Sunday mornings can be a real test of a mother's sanctification, especially if her husband happens to be a pastor who leaves the house much earlier than the rest of the family. Here's how it went recently in one house (you're free to speculate on whose):
"The fifteen-year-old couldn't tuck his shirt in because of `something to do with the pockets,' and his belt was too small.
"The thirteen-year-old was having trouble curling her hair.
"The ten-year-old couldn't find her Sunday School lesson.
"The eight-year-old hadn't done his Bible readings because he didn't know which they were.
"The six-year-old's room and closet were unacceptably messy, and the socks she had on were muddy.
"The three-year-old couldn't find her Bible. Although not yet a reader, she couldn't
think of going to church without the Bible.
"The baby's carrying blanket had disappeared."
Somehow the mother was to be nicely groomed, calm, and able to get this whole package into a van, seated and belted as law requires, and drive them to church on time.
But everything in this scene is the King's Business, which He looks on in loving sympathy and understanding, for, as Baron Von Hugel said, "The chain of cause and effect which makes up human life, is bisected at every point by a vertical line relating us and all we do to God." This is what He has given us to do, this task here on this earth, not the task we aspired to do, but this one. The absurdities involved cut us down to size. The great discrepancy between what we envisioned and what we've got force us to be real. And God is our great Reality, more real than the realest of earthly conditions, an unchanging Reality. It is His providence that has put us where we are. It's where we belong. It is for us to receive it--all of it--humbly,
Sunday morning, the Lord's Day, can be the very time when everything seems so utterly unrelated to the world of the spirit that it is simply ridiculous. Yet to the Lord's lovers it is only a seeming. Everything is an affair of the spirit. Everything, to one who loves God and longs with a sometimes desperate longing for a draught of Living Water, a single touch of His hand, a quiet word--everything, I say, can be seen in His perspective.
Does He watch? Yes, "Thou God seest me" (Genesis 16:3, KJV). Is His love surrounding us? "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3, KJV). "I will never leave thee or forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5, KJV). May I offer to Him my feeling of the dislocation between reality and my ideals, that great chasm which separates the person I long to be, the work I long to do for Him, the family I struggle to perfect for His glory--from the actuality? I may indeed, for it is God Himself who stirs my heart to desire, and He can easily see across the chasm. He enfolds all of it, He is at work in me and in those I pray for, "to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13, KJV). I may take heart, send up an instant look of gratitude, and--well, get that beloved flock into the van and head down the freeway singing!
Sir Thomas Browne wrote, "Man is incurably amphibious; he belongs to two
worlds--to two sets of duties, needs, and satisfactions--to the Visible or This
World, and to the Invisible or Other World" (Essays and Addresses, 2nd series).
I'm so glad there's an Elizabeth Elliot. I tell ya, sometimes I think God gave her the words to speak because He new I couldn't and yet I need so badly for someone to speak what the Spirit is teaching me. He truly is doing this work in me. I find Him often pointing out that my disappointment and disatisfaction is not because my life is not what I thought it should be or would be by now, but because I have not fully surrendered myself to His soveriegnty in what my life is RIGHT NOW! He knows the desires of my heart... I must leave them with Him. But He is in control of what is before me today, so I can be His diswasher today, or His bend-down-to-tie-that-shoe-15-times person today, or the one looking for that misplaced inhaler for the third time today. I can be His meal-planner today, and His training children in manners and hygiene person today. Whatever He sets before me today, if I surrender myself fully to it for His glory, I will be fully satisfied, because I'll simply be serving Him. I'll have a heart like David, who, though he knew his annointing was as king he said, "A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked." (Psalm 84:10)
I'd rather be a floor washer, and dish doer, a bum wiper, and bath drawer, a meal server, and husband helper, a child trainer and comforter, and a dog-poop picker upper, for one day in the courts of my God than live the good life in the home of the wicked.
Redeeming the time
"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who
really knows how bad it is?" (NLT).
A psalm of David. Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped
trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the
LORD." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise
you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control." Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!"
"This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their
righteousness is from Me," Says the Lord." Isaiah 54:17
Lori at All You Have to Give made the above graphic. The quotes on it remind me how easily I forget how important simply giving thanks is!
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was thank you that would
suffice." -Meisier Eckhart
"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans
have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of
thanksgiving." -H.U. Wesiermeyer
"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all
other virtues." - Cicero
"On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence." -William Bryan
I have so much to be thankful for, and yet as each year passes from the big turning point in my life where I could see the obvious provision and rescue that made my heart cry "Thank YOU!", I find a tendency to slip into questioning and doubting, complaining and criticalness. But the detour away from these pitfalls is simply looking up and giving thanks!
