Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watching World

I hope my mailman knew I was a Christian before I told him. He explained to me that he learns a lot about people through sorting and distributing their mail: what they read, where they shop, how they give. He knows when they receive late notices or divorce papers. He knows when their names change or when two people live in the same house with different names. He draws assumptions, sometimes inaccurately, but nevertheless he draws them. All around us, people are watching. The men who pick up our recycling know what we eat and what we drink. The meter readers know how much electricity and water we use. The man at the camera shop has seen my photos. The world does not always see my heart as God does, so may the satisfaction that I find in Him manifest itself in such a way that a watching world is compelled to ask, "Why do you have the hope that you have?"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wise Counselors

My psychologist counseled. They suggested on the Today Show. My friend told me. Our pastor preached. The small group agreed. My feelings tell me. A book I read said. These are all openers to advice I've been given in times when I have sought spiritual help. They all came from Christians. I have come to look for certain criteria in my counselors. Do they spend time daily soaking in God's Word? Do they meditate on it and find it valuable enough to memorize? Do they point me to it and show me verses to support what they are saying? Do they spend time in prayer and do they pray with me? Do they love the Lord Jesus and does their life reflect it? Advice abounds; wise counsel is rare. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Waiting Wars

Sitting in a doctor's office. Standing in line. Waiting. Creeping through a toll plaza. Calling customer service. Waiting. We can convince ourselves that we have a right to better service. We can convince ourselves that our frustration is warranted. Don't they know I have to get back to work? Is this the best they can do? Don't they realize I have better things to do with my time? As our minds whirl with thoughts like these, we are demanding that others conform to our expectations. Join me in waging war against the subtle sin of impatience. Fill your mind with His Word. Sing songs of praise to the Lord. Pray for the others in line or the one on the other end of the line. "Love is patient." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Joyful Hospitality

Twenty people packed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment down in the fan. Two Christian college kids had agreed to host this outreach event. Some sitting on the floor, some standing along the walls, everyone smiling and talking. Conversations about Christ mingled with conversations about school. Hospitality offered and received. It doesn't matter if you don't have a big home. In fact, you will depend more on God and His grace if you don't. So, open the door, welcome folks in, and let the joy begin. "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Losing Sensitivity

Over twelve years ago we sold our television in a yard sale for $20, and we haven't had one since. It's rare that I will even see one except at a store or while visiting friends or family. Yesterday provided one of those occasions as all were gathered around the room while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade marched across the screen in the background. Occasionally I would turn my eyes toward it, being drawn in by the drama of unreality. I was grieved by what I saw, and I was grieved by what others don't see. "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as it indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:19)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pondering Paths

Standing at a crossroad, I strain to see what lies ahead. Voices vie for my attention. Some tell me to turn right, some to turn left. My own voice wavers as I weigh my options. God's Word is my guide, His glory my goal. The voices that speak as ones speaking the very words of God begin to gain ground amidst the clamor of the voices of the world. Lord, help me to hear You. Help me to discern Your way. "Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure." (Proverbs 4:25-26)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Aging Perseverance

The question "How are you?" was not answered with the perfunctory "fine," but rather with a placid "Not too well." The residents of the nursing home we were visiting smiled as they saw baby Jesse, but were quick to turn their attention to their ailments. So soon these days will come for all of us! As Christians, let us be prepared to persevere with joy and hope in our great God and answer each "How are you?" with confidence in what the Lord will bring about. "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:10-11)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Year

Last year you were in labor. Last year you were choosing life. Last year you were leaving the hospital without your daughter. This year we're throwing a party. This year we're celebrating life. This year we have a daughter. Though we do not know you, we give thanks that last year you made this year possible for us. "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seasonal Friendships

I'm feeling the absence of a friend. Closeness once shared seems to fade away like the flowers in my front yard that are folding up as the frost takes them one by one. A move is usually involved -- moving to a new home, moving toward marriage, moving in a different direction. It can be difficult, sometimes painful, but I have found that I can trust God with all my relationships. Whomever He puts in my life, for however long, may I love them freely and to the fullest for that season. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shining Shoeboxes

A teddy bear, a toy car, a notepad, and some pens. Toothpaste and a toothbrush; check the list again. Candy, gum, hair supplies, socks and crayons, too. Okay, I think we've got it all, unless we get the shoes. Thus begins our annual shopping trip to purchase items for Operation Christmas Child's Shoebox Ministry. After the boxes are filled, we write notes on the back of a photo of our family letting a child somewhere know that they are loved by us and, most importantly, by Jesus. The message of the Gospel is also included by OCC just before the boxes leave for their final destination. We have received one letter back from a boy in Uganda thanking us for the box he received. What an incredible opportunity to shine! "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Listen Closely

