Friday, November 11, 2011

Obedience or Obstinance

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46

I wonder how many times I've professed myself a Christian, claiming Jesus is Lord, and turned around and done something completely against His character. I shutter at the thought.

In many different ways and at different times we are told in scripture that if we love the Lord we will obey Him. However, many of our lives fall short of even trying to obey Him. We know that we are all sinners, not a one of us good within ourselves, and that no matter how much effort we put in we will fall short of God's glory, but does that mean we shouldn't try?

Paul answers this resoundly in Romans: Let it not be!

If we love the Lord and trust Him, trust His word, trust who He says He is, we will obey Him.

We will draw close to Him and realize that in our own effort we fall short, but that in relying on Him, we obey Him.

Some commandments are pretty clear and are not a challenge for us. Others, are great challenges. Some we don't even know are important to God. Or, we don't want to recognize that they're important to Him.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27

Did you know that envy is listed along with murder as a sin? How about disobeying your parents? Being arrogant and boastful? Who hasn't fallen to these?

But, thanks be to God, He's provided us a rescue! However, we are to take hold of that rescue like a lifeline and stubbornly hold to Him and His promises.

We are all stubborn. At one time I obstinantly held onto my own way of doing things and frequently made a mess of things. Now, I stubbornly hold onto my God and let Him lead me through any mess that comes my way - of my doing or not.

Obedience is not always an easy course to choose, after all, it is the narrow way. But the rewards are so great that we could never count them. God's grace, mercy, peace, and joy are more than we could ever work for and grasp for ourselves in our own power. They are the blessings that count, and the ones that come with stubborn obedience to God's way rather than the world's way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Things

All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. John 1:3

I wonder how often we recognize that God made all things. This verse is specifically talking about Jesus being the author of all things because John is making the point that Jesus is God and was not a created being. He is part of the Trinity that has always been and always will be. He was as deeply involved in the creation process as one could get.

Does this affect the way we see Jesus? This was John's intent. Jesus is God. He has been here from the beginning (v.1) and is Lord, Light, and Life. John wanted to make it clear up front who Jesus is.

Does knowing that all things were made by God change the way we see the world around us? Lets look at a short list of created things:

koala bears
radio waves

I'm guessing in looking at that short list, my point is at least introduced. There are many things we think of as bad or harmful and wonder why God created them. What's the purpose of a hurricane? Are wasps really necessary? We often even complain about things that we think are good in some circumstances and not in others - such as the sun. In our arguing and complaining, however, there is an underlying current that runs deep. That current is the idea that we would have done things differently, better. And this is a very dangerous undercurrent.

God did not and does not do anything arbitrarily. He has a purpose in everything. His ultimate purpose is to bring glory to His name and draw people into a relationship with Him. That may sound like two purposes, but really it's not. He draws us to Him through His holy name because He is love and loves us perfectly.

So why all the icky stuff? Some of it we can figure out. Wasps and bees pollinate. Lightning creates and changes chemicals in the ground that benefits growth.

Others we may never figure out. And that's okay. Despite our thurst for knowledge and living in the information age, we will never have all knowledge nor understand everything. But if we truly believe God is who He says He is - that he is trustworthy, faithful, holy, righteous, & almighty - then we will trust that He purposed every last detail of His creation for a reason.

That's not to say that everything has gone according to His perfect will since creation. No! We'd better know better than that. But He has created all things and allowed things we don't understand according to His permissive will. And if we trust, we won't complain. At least not for too long.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Because of Enemies

Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friend - those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." Psalm 31:11-14

When I come across scriptures like these I wonder how it relates to me and how I can relate to it. What does God want me to do with it? I don't have enemies. I mean, I've had people over the years I didn't like and who didn't like me, and there are probably some people even now who couldn't care less about me. But enemies? People who hold contempt for me? Conspire against me and plot to take my life? No. I don't experience those things.

So, what is it Lord? What am I to get from these words? You included them for a reason.

And He answers.