I was just thinking yesterday that my prayers are increasingly becoming, "Thank you Lord!" for everything! Literally!
"Thank you Lord for my van." Spoken right after my husband informs me that he's just put the new starter in and it hasn't made any difference... the thing still won't start. "Thank you Lord for my kids." Spoken right after a face off with my 5 year
"Thank you Lord for this piece of chocolate." Spoken at the height of my PMS with much conviction that chocolate is God's prescription for comfort during the monthly pains of womanhood. "Thank you Lord for my dog, this carpet, and this steam cleaner." Spoken right after cleaning up the dog vomit I almost stepped in while putting away the steam cleaner I just finished cleaning the carpets with. "Thank you Lord for my husband." Spoken as I walk out of the pre-op room
leaving my hospital gown-clad man behind.
I have sooooo much to be thankful for. And the more I put my trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God, and acknowledge my utter dependence upon Him, the more I stop trying to figure out what's going on or why and just simply look up and say, "Thank you Lord!"
How the Homemaker and Her Family are Spending Thanksgiving
Today will be a gathering of four- me, my husband and our two sons. I'm up early, spending some time really reflecting on what God has done in my life and praying, because He's not done with me yet.
The day is planned on being a fairly "normal" day- except the huge feast midday and the limping, one week post-op husband, and the deluge of fall rain we're getting in the Arizona dessert. Although, according to conversations with my husband last night, Thanksgiving this year is shaping up to be sorta anticlimactic, I think today is going to be very special.
There's a work of "leaving and cleaving" which began 3 years ago this Thanksgiving when my tender, reunited marriage moved away from family and friends to the desert that continues to this day. Today as my husband continues the rehab work on his leg I'll be remembering that God is doing a reconciling work in our marriage for His glory, and I'll be thanking Him for it.
There are two very sentimental sons who have been anticipating when we get to have our "big feast" (as they put it) for weeks. And today while I'm working in the kitchen, loving on my family through the making of a "feast", I'll be praying for the words and the work of the Spirit as I use every opportunity to teach my sons about our great Redeemer and God, and how important it is that we take the time to remember we are utterly dependent upon His mercy and grace and therefore must give Him thanks!
We'll be enjoying the rain today, rehabbing a knee, wrestling with the boys, reaching for the sweet potatoes, relishing the cherry pie with ice cream, rejoicing in our Redeemer, reminiscing on the phone with family far away and resting with full bellies too.
Today I'm not going to ask why, or try to figure out what's next, I'm just going to draw near and give thanks to the God who wants me to know Him. Mr. Oswald Chambers' questions and answers hang in my kitchen. And today, while I'm cooking, I'll be surrendering myself to my miracle-working God and resting in knowing Him more.
"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do- He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you "go out" in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?" - Oswald Chambers
I pray you and yours have a surrendered and thankful thanksgiving!
Maybe you're like me. Maybe you think, "Oh, I love all those crafty things that other women make, and I'd love to be able to do those things, but I can't... it's just not my "gift" ."
If you're like me, I'd love to encourage you with a word the Lord gave me awhile back.
"YOU CAN! STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS!"
One day, after bemoaning my inability to make beautiful things like other women do, the Spirit really gave me a swift kick in the britches! He got to the motive of my heart and said, "You know Sheila. You can offer me whatever you make, and use by faith what I've given you, even if it is just 'one talent', for My glory, or you can not offer Me anything with your hands because you don't think it's as good as someone elses. Have I not created you in My image? Have I not created you to make things, and work with your hands? If so, then make things, offer them to Me and stop comparing yourself to others!"
You and I do not need to go beyond our limits and do what God has not granted us. We don't all have to be artistic, crafty divas! But we must offer God every part of our lives in the area of influence God has assigned us. And if the only thing that holds us back from offering God what we make with our hands is that we compare our product with what others make, and deem our merchandise inadequate, then we shrink back from letting every part of our lives influence those around us for His glory!
"Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you." 2 Corinthians 10:12-13
Maybe this isn't for you! But this word is most definitely for me!
I cringe when I look at some of the things I've made or done with my hands in comparison to others. But then I hear the Lord I think, "You're right Lord! This is ridiculous! You gave me people and lives to influence and You created me in Your image... even in the likeness of making things. If You gave me one 'talent' in that area let me invest in those around me for Your glory and not compare or hide because others seem to have 10 'talents' in this area!"