Just me and baby Jesse down by the lake on a beautiful fall day. I scooped her up into my arms, and kissing her tiny head, I whispered over and over into her ear, "I love you; I love you." And instantly the Lord seemed to say to my heart, "That is how I am with my children; constantly whispering to them, 'I love you.' Look at the sun's light sparkling on the water. Look at the yellow leaves against the blue sky. Look at the graceful gliding of the ducks as they gather together. But most importantly, look at the cross." "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Confessing Sins

Two friends. Two Bibles. Two books on holiness. We had sat down to study and pray together, and the discussion guide asked us to read aloud from Colossians 3. As the words came forth, it was soon apparent to me that there were not just two of us there, but three. The Holy Spirit used this Word, so often read and heard before, to bring me under conviction of sin in my life. Just as He had promised, where two are gathered in His Name, He will come and be there, too. With tears of repentance and prayers of thanksgiving, we shared time with our Father, and the healing came. "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seeing Hearts

The line for food stretched about eighty people long, and as I stood at the door to greet the faces that walked by, I saw only one that was white. Since they had enough hands in the serving line, I sat down next to William, and in a rare moment, realized I was in the minority. We struck up a friendly conversation about his longing to return home to California, but all the while I was wondering, "Was he raised to be prejudiced against me just as I was raised to be prejudiced against him?" Lord, I pray that You would satisfy William with Yourself, and I pray that You would give us both eyes to see as You do. "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Better Tasting

Hershey's Special Dark. As a child it was my favorite candy bar. But then I discovered Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles, and once I'd tasted one, Hershey's was history. Movies, television, shopping. Once they were my favorite past times. But then I experienced God's goodness through sharing my faith, spending time with those who don't yet know Him, memorizing and meditating on His Word, singing His praises, listening to sermons, reading the biographies of Christian missionaries, and serving others. Life is a vapor; I'm going to spend time on what's better tasting. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" (Psalm 34:8)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Falling Leaves

The window on my bedroom wall frames one of His most moving masterpieces. Autumn's leaves, beckoned by a gentle breeze, drift dreamily downward from their lofty boughs. In a bright array of colors and a seemingly endless variety of shapes, they fill the air. Swirling, twirling, floating, falling. Through dappled sunlight and a blue sky backdrop, their beauty proclaims the glory of God. "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth." (Psalm 96:11-12)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hallow Him

Tiny toys. Tasty treats. Truth-filled tracts. Halloween goody bags lined up on the table become opportunities to tell children about Jesus. After they're filled, they are prayed over: "Lord, use Your Truth to open these precious young eyes to who You are!" Others we know pull their grill out, light up the house, and serve up hot dogs for all the kids and parents and in their neighborhood. People are coming to us, knocking on our doors, and asking for a treat, and we have it! Let us not miss a chance at this holiday that one 9-year-old recently described to me as "all about evil" to honor our King. Hallow Him! "To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Unthwarted Plan

Forty-five years ago today, a baby boy was born to an unwed mother, living in poverty in a run-down apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey. His father was a trucker, married to another woman and uninterested in a relationship with a child the world labeled "illegitimate." He grew up on welfare with many needs unmet and many wants not realized, and he garnered a great dislike for roaches, rage, and reality. Many would see this as a great argument for abortion: Why should a child have to enter the world this way? I see it as an ordained path traveled by a man I love by the grace of God and for His glory. May He use you always for the furtherance of His kingdom! Happy Birthday, John!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Graceful Dreaming

Snarling dogs were chasing me, and I was running as fast as I could. But, one was gaining on me, and I suddenly felt his teeth grab hold of my clothes. Terrified, I started screaming for help. "Wake up; you're dreaming," my husband said gently. That kind of dream makes for stressful sleeping. "Lord, let me dream as Jeremiah did. Fill my mind with thoughts of You and Your promises of joy to those who find their hope in You." "At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me." (Jeremiah 31:26)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Timely Tracts

The smell of curry greeted us before we entered the huge convention hall. Music drifted through the doorway. Brightly dressed dancers entertained the crowd. The Indian Festival. Just before we had left home I had stuffed some Gospel tracts written in the Hindi language in the diaper bag. As we strolled through the booths, a man asked us to take his literature describing how we could have a stressless life through meditation and yoga. "I'll take your literature, if you'll take mine," I said, smiling. He agreed, as I handed him the tract. "Oh, I don't read Hindi very well," he said as he read the cover, "but I'll try." Lord, use your word to reach him. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Perfect Presents