We have Christian brothers and sisters who live these verses each and every day. While the exact numbers are unknown, you can only imagine with more than 50 nations that restrict the sharing of the gospel. Our brothers and sisters, bought into the Lord's family the same way we were - by the blood of Jesus - are facing true enemies, contempt of their neighbors, people who flee from them simply because they are Christians, and terror on every side of them. Yet they hold fast to their faith.

What can I do?

I can read the words of God, remember my brothers and sisters in Christ (who will be as precious to me in heaven as my own parents, sister, husband, and children are to me here on earth) and lift them up to the Lord.

We, in Christ, "form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." {Romans 12:5} We are one. We are not to live our convenient, comfortable lives and simply thank God for the blessings He pours out on us. We are to be broken-hearted for those in our family who suffer on a daily basis. And we are to pray.

Pray that they will hold fast to their faith and trust in God completely. Pray they will be delivered from their enemies, but if not, that God's name will be glorified. Pray that they will be bold in their proclamations of the truth of God's love, grace, and mercy through His Son Jesus. Pray that their love will abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that they are able to discern what is best in every situation they face. Pray for workers to come alongside them to help them learn the Word, be able to teach it to others, and be encouraged. Pray that we will never forget, never ignore, never disregard our brothers and sisters persecuted around the world.

Every word in scripture is God-breathed, alive and active, and does not return to Him without completing it's mission. This is true for even the hard words. Ignoring them doesn't change them. Looking into them and opening ourselves to what God wants to say to us through them will change us and bless us beyond comprehension - just not in the ways we always expect.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A New View of Heaven

Water … as clear as crystal.

These words entice me. You see, I live in a neighborhood on the Chickahominy River. It’s a little known river where some very famous events took place. Anyone familiar with the story of John Smith, John Rolfe, & Pocahontas?

I’m not sure what the river looked like 400 years ago, but now the Chickahominy can be described as anything but crystal clear. It’s one of those bodies of water where your feet disappear when you dangle your legs off the dock. So when I hear about crystal clear water, I perk up.

Some of you may be thinking, pool. Ever opened your eyes in a pool that appears to be crystal clear? I bet your eyes paid for it.

No, these words are found in a verse in Revelation and are used to describe the river of life in heaven.

My perspective on heaven used to go something like this: Heaven sounds great with its streets of gold, flowing rivers, and chorus of angels, but for now I’m enjoying life here on earth. I relish the good food, making memories, and learning new things. There are also many things I look forward to. Growing old gracefully, traveling outside the south quarter of the U.S., and becoming a grandmother. Heaven sounds nice, I thought, but if it’s all right with you God, I’d rather keep having fun here.

Then, when I was 32 years old, I was diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes. I was angry and didn’t understand. Didn’t God love me? Hadn’t I grown closer to Him over the years and learned to be obedient to Him?

Since then God has used my diagnosis to help open my eyes to a Biblical view of heaven and a heart’s aching to be there. A diagnosis of a chronic illness is often seen as a curse. While it is part of living in a cursed world, it can also be something God can work for my good and His glory. And He has.

I no longer think of heaven as a nice place to go after I’ve worked as hard as I can to avoid going there as long as I can.

Now, to me, heaven means no more daily insulin shots, being mindful of every single bite I eat, exhaustion from sugar highs and weakness from sugar lows.

A perfect heaven free from all death, mourning, crying, and pain sounds marvelous. Living in God’s holy presence and not having to battle with sin sounds divine. A city that shines like a precious jewel, gates made of pearl and streets of gold. Now that’s something a girl can get excited about!

And the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. I bet my feet won’t disappear in that.

We often want things to be perfect and easy here on earth. But I now know that He’s called me not just to enjoy this life and its earthly pleasures. No, He desires that I look with longing towards the home He has prepared for me, to show others His glory through faith in His Son, and to let Him work through me while I’m here. Part of that is allowing me to experience a tiny portion of the suffering that millions experience from hunger, disease, persecution, chronic pain, and heartache.

