Monday, October 10, 2011

My Theme

Yesterday I had a nice relaxing lunch out with my friends.  It was so great to be able to sit, eat, and talk with two ladies who love the Lord.  One of my friends asked me "what is your theme right now?"  She explained that she thought that we all have themes in our lives:  areas where God is working on molding our hearts, little areas where He is making us think or dealing with us.  I agree.  I can look back and see little chunks of time where God has chipped away at my heart...a little here, a LOT there...

So I had time to think about it, but still wasn't sure how to fully put it into words when it was my time to share.  I guess if I had to sum it up in a nutshell it would be: being quiet.  When you have finished picking yourself up off of the floor from laughing I will explain what I mean.  Ready?  Not yet.  Take your time and get your belly laughs out.  Now?  Okay.

So here it is.  I love to discuss things.  I love to talk with my trusted friends and ask:  "what do you think about this?"  I love other people's input because it makes me think.  And I love people who aren't afraid to challenge my thinking and show me where I am wrong.  In the past few years, I have taken a lot of time learning about what different people believe and I have come to realize that you can't "pin" me into one category or denomination.  I am nondenominational in that many hold great truths.  Or maybe multidenominational might be a better word for it.   Much of my learning came from discussion with friends.

But now I have come to a point in my life where I am sorting it all out.  Information overload can be a good and a bad thing.  I have come to realize that I can't sort this out in conversation right now--I have to go to the source.  So I have been spending some time figuring it all out by the pages of God's Word.  I have done a little writing, but I do not feel compelled to share it right now.

I consider putting myself out there online as a means of transparency.  I am an open book.  Feel free to explore the pages of my mind.  But I have seen others struggles in their writings and blogs.  What I notice is that sometimes people gain a following.  People who wouldn't DARE disagree with you.  At that point, when you have a following, you become a teacher and God holds you to a higher standard.  If that is the case you had better either be right or at least open to the possibility that you might be wrong.  And while I am always open to the possibility that I might be wrong, I would rather be leading people in the right direction.  One day I will stand before God and account for my words.  That doesn't mean that He will condemn me, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  But there will be some level of accountability.

So lately, I have just been listening.  Listening to what God has to say to me through His Word.  My "theme" has been meditating on what Paul means when he repeatedly reminds us to "walk worthy of the Lord."  Tough thought to some, because we stumble over what that means since Jesus already made us worthy.  That is where I will be.  I probably won't be posting much.  But I will be reading.  And I would love to hear from you.  So what is your theme right now?

Friday, October 7, 2011

You Need to Watch This.

I am coming to the end of A Lifetime of Learning.  If I keep this blog, I will soon take it in a whole new direction.  But I have one thing that is on my heart to share before I stop posting.

I believe that Christians need to be bold, courageous, and speak up for truth and justice no matter the consequences.  And the truth is this:  when you do, some people won't like you. But truth is truth no matter how abrasive it is to someone else.  The Gospel of Christ is offensive because it reveals the real us.  And the truth is that what is inside is frequently ugly.

Now that I have said my peace, I want you to watch something.  It is important for everyone to understand our history, otherwise we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.  America is a case study for this.  I won't explain, I just want you to watch.  Then leave your comments and thoughts. 

Most importantly, share.  This movie is changing the hearts and minds of many.  We CAN  make a heart at a time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time for a Break

I am not a daily blogger.  I am not even a weekly blogger.  I am simply a "when I feel inspired" blogger.  Right now, I feel inspired to take a break.  To simply take some time to be quiet, and turn inward and towards the Lord.  I don't know if the break will be temporary or permanent.  I am leaving my site up because I love to occasionally log on an browse through my reading list.  Maybe I will see you soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vaccine Wars

Today I am venturing out into waters that I have purposely ignored in this venue.  Why?  Because it is not my intention to convince anyone of anything.  I feel compelled, however, to step into the ring with my boxing gloves squarely in place.

The debate is heating up.  To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?  Part of the reason that it is heating up right now is because more an more people are taking notice and educating themselves on the subject.  It even appears that they don't like what they are finding.  Despite the CDC's propaganda, including the new movie Contagion more and more families are saying no to vaccines. 

And with the percentage of people vaccinating waning, comes the new push to "mandate" vaccines.  As if it weren't enough to vilify educated families in movies and articles as the "bad guys" who spread and harbor diseases, the CDC is encouraging health care facilities to force unwanted vaccines on their staff.  It seems telling that 50% of knowledgeable nurses refuse the influenza vaccine.  The CDC will tell you that this is because of lack of education, I still contend that it is because of education. 

Here's hoping that the push to force unwanted medical treatments on people becomes more of an eye-opener than a success.  Hopefully, it will push people to ask questions and do research of their own before they decide to comply.  Although I will not give you advice on whether to--or whether not to, I can give you resources for study if you are truly interested.  Then you can make your own decision--whatever it might be--as an informed consumer rather than blind faith. 

Happy reading.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Less Than Perfect

I was recently skimming over Nancy Leigh DeMoss's list 41 evidences of pride.    I had posted a link to this before, but recently a friend posted it again....and it is a good list to look over from time to time.  It reminds us that we are all sinners, and that pride creeps in unseen at times.  It isn't an easy list to read. 

One other blogger had mentioned that sometimes we tend to make ourselves sound much better than we are.  By that, I mean we portray an image of ourselves online that isn't true to what we are really like.  I began to wonder about that.  Sometimes I read blogs of others and I think:  Man! They really have it all together!!!  Then the oddest thing happened.  I had several people make comments to me about how "together" I am.  I simply stared a blank stare and didn't know how to answer.  My thought were:  If they only knew the real me!  That was when I began to wonder about the picture that I portray of myself online. 

I think that the intention of many bloggers is to write about what works for them or blesses them.  No one would want to read a post about how to keep a messy house, cook a crummy dinner, or fight with your spouse.  There are plenty of people who share negative experiences on Facebook--we don't need it in the blogging world!  But one thing I would never want to do is portray myself as different or better than I really am!
I could sit and bore you with a long list of things I stink at:  keeping my house clean, balancing a checkbook, sweeping the acorns off of my porch, finishing almost any project that I start, keeping my mouth shut, blah, blah, blah....but you probably aren't interested in my faults.  All one would need is to come over to my house unannounced to find toys all over the floor, books stacked on the table, a sink full of dishes, and a yard full of bikes and toys. 

And it's not that I find cleaning unimportant.  It's just that I am real....not perfect.   And I have come to terms with that.  Hopefully I have never portrayed myself as someone who is "all together."  That would be a lie.  But I do love to write about what God is doing in my life.  I guess you can say that it is my way of testifying to the goodness of my Savior!  If He can see purpose and value in a life like mine......then He sees it in you too. 

No, I won't start snapping pictures of my laundry piles....don't worry.  But I will be real with you.  If you ask me what I am struggling with today, I will tell you.  That's where true relationship begins. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Whatever it Takes

The economy is crashing.  We take pride in slaughtering our unborn in the name of choice.  We have, as a country, forsaken what we were founded upon in the name of progress.  We face the fear of losing our rights to raise our children in God's Word.  We pray and pray for our nation to turn back to God before we suffer dearly.

I wonder, though, should our prayer be "Lord, don't let me or my kids suffer"  or should it be "Lord, whatever it takes!"  

