Saturday, August 30, 2014

The God of Disappointment

I'm just a little disappointed, but still. I worked on a writing assignment for Business Law and when I went to submit it, I had missed an important detail and so received a zero. Had it been one of the longer projects which spanned over the course of days, I think I would have been a tad more upset. As it is, though, the semester has just started and I already got a bad grade. It is frustrating. I have no one to blame but myself, though. I should have read and re-read EVERYTHING! I have a bad habit of skimming over things, not reading instructions thoroughly (or at all), not clarifying or asking for directions --- and then I get bummed out when I miss something…and there are consequences. Ba humbug!

Life is disappointing, at times. Even being a Christian is, too, periodically. But why? Is it because of circumstances, expectations, both, or something else entirely?
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10. ESV.)
Steve Fuller from the Desiring God website stated the following:


(By Steve Fuller. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/gods-promise-for-the-disappointed.)

27John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. (John 3:27. ESV.)

Missing the mark happens. But, I need to long for God most…above all else.

8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8. ESV.)

Amen!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The God of Protection: Two People Shot at a Bus Stop, California

Yesterday afternoon, as I supervised a group of ten and eleven year olds, I heard a pop, pop, pop, pop sound (like firecrackers). It was consecutive and steady without hesitations. I turned my head in the direction of the sound and checked the time…2:02 p.m. I did not see anyone or anything. I surveyed the perimeter of the area in which the children were playing. I could hear sirens in the distance. The first police officer passed our location at 2:06 p.m. Where was he/she going? I continued to watch the borders of the play area and scan the park next door. Other than a few more police vehicles passing in different directions and the mail person, I did not see any other activity. But what was the popping I heard and from where did it come? The children and I went indoors.



I had no confirmation that my suspicion of shots fired was accurate until I got home. I am thankful to God, our sovereign King, that all children and innocent bystanders were safe. What would I have done to protect the kiddos had someone tried to enter the area in which we were doing activities? Who were these people at the bus stop and why did someone shoot at them? Was it a gang related incident? Did the shooter know the individuals or just randomly open fire?

I had no control or information about the situation. Yet, we were safe in the hands of Jesus. A hedge of protection (Job 1:10) was around us when we did not even realize we needed it! How great is our God?

1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

9Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
(Psalm 91. ESV.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Word Shall Not Return to Me Empty

I saw this picture which says, “Be careful how you live. You will be the only bible some people ever read.” And, the weightiness of it was heavy on me. #1 I think it blows my mind there are individuals who will never pick up and at least skim through the bible. That alone is so difficult for me to wrap my head around. And, to be honest, it makes me sad. The richness of the gospel, the depth and importance of the text, and the love that is the “letter” from God to us is such that my heart grieves for the ones who miss out on it…who do not know God and the magnitude of all that is Him. How can that be? That is like saying someone does not need oxygen to breath. It is unfathomable to me.

#2 The mere thought of me being “the only bible some people ever read” stops me in my tracks. God saves souls…I get that. But the fact I may (or may not) influence one to or from the kingdom is grave. I stumble…a lot. This blog is probably decent proof of that! So, to think of my walk (in the Spirit or in the flesh) as affecting another human being…that is substantial…massive…even burdensome (at times).

Immediately, I think of Jesus saying,
28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30. ESV.)
And Paul, who wrote,
20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20-21. ESV.)
Further, I cannot help but wonder (always), do those around me see Christ in me. Am I a reflection of Him? I personally do not believe I have been refined enough for an adequate “reflection” to be seen. I am still VERY MUCH a work in progress.

I look at my family. My husband and young adult children are not readers and followers of God’s word. I cannot help but tell myself, “You are doing something wrong! Look at them! They have no interest in all God is, was, and forever will be. One of them even blatantly defies God saying, 'He does not exist!'" Oh, my broken heart. And, when I try to show them my heart they get angry with me. However, I must preach to myself, darkness hates the light. Also, that God made a promise to me saying,
6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6. ESV.)
and He will keep His guarantee. He ALWAYS does!

Anyway. “Be careful how you live. You will be the only bible some people ever read.” I am thankful for the reminder and God’s word which says,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11. ESV.)
All honor and glory be to God!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

War Against Your Soul

Three days after the earthquake here in Northern California and it is estimated at least 172 people were injured and there was one billion dollars worth of damage! Thankfully, no deaths.



But even in times such as these, and worse, God is still on His throne! He has not gone anywhere. He has not forsaken His people. We may get angry and shake a fist at Him out of shock, dismay, fear, etc. but like with the Israelites out of Egypt, God leads the way.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6. ESV.)
And His grace is sufficient.
9But 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9. ESV.)

Today, I was working on an assignment for my Early Education: Diverse Learners class. The questions included: Do you think the role of schools in society has changed since you were a kid? If so, how? If not, why? Which of the five basic institutions do you see or hear being discussed in the Michael Brown case?

As I am sure you can imagine, my answer was very long winded. (I’m a writer, I like to give page long responses.) But, the reason I mention this is because here are yet more things about which I could be worrying…the state of our nation, discrimination, riots, war, the education of our children, etc. God has that covered, too! So where, exactly, should my focus remain?

