to co-parent four children. I love the way God has beautifully orchestrated my vapor of a life. I got married young--- probably too young--- and share the care and upbringing of four uniquely different kiddos...two younglings and two who have established their own households. One of which, the Second Born, will be leaving us soon (within days) to join the military.

Being I got married when I did and am starting to experience empty nest at the age of thirty-something, the next step of being, once again, without kids in the home is not one of hesitation, pessimism, or reluctance. Rather it is met with excitement and hope. (Not that I have not enjoyed a full nest.)
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)
It will be, in essence, a new beginning if you will. A second chance at an opportunity I passed up when I was immature and naïve...when I was too short sighted to see anything beyond the tip of my nose...when I was undisciplined.

The first time I attended a university, I was on my own with no life experience. (I wish there was a way to give our children a bit of that before they try to "fly solo".) I was unfamiliar with the ways of the "worldly". I stepped from the safety and familiarity of being a "little church girl" into the chaos of finding my own way. I was not very wise and did not have much "street smarts". I trusted people easily, was a terrible judge of character, and more or less "went along with the flow" instead of staying focused on what was important.

This time around, I come with an arsenal of common sense, practicality, understanding, exposure, and seasoning! I have a lot under my belt, now, and a better handle on things. All of which keep me from being hindered or thwarted when it comes to my goals.

But, if it is the will of God and not my own! Pastor John Piper states the following regarding the "empty nest" season,
Everybody in our culture knows the meaning of the term empty-nester. Behind it is the assumption that one of the meanings of marriage is to be a nest for the younger birds until they can fly and find their own worms and build their own nests. And if we are Christians, we say that the very essence of that nest is the flesh-and-blood drama created by a husband and a wife living and showing and teaching the covenant-love between Christ and his church. That activity is the essence of the nest. (By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org.)

Okay, so I still have a good number of years before I am completely and officially an "empty nester" but I am preparing now...getting my ducks in a row. And, above all, trusting in God.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Everyone Who Has Been Born of God Overcomes the World

"...after 1917, as the war took its toll of young men, the British government established women's auxiliary units for the army, navy, and air force. These positions gave thousands of women a sense of participation in the war effort and a taste of personal and financial independence." (Bulliet, Crossley, Headrick, Hirsch, Johnson, and Northrup. The Earth and Its Peoples: Fifth Edition. 2011. Pg. 771.)

"Personal and financial independence"... I remember after I graduated high school, I bought a used (yet decent) car, got a two bedroom apartment with a female coworker, had a full time job, paid all of my bills, and took care of myself. I was self sufficient, self governing, and unaided. Next, I found a job that allowed me to travel and did that for a little bit before I decided to get married and start a family.

I began a family, foremost. Many go through school, get their degree, establish their career...I chose having a husband and children before anything else. Was it the right decision? For me? I believe so. I would not trade ANY of my kiddos (not even the most difficult one) for anything! They are mine! A gift from the Lord! Regardless if they see themselves that way, that is what they are...a beautiful blessing to me from God. He entrusted me with His precious little lambs and I will be held accountable for how I have trained them up!

My sibling did the exact opposite, by first getting a degree, establishing a means to support a family and then came everything else. I love it! I am given the opportunity to be "Auntie" and it is wonderful. I see a future in which I can attend birthday parties, Christmases, maybe some Easters...the holidays I hold dear. The ones in which Jesus is King and glorified. Not much else matters to me. That is the truth!

Experience is the best (and cruelest) teacher. I have found living according to God's word is best, but that means in EVERY way, not just the ones I see fit to choose. Not doing things "by the book" (as I call it) causes all sorts of issues. Just look at Abraham and Sarah. God promised Abraham a NATION yet they just could not be still. Sarah suggested Abraham have a child with her handmaiden and Ishmael was born. To this day there is a messy conflict that can be traced all the way back to that!

When (not "if"...because, unfortunately I have done it) I get impatient and do things "my" way, it causes all kinds of problems! So, please allow me to encourage you to stay in God's word and BE PATIENT! God knows what is best!

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 ESV)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Homeless Family on the Corner

Thanksgiving day I was on my way to the Second Born's place for dinner when I stopped at a local store to pick up something. When I pulled into the parking lot, the Little Chef, Little Leaguer, and I noticed a small family standing on the corner. The mother held their youngest tightly as he/she napped, their oldest (about six or seven years old) played while sitting on the cement, and the father held a sign stating they were homeless and needed assistance.

After grabbing that for which we came, we walked to the corner and gave the small family some cash. (Nowhere close to what I wish I could have given.) But, what I really wanted to do was invite them to our Thanksgiving dinner. My heart broke and I almost came to tears as the mother, father, and oldest child thanked me for the cash. How desperately I wished I had an apartment or house to offer them until they could get back on their feet...a place the children could stay dry and warm...a safe place.

I am currently working on getting my Bachelor's Degree so I can attend law school. Once I pass the bar exam and land a job as an attorney, I look forward to giving at least 1/4 of my pay to charity! (I have a yearning, to the depths of my soul, to give all that I have...which currently I only have a "seasonal" position so, not much to give.) Yet, one day, that might be different. I plan for a change.

I keep telling myself... One day, after I get my Bachelor's Degree in business, finish law school, pass the bar exam, and get a great job, I am going to...

1. Help other people.
2. Donate 1/4 of my pay to charity.
3. Fund a halfway house for homeless families.
4. Fund a foster home for children.
5. Buy myself a refurbished muscle car....

I'm sure the list will get bigger as time goes by and I strive to reach my goal for the next season of my vapor of a life. A friend of hubs joked and said I will be 60 years old by that time. Funny, but boy, I hope not!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 ESV)

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Scorpion and the Frog Fable

"A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?" Replies the scorpion: "Its my nature..."


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