Whatever it takes to drive our nation to it's knees and humble ourselves before God.  Whatever it takes to reveal Your eternal glory to a lost people.  Even unto suffering and death--Lord, whatever it takes to do your will!

Our question should be: do I love God enough to be able to stand through suffering and still glorify Him with my life?  Will I give thanks in my suffering, or will I grumble?  Am I teaching my children that this life is fleeting--but Christ is supreme and our treasure awaits in eternity?

No, I am sure that it isn't wrong to pray for our leaders.  No, it isn't selfish to wish that this would all be fixed and we would lose nothing through it.  But that doesn't seem to be the Biblical trend!  I am writing this simply to encourage you.  God is most glorified in our weakness.  We need to prepare our hearts and know that He is our treasure...not life.

Will you pray this with me?

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Story-Part 2 Baptism

So I took the plunge...again.

I was able to give my testimony to those on the beach yesterday--August 7th, 2011--but if you weren't there, I can tell you why I did it again.  If you have read my story, continue on.  If not, read it first here.  

After reading that post, you will know a bit more about me and what I believe.  I did get baptized when I was 10.  But what I didn't understand when I was 10 was why.  But far more important that that....I didn't understand what salvation meant!   You see, I believe that we can come to baptism not fully understanding it's meaning.  We cannot, however, come to faith in Christ without understanding that He did it all for us, and there is nothing that we can do to earn His love.  Nothing.  We are simply called to put our faith in the fact that we are sinners, separated from God, and we are in need of a Savior.  Jesus fulfilled the demands of justice on the cross as a final sacrifice.  Sin deserves death.  He gave us life.  That is grace--a gift we don't deserve!  I will not enter heaven on my own merits--what church I attended, how good I was,  the fact that I lived a better life than others, or even the fact that I was baptized. (twice:)    I only enter clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  I wear His blood--the only thing that makes me good!  But believing that salvation is something that can be earned or lost equates it with works-which was what I believed when I was 10.  It then sets you up for misery and failure and the grief of knowing that you can never be good enough for God.  Thank God that this teaching is untrue-- it is not about me!

So, that brings me to what I believe about baptism.  I used to believe that baptism was a necessary step of salvation, and that if we failed to be baptized we would not be saved.  I have come to believe now that this not the full truth.  Baptism is a commandment of Christ following belief.  Being unbaptized does not make you unsaved.  You will never find a verse in the Bible that talks about infant baptism, or sprinkling.  It is always carried out by immersion following conversion.  (that rhymes..:)  So, I believe that if you are truly saved, you will choose to obey and be baptized.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments." 

There is a lot of confusion out there about the idea of the lordship of Jesus.  I do not believe that you can pray a prayer and then spend the rest of your life in sin and assume that you are saved.  Salvation requires repentance-a word that means to turn and walk in the opposite direction.  The gift of the Holy Spirit in you moves you, transforms you, molds you, and makes you more like Christ.  No, not perfection--that is not required-- but sanctification or progressive change.  If you have the Holy Spirit and He is speaking in your life about an issue like baptism, He won't rest until you humble yourself and obey!  Trust me on that one--I have been there!

This is me giving my testimony with Pastor Phil looking on.

Love, Correction, and Discipline: My Interview wtih Suzanna Kamphuis

 My wonderful friend Suzanna was another person that I sent my interview questions to.  She was very gracious to reply, despite being at the very end of her pregnancy!  Suzanna has the wonderful ability to draw people out in conversation and make them not only feel welcome, but also to think.  And I love her dearly!

1.  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a stay-at-home, sometime-homeschooling, sometime-not mom with hands in many pies, seldom
(much to my husband’s chagrin) a literal pie.

2. How would you define love?

I’ve been thinking a lot about love these days, reading I Corinthians 13 over silently to myself and aloud to my children.  I enjoy reading the King James Version, and in that version the term “charity” is used instead of “love.”   The Jacobeans, the society that produced the King James Version, were incredibly public minded, interested primarily in Biblical virtues as they affected society.  Thus, they used a term which brought to mind the social form of the Greek original, “agape.”  Conversely, today, many people tend to think of love as a private, heart-chosen, out-of-our-control emotion.  As Woody Allen infamously expressed, “The heart wants what it wants.” 

I grew up in a conservative church that sided with the Jacobeans in this debate.  Love was not about how you felt, but rather about what you did—the public effect was primary.  If and when you didn’t feel it—you were advised to “fake it ‘til you make it,” because “feelings follow actions.”  But in real life, sometimes feelings don’t follow actions.  Sometimes my heart strays while my hand holds to the plow.  Does God care whether I feel love or whether I just find a way to express something loving in spite of my feelings? 

Just to prove to you what an idea nerd I am, for my wedding,  I chose the song “Something That We Do,” by Clint Black to express this idea.  I know; so romantic!  The lyrics have a lot to say about what love isn’t, “Love’s not just something that we’re in…Love isn’t something that you find.”  But what if love is something that found you.  The greatest love I have ever know has quietly but consistently searched me out not for public effect but to minister to my private need.  In my depravity, when the hopelessness of my case is right before me, the miracle of Christ love is poured out on my parched earth. 

I John 4  tells me that it is not the Christian’s job to manufacture love, not even for the Saviour himself, “We love him because He first loved us.”  Just as He is the author of our Faith, He is the author of our love.  And yet He does have some requirements.  He literally commands us to share.  We are not to be cisterns—taking and storing; we are to be aqueducts—passing the love along.  I try to think of the words of Christ as they would have sounded to Old Testament ears.  “If ye love me keep my commandments.”  Think of how that must have sounded to people under the law—how freeing!  “I don’t have to earn God’s favour, God’s favour and the love that it has inspired in my heart is there to propel me forward.”  And where is forward?  Several verses later Christ tells us, “And this is my commandment that ye love one another.”  This is truly a New Covenant.  Receive the love of Christ, feel it, and give it to someone else. 

3.  Biblically, we are called to correct, instruct, and encourage one another to righteousness.  In what circumstances should we do this?  How do we balance this with our call to love?

I Corinthians 13 speaks explicitly about the superiority of love.  The gifts God has given us “to correct, instruct, or encourage one another to righteousness” in this life lack clarity.  “We know in part…We prophecy in part.”  In contrast, charity (or love) “never faileth.”  It is the one tool in our arsenal as Christians that literally is guaranteed to work every single time. 

I’m sad to say that I have been on both the giving and receiving end of correction, instruction, and encouragement in righteousness that was not grounded in love.  It’s not a pleasant experience to get beaten up by another person’s “gift.”  In fact the word “gift” seems a bit of a misnomer when your eyes are getting poked, your hair is getting pulled, your ears are being boxed by your beloved brother or sister in Christ, who then proceeds to pray that you will receive their words in a spirit of love.  A gift to who?  Not to me.  Even when the words are true, it is hard to learn when you feel attacked.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 12, “There is a more excellent way.”

Following I Corinthians 13 is…drum roll please…I Corinthians 14.  In I Corinthians 14 we are instructed to desire spirituals gifts, such as prophecy…as they flow from love…and as we can understand their limited usefulness because of our limited selves.  At this time, we are working in pretty murky water; we do not yet see “face to face.”  Ah, the blessed humility of knowing that my “insights” are often misguided, my feelings frequently interfere with my spiritual sight.  And yet, just as God does not despise my frailty, He does not despise my pursuit of spiritual gifts.  I am not called to be a limp fish or a door mat, but to be fully me, led by His Spirit in a unique way to serve His kingdom.  BUT…my gifts need a regular bath, or they will start to stink maybe not to my nose but to the noses of those around me.  Humility and love scour my gifts and make them acceptable to company. 