Here's a way you could step out there with me in giving what you make with your hands to glorify God- Pay IT Forward challenge
But whether you do this challenge or not, I pray you will step out in faith in the area of making things for God's glory and put to death the comparing of yourself to others! I know I'm seeking to do that myself!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Have you seen this video?
It's the desire of my heart to give the only thing of value I have to give... the life of Christ poured out of me in my surrendered life to others, and to teach my kids to do the same.
This video spoke that "conspiracy" beautifully!
Here's a little bloggy way to give as unto the Lord to others...
I saw this at Lori's place, All You Have to Give:
here’s how you play.
be the first 3 bloggers to leave a comment on
this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me!!!
be willing to post this challenge on your blog, (meaning, that you will
then ‘pay-it-forward’, creating a handmade gift for the first 3 bloggers that
leave a comment on YOUR blog!!)
as far as i can tell, the gift can be any
price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item.
you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift
and have shipped your gifts.
"But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23-24
Worship: Greek- Proskuneo: Verb, to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
But, the test comes when my physical energy is running dry. My motives are examined, "Are you kissing the Son Sheila? Are you worshipping Him or just looking for a pat on the back?"
Like Peter sitting next to Jesus by the sea after His resurrection and being asked, "Do you love me?" my answer to the Spirit of God has been, "You know me Lord? You know that there's a fleshly, imperfect woman here who wants a pat on the back, but when You search me You know that truly I do love You. I love You because You've loved me so much. I am doing this in worship... as though I were kissing You with my life! You deserve my life and so much more!"
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
Here's a group of people who obviously are passionate about saving the lives of a creature God made... whales. They take great risks and go to great lengths to disturb and disrupt to ultimately stop the process of whaling on the part of the Japanese.
Here's what Animal Planet says about the groups tactics and purpose:
The Society's fight to eradicate Japanese whaling on the high seas — where
international laws are interpreted by different countries and organizations
in different ways — utilizes some aggressive techniques, including ramming
and disabling whaling ships; disrupting whale carcass processing; engaging
in physical entanglement; and boarding and dispersing fleets of whaling
vessels. For the campaign this season, Sea Shepherd christened its vessel in
honor of the iconic conservationist Steve Irwin with the blessing of his
wife Terri, both of whom support the organization independent of Animal
"Whaling has no place in the 21st century," noted Watson. "Sea Shepherd
will not stop until the killing ends."
Oh my heart!!! All I can hear when I read about this group, or see their show, is the silent cries of millions of unborn, and newly born humans babies... the only creature on the planet God created in His own image and in whom He puts His own Spirit... and I cry, "Infanticide and abortion has no place in the 21st century... in any century!!!!!" Will I not stop crying out until the killing ends?!
I want to cry, "How is this happening?!!! This is not right!!!! There shouldn't be millions of dollars and programs on T.V. going to the dangerous effort of ending whaling, when the most precious of creatures on the earth are being slaughtered daily under the oppressive lie that it's a "right" and a very "controversial issue" so one dare not speak too loudly, much less make any kind of disturbance in the process! "
Where is truth!!!!!?
I had all this on my heart this morning and then I read Elizabeth Elliot's devotional. Here's some of it:
Give Them Parking Space, But Let Them Starve to Death
Another moral threshold was crossed when a tiny baby boy, at the specific request of his parents and with the sanction of the Supreme Court of Indiana, was starved to death in a hospital. "Infant Doe" (he was not allowed the usual recognition of being human by being named), born with Down's syndrome and a malfunctioning esophagus (the latter could have been corrected with surgery), died, as the Washington Post (April 18) stated, "not because he couldn't sustain life without a million dollars worth of medical machinery, but because no one fed him." For six days the nurses in that Bloomington hospital went about their usual routines of bathing and changing and feeding all the newborns except one. They bathed and changed Baby Doe but they never gave him a bottle. Over his crib was a notice, DO NOT FEED. Several couples came forward, begging to be allowed to adopt him. They were turned down.
What went on in that little box during those six terrible days and nights? We turn our imagination away. It's unthinkable. But if I were to think about it, and put down on paper what my mind saw, I would be accused of playing on people's feelings, and of making infanticide (yes, infanticide--call it what it is) an "emotional issue." Let me suppose at least that the baby cried--quite loudly (at first). One report says that he was placed in a room alone, lest his crying disturb others (others, perhaps, who were capable of helping him).
Joseph Sobran, in his column in the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, suggested that "opposition to infanticide will soon be deplored as the dogma of a few religious sects who want to impose their views on everyone else." The language sounds sickeningly familiar.
There has been a conspicuous silence from those who usually raise shrill protest when other human rights are violated--the rights of smokers, homosexuals, and criminals are often as loudly insisted upon as those of children, women, and the handicapped.