Monday, August 1, 2011

From Head Knowledge to Heart Freedom

Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, but I have legitimate excuses! I spend the month of July traveling for a week with my babies visiting friends, trying to meet a book deadline, preparing for a conference, then attending that conference, which I knew would be a fantastic. And it was. If you read both my blogs, I’ll go ahead and apologize, I’ve used the same entry. But this had to be shared. I can no longer contain the overflow of God’s work in me.

Long before the time for the conference arrived, I got to know many (almost 300 were members) of the to-be attendees through the conference Facebook page. We shared anticipations, fears, prayer requests and an overall excitement about descending on Concord, NC all at the same time (with a total of 650 registered ladies and almost 100 staff and volunteers to run the conference!) There was no doubt in my mind that I would be blessed by my time there.
I was in no way, however, prepared for all that God would do. Throughout the weekend God blessed me with little gifts. A surprise roommate who was as warm, welcoming, and encouraging as I could ever ask for. Friends made, contacts received, networking going on, positive feedback from my publisher appointments (even if no closer to getting my nonfiction book published) and a fantastic speaker evaluation group experience. I was confident, prepared, and all around having a great time.

Then the Saturday worship session came along. We were blessed to have Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts, as the speaker. Her stories touched hearts, moved people, and made you think. Then something totally unexpected happened, something I was completely unprepared for. God used the words of Ann, along with my own words and scriptures I’d used in my speaker evaluation talks, to reach down deeper into my soul than I knew existed. He grabbed hold of hurts and false beliefs I thought I’d gotten rid of a long time ago, pulled them up to the surface, let me feel them, and then healed them. Yes, I was one of those snot-slinging, tear-wracked women in the prayer room. Sometimes that’s what happens when God reaches down deep and changes you.

One thing that I came out of that prayer room with was a sense that instead of knowing God’s truths (that I had myself quoted and talked about) only in my head, I now have them firmly planted in my heart. I also came away with knowing that while I’m a fairly transparent person, it’s only of those things on the surface, those things that don’t truly make me vulnerable.
But do I really want to show the real me, God? Isn’t it too ugly, too dark, too odd? No, He whispers. You are real and you who I made you and are becoming the person I desire you to be.
So as I take a deep breath, I vow to give up everything to God. Even my short-comings. My pride. My belief that I have to do everything perfectly. My belief that I have to earn love. My belief that without working at it, I deserve nothing, not even God’s love. My willingness to only allow the surface stuff to show.

I am grateful for all the little gifts God gave me, but am blown away by the biggest gift of all: freedom. Freedom from the bondage of my own false beliefs and the idea that I at least have to attempt to do everything perfectly. Freedom to truly trust in and rely on God. That He’s in control and I simply have to submit. Freedom to let these truths travel from my head to my heart and let God do the work in me that I know is yet to be done. Freedom to live – in Him, through Him, and for Him.

Today I’m grateful for: the sound of sealing jars, healing from yesterday’s migraine, today’s journey to my first mission trip, God’s word at my fingertips – and everything listed above!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Overcoming Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Fear is sin. True or not?

Fear grips many people in their lives. Whether it's a heritage of fear passed down through generations, fear that comes from personal experiences, of fear that is a result of the world we live in. You may ask, "How can I not live in fear? Have you looked around lately?"

God tells His people over and over throughout scripture not to fear.

When Joshua is about to lead the Isaelites into the battle of their lives, the Lord tells Him to be strong and couragous several times. The tool God gives Joshua? His law, telling Joshua to meditate on it day and night. {Joshua 1:6-9}

David declares in Psalm 3:6 that he "will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against" him. Why? Because the Lord sustains. (v.5)

Another Psalmist tells us, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." (46:2-3) What comes before the "therefore"? "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble." (46:1)

Romans 8:15 tells us that we have not received "a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

I could go on and on, but I think the picture is clear. God commands us not to fear anything outside Him. And the fear of God is a reverent awe of His perfect nature.

So, if we're commanded not to fear, why are so many in this world, including those who believe in God through His Son Jesus, gripped with fear? Because our flesh sees what's right in front of us and our imaginations tend to take on a life of their own. A heritage of fear is not easily dismissed and real dangers are not easy to ignore. And Satan knows that if he can trap us in fear, he renders us ineffective for the gospel.