4. The big phrase you hear today is "don't judge me!"  The Bible instructs us to judge not, lest we be judged.  What does this passage mean to you?  Is there ever a circumstance where we are called to judge?

 I once heard a Biblical scholar explain that this phrase from the Gospels simply means that one shouldn’t get into the business of judging unless you yourself are prepared to be judged.  Not being a Biblical scholar myself, I jumped on the explanation in my usual enthusiastic way. 

I think there certainly is a time and a place within the parameters set by I Corinthians 13 to speak an honest question into someone’s life.  “Love seeketh not her own.”  The love of Christ does not flatter or seek ego fulfilment in the eyes of the beloved.  But for me, judgment involves a sentence, a statement of determination.  I find that to be antithetical to the definition of love in I Corinthians 13.  “

Friday, August 5, 2011

A New Blog Venture!

To all of you who read my little blog-thank you!  I still think it a bit strange that so many people I have never met are a part of my life.  But I love it because I love to encourage.  I love to encourage because I desperately need it too!  We all do-if we are honest about it!

I decided to begin a new venture.  Mainly because I have had several people contact me in the last year asking abut getting started in home schooling.  I want to put any information and encouragement that I have all in one place so I can just refer people to it.  I have asked friends and family who are veteran and beginning home schoolers to contribute to the site.  I am not sure where it will go, but if it helps even one person my work is worth it. 

Come on over and check it out.  Refer it to friends.  People are still free to contact me personally  and my email can be found on the new blog!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

The best!!!!

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1/2 C baking cocoa
1- 1/2 t. Baking powder
1- 1/2 t. Baking soda
1 t. Salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1-1/2 C oil  (I use coconut, but has to be warmed to liquid when mixing you can use vegetable oil too-just not good for you!)
2 T. Butter, melted
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
3C Grated zucchini
a big heaping helping of semisweet chocolate chips.
*optional* raisins or pecans

Mix all of the dry ingredients (first seven).  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, butter, vanilla and mix well.  If you are using coconut oil, you might have to gently warm the mixture to make it liquid before adding to dry ingredients. I used a metal bowl and held it over an empty pan over the stove top to prevent the eggs from cooking.   Stir well into dry mix until moistened throughout.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.  I would say a cup of them, but I won't lie, I add more than that!!

Grease and flour two 8X4X2 loaf pans.  Divide equally and bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Mine never really come out clean.  That's okay, it is rich and decadent!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Story

I became a Jesus-follower somewhere between 1992-1994.  If you attend a Baptist church like I do, you might have trouble with that statement because you think that there has to be a date and and hour when you "sealed the deal."  But I truly believe that for some it is more of a process than it is a prayer.  I love how John Piper explains the process as an electrical system.  People come into our lives and help to install the wiring tracts for the system, but one day God flips the switch and turns on the lights, which only God can do.  I can pinpoint the time in my life with much certainty that God "flipped the switch."

It is different for everyone, I am sure.  My story is not a condemnation of any one's belief systems, nor is it a commentary on the faith of those I grew up with, it is simply a story of someone who came away from a particular system empty and scared.  Not all people have the same response that I did-I can only speak for myself.

When I was little, my parents were faithful church attendees.  We went to a close-knit Church of Christ.  I think that back in the day, there was a fairly good sized congregation, but the perspective of a child I have found is sometime skewed when it comes to size and proportion.  But they were family. They still are.  The church no longer holds the name "Church of Christ."  I don't know why they changed the name, but I wondered if it had anything to do with that denominations beliefs on salvation and baptism.  I really don't know for sure.

I remember Sunday School and Junior Church and VBS.  We learned to memorize Bible verses, the books of the Bible, and so on.  I have some very fond memories that reach back to those events.  But as I grew into a teenager, I was a bit worried.  I had met people who I had believed had a real connection with God that I seemed to be lacking.  If you would have asked me back then what it meant to be a Christian I'm not really sure what I would have told you.  I found comfort in a lot of things that I don't see as edifying now.  My choice in music was one of them.  My choice in relationships was another.  I have never had any experience with drugs, but I did drink a few times well before I was of age.  I spent a lot of time telling my mother that I listened to heavy metal for the music, but I didn't care for the lyrics-which was a lie and I knew it.

I went through a lot of traumatic things as a child.  Not in my family-they were wonderful.  I had loving, faithful parents.  My trauma was more with friends and it started with a neighbor that decided one day to raise an army against me.  You know how girls fight?  They are never content just to be mad at you, they have to take all of their friends with them and form an army.  My adolescence started that way.  I have had some great friends, but my experience with just one friend left me wounded and raw.  I spent the rest of my teenage years looking for acceptance and love.  I was loved at home, but I needed more.  I needed love from  people who were not blood-related and obligated to love me!  In retrospect, I think I just wanted to be worthy of love.  That led me to seek out love in the wrong places. (remember that song?  Looking for love in all the wrong places?  I always get that song stuck in my head when I tell this story!)  What I did not know then was that I had a hole in my heart that would never and could never be filled by people.

So let me rewind for a minute.  When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be baptized.  I saw that everyone else around me was doing it, and I really wanted to take communion.  My parents called the pastor and he came out to our home to talk with us.  I don't remember a single word he said.  What I do remember was that after our meeting I was scared. I was scared that I would not make it to the church to my baptism.  What if I got hit by a train, truck, or swept up by a tornado?  Then I would be condemned to hell for sure! I don't know how long it was in between the meeting and the baptismal service-let's just say 2 weeks for the sake  of argument.  Two weeks is a long time to sit and worry about death!  I needed my sins washed away now!  But the two weeks passed, and I lived.  I made it to the church and I walked down the isle.  I stood in front of our small congregation and made a profession of faith: that I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, I believed He died and rose again, and I believed that I needed Him for a Savior.  And I really did believe that.  Now time to wash those sins away.  I remember one of my first thoughts when coming up out of the water: what now?  All those sins are gone, does that mean I can never sin again?  How can I be "good enough" for this God? How bad do I have to be to lose this salvation that I just earned by baptism?  These were all subconscious questions I had.  They weren't answered for a few years.

So fast-forward now to those teenage years.  Several years of attempting to "be good" had found me flat on my face.  I had failed so many times.  I didn't even desire righteousness.  I made my own form of it.  I supposed that there were people out there who were much worse than me, so I must be doing okay-even though my soul knew I wasn't okay.  I won't lie to you, I was tormented.  I used to cry at night knowing I wasn't good enough.  When I was in high school and struggling with the "friend thing" I had a thought that I would rather be dead.  I never tried to accomplish that-I just wanted it.  Yet through the day, I wore a confident face for my family and justified everything I did to myself and others.  I never would have described myself as "empty" like I know that it was now.   I just didn't know.

After learning the ways of the world through a miserable relationship with a man, I decided that it was time to change myself.  I resolved to be better.  God brought a wonderful man into my life.  He was everything that I wanted, but he was also something that I hated--Baptist.  My thoughts on denominational lines now are different, but that is another subject for another time.  I went to some of his church gatherings and he came to some of mine.  In less than a year of knowing him, I knew that I would marry him-but I would never go to a Baptist church!