11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:11-12. ESV.)

In seeking an answer to this question, I came across the following by Pastor John Piper who suggests,
What these two verses make clear is that there are two tremendous issues in the world. They are, I think, the most important issues in the world. And one of the reasons we know that we are aliens and strangers in the world is that the modern world we live in does not believe that these two issues are the main issues. If the world believed this, the newspaper and the television and the theater and the university and popular music and industry mission statements and government goals would look and sound very different than they do. But in fact we live in a world that shows by its priorities and values and commitments and standards and preoccupations and pleasures that it does not regard these two issues as paramount. In fact, they are not even on the list of the world's priorities.

The two issues that dominate these two verses—and indeed dominate the whole New Testament—are the salvation of the human soul and the glory of God. The two great issues of the Bible are how the soul of man might not be destroyed and how the glory of God might not be belittled
(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-war-against-the-soul-and-the-glory-of-god.)

Cross references help me further understand the text:
1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1. ESV.)

16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16. ESV.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

God is Most Glorified in Us When...

I’m having a hard time focusing this morning. Maybe it is because I have not read God’s word yet, today. Once again I woke up in the “middle” of the night. Usually it is around three or four a.m. This morning I got up twice…once because a noise was annoying me and the second, around five a.m., because I was not feeling well. So, I am a bit out of sorts, today. My mind is not engaging as I read through my Early Education: Intro to Instructional Technology assignments for this week.



It is frustrating…I have so much to do. I do not have the time to not be at 100%. This year is teetering on the edge of overwhelming. I know, God willing, it will all get done, though…every bit of it. I just have to take it one day at a time and set my sights on the task at hand. Today, it is school work (Business Law, Macroeconomics, Introduction to Instructional Technology, and Diverse Learners), the kiddos, and extra-curricular activities. And, my house needs to be cleaned (but that is a never ending feat).

Most likely a big part of my problem is being too BUSY (Being Under Satan’s Yoke). Here is the thing, though. If I am not “busy” I am looked upon, by others, as “lazy”. That is not my interpretation or perception. That is how it is. (I have had individuals make comments to me.) I feel obligated to fill every moment of my day with “stuff” or face the consequences. Why? Because there are those around me who work nearly every minute of the day…at a physical location or checking emails and text messages…bringing in an income, etc. I feel like I have nothing to contribute…no monetary donation. I am a full time student working toward a bachelor’s degree and law school. I do raise my children and train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). I work very hard at it and maintaining the home but because it does not pay, it does not count to some. A “real” job, to many, is outside the home and not as a full time student. It is what pays the bills. But here is the thing, also, "bills" do not have to be outrageous! They can be very modest. I like humble. The more stuff there is, the bigger the "bills", and the more hours one has to work. I like less. For me, less is more. Unless it is time with my family...then I cannot get enough!

Once we move out of crazy expensive California, I am hoping for a break in all the “busyness”. Texas moves a little slower and I feel that will be a good change for me and the kids. Of course, I am striving toward law school so a real rest is nowhere on the horizon.

But, I stop in my tracks and am reminded, God did not create me to be “busy” or try to keep up with others…or even to worry about what people think about me. Our purpose is the same but our outlook is different.

We were made to glorify and worship God. THAT is what I should be doing…in everything!
24Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor…. 31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just 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 10:24 and 31-33. ESV.)

And, as Pastor John Piper says,
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/god-is-most-glorified-in-us-when-we-are-most-satisfied-in-him#full-video.)



Can you see Christ in me?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The God of Natural Disasters: California Earthquake

This morning, right before 3:30 a.m. I woke to the shaking of my bed and the blinds on my bedroom window. I am not quite sure which pulled me from sleep…the tremor or the tapping. This was only the second time in sixteen years I had experienced such an occurrence. The first was years ago in Southern California…exactly the same as this. Nothing fell from the shelves, counters, dressers, or high places. The children were still fast asleep, safe in their beds. We were fortunate. There was no damage or injury. Others, were not.

This was a 6.0 earthquake six kilometers Northwest of American Canyon and six miles Southwest of Napa. We live in one of the bordering counties and though a State of Emergency has been declared for our county, we are thankful nothing was destroyed in our area and are prayerful for those who were affected.

Being my own words fall far from adequate regarding God and natural disasters, I will use those of Pastor John Piper. He states,
Who suffers from this fallen world of natural disasters? All of us, Christians included: “Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). For those who cast themselves on the mercy of Christ these afflictions are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And when death comes, it is a door to paradise. But for those who do not treasure Christ, suffering and death are God’s judgment. “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

For children, who are too young to process mentally the revelation of God in nature or Scripture, death is not the final word of judgment. God’s commitment to display his justice publicly means that he does not finally condemn sinful people who could not physically construe natural or special revelation (Romans 1:20). There is a difference between suppressing revelation that one can mentally comprehend (Romans 1:18), and not having a brain sufficient to comprehend it at all. Therefore, when small children suffer and die, we may not assume they are being punished or judged. No matter how horrible the suffering or death, God can turn it for their greater good….