The handicapped? What on earth is happening when a society is so careful to provide premium parking spaces to make things easier for them, but sees no smallest inconsistency when one of them who happens to be too young to scream, "For God's sake, feed me!" is quietly murdered? It is in the name of humanity, humaneness, compassion, and freedom that these things occur, but never is it acknowledged that the real reasons are comfort and convenience, that is, simple selfishness.
"Abortion not only prefers comfort, convenience, or advantage of the pregnant woman to the very life of her unborn child, a fundamentally good thing, but seeks to deny that the life ever existed. In this sense it is a radical denial not only of the worth of a specific life but of the essential goodness of life itself and the Providential ordering of its procreation" (R.V. Young, "Taking Choice Seriously," The Human Life Review, Vol. VIII, no. 3.)
But weren't we talking about infanticide and haven't we now switched to abortion? The premises on which abortion is justified are fundamentally the same on which infanticide is seen as civilized and acceptable. What Hitler used to call eugenics is now called "quality of life," never mind whether the life in question happens to be the mother's or the child's. Death, according to three doctors who put the issue out into the open in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1973, is now considered an option in the "treatment" of infants; in other words, a mortuary may now replace the nursery. One cannot help thinking of the antiseptic "shower rooms" of the Third Reich, where the unwanted were "treated" to death. Nor can one forget the words of Jesus, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40, KJV).
Can any Christian argue that the smallest and most defenseless are, by virtue merely of being too small and too defenseless, not His brethren?
Oh dear Lord Jesus! I'm overwhelmed! I immediately think of Isaiah 58, where You teach me to fast and pray, not for strife or debate, or to strike with the fist of wickedness, but to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke, to share with the hungry and be hospitable to the poor, and to cover those who are naked and not hide myself from my own flesh. (Isaiah 58:4,6-7). I want to fast for strife or debate about the "abortion issue"! I want to strike with the fist of wickedness like the "Sea Shepherd"... it's what immediately rises up in me! But the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God! (James 1:20). So Your Spirit shows me the answer and the problem:
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him... He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay... the coastlands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:14-16, 17-19
We must wait on the LORD and pray fervently and ourselves depart from evil and be willing to be vulnerable to the violence of others when we lovingly speak the truth and cry out for the smallest and the defenseless, teaching others that Christ has made the life of all humanity more valuable than any life on this earth.
Christmas in particular holds very dear and personal times of worship and reflection upon what God has done for me... for us! And it seems Thanksgiving has become a month long preparing of my heart and a time to spur my kids to think on God's care for us. By the time December comes, the anticipation and wonder is building to a climax. There's a real sense of the need, and desire, to stop and simply thank God for all He has done and reflect upon the glory of His story in our house. I guess Thanksgiving isn't a separate holiday from Christmas in our house, it's just the build up to the celebration of the Redeeming Gift we are most thankful for.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless
the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. - Psalm 103:1-5
Our family traditions are still newly forming. Our kids are just 3 and 5 and truly we didn't have a tradition or special time during Christmas or Thanksgiving before the kids came. For my household, that was mostly due to our marriage troubles. If you are a childless couple, especially a newly married couple, I'd encourage you not to wait until the kids come (if they do) to start your own special times of worship, activities, and memories during the holidays.
That was a bit of a sidebar... anyway, back to our traditions and ideas.
Here are some of the things we do during the month of November:
- Pick a verse or two from scripture to say and talk about daily, committing it to memory. This year I picked 1 Timothy 2:1.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
thanksgivings be made for all people
- Find a craft or two to do with my kids which helps us all to verbalize and bring to mind how much we have to be thankful for. This year we did this and this.
It turned out like this:
And here's the Youtube video if you'd like to do it! :)
- Find a way to remember, pray for, and reach out to someone else in need. Each year I pray about this, and sometimes the person in need is right under my own roof, so the focus is a ministry of service there. This year we may go to the local nursing home and just walk around with the kids and kneel down to visit with some widows and widowers on Thanksgiving day.
- And when it comes to the actual Thanksgiving meal ours is pretty traditional. Two of the highlights from our menu though are the sweet mashed yams and the homemade rolls.
To begin celebrating Christmas I pull out the tree December 1st, along with all the decor I've collected over the past couple years, and put on the music!!! I LOOOOOVE Christmas music. My favorite song is O Holy Night. I let the kids decorate the tree, which leaves lots of great memories and pictures and the perfect looking tree in my book! :)
During the month of December I also pick a new verse or two to discuss daily and put to memory and try to memorize a song that the boys and I can sing.