In the past, I would ponder what presents to ask for on my birthday. Perhaps jewelry. Possibly clothes. But, regardless of the gift I received or how expensive it was, the thrill at the moment of opening it would soon dissipate, and a new list for next time would begin. Now God has given me eyes to see the best gifts; this year it was a thank you note that read in part, "We are putting down roots and growing in faith. Thanks to you and John for planting the seed and providing the encouragement to get me started." I no longer ask for or desire material gifts, but I do so hungrily pray for the spiritual ones, to know that our great God has used me to touch a life for eternity. "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy." (1 Thessalonians 3:19-20)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Timeless Zeal

Listening in on lunch time conversation between two friends, I find myself feeling encouraged. The conversation flows freely from two hearts that love Jesus, and the topic easily moves from soup and chicken salad to unsaved souls. One shares her passion to have a co-worker join her at church this Sunday; the other shares his desire for a friend at school to know the Savior. These two friends happen to be mother and son. One: age 43, the other: age 18. "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

Avoiding Bandwagons

Rolling along the road of popularity, bandwagons often come blaring what our itching ears want to hear. "Jump on; everybody's reading this." "Jump on; everybody's watching this." "Jump on; everybody's doing this." I have found myself suspicious of bandwagons as I have so often been deceived by what appeared to be prudent but proved only to be popular. God's Word must be our guide, and we must be wise and discerning in all our behavior. "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oak Tree

Rolling down my rooftop, acorns dropping from the branches above noisily make their descent to the ground below. This fruit of the oak tree has created a carpet where once there was grass. Squirrels scurry about, picking them up and running around, burying them in various spots. A breeze blows and the wind sends others flying wildly to land loudly in gutters, or on trash cans, or cars! When spring arrives, the seeds that are being planted now will be evident to all with the hundreds, thousands, of seedlings that will emerge. Oh, Lord, may I, like the mighty oak, be an abundant seed spreader! May I scurry about spreading Your Truth. May I busily blow the winds of Your Word. What joy there is in the seedlings!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Harder Still

Quiet dinners with uninterrupted conversation. Picking up and going out to eat on the spur of the moment. Long distance car rides without stopping. Clean floors and uncluttered counter tops. These are some of the things I remember of what life was like for the twenty two years before we adopted our daughter. Now people ask me, "Isn't it hard to be a mom?" And I answer, "Yes, it is hard!" But, the truth is, not being a mom was harder still. Thank you, Lord, for the joy, for the blessing of a child. Children are a gift straight from You. (Psalm 127:3-5)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rocking Prayer

The gentle rhythm of the rocking chair on the hardwood floor soothes a crying baby and turns my heart toward prayer. Suddenly I am stopped from my usual activity, my frantic thoughts are finally focused. Have I forgotten to pray for you today, little one? Oh, what longing for this child overtakes me. "Make her yours, Lord! May the eyes of her heart be enlightened that she may know the hope to which You have called her, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and Your imcomparably great power for those who believe."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Making People

Nine months of knitting at the hands of the Master. A baby is born. A new creation. One of a kind. Amazing. Staggering. Beyond biology class, this is a person. Only God can create a person. Mom and dad can donate the necessary components, but God makes us who we are. He forms. He shapes. He designs. It is a serious business, one that we would do well to take seriously. It has implications for how we live, how we love, how we act. We will be held responsible. "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, '...We did not know this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Consider Others

The lights dim, and she steps awkwardly to center stage. Anticipation hangs in the air as you glance around at the others seated in the auditorium. To your left are the doting parents. To your right, her best friends. The music begins, and she sings. Or dances. Or plays an instrument. And she's not that good. Maybe even bad. You close your eyes and say a quick prayer for her. Uneasiness comes over you, and you begin to rehearse how you might describe her performance politely without lying. Two weeks later, a video of the evening is posted on YouTube. Then it begins popping up on blog posts as an attempt to garner humor. Comments flow forth, joining in the joke. Paul reminds me, "Consider others better than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3) Help us, Lord, to laugh at the right things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

His Compliments

Fine-tuned to hear compliments. So it is with my ears. My flesh cries out, "Tell me more; tell me more." But, I recall my previous way of life, my life before Christ. There was nothing good in me. Without faith, it was impossible to please God. Everything I do or say that is right is through His enabling power. So, if a compliment comes, I will pass it on to the One to whom it truly belongs. "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory." (Psalm 115:1)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God's Jewelry