When the Bible says, “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), it does not add, “unless God caused the weeping.” Job’s comforters would have done better to weep with Job than talk so much. That does not change when we discover that Job’s suffering was ultimately from God. No, it is right to weep with those who suffer. Pain is pain, no matter who causes it. We are all sinners. Empathy flows not from the causes of pain, but the company of pain. And we are all in it together.
(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/tsunami-sovereignty-and-mercy.)

I feel we are called to
15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15. ESV.)
and to serve those who are in need. Which reminds me, I was talking with someone today and expressing how it is my opinion businesses should offer “Disaster Relief” to those who need assistance. I was told some companies drive up their prices during emergencies. Which makes me sick! Why gouge people who have just lost so much…maybe even EVERYTHING? It’s disgusting to me! It should be the opposite. Goods and services should be DONATED or for a MINIMAL “Disaster Relief” Fee instead of double or triple their prices just because they can!

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:9-20. ESV.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

He is a New Creation

There was a time, after I first got married, when I was not very good at taking care of anyone. I was only used to cleaning up and looking after myself. I was a neat and tidy person. My college room (and apartment/rooms after college) was always spotless…okay, there was once it was not and my roommates were highly surprised! My dishes were washed immediately and put away. And my laundry was done frequently.

I got married, when I was twenty-two years old, to a man who had already been married once before and had two children. Now, I was responsible for doing all of these things for four people. It was very overwhelming, to say the least. To make matters worse to me, hubs had been raised by a woman who kept a pristine home and he was also accustomed to having a wife. I was not used to serving a husband and children. Needless to say, I was pretty bad at it. I had never learned to cook very well, so my meals were mediocre at best. The laundry became out of control and was piled up so high in the laundry room it was nearly impossible to open the door and get in there. I felt outnumbered, unappreciated, and in over my head. I had moved away from my family so there was no one I could look to for assistance or guidance. I just sort of stumbled around in the dark. All the while knowing I was failing miserably at being a Proverbs 31 wife.

Soon our family went from four members to six. Even more mouths to feed and bodies to clothe. Not to mention toys to pick up, dust to wipe away, dirt to sweep, floors to mop, and errands to run. Hubs has always worked long hours so it was usually just me with the kiddos. I worked part time doing this and that…I taught dance classes for a couple years, then ran my own studio for four years, I worked in an office as an administrator for one year and then as a trainer for six months or so, and in a restaurant for a couple years. I think it is fair to say, it was utterly exhausting. I forget about that time in life until someone brings it up. Just recently I was reminded of my crazy laundry pile. When my first biological child was born my family and in-laws came to visit. My beloved dad fixed things around the house that needed mending, my loving mother cleaned my kitchen for me and my devoted brother tackled the massive hill of clothes. He was the king of laundering and I am forever grateful to them for blessing me in such a weighty way. From that day, forward, the mound of soiled underwear, grass stained trousers, and stinky socks never returned.

I am a different person, now. I far exceed what I used to be and wish individuals could forget about the way I once was. It is embarrassing to fall short. Isn’t that how we all feel when we are saved by grace? God makes Himself known to us and the way we used to do things (which makes us cringe just to think about) melts away into who we are as a new creature. Is that not beautiful? Forgiveness is possible. Unfortunately, forgetting is not. No one can wipe their minds clear as if the past did not take place. It is not humanly possible. To say, “It is forgotten,” and for it to actually, physically happen --- to be completely removed --- are not the same. But when God says we are forever transformed by grace alone, that does occur!

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21. ESV.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Following the Course of This World

As my university classes begin and extra-curricular activities gear up, I find myself wondering if I will have time for everything…bible study, studying and assignments, helping the kiddos with their homework, volunteering at the school, kenpo jiu-jitsu, tennis (for one kiddo), fencing (for the other), blogging, chores, etc. (Which reminds me, I have laundry to do! And while I am on the subject, why is it when someone else in the household does a chore it is a big to do? Yet, these are chores I do regularly without fanfare. Just the other day, a family member stated, “I do my own laundry and make dinner three nights a week!” Awesome! I thank you for that! I too do my own laundry (and that of at least two other people) and make dinners! Funny, it is EXPECTED of me but not of others under this roof? I’m just saying. Darn my sin of pride.) Anyway, I am certain it will all work out. There might be a couple hiccups and bugs to iron out in the beginning. With hubs working full time and the kiddos and I being full time students, it means everyone has to pitch in at home or the house will get destroyed quickly. And, I do not want to be BUSY (Being Under Satan’s Yoke), so time management and efficiency are the key.

I am trying to visit with friends I know I will hardly get to see during the course of the year. I had lunch with one dear lady on Sunday and with another, today. Their work or school schedule, plus my own, equals time flying by without fellowship. Boo! I want them (and everyone in my life) to know how truly precious they are to me. Further, on a COMPLETELY different note, I cannot help but stress over my weight. Ridiculous, I know! But I have experienced the “Freshman 15” (well, actually, for me it is 10) and gained ten pounds seemingly overnight…last semester! What is worse, I cannot get it to GO AWAY! I eat healthy AND I work out so I guess I am just going to have to really “trim the fat”, start counting calories, and eliminate any lingering bit of “naughty” indulgence I allow from time to time. Empty calories from alcoholic beverages, the soda here and there, and the occasional dessert. There are Oreos and potato chips in the pantry. The Oreos do not tempt me but those stinking chips do! Not to mention eating dinner late (after 7 pm) and some snacking while studying in the evenings.