God has a great sense of humor.  But I digress.

My husband and his family introduced me to the doctrine of grace.  This was something totally new for me.  I didn't remember hearing much about it growing up.  I struggled with it at first--because it is a totally un-natural, radical thing.  I asked a lot of questions but still couldn't grasp the idea that I could accept Christ as my savior and then live my life any way I wanted and I would still be His.  Asinine.  For the record-I still don't believe that, but I understand now the transforming power of grace and how God takes a heart of stone from us and transforms it into a living, warm heart of flesh.  Remember when I talked about laying the ground wire and letting God flip the switch?  It's coming soon. All of the things that I learned about God over the years, all of the things that were continuing to wire me was about to be activated by God.  In all of my questioning and confusion, He led me to this verse:

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been  saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God and not by works, lest any man can boast."

I didn't read that and say:  "oooh!  I get it!" No, when I read that I realized that what I had believed all of these years could possibly be wrong.  So one night, somewhere between 1992 and 1994-I don't even remember if it was spring, summer, whatever- I was lying in bed crying.  I prayed to God and told Him that I didn't know what was true, but I just wanted Him.  And I wanted truth.  I needed Him to open my eyes and show me because my "self" wasn't figuring this out and I certainly had never had the peace I desired.  God is faithful.  And when we humble ourselves before Him, He gives us what we really need.  He knew that this was the cry of my heart and that it was genuine.  That night, I believe that He performed a work in me.  I believe that the next morning I woke up with a clean slate.  The work of baptism that I hoped to wash my sins away failed, but my desires were accomplished by a simple act of faith.  I didn't know it immediately, but I began to see God change me.  I lost the desire for some of the music I once loved.  My thoughts in other areas had changed.  Others noticed a difference and commented on it.  I wasn't super-Christian, flying around with my sword of righteousness--no it was a bit more subtle than that.  But it was a change.  And I knew something that I had never known before:  I was His forever.  Nothing I did was ever going to change that.  My dirty self was now clothed in the righteousness of Christ and one day I would show up at the gates wearing His righteousness-not my own.  And when I got there and He asked me "Why should I let you into my heaven?"  I would start to speak and Jesus would interrupt and say:

"Father, this one is Mine.  I did all of the work for her, she simply believed."

I now believe that salvation doesn't depend on what kind of church you go to.  We attend a Baptist church simply because we like it and find it to be Biblically sound.  But I have learned that my beliefs don't have to lie within Baptist boundaries-just Biblical ones. God has used the past 19ish years to transform me, mold me, and change my wrong-headed thinking on many things.  And I am still open to that.  I am learning all of the time.  (Hence the blog title)  Despite the things I don't know, I still know one thing for sure:  I am His forever and nothing will change that.  Nothing, self included, can remove me from His hand.  Amazing love. I have found rest from my works in the arms of a loving Savior.

Do you rest in Him too?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Becoming a Mermaid

I remember the day when I stood on the shore,
So unsure of what was out there, afraid to dive in.
I dipped my toe in the water to test it, but it was too cold.
Content to feel the heat, I sat in the sun for a while.
I built a castle in the sand and played on the shore.
Until I couldn't stand it anymore.
The draw of the ocean was just too strong.

I walked back to the shore, leaving my castle behind.
How bad can it be? 
It has to be refreshing in there-
Look at all of those happy people enjoying the surf!
I wanted to know the same joy it brought them.

So I put my foot in.  It was cold, but refreshing.
And there I stood, ankle deep watching people dive and swim.
It must be great.
But what was out there?  You simply can't see from the shore.
Was I willing to risk losing myself to find out?

I waded in up to my knees.
I felt the gentle feeling of the waves pushing and pulling my legs
Back and forth.  And I stood, wondering how difficult it would be to go deeper.
But still, there was an urge to push on and dive into the refreshing waters.
I watched the sun dance and sparkle on the surface.
And I took a step.

Now I was in up to my waist.
Waves came crashing against me,
Threatening to knock me over.
I don't know what the waves have against me,
But I am tempted to turn back.
I fear getting caught in an undercurrent.
And what about sharks?

I turn back and look at the shore.
There is nothing left for me there now.
My sand castle was washed up in the surf
And I know it is hot and uncomfortable there.
Yes, my life on the shore is over.
The water around me is soothing, but dangerous.
Can I just stay here in this spot forever?

But there are a few brave ones.
They are in deep, and loving it.
There has to be more,
And now I am up to my neck in the water.
This is as far as I could possibly go.
I don't want to drown.
The ocean is so deep, so unsafe and powerful.
I feel something brush past my feet.
I am tempted to turn and run back to the shore.

I see people standing between me and the shore.
They don't look as happy as they looked
When I was standing on the shore.
There is a longing in their eyes.
Maybe they are longing to go deeper too.

The deep blue water is still drawing me like gravity.
What can it want from me now?
I am as deep as I can go without drowning.
I don't understand this need to see what's under there.
What about air?
I am about to lose myself.
Can I really do this?

I take a deep breath and put my head under the surface.
There are people swimming down there!
I wonder how they are breathing.
It isn't natural.
But the soothing water is all around me,
And I can't help but go deeper.

I close my eyes and dive in.
There is nothing there but me and the water.
It surrounds me like an embrace.
I swim and swim for what seems like an eternity.
Discovering new things I never knew existed.
How long has it been since I have come up for air?
Is is possible to stay down here forever?

I have to put my head above the water.
I look back and see so many people standing on the shore,
And in the shallow water.
And I know that right here is where I want to be.
I close my eyes and dive back in.
It doesn't matter that this doesn't make sense,
And I am still alive.
I want to be here forever.

The water is all I need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

God is FOR You

I love the Psalms.  What a place to go when you need encouragement in your heart!  I started re-reading the book when my heart was troubled and I have been so encouraged.  I loved the gentle reminders to have a broken, contrite heart before God.  I love how David cried out to God with every ounce of His soul and God called him a man after my own heart.  The Psalms are passionate pleas, gentle reminders of who God is, and heart cries of praise.  This passage stuck out to me today:

Psalm 56:8-13  
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;

This I know because God is for me.
In God (I will praise His word)
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I will put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?

I know that different Scriptures speak to us at different times in our journeys, but I hope this one blesses you today the way it blessed me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Love, Correction, and Judgment: My Interview with Rachel Winchester

Those who know me know that I am not afraid to ask the hard questions!  I enjoy thoughtful conversations with people and tend to learn much from asking questions.  I do not try to be controversial, as some would describe me.  But I do have a passion for truth.  And truth is not always popular!

God has blessed me with some amazing and wise friends!  I have learned much from them, and I do cherish a friend who will always point me to truth no matter what the cost.  Rachel has been one of those friends.  She has an amazing passion for God, and it shows in her love of His Word.

I hope that you are blessed by her words! 

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

I am a daughter of the King, a wife of an amazing husband, and a mother to 4 crazy kids! My days are filled with loving my God, working in my home, serving my family, and training my children.

I homeschool my 3 older children in the midst of babyville with my youngest! It is a rollercoaster ride in our household but we love it and love how God makes everyday unique while teaching us to have character traits like patience, grace, mercy, love, attentiveness, and courtesy. Those are hard daily lessons but ones I find joy in as I see my kids develop.

My hobbies are sadly lacking right now. I love to sing, to play the piano, to take pictures, and to read. But, most of my time is taken up with schooling my kids and just overall keeping up with life. The life of a mom!