A perfect pendant. Pale luminescent green with a thin line of gold ribboned around the top. Tiny spots of gold dotting the bottom. Exquisite. The chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly. Two women that worked at the botanical garden had been eager to point it out, and it was the first time I had ever seen one. Close by, an actual butterfly had just emerged from yet another of these amazing masterpieces. "This is so God!" My exclamation was met with no response, but clearly there could be no other explanation. "His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." (Romans 1:20)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reappearing Verses

There it is again! I read The One Year Bible during my quiet time, and today's Old Testament reading was Isaiah 1:1-2:22. After reading and prayerful reflection, I picked up a book that I hadn't read in at least a couple of months. I've been slowly working my way through it and had just resolved last night to finish it. The chapter was entitled "Christianity and Race Prejudice" and was written in 1910 by Francis J. Grimke. He concluded with the verses of Isaiah 1:11-17! There it is again! The same verses I read in the Bible, amazingly ordained by God for me to read again moments later in "The Faithful Preacher." This is exciting to me, as if my precious Lord has a special message to me through reappearing verses. Today it was this: "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:16-17)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not Me

I'm not cut out for the mission field. Sleeping in a strange place. Eating strange food. Trying to learn a strange language. Building friendships with strange people. Facing strange trials. Fighting strange diseases. And me, a much-afraid. How could I ever make it? No, not me; I couldn't make it. But God can and does equip us to do those things that we can not do so that He will receive the glory. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 12:8) If you mean for us to go, Lord, let the world see and know that it was by Your great hand that it was accomplished.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Keep Praying

God in His sovereignty chooses to work through prayer. It's mysterious, beyond my understanding, but confirmed many times over by the testimonies of His people. A friend has been praying faithfully for my toothache since my root canal last week. Each day there has been improvement, and each day she asks me about it and affirms her continued prayer for me. I believe God hears, and I give thanks to know that my Father is being approached on my behalf. If we reflect on how our prayers are affecting those for whom we pray, it may drive us more often to our knees. Thank you, my friend, for causing me to reflect. "Be constant in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Babysitting Andrew

Two-year-old Andrew was happily playing with toys as Jesse plowed around him crashing through everything in sight. I got on the phone with my mom and kept my eye on them. Within minutes, I noticed that Andrew's eyes started tearing up, and I heard him whisper "mommy." I finished my conversation, we started to play together, and he was fine. In an unsure moment, he thought of his mommy, one of the two people who most show Jesus to him. In our unsure moments, let us also cry out to the One who our earthly parents prayerfully seek to reflect. God comforts the downcast. (2 Corinthians 7:6)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Interrupting Opportunities

Returning from an afternoon walk, we stopped long enough to put the baby backpack into the trunk of the car. As we did, a neighbor quickly approached us, asking if we might have time to go pick up his granddaughter from her job at McDonald's. Interruption. Sitting in the playroom, enjoying time with baby Jesse, the doorball rang. Two neighborhood boys were at the door wondering if we might be able to take them to football practice. Interruption. After 21 years in this neighborhood, we have finally gained the glorious opportunities that come through interruptions. Thank You, Lord; thank You! "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people..." (Galatians 6:10)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Numbering Days

Strolling a baby through a retirement community is a lesson in the brevity of life. How quickly the soft silky skin grows wrinkled and leathery. How fast the hair of red, brown, black, and blonde turns to shades of gray or falls out. Ears that hear so keenly and eyes that notice the smallest particle of dirt on the floor lose their ability. Legs just learning to walk will someday find it difficult again. "The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:10, 12)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ordained Wakefulness

"Every sleepless hour is ordained for me by God." Written by Charles Spurgeon, gleaned from God's Word. Barking dogs. A crying baby. Intermittent snoring. A nagging headache. Cracks of thunder. An unsettled stomach. Sporadic coughing. An aging body. These are some of the things that keep me awake at night, but God has ordained my wakefulness. I can meet this time with contentment instead of anger or frustration. I can use this time to fix my open eyes on Jesus. "On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night." (Psalm 63:6)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Root Canal

Sitting in the dentist's chair for two hours, I sought ways to redeem the time. I prayed for my dentist, his assistant, and everyone in his office. I prayed for a missionary in Afghanistan who is trying to start a small dental business as a ministry because the people there have very little dental care available to them. I reviewed Scripture verses, and as I did, I sensed the Holy Spirit impressing upon me one in particular: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:16) My body is in fact wasting away, but the eternal glory that awaits is far greater than all the suffering in the here and now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gaining Perspective