But, isn’t our relationship with God kind of like that? The Holy Spirit guides us and burns when we "indulge" in sin but sometimes, it is hard to let certain things go. Especially, right before we are saved by grace. Did you encounter that at all? For me, it was like a tug of war between myself and God…a back and forth. I needed to “die to myself”, take off the old and put on the new. But, the old just wanted to stick to me. My favorite scene in a movie is from “Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. (The book by C.S. Lewis is MUCH better, of course.) In this particular part, a little boy has been turned into a dragon and no matter how hard he tries, he cannot change himself back into a human. Aslan has to come and slash the dragon skin away leaving a forever changed little boy.

I could not save myself. I sure did try diligently, as a child, to apply God’s word to my life and follow His commandments. I promise, I worked really hard at it. But it was impossible for me to do for myself. The bible did not completely make sense and I prayed often to be able to make it my lifestyle. But it was not until GRACE, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that the old was ripped away and I was infinitely a transformed person! Only Jesus and the Holy Spirit can do that. This is something my children and I discuss more frequently, now. I am reading the book Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and it has reminded me of how terribly important it is to make sure my children understand Jesus died for the sins of ALL of us and the Holy Spirit guides us.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10. ESV.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On A Lighter Note: Our Last Day of Summer Break (in Pictures)

Six Flags.  The Kong (left) and Medusa (right).



The butterfly habitat is one of my favorite attractions because it is so humid in there!  Oh, and the butterflies are beautiful!

Dryers for those who get a little "too wet" on a ride.  I believe the cost is $5.  Maybe I would spend that if I had ten children in there to dry off. Otherwise, sunshine will do the trick.

The Little Chef LOVES the penguins.  Penguin "S" (green band) is a favorite.

The new ride, which received mixed reviews from the peers of Little Chef and the Little Leaguer but we thought it was quite fun!

There is a blue line on the ground (which I assumed was a "safe distance" from the attraction) but...not so much.  Beware when walking by!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hands That Shed Innocent Blood

After two heavy days of posting about marriage, I think it is time for a lighter note. The subject of marriage is difficult for me. It gets me riled up because there are things about it that I cannot wrap my head around and consequently accept. Yes, it is two “sinners” saying, “I do,” but there are anomalies that one individual in the alliance cannot control and he/she is then at the mercy of God and his/her spouse. When this happens, I feel there is no “quick fix” solution. Are most marriages the average? Yes, the great majority of them fall into the simple, accurate “sinners saying I do” category. But I feel it is especially important for authority, leaders, friends, and family to be mindful that there is a small percentage that could be fatal. Yes! FATAL! That is the severity of it!

Okay, so much for a “light note”, today. When I was in high school, the father of one of my close friends killed her mother. On the 911 call, my friend (or one of her sisters) said, “'My dad's shooting my mom. . . . Please hurry. My dad's shooting my mom. He's shooting her with a gun.'' The parents were locked in their bedroom and two of the daughters tried to get in there while the third was on the phone. Shots were fired and the father left the home. The mother was dead on her bed.

I knew this family! They were our neighbors for years and I had spent a lot of time with them. From the outside they appeared like the average family. The mother was generally home with the children. The father worked in another state but came to be with his family from time to time. The children looked healthy and happy. They never, once mentioned anything to me about the relationship of their parents. Not a single word. Any scars or injuries (physical and/or emotional) were out of sight. Any abuse that may have been occurring in the household was a secret. That is the tricky part for those looking in, you cannot always see the devastation. That is one reason why, I feel, if someone asks for help it is dire they receive it no matter how unnecessary it may seem! “Better safe than sorry,” right? Does anyone really expect an abuser to admit it?!

Before this incident the family had moved out of our neighborhood to a newer one on the other side of town. We still visited, though. Court papers showed the husband to be a “violent” person and that he had “attacked” and “brutalized” his wife on several occasions. She had been seeking the help of authorities for protection.

Occurrences like these are truly heartbreaking to me. They are preventable if only assistance is received when sought. THAT is what makes me sick! And, I guess a little mad. I find myself rolling my eyes when authors write about the average marriage and forget (or fail) to address the potentially life threatening ones. Imagine what it must feel like to fear the very person who vowed to “honor” you! Especially, if it is the husband who is looked to for protection! Do you not see the evil of it! A marriage that has been beautifully created by God yet twisted, distorted, and mutilated. Children desperate for a change. A spouse trying everything in his/her power to make it right… what he/she is told a marriage should be! Can you not see the shame of the afflicted? It is nearly unfathomable to those who have never tasted it…or who have never felt the collateral damage. Perhaps this, in part, is why I was a court appointed child advocate for six years and why I am working hard to become a children’s attorney in dependency court…to guide, encourage, and support oppressed families.