This year, the boys will be involved in their first Christmas program at our church, which I'm really excited about.
But the tradition that I love the most at Christmastime happens the night before Christmas. You can read about the tradition we have of sleeping in a tent by the tree on Christmas Eve and other traditions we have , and our Days of Pondering ornaments by clicking those links.
Be sure to head over to Internet Cafe Devotions for more fun and inspiring holiday traditions and ideas!
Hope you all have wonderful, worshipful holidays!
Redeeming the time,
Sweet Mashed Yams
WARNING! I'VE NEVER WRITTEN OUT THIS RECIPE BEFORE (except to give to
my sweet sister) SO PLEASE ADJUST TO YOUR PERSONAL TASTE AS YOU GO!
4-6 yams or sweet potatoes peeled and diced into large chunks (about 1 inch
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter
a couple dashes of cinnamon
salt to taste
Boil diced yams in large pot of salted water until tender when pierced with
fork (about 20 minutes). While yams are boiling melt together the brown
sugar, cream and cinnamon over medium heat. Drain yams when their
done. Add butter and 1/4c. melted sugar/cream/cinnamon mixture to
yams. Mash to desired consitency. Serve remaining cream/sugar sauce
on the side so your guests can to turn your yams into desert by pouring more of
the sweet mixture on top of their yams! :)
Homemade Dinner Rolls
(from Donna West at All Recipes.com)
**I DID THIS RECIPE BY HAND NOT WITH A BREAD MACHINE... IT BAKED A LITTLE
LESS THAN 10 MINUTES**
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. warm milk
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter softened
Place water, milk, egg, 1/3 cup butter, sugar, salt, flour, and yeast in
the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (I
mixed the yeast in the warm water, milk, and sugar first. Then added the
butter and dry ingredients which I mixed together in a seperate bowl. I
then mixed and needed the dough until it was soft and springy. Then I went
on with the rest of the recipe.)
Turn dough out onto slightly floured surface. Divide dough in
half. Roll each half into a 12 inch circle, spread 1/4 cup softened butter
over entire round. Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Roll wedges
starting at wide end; roll gently but tightly. Place point side down on
ungreased cookie sheet. Cover with clean kitched towel and put in a warm
place (here's a secret I learned about the "warm place" that I can never seem to
find when I want to rise dough. Boil a pot of water. Put it in the
bottom of your oven. Put the dough you want to rise in a dish on the rack
in the oven.) Let rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400
degrees. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until
My husband's surgery went well. He's home and hurting, but well.
This is my prayer:
That I would, "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks
you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (1
I prayed quickly to myself to find help to explain and answered, "Because God can't lie son. And He said if I just put all my trust in Jesus for my goodness, and don't trust at all that I'm good enough on my own, then He'll save me and take me to be with Him forever."
"Hmm. Okay." He answered satisfied.
I prayed more and thought of how simple it really is, yet how it's the most attacked, most impossible choice to make. Apart from the Father drawing us we will always defend ourselves or feel sorry for ourselves, but if He draws us and we simply look believing upon His cross... "the old life is gone. A new life has begun!" (2 Cor.5:15-17)
This was in my inbox from Elizabeth Elliott this morning. And I'm praying for that laying down of his burden, that simple believing look at the cross this morning for one that I love. My husband is having surgery this morning, and if you'd join me in praying, I'd be so grateful! All hell fights for the ones I love to keep a believing look towards the One who hung on the cross for them from happening. It seems this simple little surgery has one facing the reality that death is a very real possibility. Oh Lord help him to look to the Cross believing! Help him to see the High Priest who shared in his humanity to free him from the power of death by His own death!
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so
that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is,
the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their
fear of death. - Hebrews 2:14-15
Surprising it will always be to those who come to that Cross, and foolishness it will always be to those who don't. Rest comes by His sorrow, life by His death? Yes. "His purpose in dying for all was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves and should live for him who for their sakes died and was raised to life. With us therefore worldly standards have ceased to count in our estimate of any man.... When anyone is united to Christ, there is a new world (or a new act of creation); the old order has gone, and a new order has already begun" (2 Corinthians 5:15-17, NEB).
That new order is a far cry from the notion of self-acceptance which has taken hold of the minds of many Christians. Any message which makes the Cross redundant is anti-Christian. The original sin, pride, is behind my "poor self-image," for I felt that I deserved better than I got, which is exactly what Eve felt! So it was pride, not poor
self-image, that had to go. If I'm so beautiful and lovable, what was Jesus doing up there, nailed to the cross and crowned with thorns? Why all that hideous suffering for the pure Son of God? Here's why: There was no other way to deliver us from the hell of our own proud self-loving selves, no other way out of the bondage of self-pity and self-congratulation. How shall we take our stand beneath the cross of Jesus and continue to love the selves that put Him there? How can we survey the wondrous cross and at the same time feed our pride? No. It won't work. Jesus put it simply: If you want to be My disciple, you must leave self behind, take up the cross, and follow Me.