Don Richardson arrived in Netherlands New Guinea with his wife and infant son in the early 1960's. They were missionaries to an unreached people group known as the Sawi, cannibals and headhunters. This tribe had never seen a white person. They had never seen boats or airplanes or lanterns. Growing up in America during the same time, I had seen all these things and so much more. But I didn't know much about the world beyond my backyard. I didn't know or think of unreached people groups. I didn't know of child slavery or witchcraft or torture. Reading the biographies of missionaries helps me to gain perspective on the eternal, to get outside of America and know that our mission as Christians still looms large ahead of us. Let's not forget. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great Cloud

Sitting on the floor in my prayer closet, I am surrounded by books written over the centuries by men and women who love God. When I am discouraged I will gaze at the titles, remembering the words I have read and the lessons I have learned through their faithfulness. My Bible, too, is filled with stories of those who have gone before me, those who have followed in the way of the cross. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Too Legalistic

It was 1991. Our first Bible study. There was one woman in the group who was different from the rest of us. She had a lot of things she didn't do. Our thoughts? Stifling. Too legalistic. But, we were wrong. The word legalism is not in the Bible, but it is synonymous with "works of law." One author defines it as "a self-reliant effort to demonstrate virtue to man and God." In other words, it is believing we can get to heaven by our works. Legalism is not the good works that a Christian does as he relies on the Holy Spirit. So, it is not so much "what we do, but the spirit in which we do it that makes the difference." We can not be quick to assume that a person's actions are legalistic without knowing their heart. In the case of our friend, she was pursuing holiness, and we have found in her someone to imitate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Desiring Gold

Flickering flat-screen televisions lining the wall at WalMart caught my attention. Images of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games exploded from side to side. Thousands of athletes have gathered in Beijing to compete with one goal, one focus, one purpose: to win the gold. They have labored their lifetimes for this moment, and most will not win. In four years, almost all will have been forgotten. There will be new names, new faces, new world records. "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold." (Proverbs 3:13-14)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Varying Views

Friends. Family. Church members. Neighbors. Co-workers. Day after day we chat with people who have different views than we do. Some of these folks can be pretty determined that they are right. Some can be pretty persuasive. Some talk down to me, and I'm tempted to feel ashamed of what I believe. Some talk over me, and I'm tempted to feel silly for what I believe. I might succomb to the temptation to be tossed about by the varying views around me were it not for the anchor of God's Word. I go back to it again and again, searching the Scriptures to see what is true. Sanctify me in the truth, Lord: Your Word is Truth. (John 17:17)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mail Call

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to check the mail. One just doesn't know what exciting news might be waiting there. A postcard from a pen pal in a far-off land. A letter of love from a long-lost friend. A card of encouragement mysteriously left unsigned. And now, in addition to the the old-fashioned mailbox, there are email and blog comments to check. I almost feel compelled to go straight to the computer each morning, and it can easily become the first thing I head toward in any free moment I have. As I thought upon this habit, the Lord impressed upon my heart that He has written the greatest letter that has ever been written, and the good news contained within it can not be outdone. Shouldn't I look toward my Bible with far more excitement, anticipation, and eagerness than I do my earthly mail? Lord, may I cry out with the Psalmist "My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times." (Psalm 119:20)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving Up

Early in my Christian journey I read a book in which the pastor/author said that almost without exception he would counsel people not to move. His reasoning was that relationships are better built through time, and as those hoping to spread the fragrance of Christ, we would more likely have opportunity if we shared our lives with the same people. After almost 21 years in the same house, I have experienced the validity of his counsel. I have also experienced the truth that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him, and we look more satisfied in Him to the world when we stay put or better yet, downsize. Several years ago, friends of ours left the suburbs for the city, moving from a "nice" neighborhood to an "undesirable" one with hopes to reach the least of these. Their unbelieving friends were mystified, and even many of their Christian friends discouraged them, but God was glorified. In reality, they were moving up. "He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights." (Psalm 18:33)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reseeding Souls

One of the Mormon missionaries returned, and this time he had two others with him. (See post from July 22nd.) My husband and I were just preparing to take the baby to the park, but the Lord had plans for us to gather again on the patio and reseed. In landscaping a lawn, one doesn't just plant the grass seed once. Each fall, new seed is planted to rejuvenate what has already been put down in the past. This is called reseeding. We had already planted seeds of Truth in the life of at least one of these precious young men, but God gave us an opportunity to reseed. We shared His Word with passion and with prayers in our heart for the Holy Spirit to rejuvenate, to make seem new and fresh, the seeds of Truth that have been planted in their past.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Unexpected Grace