21As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
(Proverbs 26:21-28. ESV.)

16There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:16-19. ESV.)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

And the Two Shall Become One Flesh

What about individuals that commit adultery, abuse his/her spouse, or are unbelievers? What then for the devout partner…for the Sarah (whose husband has committed adultery), Leah (whose husband does not love or want her), Hosea (who has an unfaithful, constantly cheating wife), and/or Abigail (who has a “harsh, badly behaved” husband)? Those are not biblical marriages. (Nor are they the "norm", average, or "par for the course".) Further, they are unsafe, harmful, dangerous, unhealthy.
6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9. ESV.)

John Piper states the following,
When a couple speaks their vows and consummates their vows with sexual union, it is not man or woman or pastor or parent who is the main actor. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. God does that! The world does not know this. Which is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually. And Christians often act like they don’t know it, which is one of the reasons marriage in the church is not seen as the wonder it is. Marriage is God’s doing because it is a one-flesh union that God himself performs….

The words “
hold fast to his wife” and the words “they shall become one flesh” point to something far deeper and more permanent than serial marriages and occasional adultery. What these words point to is marriage as a sacred covenant rooted in covenant commitments that stand against every storm of “as long as we both shall live.” But that is only implicit here. It becomes explicit when the mystery of marriage is more fully revealed in Ephesians 5:31-32.

Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in verse 31, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” And then he gives it this all-important interpretation in verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” In other words, marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to his church. Christ thought of himself as the bridegroom coming for his bride, the true people of God (Matthew 9:15; 25:1ff; John 3:29). Paul knew his ministry was to gather the bride—the true people of God who would trust Christ—and betroth us to him. He says in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”…

I had a man walk up to me, last week, and with the most quizzical look on his face said, “You mean, God might want me to be unhappy?” I said, “Number one, God wants you to be faithful. And then, in faithfulness, measures of happiness that you never dreamed, Gethsemane like, will be found.”…

[Regarding Genesis 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”] First, no matter how beautiful or handsome you are it takes more than that to feel safe and free from any shaming. You not only have to be that way but that other person has to be morally upright and gracious. Because, you know well that no matter how good you are, no matter how beautiful you are, a shaming kind of person, a blaming kind of person will kick you verbally. They will get at you another way. It is not enough for you to present yourself flawlessly. That will not make you free from being shamed.
(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org.)

So here I ask again, what about the cases of hazardous, potentially fatal relationships…abusive or continuously adulterous? I say, there are times in the bible when God’s people stayed and other situations when they fled (separated for a time). I look to David on this one when Saul was out to kill him. David, trusting of God, hid from Saul until God delivered Saul into David’s hands. And David spared him. In contrast, before that, David met up with Goliath, stood his ground, and (by the grace and will of God) won the battle. I say, it is okay to flee when absolutely necessary! Marriage is supposed to be a certain way!
33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33. ESV.)
It is not to be scary, perilous, or life threatening. Seek help when needed and if someone comes to you for assistance, please do your best to not make things worse. Love, encourage, embrace with grace. Do not assume, pass judgment, or cause an already shamed person to feel even more shameful. Lastly, for those who are not yet married. Take it slow and consider it with great weight. Depend wholly on God and do not lean on your own understanding! God's creation of true marriage is a beautiful thing.

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(The sign she is holding at the end says, "Help me, I don't know if I'll make it till tomorrow.")

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Be Fruitful and Multiply and Fill the Earth

What stirs your heart?

For me it is God’s word, my children, my family, friends, songs, and love stories. I am a hopeless romantic. I am…really. I play it off that I am not but secretly I am. My favorites are the pure, respectful, beautiful relationships. Perhaps they begin as a friendship between two who have the utmost respect for one another and then love is realized if situation permits…

Okay, so I read and watch too much Jane Austen. I admit it. But it is refreshing and so lovely. There are no half naked individuals shacking up or even inappropriate conversation or touching. The energy is electric.
“…after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant--it is not fit--it is not possible that it should be so. --Edward will marry Lucy” (Auten, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London. 1811.)

Couples in the bible are a hodgepodge. I suppose that goes to show human nature. There is Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel (and Leah), Ruth and Boaz, Mary and Joseph, the bride and groom in the Song of Solomon, Lappidoth and Deborah, David and Bathsheba, Naomi and Elimelech, Hosea and Gomer, Ahab and Jezebel, Solomon and his 700 wives and 300 concubines, Aquila and Priscilla, Isaac and Rebekah, Abigail and Nabal, Sampson and Delilah, and Tamar and Er (and Onan) to name a few. Just within these mentioned there is all kinds of foolishness. Abraham had a son with the hand maiden of his wife, Sarah. Jacob meant to marry Rachel but was given Leah instead and ended up with both of them. David took Bathsheba as his own even though she was already married to another man…then he had her husband killed. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was a prostitute. Ahab’s wife Jezebel was a very wicked woman. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines…need I say more about that one? Nabal was a “harsh and badly behaved” man and husband to Abigail. Delilah deceived Sampson who was in love with her. And both, the first and second husband of Tamar were wicked and killed by God.