I do enjoy speaking at ladies' functions or leading a Bible Study. I have had the opportunity to speak at Parent Meetings in the Calument Twnship schools, Building Blocks- a Women's Center Outreach, Mother/Daughter functions, a Women's Retreat, and at a Mom/Daughter retreat focusing on purity. Everytime I speak I am amazed at the opportunity given to me to share Christ's love and my love for the roles of mother/teacher and wife/helpmeet. I enjoy Bible study because it teaches me and stretches me!

I love friends. I think that life was made to live and grow with others. I have many friends and it is quite an amazing accomplishment that I do find time to spend with as many of them as I can. Of course, those friendships are all wrapped around the beauty of our salvation in our Lord and the craziness of all our kids! It is a wonderful gift when your friends sharpen you and point you to the King!

I guess you could say I live life busy and I love it!

2. How would you define love?

Love defined is hard, Love as a noun is simple- Love is a person, God. To then understand love one must learn WHO GOD IS. This is complex. I have learned God's characteristics and I find that everything about him even his discipline and his punishment is because of his love.

I also think love is described beautifully in I Corinthians 13. The hardest part of that description is the action involved. Which brings me to the other part of what love is. It is an action. It is a choice.

I think it is a must that we separate love as a choice and love as a response. Love acting on choice looks slightly different than love as a response.

Love as a choice is one that always seeks the best for the other person regardless of the other person's response or actions toward us. Love is a choice when the easiest thing to do is lash out or ignore but love goes in and works for resolution and peace.

Love as a response can be a pure and beautiful thing. It can be described as cherishing that which has been done for us. And that looks different for everyone.

Love is best shown to us by what God did for us through His Son. Romans 5:8 states: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Love is going to point of death and even death for those you cherish.

Love as an action also cares about the life of another. If I see someone saying they love God and are not obeying him or caring for the things of God then as a sister in Christ I am to love by pointing out gently what I am observing. Love doesn't judge. It reproves, corrects, and then brings about restoration whether that be with another person or with God.

Love is full of grace (giving us something we do not deserve but we desire) and Love is full of mercy (withholding something we deserve but do not want).

Love is not easy. Love is not empty words, it is by definition action. It is who God is.

3.  Biblically, we are called to correct, instruct, and encourage one another to righteousness. In what circumstances should we do this? .
I think we get confused as to what this means. We think that by doing these things it will always bring conflict. But, if we do these things with the Fruit of the Spirit then it is done gently with meekness (humble understanding of our own faults too) and surrounded by self control. It is done with patience realizing that correction and instruction takes time. Encouragement is done through the way we talk, interact, and can be part of correction and instruction.

At first correction or instruction come when you can do it one on one not in a public fashion. Our goal is always righteousness not humiliation or embarrassment. I think it needs to be done when we have our own emotions under control so we do it out of love and not anger or indignation.

There are some circumstances when it involves false teaching that a person might need to correct while in the presence of others and in that instance you do it with the assumption that their teaching is motivated in love and therefore when corrected they will comply and change or study upon what you have given them.

How do we balance that with our call to love?

I think this is an interesting question because by definition love corrects, love instructs, love encourages. If I did not love someone I would not correct them, I would let them head into trouble and not care a bit about what happens to them. If I did not love someone I would not instruct them, I would let them continue in ignorance. I did not love someone I would not encourage them, I would leave them to figure out what they are doing well in. So for me you cannot have correction, instruction or encouragement without love. If one does these things without love then they should be the ones having someone coming to them to question their motives. :)

4. The big phrase we hear today is "don't judge me!" The Bible instructs us not to judge, lest we be judged. What does this passage mean to you? Is there ever a circumstance when we are called to judge?

This question intrigues me. I find it honestly quite humorous because everyday, every hour, and minute by minute we judge. We judge what is good for us, what is bad for us, we judge whether our friendships are honoring, we judge how our children are doing and so on. We need to read those words that come from a verse in God's Word in the context it is given and then match it up to all of Scripture.

Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This particular passage is NOT saying, "Do not judge at all". It is saying that when you judge or correct so to speak make sure of your attitude and your motivation and most of all your own righteousness. Because when you judge realize that you will then be judged also on the same points and will you be called out as a hypocrite? If so, do not judge! So do not judge until verse five is taken care of in your own life! The last part of verse five is what I draw this conclusion from, "...then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Luke 6:37- 42 is the parallel passage and it again explains that it is the intent, the righteousness in your life that is actually be judged when we "rebuke" or "correct" another. If you are have the same sin going on in your own life then how can you take care of someone else? Take care of have the ability to go to the sister that you see sin in.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Look at this passage on judging:

I Corinthians 5:11-1211 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[b]

Is this not judging? Yes, it is. We are told to judge the sin around us and to separate from it, correct it and then restore.

So, what shouldn't we judge? Freedoms in Christ. You see God has laid out clearly for us what IS SIN so that we CAN judge the sin and call it what it is so that we can then CHANGE our behavior and save others from the consequences of the behavior. But, freedoms are a different story. What if I would like to worship God in a way that is different from you? Or what if I should take drink of wine with my meal but I do not get drunk? These things are freedoms. They are talked about all over the New Testament.

BUT...a huge but here....God speaking through Paul has also told us that even if we have a freedom it doesn't mean it is best to use it. We must constantly be thinking as Christ, meaning we make sure that any freedom we have does not make another person stumble. Not all people have the same freedoms because of where they have been in life before the Lord took control. Some of us have to refrain from freedom because we need to keep our lives tightly controlled by the Spirit so that sin does not overtake us. And if I am in a relationship with someone that needs those boundaries then I as a sister will respect those boundaries and not cross them when I am with that person. I will do it graciously without judgement. Just as at other times I have been in the presence of Christians who are doing things unknowningly in front of me that hurt me, I do not judge them. I give them to the Lord and ask for strength in dealing with those issues as they come up.

I would encourage all my brothers and sisters to read through the epistles to understand what is to be judged and what is not to be judged and how to go about judging.

I think that I would go back to 1 Corinthians 13 again and read again how love is to be accomplished.

I would encourage all to read this passage- Galations 5:13 through Galations 6:10. It is the passage I heavily rely on when I am faced with any type of circumstance with another Christian. It is my "check and balance".

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

After reading that passage if I still feel the Holy Spirit spurring me on to talk with someone I do it! After reading this if I am convicted of my own hyposcrisy I stop and work on that first and ask the Spirit to soften my heart toward the other person! I think the above passage speaks for itself.

Love is what all our communication should be based on! Or you could state it, "God and his Chararcter is what all our communication should be based on."

"What does love got to do with it?" EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Your Sanity While Home Schooling- Getting Your Kids on Board

We have had our ups and downs of training in the Devine home!  Over the past few years, I have faced issues that I have found that many other home school mothers have faced.  We have tried many different solutions and have found some systems that work for us.  I thought I would share some of them with you today, and I hope you will also feel free to share what has worked for you!

I have heard many people say that they could never home school because they could never get their kids to listen to them.  While not an expert on the topic myself, I do know how important it is to tackle this issue!  As Christian parents we are called to train up our children and teach them right from wrong.  I will admit, that I have not always known how to do that so well, but I have found a few resources that have really made a difference in our home!