I was attempting to prepare dinner at the end of a long day, but the baby, Jesse, was tired and crying, and I was tired of the crying. So, I retreated to the front porch with Jesse for a little reprieve and change of scenery. I whispered a "Lord, help me" for my attitude, my weakness, my grumbling. Only minutes passed, and Jesse started trying to eat the tiny pieces of dirt, bark mulch, anything that she could find. "It's back inside," I thought, swooping her up. At that, a neighbor came quickly out asking if I was going back inside because she had wanted to see the baby. Forty-five minutes later my dinner was cooked, my husband was home, and the three of us were together, sharing our meal. My neighbor had held Jesse the whole time, playing with her, loving her. Grace. Sweet, unexpected, grace.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Being Doers

"You have so much knowledge about God's Word on marriage; do you think that you will be able to live it when you get married?" I asked a young single friend recently. "Knowing and doing are two different things," she responded. Oh, how God shows me this truth in my own life over and over. I have read rich books, memorized many verses, and studied seriously the truths of the Scripture, yet when the conflict comes, I find the flesh winning way too often. "The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." (James 1:25) Lord, by Your grace, may I do what I know.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sweet Hour

With Bibles in hand, a friend and I sat down to pray. Back and forth, we shared praise for our Lord Jesus, confession of our sin, thanksgiving for His blessings, and requests for our needs and the needs of others. The time that was so hard to set aside slipped by quickly as the words of our heart interwoven with the Word of His heart flowed forth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Encouraged, comforted, strengthened, we arose with new hope in God and His promise to hear His people when they pray. And now, Lord, I pray that it will not be so long before we gather again to talk with You, for the the prayers of the saints are like sweet smelling incense to a Father longing to hear from His children. (Revelation 5:8)

Monday, July 28, 2008

First Things

My sister suggested that my husband and I attend an infant CPR class since we adopted a baby this past December. The class began with a video drama of a baby who had stopped breathing. The tears began to roll as I envisioned something like this happening to our daughter. Later, when we were reviewing the steps of action in case of this emergency, the teacher asked, "What's the first thing you should do?" The answer she was looking for was "Make sure the scene is safe." The answer I know to be true is "pray to the Only One who can help." Yes, it was a good idea to participate in this class, and we were thankful to have been equipped with the information. But, the first thing I'll do is cry out to Jesus. "You brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help." (Psalm 22:9-11)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Begging Earnestly

Opportunities abound for us as Christians to allocate the money God has given us in ways that bring glory to His Name. Last night we were given the awesome privilege of partnering with others as senders for a young couple on their way to East Asia with Campus Crusade. How often, though, do we avoid those that we know who are fundraising? Or come up with excuses as to why we can't help? Or begrudingly write a check to silence our conscience? Lord, as we hear of God's work by faithful servants, let us be eager to give! "For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging earnestly for the favor ot taking part in the relief of the saints..." (2 Corinthians 8:3)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Misplaced Hope

I have a way of putting my hope in people. I expect them to live up to my expectations. Then, just when I'm getting used to their competency, they let me down. While wallowing in one of these moments of unmet demands, I received a note in the mail from a friend. Across the top she had written this verse: "I am the One you should fear and respect. I am the holy God, the Lord All-Powerful!" (Isaiah 8:13) Lord, forgive me for trusting in others to satisfy instead of looking to You. Forgive me for neglecting to be mindful of my own utter sinfulness. You are the One I should fear and respect! You are the holy God, the Lord All-Powerful!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Watermelon Seeds

From the window, I saw two young mormon missionaries approaching the front door. A friend was over visiting with me and the baby, and I asked her if she wanted to spend some time with them, and she excitedly said, "Yes!" So, what began as a conversation at an open door on a 90 degree plus day, ended sitting around a patio table eating watermelon and sharing Jesus. The more vocal of the two emphatically insisted that he would never change his mind about what he believed. "Oh, but do you remember the story of Lydia in Acts? God opened her heart to believe, and if He so chose, He could have you to believe what we are saying to you right now!" And we waited to see if it just might happen, but not this day. After praying with them, they were off to their next home, but we will continue to pray. Seeds were planted; Lord, please grow them. (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Christian Contentment

The morning routine was broken by a phone call; my father had died suddenly of a heart attack. Though many years ago, I still remember the shock, confusion, and grief of that day. At any moment, the ordinary can be interrupted by what we perceive as bad news, and we are faced with decisions, responses. A puritan pastor, Jeremiah Burroughs, once offered this description of Christian contentment: that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. Lord, I desire to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment, that I may say with Paul, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." (Philippians 4:11)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two Wills