I am trying to think of a marriage in scripture that is truly gorgeous! What about Adam and Eve (aside from their blatant disobedience to God), Ruth and Boaz, Mary and Joseph, and/or Naomi and Elimelech? Does the bible give enough information? The only illustration that springs to mind is Jesus and the church. I get that our marriages are supposed to reflect Jesus and the church. But I feel Jesus’ love for the church is different. The church is His bride but it is not for reproduction. It is a very deep love but not including a sexual, lustful nature. Maybe it is about so much more than procreation.
18Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18. ESV.)

John Piper stated the following,
In other words, Christ’s vision of the meaning of marriage was so enormously different from the disciples, they could not even imagine it to be a good thing. That such a vision could be good news was simply outside their categories.
If that was the case back then with the sober, Jewish world in which they lived, how much more will the magnificence of marriage in the mind of God seem unintelligible to the world we live in, where the main idol is self, and its main doctrine is autonomy, and its central act of worship is being entertained, and its two main shrines are the television and the cinema, and its most sacred genuflection is the uninhibited act of sexual intercourse. Such a culture will find the glory of marriage in the mind of Jesus virtually unintelligible. Jesus would very likely say to us today, when he had finished opening the mystery for us, the same thing he said in his day: “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. . . . Let the one who is able to receive this receive it” (Matthew 19:11-12)….

The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. And the most ultimate thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is for God’s glory. Those are the two points I have to make. Most foundationally, marriage is the
doing of God. Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God….

Marriage is God’s doing because it was his design in the creation of man as male and female. Of course, this was plain earlier in Genesis 1:27-28, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

So from the very beginning the design in the creation of man, male and female, was a union that produces a world filled with God reflecting, radical disciples of God in the old testament and Jesus in the new.
( By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/staying-married-is-not-about-staying-in-love-part-1.)

A union that produces a world filled with God reflecting, radical disciples of God and Jesus. Does that describe your marriage? Does that describe mine?...

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Campaign Against Domestic Abuse: Please Share

Have you seen this video, yet?
A woman takes a photo of herself each day for a year long… At the end, the woman is holding a paper on which is written: “Help me, I don’t know if I’ll make it ’till tomorrow.” (Click here to read more.)

Friday, August 08, 2014

It Is Not In Man Who Walks to Direct His Steps

I have been trying to save up money for our move. The problem is, it is difficult to save money when you do not make much. Five dollars here, ten dollars there, it does add up but I only have ten months and six days left. That is not a lot of time. I started saving months ago with a goal of $8,000. I figure with first month’s rent plus a deposit, a moving truck and gas, food and hotels, and all…the move is going to be a bit costly. The last two months (and most likely again this month), I will not have anything to save. Boo! Hopefully, I will get back on track once the school year begins and I can pick up some (K-8) substitute teaching shifts. I have also been active in meeting other requirements so I can work in the preschool.

But above all, I must keep in mind, God provides and all things are His servants (Psalm 119:91). I love that no matter what my battle, I am never alone. He is always there, my Heavenly Father, and my King.
8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8. ESV.)

I should not get too caught up in the, “I must save up,” mind set. It is good to be prepared but not to obsess! (I have a habit of becoming engrossed in things.) Further, God’s timing is perfect and there are those moments when He will make me wait until the very last second. Why? Because, it grows me. I helps me to depend solely on Him!
20Our soul waits for the LORD;
    he is our help and our shield.
21For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.
22Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.
(Psalm 33:20-22. ESV.)

Not to mention, I might plan my way but it is God who determines my path (Proverbs 16:9). So if it ends up it is not His will for us to move, we will not be moving. That, I have to admit, is a disheartening thought. But, maybe I am being completely selfish.
23 I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
    that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O LORD, but in justice;
    not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.

Am I having doubts about moving? NO WAY! I am so excited I can hardly stand it. I wish I was there, in Texas, already. But it is not quite time, yet. I shall remain prayerful that all goes well, that my children adjust well, and that they flourish in our new environment. California is a great state. But I just know, from deep in my heart, that Texas will be even better!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
          8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:4-9. ESV.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

My Soul Thirsts for You Like a Parched Land

10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground!
(Psalm 143:10. ESV.)
Let this be my prayer every day! Oh Lord, to have wisdom, to learn Your will, and do it with the strength of Jesus.


1Hear my prayer, O LORD;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
    In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
    for no one living is righteous before you.

3For the enemy has pursued my soul;
    he has crushed my life to the ground;
    he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4Therefore my spirit faints within me;
    my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
    I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O LORD!
    My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
    lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
    I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
    In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
    and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
    for I am your servant.
(Psalm 143. ESV.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Friends: Let Us Consider How to Stir Up One Another to Love

We used to sing a song in elementary school music class that went like this:
Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.
My dad explained to me that the “old friends” are the golden ones. A notion I did not understand until I got older. My dear friends who had to endure me as a stubborn adolescent and headstrong young adult certainly are gold!
2Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2. ESV.)

