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.