George MacDonald writes, "Right gladly would He free them from their misery, but He knows only one way: He will teach them to be like Himself, meek and lowly, bearing with gladness the yoke of His Father's will. This is the one, the only right, the only possible way of freeing them from their sin, the cause of their unrest."
"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." -Philippians2:12b-13
As I was meditating on Philippians 2 the other morning, when I read, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." the Spirit clearly spoke this to me:
"Nevertheless, she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness with self-control." 1 Timothy 2:15
"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." 1 Timothy 4:16
In an instant I knew what my "salvation", which is to be worked out with fear and trembling, is.
It isn't a new salvation, seperate from Christ. It is Christ working in me both to will and do for His good pleasure. My salvation is worked out, fleshed out, lived out (that is, God is in me working, fleshing, living, out) in raising the children God has entrusted to my care in His nurture and admonition.
This is the doctrine (along with the rest of scripture's doctrine) that I'm to take heed to, because in doing so I save myself and those who hear me (my kids, if they hear me... Oh Lord open their ears!) Again, I'm not saving myself. This is speaking of the redeeming of my life in the flesh in a very lived-out way and the redeeming of my kids' lives by the power of Ephesians 2:8-10:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:8-10 is how I am "saved in childbearing." And it is where in living out this ministry by faith, which God is the one in me willing and doing for His pleasure, I am saved and so are those who hear me.
It's Christ, redeeming the time in me and in you!
It's Christ living out, through me and you, the workmanship He's always had prepared for us to walk in.
It's not our own effort, our own adequacy, or even our own will... it's Christ living in us, and us simply surrendering to His will. In doing so, you and I live out our salvation on the earth (I'm talking to moms here, I know there are more and differing ways this looks for each of us as we live out our salvation in distinct and differing ministries).
And so I pray for my kids (and my precious husband too... in a sense I labor for him more than anyone to know Christ), that they too would work out their own salvation with fear and trembling and that the Lord would give them wisdom and understanding to do that.
Oh, and it is with fear and trembling! For it is impossible apart from Christ!
As moms, it can be so easy to get discouraged and feel like our labor is in vain. After all, we clean up the same messes over and over, and in regards to our kids, the same issues get addressed time and time again. And for some of us all our effort seems to be burning up in the choices our kids are making or in the seeming never-finished work we're doing. But this TRUE word of comfort is what we must confidently press on in!
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
1 Timothy 6:15 Acts 2:23
Nothing is Lost
A pastor's wife asked, "When one witnesses a work he has poured his life into 'go up in flames' (especially if he is not culpable), is it the work of Satan or the hand of God?"
Often it is the former, always it is under the control of the latter. In the biographies of the Bible we find men whose work for God seemed to be a flop at the time--Moses' repeated efforts to persuade Pharaoh, Jeremiah's pleas for repentance, the good king Josiah's reforms, rewarded in the end by his being slain by a pagan king. Sin had plenty to do with the seeming failures, but God was then, as He is now, the "blessed controller of all things" (1 Timothy 6:15, PHILLIPS). He has granted to us human beings responsibility to make choices and to live with the consequences. This means that everybody suffers--sometimes for his or her own sins, sometimes for those of others.
There are paradoxes here which we cannot plumb. But we can always look at the experiences of our own lives in the light of the life of our Lord Jesus. How shall we learn to "abide" (stay put) in Christ, enter into the fellowship of His sufferings, let Him transform our own? There is only one way. It is by living each event, including
having things "go up in flames," as Christ lived: in the peace of the Father's will. Did His earthly work appear to be a thundering success? He met with argument, unbelief, scorn in Pharisees and others. Crowds followed Him--not because they wanted His Truth, but because they liked handouts such as bread and fish and physical healing. His own disciples were "fools and slow of heart to believe." (Why didn't Jesus make them believe? For the reason given above.) These men who had lived intimately with Him, heard His teaching for three years, watched His life and miracles, still had little idea what He was talking about on the evening before His death. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him. The rest of them went to sleep when He asked them to stay awake. In the end they all forsook Him and fled. Peter repented with tears and later saw clearly what had taken place. In his sermon to the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 2:23, PHILLIPS) he said, "This man, who was put into your power by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed up and murdered.... But God would not allow the bitter pains of death to touch him. He raised him to life again--and there was nothing by which death could hold such a man."