Trust and dependence on God alone is vital but family and friends are also of great importance. I wrote yesterday and touched on how significant my family is to me. Today, I address my friends. I fail them often and they let me down on occasion. But the body of Christ has a key role and responsibility to each other!
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14. ESV.)
We are iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).

I believe the love between friends to be very deep. 1 Samuel 18 describes it as two souls knit together.
1As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1. ESV.)
It is my heart’s desire to not only be interested and supportive of the passions and pursuits of my children, husband, and family but also those of my friends! I should devote time EVERY, single day to call a friend! I am good at writing letters, email, texts, and following the day to day on social networks. But I should telephone. Yes! I’ll update my address book or put together a spreadsheet and contact one person each day. I think I can handle that! There are 365 days in a year. I should be able to cover everyone I know…and if not, I will phone two a day! And, I’ll write letters more often instead of only one at Christmas time.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day and only focus on what is right in front of me…to get washed away in our schedules and the rat race. I have heard the acronym BUSY (Being Under Satan’s Yoke) a couple times. I can see how this would apply if one is too “busy” to be in God’s word each day, to sit before His throne of grace, and do what He places on the heart. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16. ESV.)

24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25. ESV.)

(Photo Information: Bing Public Domain.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

For God Alone My Soul Waits in Silence

Fall semester is getting closer and summer is coming to a close. This year is going to fly by as we prepare to move to the Austin, Texas (TX) area. There is so much to be done! I have my full time university classes, hubs has work, and the kiddos have school. There will be projects to complete, field trips to chaperone, and after school activities to attend. All of that on top of going through stuff, deciding what to give away or throw away and what to pack up. Not to mention, we are going to be watching houses in the area we have chosen to find a rental. I am so thankful for the internet. Despite all that I feel is pending, I know God is sovereign and I have nothing to fret. It will all come together in His perfect timing. He will pave our way.

There is a lot about which to pray. As I have mentioned before, my praying needs to be better. Prayers that all goes well and smoothly. Petitions for safe travel, a new church, and to be joined to a wonderful body of Christ in TX. Pleas regarding the schooling of our children, that God’s hedge of protection will be around them and their hearts! The schools rate “very good” in the area in which we will be moving but it is the first time the young bloods will be in a traditional public school. I survived one, I am sure they will also…but they must be wise in navigating new waters.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15. ESV.)
19For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19. ESV.)

I truly believe we are going to love TX! California (CA) has brought us some wonderful friends (who I am bringing with me, in my heart) but I have been without my family (with whom I am very close) for sixteen years. I feel I made a very poor life choice in moving so far from them when I was a headstrong young adult and have spent the last ten years trying to get back! Finally, it is within reach and I am over the moon! This Floridian turned Californian is soon to be a Texan! I have been waiting, desperately.

I read the following on the Desiring God website that describes my journey in this area.
Are you waiting for something? I mean really waiting with deep longing in your soul for something beyond your control? You might be waiting to conceive a child, receive financial provision, see a loved one come to faith, get married, see a serious illness healed, or move in a ministry direction to which you feel called.. Are you waiting for God to answer? If so, you are in a good (though hard) place.

God highly values the fruit produced in the soul that learns to wait patiently for him. So he takes pains to cultivate it in us. That’s why God dealt with Abraham as he did and recorded Abraham’s story for us—to encourage our anxious waiting hearts and show us what walking by faith looks like….

Learning to walk by faith and not sight is hard. It was hard for Abraham and Sarah. It is hard for all of us. God designed it that way. It is his process of mercifully weaning us off of self-sufficient delusion and letting us taste the joy of what it means to hope in him alone. Learning to patiently trust a promise from God develops our capacity to really hope in eternal life. We learn not to trust our perceptions or emotions but God’s promises. And over time the unseen reality of heaven becomes more real to us. There is nothing like the experience of tasting hope when all looked hopeless to teach the soul that the death we fear is not the end.
(By Jon Bloom. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-you-willing-to-stand-in-gods-place-or-go-at-his-pace.)

I am thankful for God’s timing and sovereignty…even in the days when I felt He had taken EVERYTHING away from me! It was so I could walk alone with Him and depend on Him only instead of deceiving myself!
1For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

3How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

9 Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
    12and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work.
(Psalm 62. ESV.)


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Monday, August 04, 2014

God Loves to Show Grace to His Enemies

I have a terrible habit of being such a “Jonah”. There are a handful of people in my vapor of a life (James 4:14) that are like those from Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-6).

In studying more about Jonah (so I can clearly understand his situation) I came across the following statement from Pastor John Piper,
God loved to show grace to his enemies, even when Jonah didn’t. Jonah didn’t want to come [to Nineveh] — it took a miracle to move him. (By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/running-with-jonah.)

