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!
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