There is nothing by which death can hold any of His faithful servants, either. Settle it, once and for all--YOU CAN NEVER LOSE WHAT YOU HAVE OFFERED TO CHRIST. It's the man who tries to save himself (or his reputation or his work or his dreams of success or fulfillment) who loses. Jesus gave us His word that if we'd lose our lives for His sake, we'd find them.
"I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent." - Revelation 3:18-19
In the past few months, in light of the economic situation in our country, this section of scripture is speaking to me even more. The Lord, speaking to a people who identify themselves with Him, who think of themselves as rich and needing nothing, who He says are actually, "...wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked...", gives a remedy that involves "buying."
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." - 1 Peter 1:6-7 (emphasis added by me)
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." -James 4:8
Sometimes I'm overwhelmed, like tonight, with the impossibleness of the ones I love drawing near to God. Even my own faith is tested and I know, that if my faith wasn't kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5) I would not draw near to Him either.
I mean, why would a person draw near to the God who by all means must and should reject you? So many doubts, so many unanswered questions, so much lack of understanding, so much love of darkness... why would anyone come to Him, even these that I love... even myself!?
I think all this, and I'm there, at the table the LORD prepares for me in the PRESENCE of my enemies (Psalm 23:5). Surround by enemies, He whispers this hope:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise
him up at the last day." -John 6:44
And then I cry, "Oh Father! Draw them! Draw me! Don't stop! We'll never come if You don't draw us!"
I find myself at His mercy, which though I tremble, is the best place for me to be. Though all odds are against me and the ones I love, and though the total otherness of Him who draws me threatens to send me running, I curl up at His feet, with my hands surrendered in the air saying,
"Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life." -John 6:68
I come boldly to You King of kings. I think I might be feeling a bit like Esther right now as I run boldly to the throne of grace, that I may obtain mercy and find grace to help in this time of need! You have every reason to reject me, certainly unless You extend Your scepter of grace towards me I'm dead! And so it is for these that I love too! Unless Your grace is for us, we're dead! But if I die, I die. For it is not hope in me or hope in them that sends me running to You, it's hope in YOU!!! "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at Your right hand making intercession for us!" Oh those words are my hope!!! My hope, encourage my weak heart! The enemy surrounds me and these that I love, and I come to Your table where Your broken body is the feast on which my spirit can live! Let me just trust You! Save us Lord! Save these that I love, not just from hell for eternity, but from believing and helping hell now! Draw us to You and then we will draw near to You and You will draw near to us! My hope is in You Lord Jesus! My hope is in You!!!
And if you want to get up and dance and worship Jehovah Jireh here's this:
His grace is sufficient
For me, for me,
His grace is sufficient for me
My God shall supply all my needs
According to his riches in glory
He will give His
Charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares
For me, for me, for me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me
- 1 Peter 31-6 from Courson
- He's Still on the throne: Proverbs 21:1 from Jon Courson
- We beheld His glory from John Piper
- Don’t waste your life John piper
- Don’t waste your kids from Mr. Harris
- 2 Samuel 7 Part 2 from Jon Courson
Redeeming the time,
I don't look ANYTHING like that homemaker in the header, but I do think it's such a fun and cute template theme for my blog.
I really liked the one I've had up from Amy here for the past couple days though too! The problem with all these cute free templates is I keep wanting to try them all on my blog and I loose all my widgets when I do so and have put 'em back. So this time, cute new free template or not, I'm stickin' with this one till Christmas at least! :)
I see the same lukewarm-a little mixed in with the world-a little mixed in with the church-a little politically savvy-condition I've had in us as a body nationally. With the election of a president who violates the neat system we've become comfortable with, and who carries with him abominable beliefs about unborn babies, we've come face to face with our remedy, and it's up to us to embrace our Lord's chastizement and correction as His loving hand and deliverance for us.
Today, I was listening to this message from Jon Courson titled, He's Still On the Throne- Proverbs 21:1. In the teaching Jon really speaks what God has been doing in my heart over the past three years, not really in regards to politics, but in regards to my marriage and the path He wants me to walk in and is leading me in. Courson shares from an AWESOME section of scripture-Isaiah 44 and 45. You have to go listen to the message, but in short, he shares about how God chose, as HIS annointed, a brutal king Cyrus, to be the one He would use to ultimately deliver His people out of the bondage THEY had chosen. In Isaiah 45 God says these things about the pagan king Cyrus:
Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held... I will go before you and make the crooked places straight... I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me... I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city, and let My exiles go free, not for a price nor reward, says the LORD of hosts. - Isaiah 45:1,2,3,4,13
Our thoughts are not God's thoughts. And His ways are so much higher. He chose a pagan king to take His people into bondage for the purpose of ultimately revealing HIMSELF to the king and for the purpose of delivering His people from their bondage. It was through Cyrus that we have the story of Ezra.