1.  Biblical Character Training is Essential!
Start your day every day with a character training tool!  If you are adept at using the Bible for this and are able to find the verses you need....great!  If not, consider some of these resources:

For Instruction in Righteousness:

This is a wonderful reference book!  It breaks character flaws down into categories and gives Scripture references to illustrate the problem, gives Biblical examples, and teaches what the Bible says will happen in the lives of those who choose to continue in that particular sin!  Very comprehensive.  I have used this book to write devotion times for my AWANA girls in 5 minutes flat!

Discovering Jesus in Genesis:

This book is a devotional book that is more about doctrine, but illustrates each truth with a great story that you can see transform your children's thinking quickly.  It made a huge difference in our home.  Other titles by the authors are just as useful, especially Big Truths for Little Kids which teaches the shorter catechism beautifully!  A word of warning, preview chapters before presenting them as you might disagree with some of the conclusions of the authors! ( I disagree with their views on baptism.)

The If/ Then Chart:

This is a great idea!  We bought this from a home school convention, but it is just as easy to make your own!  The idea is that you are able to sit down as a family and decide on a list of consequences for certain actions such as  complaining/whining, picking fights, teasing, etc.  Your child first needs to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable and why!  Together you can decide on consequences for various infringements.  If you child is part of the decision making process, then he can't say he didn't know!  As time has passed, and we have experienced reoccurring problems, we have sat down as a family and addressed the problems and made our own if/then charts.  Very, very effective for us!

2. Discipline is essential!

I am not one of those moms who say that you have to spank your kids for everything.  I believe that we have to decide for ourselves what is working-not forsaking Biblical instruction.  I have a few techniques that have worked for me.

When kids resist doing work:  You can't physically force them to pick up a pencil and start writing.  What's more, I think we all want them to enjoy learning and not see it as a punishment!  I have a daughter that would sit at the table with her arms crossed and complain that she hated school.  My first response was to apply the Biblical "rod" for disobedience.  However, it proved ineffective with her and a battle of the wills ensued.  One day I was exhausted and tired of lecturing and tired of disciplining and I simply said to her:  "I can't make you want to do anything.  I can't make you enjoy what you are doing.  That is up to you.  But you will sit here in this chair until you decide you are ready for me.  You will not play with toys, write, color, eat, or get up until your work is done.  So the choice is up to you how long you want to sit here alone.  I have many things to do today and I can't sit with you, so I am going to go and ________ and when you decide you want to cooperate, let me know and I will help you." 

Well!  What a difference that made in my sanity and my daughter's attitude!

Shortly after, we instituted a treasure box.  We sat down and picked an area that we needed to work on (for her it was obviously not arguing or complaining about school) and we set a goal with a date.  We discussed why it is important to allow God to work on our areas of weakness.  When the goal date was reached, and the child had rid herself of the behavior, she was able to pick a treasure out of the box.  This was great incentive for the both of them!

For my other daughter, letting her have a little control was the key.  She was not able to skip anything that I required of her, but she was allowed to do it in the order of her choosing and with as much independence as she desired. (within reason)  It is my goal to raise self-directed learners, not ones who lean on me for everything, and I saw this as a way to get her on her way. A rigid schedule would be a source of contention with her, and they are just not that important. 

It is definitely key to have your child's heart.  I liked Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp, but I found it essential to have For Instruction in Righteousness to help me along, as he assumes you know where all of the verses you need are located.   I think Ginger Plowman one-upped him with this book:

Don't Make Me Count to Three

Don't let the title fool you, Ms. Plowman would never count!!!!  This book was even endorsed by Ted Tripp.  Don't forget to order the behaviour chart! 

I have deeply enjoyed watching my kids grow spiritually over the last year.  God is certainly good, and He gives us what we need!  Please feel free to share any great resources you have found for this topic in the comment area!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This Side of Eternity, The Joy and Pain of Being a Nurse

"Come in now.  Get here as fast as you can."
Tears fill my eyes as I speak the words.
Then loved ones arrive,  so broken.
"Will you stay with me?"
Of course.
Hugs and condolences,
But words really fail.
Sitting at the bedside, holding her hand
As she steps into eternity.
A pain comes over me,
This moment is awesome and overwhelming.
I don't know her.
I don't know if she knows Him.
With all of my heart I want to praise Jesus that she is with Him.
But I don't know for sure.
My only consolation is that there was no pain.
But it is a small consolation. 
Such is the life of one who is dedicated to caring for "life"
Life on this earth comes to an end, that is for sure.
But life beyond this earth is where my heart rests.
And today my heart is heavy for her.
And for the loved ones she left behind
on this side of eternity.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper

I wasn't really looking for this book.  It found me.  I had another title by Piper in mind when I casually strolled into the garage sale that day.  Two dollars?  Really?  At a garage sale?  Oh well, if I were to buy it on Ebay for a quarter, I would at least pay that in shipping.  Why not?

Turns out, it was what I needed. 

I love to think.  That doesn't make me smart.  It is just a natural part of me.  Sometimes I think that I think too much.  I have even had people tell me that I think too much!!  Sometimes it is frustrating because I don't have all of the answers that I THINK I need NOW! 

In the times in which we live, there is often discouragement for the thinking Christian.  I have asked questions to my elders and spiritual superiors only to get a:  you don't need to worry about that-it doesn't matter. That answer is like sandpaper to the thinking soul.  If it doesn't matter, then why doesn't it matter? 

In addition, there can often be resistance to the teaching of doctrine.  Doctrine is said to divide and not really matter.  I appreciate Piper's response to this issue.  He relates that what he has learned by thinking tough issues through is a deeper understanding of who God is, thus cultivating a deeper love for Him.  Just because something doesn't make sense to our human thinking doesn't mean that we should attempt to discard or discredit it. That's what this whole book is about.  Thinking about the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man.  Discarding the man-made ideas that we have about God and simply believing what He says.

The other important topic that Piper touches on is what it means to "receive Christ."  He insists that we must make clear what that actually means:

There are so many people who say they have received Christ and believed on Christ but give little or no evidence that they are spiritually alive.  They are unresponsive to the spiritual beauty of Jesus.  They are unmoved by the glories of Christ.  They don't have the spirit of the Apostle Paul when he said, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all thinks and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." (Phil 3:8)  This is not their spirit, yet they say they have received Christ.  It looks as though it is possible to "receive Christ" and not have Him for what He is.  

I have the personal opinion that this is a BIG problem in our world today.  We were raised in the church, but have no idea what saving faith really means.  We can go door to door and present facts to people and pray with people, but that doesn't guarantee that that they really get it.  Piper talks about the nature of saving faith as one that demands more than facts as a ground.  He explains it as not merely receiving the facts of the old, old story, but also receiving Christ Himself: the one who died for us and rose again, and is infinitely glorious, wondrously beautiful, and supremely valuable.  Therefore the grounds of such faith must be the spiritual sight of such glory and beauty and value.


Because our hearts now see Christ as infinitely valuable, our resistance to truth is overcome.  Our thinking is no longer the slave of deceitful desires, because our desires are changed.  Christ is now the supreme treasure.