The Bible teaches that God has two wills: His will of command and His will of decree. His will of command is all that He has told us in His Word to do; His will of decree is everything that actually happens. What He has commanded to happen isn't always what He has decreed to happen. For example, He commands that we not murder. However, He decreed that Christ be murdered that His plan for the redemption of His people be fulfilled. We are always to work toward obedience to His will of command, as we accept the day to day happenings as His will of decree. This teaching has helped me in so many ways and is worthy of great thought and reflection. Lord, I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wrong Assumptions

A king dies, so David sends a delegation to his son, Hanun, to express sympathy. The nobles of the land, however, quickly assume that David is up to no good. In the minds of these men, what was meant as an act of kindness became an expedition to spy out the country and overthrow it! (1 Chronicles 19:1-3) I can see myself in the nobles, looking for negative motives for what people do. Oh, they're probably doing this because of that. Or, they just did that because we did this. Or, I bet they said that because they really meant this. Forgive me, Lord, for wrong assumptions. Enable me to consider others better than myself, thinking the best of them in all that they do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Without Hindrance

I recently read a book entitled "When People Are Big And God Is Small." The author, Ed Welch, discusses the universal problem of the fear of man. Welch says that if you don't think you're included in this group, he has one word for you: evangelism. "Have you ever been too timid to share your faith in Christ because others might think you are an irrational fool?" Can anyone deny that they hesitate to proclaim the whole will of God? It is good news, and it may be the only good news that we hold back from others. In contrast, nothing hindered Paul. Nothing held him back. He was not restrained in any way. "Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 28:31) Help us, Lord, to speak the truth in love.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sticking Closer

Entering into relationship with Jesus opens up a new level of friendship. Suddenly, there is someone who is more intimate with us than our own biological family. They have known us since birth; He has known us since before we were born. We are also ushered into the family of Christ wherein we will again find friends that know us more deeply than those with whom we've shared the many years of our childhood. "Sometimes there is a friend, that is nothing akin to us, the bonds of whose esteem and love prove stronger than those of nature, and, when it comes to a trial will do more for us than a brother will." (Matthew Henry) "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Battle Cry

The soldiers were ready for battle. Able-bodied men, they were well-trained and knew how to handle their weapons. But when the fighting began, they cried out to God. We must not rely on our own strength or wealth or intelligence in the wars we face each day. Be ready; be trained, but trust in Him. "They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him." (1 Chronicles 5:20)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Expectant Waiting

A friend mentions a man who has metastatic cancer. It is in his brain and lungs. I say I will pray for him, and I am. But, I often pray without believing that God will heal. It seems impossible, hopeless. The outlook is grim; the doctors aren't encouraging. Thankfully, nothing is too difficult for our God. Heal Joe, Lord, for Your glory! "Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:1-3)

Friday, July 4, 2008

True Freedom

Our church participated in a local Fourth of July parade today as a way to shine the light of Christ to our neighbors . We chose for our banner the slogan "Find True Freedom in Jesus." Upon our return home, we received an email from a fellow float-rider, saying "Check out the latest blog post on Desiring God's website." The title is "Real Freedom in Jesus." How encouraging it was to think of all those who have found it, and we pray that the Lord will use this proclamation to set many more free. Yes, if the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8:36)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Completely Satisfied

John Piper says, "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him." Early in my Christian journey, the Lord brought a man named Michael into my life who modeled this truth. Michael loved the Lord Jesus; he spoke of Him with passion and enthusiasm. He knew the Bible and was willing to spend hours discussing it. On the other hand, he didn't own a television, and he didn't talk about television shows. He didn't wear the latest fashions, and I never saw a name brand. Even though he went to a university known for its athletics, he didn't join in the boasting when his team won a big game. (In fact, I didn't even know he had gone to this school for a long time.) He didn't drink alcohol, smoke, or overeat. I definitely got the impression that he had a joy that was greater than anything the world had to offer, and I was drawn to it. God was being glorified through Michael's satisfaction in Him! Oh, Lord, satisfy us this morning with Your unfailing love that we might sing for joy and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Loved Enemies

The definition my Strong's Bible dictionary gives for enemy is "adversary," a person who opposes or fights against another. This defines not only those whom we dislike, but sometimes it also defines those we love, such as our spouse. So, what are we to do with our enemy? Love them; bless them. The Bible is teaching me that if my husband has become my enemy through something he has said or done against me, then I am to turn around and bless him. Make his favorite meal. Give him a back rub. Pray for him. Think of the things that will most show love to him, and do it. This is the way of Christ.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time Flies