God loves to show grace to His enemies. I get it. I really do. I understand Jonah’s defiance and lack of empathy for those in Nineveh. I have roughly six people or so I avoid as much as possible. Being around them is so unpleasant for me it is nearly unbearable. Yet, I hear myself praying to take my kiddos on a mission trip. God has delivered a mission field to me. (As a sister-in-Christ would say, “Wrapped in a big red bow.”) But I say, “No thank you! I don’t want to be around them!” I mean really, though, what do I expect the mission field to look like? I guess I have it in my mind they consist of those who have never heard the message of Christ Jesus and will fall in love with Him and be called by Him immediately upon hearing the gospel. It usually does not work that way, however, as illustrated in the experience of a Masai warrior named Joseph who was met with a beating upon telling his tribe about Jesus (many times).

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-32. ESV.)

It is no wonder, really. If someone came to me and said, “I want to tell you about Jesus. He is the truth, the way, and the life. The ONLY way!” Yet had I been taught from infancy about someone other than Jesus, I would be skeptical and most likely a bit perturbed at a person trying to say what I was taught (and believed to be irrefutable) to be false. It would be devastating in a sense, at first. And why would I trust a stranger no matter how heartfelt his/her pleas? Only God can (and will as He wills) open the eyes of the heart (Psalm 119:18). Man is powerless, but does not know who God chooses so we must obey. I must show God’s grace and speak of His Son despite my personal feelings toward the individuals in question. Regardless of how much I despise their character and evil doings. Disregarding their cruelty, harsh words, threatening actions, and lack of self-control. God has trained me up adequately in self-defense. I should laugh in the face of fear. Whether they choose to wield weapons, their fists, or words, God has me prepared (and protected)…I have the armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)!

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47. ESV.)

(Photo Information: Bing Public Domain)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

For We Do Not Know What to Pray for as We Ought

Every so often, I am reminded of the importance of prayer. Thankfully, I have the Holy Spirit as my mediator because many (if not most) times my words and thoughts are so inadequate, unfocused, and/ or selfish.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27. ESV.)

Thank you, God, for the Holy Spirit! I never feel alone, unprepared, or defeated. You are with me, always!

O Lord,
No day of my life has passed
          that has not proved me guilty in thy sight.
Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart;
Praise has been often praiseless sound;
My best services are filthy rags.
Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in thy appeasing wounds.
Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits soar above them;
Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell,
thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne.
All things in me call for my rejection,
All things in thee plead my acceptance.
I appeal from the throne of perfect justice
          to thy throne of boundless grace,
Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me:
          that by thy stripes I am healed,
          that thou wast bruised for my iniquities,
          that thou hast been made sin for me
              that I might be righteous in thee,
          that my grievous sins, my manifold sins,
              are all forgiven,
              buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood.
I am guilty, but pardoned,
          lost, but saved,
          wandering, but found,
          sinning, but cleansed.
Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,
Keep me always clinging to thy cross,
Flood me every moment with descending grace,
Open to me the springs of divine knowledge,
          sparkling like crystal,
          flowing clear and unsullied
          through my wilderness of life.
(Bennett, Arthur. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. Carlisle, PA. 2007. Pg 83.)

Friday, August 01, 2014

My God Will Supply Every Need

The summer is almost over and the new school year soon to begin. To say I am a bit anxious would be a tad of an understatement. The thought of switching gears, returning to full time studies, running about, after school activities, etc. swirl about in my mind. Come to think of it, anxiety has been plaguing me. My thoughts are so loud, at times, they are defending. I try to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) but it is beyond me. They spin out of control and are dizzying.

I would try to say this is a newer affliction but according to my human development class I just completed, our happiness / contentment stays consistent throughout life. So, my temperament has always been as such...and will remain. I know, however, God is sovereign and takes care of everything. So, I have no reason to be stressed.

There have been a number of times when God has provided for us or protected my children when I was unaware we needed provision or safeguard. My view and comprehension of the world is painfully limited. How truly thankful I am God is my heavenly Father and King!

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20. ESV.)

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

How awesome is that?! I should have no cause for fretfulness but rather gratefulness and joy. With time marching onward and my determination to move to Texas in ten months and thirteen days, there is much to do this year. The time is going to fly by.

My Dear Lord,
I depend wholly upon thee,
wean me from all other dependences.
Thou art my all, thou dost overrule all and delight in me.
Thou art the foundation of goodness,
how can I distrust thee?
how be anxious about what happens to me?
In the light of thy preciousness
the world and all it's enjoyments are infinitely poor:
I value the favour of men no more than pebbles.
Amid the blessings I receive from thee.
may I never lose the heart of a stranger.
May I love thee, my benefactor, in all my benefits,
not forgetting that my greatest danger
arises from my advantages.
Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me,
delightful in all his offices,
pleasureable in all his ways,
and may I love his commands as well as his promises.
Help me to discern between true and false love,
the one consisting of supreme love to thee, the other not,
the former uniting thy glory and man's happiness
that they may become one common interest,
the latter disjointing and separating them both,
seeking the latter with neglect of the former.
Teach me that genuine love is different in kind
from that wrought by rational arguments or the motive of
self-interest,
that such love is a pleasing passion affording joy to the mind
where it is.
Grant me grace to distinguish between the genuine and the false,
and to rest in thee who art all love.
(Bennett, Arthur. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Carlisle, PA. 2007. Pg 183.)

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