Piper goes on to establish why the relativism of today's religion is absurd.  This is where the ability to think logically becomes of the utmost importance.  It also seems to be the crux of the matter in the book: who are we going to trust in, ourselves or God?  And in the matter of thinking, who does our thinking serve and glorify?  Ourselves or god?  And how did Jesus respond to the relativists of His day?  (Matthew 21:23-27)  In order to not only refute relativism, but also to detect it in our own ideas, thinking deeply about God is imperative.  I loved the visual picture that Piper gave to bring thinking and logic into the process of salvation:

A logical presentation of the gospel of Christ is like wire along which the electricity of spiritual power runs.  Wires do not make the lights go on; electricity does.  But in the providence of God, electricity runs through wires.  And in the design of God, the use of our minds in knowing, ordering, and presenting the truth of Christ is the normal way that the eyes of the blind are opened and belief in Jesus in awakened.  

I can testify in my own life that thinking through hard doctrines and Biblical truths has drawn me closer to Christ.  I can't explain it, especially because I don't understand all of it.  But I know that God's word is so very alive.  And beautiful. Maybe in a way, it has given me the wisdom to simply let go and let God be who He is rather than who I want Him to be, or what seems fair or right to me.  I believe that is what careful study of the word can do for us.  And in the process, it makes us more dependent on Him.  It opens our eyes to the richness, beauty, and worth of Jesus.  I recommend this book for all of you thinkers out there.  It will encourage you to continue to think, but about the wisdom of God, not ourselves.  I recommend it for those who don't like to think deeply.  It can simply give insight and maybe an appreciation for those who do.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life Transforming Grace-Why I Blog

One of the great misconceptions about Christianity is that it is a list of "do's" and "don't's."   Maybe that is because we have a tendency to minister more to the do's and dont's than focus on the miracle of grace.  Don't get me wrong-holiness not only has it's place, but the pursuit of it is the hallmark of the believer's life.  But without the grace, it is really nothing.  There are many writings that teach believers how to live a holy life.  There is certainly a need for that.

But, for those out there wrestling to understand what it all means, there is only one place to begin:  the grace of God.  Understanding that we are all broken, we all need a Savior.  It's important to realize that none of the things on the do list is what secures us in the hand of God.  That is why Jesus is such a radical thought.  That is why grace is so amazing.  Because He wants you to know:  He did it all for you!  We need to embrace our brokenness and realize that we can't fix ourselves.  Oh, the sweet release when we let go! 

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, and not of works, lest any man should boast."

My favorite Bible verse!  It is the one that God used to open my eyes to the real Gospel.  To who He really is. It's not about what I have done, or who I am--it is simply about faith in who He is and what He has done for you!  None of us can boast about how good we are, because it is only God who makes us good.  

There are many voices out there and it is important to realize that not all voices are geared to the same audience.  There are wonderful ladies who's ministry is to call other women who are believers to a Biblical role of motherhood and marriage.  There are some out there who's ministry is to bless those who are wounded with healing words of grace.  There are some voices who's ministry is to clarify doctrinal teachings to us and expose false teachings.  We cannot discredit any of them-they all have their place. 

For those of us who have experienced the transforming grace of God, we need to understand that God uses His children to speak truth to our hearts and lives.  We should not see it as a haughty thing, but rather, if we hear something that bothers us in our Spirit we need to evaluate whether or not it is true and then pray about whether or not it is the Spirit speaking into our lives.  Chances are, you will never hear God speak audibly to you!  And while we cannot "change" people, we can speak the truth that God has given us and let Him use it to penetrate and transform.  Chances are, if there is something bothering us about what someone has said, it is because there is a kernel of truth to it.  My friend Tina put it so well on Facebook when she said:

"When the righteousness of others convicts us, we need not allow it to become bitterness in our hearts turning us against the righteous.  Instead, we ought to allow it to push us closer to Jesus, resulting in righteousness in our hearts, turning us toward righteousness and thereby we gain/keep a friend. "

Ugh.  She was so right.  And many times I have let the words of others become bitterness in my heart.  My own pride and sinfulness tries to stand squarely in the way of my growth and a closer walk with Jesus.

If God is drawing you to Him and you have never made a commitment to Him, know that He is not concerned with what you have done.  He simply loves you and wants your heart.  Don't be concerned with "What I have to change to be a Christian"--it is only about faith.  But be prepared for a wild ride.  You can't change yourself, but God will transform you if you let Him! 

The purpose of this blog is to speak to both.  Both those who have a relationship with Jesus, and those who do not.  The reasons I write and share what God has done in my life is because God has used the words of others to penetrate my heart and push me on to righteousness.  It's not because I think I am more mature than others or have a better walk.  It is simply because there are those out there who were brave enough to risk my bitterness to tell me the truth.  I am eternally thankful for that. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

For When we Forget......

Do you ever have a have days when you forget whose you are?  I do.  Days when I think others don't understand me or really even know me.  It seems that God never fails to send me gentle reminders:

You are Mine!  My princess.  Don't spend your days fretting about what your life or what people think of you!  Your significance lies in Me, not in what you have accomplished or not accomplished.  Keep your eyes on Me love....

I wish I could say that I never feel hurt or frustration simply because I know whose I am.   I wish I could say that I never feel loneliness because God is my Father.  I wish I could say I never fear because my Father is sovereign.  But I do, because I am not home yet. 

Yet He leaves me gentle reminders.  In His Word.  Through His children who have opened up their lives to share their journey with me.  He draws me close and whispers remember, you are My child.  I will never leave you nor forsake you.  I have lifted up My Son for you--because I love you.  Stop trying to live in your own strength and simply find yourself in Me!  

"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST!"

Sweet rest.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Words of Love

If you don't have anything nice to say-don't say anything at all.

How many times has your mother said that to you?  Just the other night I was having a discussion with my girls about etiquette.  I told them that a general rule of thumb (for which they giggled and giggled at the idea of a thumb ruling)  was that if a comment about someones appearance was edging it's way out, evaluate it to see if it is something positive or negative.  If it's negative, smash it down and smile and say something positive.

These days, with Facebook and other social media, our thoughts can be broadcast within seconds to over 300 people.  What one or two people might have normally heard becomes an announcement for the masses.    What we say, and how we say it are locked into cyberspace forever.  Over the last few years, I have learned much about what to say and what not to say.  Oh, I am not perfect (anyone that knows me knows that) but I have learned some important lessons. 

I want to share this with you all, and I want you to know that I am not condemning anyone, I am simply sharing what God has taught me.  (I dream of a world where we can do that and no one gets offended--maybe in the millennium...)

I believe that for Christians, our words should be dripping with love.  Why?  Because God has poured out His love on us.  We are really no more deserving than anyone else to receive His favor.  I remember telling my daughter that God loves Osama Bin Laden-even if Osama never returned His love.  God loved Jeffery Daumer (I didn't tell them about him!!) Even if Jeffery Daumer never returned that love.  The truth is, in order to love one another, we need to get over the idea that these people were or any worse than us in the eyes of God.  When we realize the depths of our own sin, and what Jesus did to redeem us from that~THAT is when we can begin loving others.  We don't deserve to be loved.  Period.  But we are.  Praise God!

This is not a dissertation on whether or not one sin is greater than another.  That's a deep subject and I am not going there.  The point is simply this:  before we trust Christ, we simply cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6)~every bit of righteousness is compared to a pile of filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Then along comes this beautiful Savior and we learn, much to our relief,  that our pile of filthy rags don't matter because it's not about that.  It is about His sparkling white robe that He graciously clothes us with.  It's about grace.  It's about being loved when we are unlovable.  It, in return makes us want to love the unlovable~simply so that they can see the grace that Christ extends to us.