God has been doing this work in my marriage and I see His hand at work in my nation similarly! We chose a little (or a lot) of the world, and now we suffer it's bondage, but ultimately God will deliver! He has raised up Barrak Obama for OUR GOOD! And for HIS GLORY! The more we trust in that, the more we can focus on being a good witness of Christ to our future president, and the more we can pray for Mr. Obama with true love and desire for Him to know the Lord. And also, the more we trust in God's soveriegnty in appointing our coming president and congress, the more we will grow intimate with the One who sees our condition and loves us too much to leave us that way.
Oh my LORD, my Treasure, my LOVE! You have humbled me so through my husband! You have said, "He's right, listen to him," when I've protested, "But he believes this, and he does that!!!" You've showed me Your heart through my worldly man and You've made me to see my bound-up, legalistic, luke-warm condition. You've used my precious husband to deliver me from so much! You've shown me such favor in his eyes... a favor I haven't deserved or earned! And it thrills my heart that you said to king Cyrus, "... that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel..." I pray you would call my husband by name! I pray you would say, " 'Here I am, here I am,'" to a person who is not called by Your name (Isaiah 65:1). I pray you would say, "Here I am, here I am," to my precious husband who You have used to bring healing and to rebuild ruined-me! I pray that he may know that You, the LORD who calls him by name, is the God of his wife!
And I pray to You, my KING, for precious Barrak Obama and his family, who You went to the cross for! I pray You would also show us, Your people in America, our condition and Your loving remedy! I pray we would embrace the cure You have for us and receive Your reproof. For whom You rebuke and chasten You love! I pray you would use Mr. Obama to open our eyes and show us what true riches are and to give us total satisfaction in the white robes of Your righteousness! I pray you would also reveal Yourself to Mr. Obama and his family. I pray He would know that You, the Lord, who has called him by name and raised him up, is the God of Your people in America who You are humbling!
Redeeming the time,
Your love is better than life JESUS!!!!!
If we are to be a holy nation (1 Peter 1:13 – 2:12), separated from all that is worldly and devoted wholly to God, then we must do as the bride is instructed to do: 'Forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him' (Psalm 45:10,11 ESV). Yet we cling to the world, and our beauty is marred by the dross of worldliness, idolatry and unfaithfulness. Those who think this is not the case are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8). We find it so hard to forsake the world, but God does not leave us to struggle in weakness. No, the gracious and faithful master craftsman is working on us all the time, as individuals and as a Church (local and global). Nowhere is this more evident than in the midst of persecution and suffering.
And so we pray: not only for religious liberty and for justice, deliverance and peace for the persecuted Church, but also for insight into what God is doing in the life of his people so that we can 'get on board' and actively participate in, rather than proudly resist, this wonderful sanctification.
God is purging idolatry, forging unity and removing those sources of worldly strength upon which we so adulterously depend. He is increasing our love and our faith. We must never despair over the loss of political power or influence, for the hope of the Church was never to be found there (Zechariah 4:6). An abundance of earthly lights (light pollution) causes the stars in the heavens to appear dim. It usually takes a power blackout or a trip into the wilderness for the glory of the heavens to be revealed. The same is true concerning advocacy for religious liberty and the persecuted church. An abundance of earthly powers may cause us to forget or neglect the greater power and love that is in heaven. A political-power blackout or a trip to the political wilderness may be God's gracious way of drawing our attention to him and reminding us of where the true power lies. Prayer is not a lesser form of advocacy, it is the greatest. So let us pray!
What John Piper says here is what the Spirit has been speaking to my heart this whole election process.
I've read many posts by my favorite Christian women bloggers and the divide and passion on the subject of who should be president or vice president is huge. And in my flesh I can start to lean one way or the other, but neither side brings me peace. The only place I find peace is in surrender and on my knees, saying, "Lord. You are King over all. You raise up one and put down another. Love us enough Lord to chasten and rebuke us and revive us in passion and unity for the gospel and love for YOU!"
This election day I stand on my knees as one of God's elect, casting my cares upon Him, because He cares for me and trusting in His Soveriengty and praying for our hearts (mine too) to be revived in passion for the love of Him who died for us!
(The other two blondies are my little chickens! :) or Spidermans rather)
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