"Time goes by so fast." So we say repeatedly, especially as we watch children grow and change daily. The Bible affirms this truth, and it brings me constantly back to the choices we make each moment to waste our lives or use them for God's glory. Watch television/call a hurting friend. Shop/make a meal for someone who's ill. Surf the web/mentor a child in the inner city. Play a video game/rake the yard of a widow. Go out to eat/invite a neighbor over to dinner. Buy a new toy/give away money to a single mom. Be entertained/study the Scriptures. "Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow." (Psalm 144:4) Help me, Lord, to use the time You have given me in a way that shows the world my hope is in You.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hopeful Responses

Have you ever had someone fall trembling before you asking, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas did. God can use our hopeful response to suffering to glorify His Name. "After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown in prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:23-25) Oh, Lord, prepare my heart that I might consider it joy whenever I face trials of many kinds.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tongue Tired

I grow tired of my tongue. It seems I keep saying things that I regret, wondering to myself, "Why did I say that?" Too many times, I just don't think before I speak, letting the words just spill out, running and dripping, making a big mess. "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil." (Psalm 141:3-4)

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Common

Sometimes we'll meet someone new, and in the coarse of the conversation, we'll discover we have something in common. Suddenly, the enthusiasm for the conversation picks up a little. Then, maybe we find we have a few or maybe even several more things that we share, and we're starting to think that this could be the beginning of a friendship. After I became a Christian, I found that I share Christ in common with brothers and sisters all over the world, and when I meet a fellow believer, there is an instant bond. "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common." (Acts 4:32)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bearing Fruit

In two separate passages Ahab, a king of Israel, is described as "sullen and angry." These words seemed to characterize his life. Later, the Scripture records, "There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord....He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols..." (1 Kings 21:25) I pray, Lord, that my life will be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control and that my heart will be turned toward You.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Open Wide

Our baby daughter loves her formula! If she has a pacifier in her mouth, and she sees her bottle, the pacifier drops to the floor as her mouth springs open. She is eager to let that food fill her hunger. Our precious Lord is waiting to fill our hunger; He can and will meet all our needs easily. "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:10)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fire Starter

Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. They would each prepare bulls, put them on wood, and then each would call upon their god to set the wood and bull ablaze. The prophets of Baal worked themselves up into quite a frenzy to entice their god to act, but there was no response. Then Elijah had his altar doused with water three times, and when he called upon his God, the "fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench." (1 Kings 18:38) "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who made them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." (Psalm 135:15-18)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Promoting Love

God speaks to me. This morning He told me that if I would overlook the times that others offend me I would be promoting love. He spoke directly to an issue that resurfaces often in all of our lives and had just resurfaced in mine last night. People offend us, and in our flesh we want to tell others about it. As we retell the offense, our indignation flares up again, and we build up our self-righteousness. "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (Proverbs 17:9)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Good

I love Jesus. He is my Savior, my Friend, my greatest Treasure. Because of this, He promises me that everything that happens to me He will work together for good. This is quite an extraordinary promise that brings great comfort during the trials I have faced and will continue to face throughout my life. The Lord of the Universe is working, and what He has spoken He will bring to pass, and what He has planned, He will do.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

His Way

I think we should do it this way. Well, I don't! Well, I do! Thus began many arguments in the early days of our marriage before God grew us to understand that He has a better way -- His way. Laid out for us so beautifully in His Word, God's way gives guidance and direction in a world filled with many wide gates and many easy ways. "Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:129-130)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lasting Word

Tossed out what was left of 24 multicolored roses that were sent to celebrate 22 years of a multifaceted marriage. They arrived just seven short days ago, delivered to my doorstep -- freshly cut, carefully wrapped, packaged in water. "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." (Isaiah 40:8) Thank you, Lord, for an eternal word. It is ever with me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

He Cares

I struggle with the sin of worry which at its root is my failure to trust God's promises to me. I must battle this sin daily by turning to God's Word and the help of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I cast all my anxieties on You because You care about me. (1 Peter 5:7)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Enjoying Jesus (in joi') vt. 1. to have or experience joy; get pleasure from; relish. That is my Webster's dictionary's first definition of the word enjoy, and it perfectly describes my relationship with Jesus. My prayer for this blog is that God would be glorified and that Jesus would be exalted by demonstrating the great delight that comes from knowing Him.