There are ideologies that are bad.  I believe that Osama had bad ideologies.  If fact, I believe that our own president has some bad ideologies.  Is it okay to discuss the difference in ideologies?  Okay~and essential for preserving what we have fought for in America.  But underneath those ideologies lie souls.  Eternal souls that have been wounded by sin.  Just like me.  And you. 

We are adept at using the grace card when we want to do something that we think God might not approve of.  "It's not about what I do!" we exclaim.  "It's all about grace-so don't judge me!"  But when we are quick to exclaim what others deserve we unwittingly make it about works instead of grace.  Bin Laden deserves to rot in hell.....hmmmm.. do I.....

But I won't.  How amazing.  How utterly amazing.

So, for what it might be worth to you, if I have ever been unloving to you I humbly seek your forgiveness.  And if you ever see me forget and start ranting about a person (not an ideology) then I expect you to let me know.  Remind me.  It's okay.  I am human and I forget.  But we are here to hold each other up.  To exhort one another to righteousness.  

I love you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A God Who Loves You

Music is such a gift from God.  It penetrates us in ways that sometimes reading words on a page cannot.  This song is simply incredible to me.  I cry every time I hear it.  It expresses my heart, yet I cannot begin to express the gratefulness that I feel in return.

Oh, yes.  This is it.  This is why it's so real.

Here is a Chance to Help a Family Adopt a Little One!

I have so many friends who have talked at one time or another about adopting a child.  It seems that the thing that stands in the way is always money.  It's sad because there are so many kids out there who need loving families.  A friend sent me a link to this blog this morning.  Please look it over and consider purchasing or donating to help them out on their journey.

She makes adorable little onsies for babies, plus there is a store where you can shop and 40% of the proceeds goes to their adoption costs.  Please consider sharing this link on Facebook, or whatever social platform you use!

God Bless~

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Scarlet "A"

It's a nasty word.  We run from it.  We shun it.  We call it "judgmental."  We avoid it like the plague.


Non-believers hate it because it is scary to think that there is something or someone that we might be accountable to. 

Believers hate it because it is painful.

Yet it is a glorious tool that the Holy Spirit uses to shape and mold us into the image of the one who saved us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17  "All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  

I read an article on a blog a few weeks back.  I can't remember now which blog it was, probably The Gospel Coalition or The Resurgence.  I am sorry that I cannot give kudos to who it is due, but it was a point too great not to share.  The author was addressing those who were seeking positions in church leadership.  The very first piece of advice he gave to prospective leaders was to find a group of men/women to whom you can be accountable.  Find a group that will not be afraid to correct, rebuke, or instruct you.  Spend your first year of training with these people and be humble.  Then, and only then, will you be ready for leadership.


I thought that was incredible advice.  And I began to think: what if we are not in a leadership position?  Shouldn't we be doing the same?

I know from experience that the people who are the best equipped to correct, rebuke, and instruct are the hardest people to be around.  For a time, that is.  I *think* it gets easier as time goes on.  But I am not really sure.  I am still at the point in my life where I am acutely aware that I need that direction. 

But sometimes I think we get mixed up in the grace-accountability web.  We think that because it is not our works that save us, that the rest is unimportant.  I personally think that the rest is unimportant before we come to Christ, but after it is of the utmost importance for our spiritual growth and well-being.  Yet we (I) fight it with all the strength of a heavy-weight champion. 

I believe that it is all part of the war..  It makes us ineffective for the kingdom of Christ.  It blends us in with the world.

2 Timothy 4:2-4  "Preach the Word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, (because) they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."

I always appreciate the wisdom of others, and I would love to hear from you.  If you are a follower of Christ, what do you think about this matter?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The War

There is a war going on.  One that most are not aware of.  It is a war for the hearts and minds of God's people.  It is an all-time war--waged since the beginning of time.  It's blows render us ineffective for a time.  They are subtle, we really don't even notice most days.  True, we cannot see the warfare around us, but we feel the effects, and usually when it is too late.

In England, that war escalated recently.  What was once a "civil rights" struggle for one group has now become a freedom of speech-religion issue for another.  The problem is~  where do we draw the lines?  How do we speak up for what we believe in, and when do we stop speaking?  If you have not read the article, it talks about a street preacher being arrested for calling homosexuality a sin.  He was not violent.  He was not shouting hate speech.  He was simply sharing his beliefs, which is something that Christians do out of love and commandment. 

The war is going on behind the scenes in America.  Liberal law professors are working hard to outlaw the exclusive teaching of Christianity in our country.  After listening to Michael Farris speak at the Indiana Convention of Home Educators, I am more and more convinced that America's rights to freedom of religion are dwindling every year.  Farris read from papers published by these law "experts" that attempted to convey the threat of  the home school community on the future of America.  We are dangerous to them because we refuse to let them have our kids.  We indoctrinate them into Biblical theology, and teach them that Jesus is the only way to God.  (YES!!)  They can't have our kids for 40 hours a week to tell them any different.   We are raising a generation of dissenters.  Whether you believe it or not, there are many working hard behind the scenes to turn America into a Orwellian utopia.

So what can we do about it?  

Obviously, I am not an expert on anything.  But I do have an opinion.  And a blog.  And freedom of press--for now.

This is a tough war because the enemy is tricky.  He has successfully divided God's people.  We turn on each other.  As another blogger put it:  we shoot our own..  And the truth is, if we cannot stand unified as a body of believers, we will lose the civil right to spread the truth of Jesus in this country.  It might not be in my lifetime, but my children and grandchildren will suffer the effects.

The only way that revival will happen in our country is if it starts with the family.  Sure, we can go to church every Sunday.  We can even go on Wednesday nights.  We can drop our kids off at every program the church offers.  We've been doing that for years.  Statistically, 85% of our youth will leave the church at some point.  So how's that working for us?

The truth is that we have been brainwashed so much that we even question our own convictions to call sin, well sin.  We worry about hurting someone's feelings.  And in this day and is all about feelings.  We worry that we will come off as unloving, yet we fail to realize that true love always points the object of it's affection to truth.   We are afraid to share what God has done to radically transform our lives for fear of being called legalistic.  (true legalism does exist, and I realize that there are many people who have been hurt by it.--I do not endorse it.)  As a result, the church has become an institution that fails to recognize the fact that they have assimilated themselves into the "collective."  The same thing happened in Nazi Germany.  By the time people realized it, their Bibles had been replaced with Mein Kampf--and there was little they could do about it. 

At the current rate of decline in America, I believe that in my lifetime I will see many Christian things outlawed.  I have already seen hate crime legislation that sets Bible believing Christians up for persecution should they vocalize their belief about a particular sin.  I would not be surprised if my children are forbidden by law to home educate their own children, or even take them along to church if they resist. (for more insight check out my post 20 things you need to know about the CRC.)

Our first defense is always prayer.

2 Chronicles 7:14  "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Isn't humility what it is all about?  Can we really approach the Creator of the universe thinking that our ways are higher or better than His?

We have to ask ourselves:  How do we become a people who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God, instead of our own man-made righteousness?  Then we need to ask:  Am I willing to stand for the truth of God no matter what persecution I might face?

If American believers cannot figure out where we are losing ground--and do it quickly--we will lose the freedoms that we enjoy and take for granted.  We need to stop what we are doing and take a look around us.  We need to know what we are fighting against and who our enemy is.  We are not battling flesh and blood here.  The only way revival will happen in our land is if it starts within the family.
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