But don't let even fear of fear grip you! Don't think, but I can't overcome it, I don't know how to not fear, it's my nature. Remember, Satan is the chief of all liars and encourages us to believe lies. If God says, "do not fear," then it is possible, through Him, to not be gripped by fear. Therefore, in a sense it's true: you cannot in yourself escape the grip of fear. But in Christ, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:27, John 18:27) and nothing can separate us from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)

What are we to do, then?
We are to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..."

We are to meditate on God's Word and believe every bit of it.

We are to "know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16a)

We are to sometimes do it afraid, swallowing our fear, holding our hand out for Jesus to guide us, and keep our eyes fixed on Him!

It is hard to admit that fear is sin if you've been gripped by fear your whole life, or even just since surviving some major catastrophe in life. It feels natural and we've been fed the lie that things that are natural can't be bad nor do we have any control over them. But God's word is more trustworthy than our ideas and other human words. And if God says that fear is a lack of trusting in Him, and not believing His word is a sin, then it is so. In that, however, He also provides the way through and out of it. We simply have to walk with Him step-by-step, day-by-day, and, sometimes, minute-by-minute.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. Psalm 104:34

Did you knwo that ht ethoughts we roll over in our minds, the conversations we review or practice, and what we tell ourselves are meditations? It's true. And scary.

I remember a time in my life when I never thought about my thoughts. They flittered through my mind as freely as butterflies in an expansive field. Then I learned that God cared about my thoughts. And He wanted me to be careful about my thoughts.

Even if no one else knows the callous, judgemental, selfish thoughts I have, He does.

And He knows my heart's desire to squash every sinful thought. He has even provided a way for me to do it.

While I haven't figured out the trick to preventing these thoughts, I have learned to replace them. As I fill up on God's word thorugh Bible reading, study, and memorization, I gain more and more weapons to stop negative thoughts and lies and replace them with Truth.

It is a constant battle, but one that becomes easier over time. With my willingness and God's faithfulness, my meditations will become pleasing to Him!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sing Praise to the Lord

Psalm 104:33 I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

The Bible is full of radical statements and this is not the least of them. At first glance it can bring warm, fuzzy feelings and pictures of arms raised in praise. Singing joyfully, whole-heartedly, passionately.

While I'm sure the psalmist had some of these feelings in mind, a closer look at this verse reveals its radical nature.

All my life. As long as I live. Think about waht that might entail. Losing a child. I will sing to the LORD. Being betrayed and abandoned by a spouse. I will sing praise. Coping with chronic pain. Praise the LORD, O my soul (v.1.) Losing every material item you've eer owned to a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood. May the glory of the LORD endure forever (v.31.) The loss of a job. The loss of sight. The loss of agility. The loss of being able to take care of yourself. Hallelu Yah. Praise the LORD!

Now that's radical. It's not easy, but nor is it impossible.

When we remember the things God has done - He set the eart on its foundations (v.5), He makes springs pour water into ravines (v.10), He makes grass grow for the cattle (v.14), He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7) - Who He is - the LORD is great and clothed in splendor and majesty (v.1), He is a wise creator, God is love (1 John 4:6), He is faithful (Isaiah 30:18) - and that He is in control of everything, we will be able to sing praises to the LORD ALL OUR LIVES!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Abundant Life Conference for Women

Registration is open!
I've inserted the brochure as images below, but the quality isn't quite what I'd like. Want a clean copy? Email me and I'll send it to you in PDF. Register soon, as space is limited!!

Abundant Life Conference for Women

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

After the Storm

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Galatians 2:10

I heard a comment recently on AFR that spoke to what good comes from tragedy. I don't remember who was speaking, what program I was listening to at the time, or who they were quoting. But I do remember the words. And the message.

In times of tragedy, people come together to help each other unlike any other times in life.

Often when tragedy hits, people question God. Why would this happen? Wouldn't a loving God take better care of His people? Why me? Couldn't God have prevented it?

There are not easy answers to these questions, but the statement above gives us insight, if we're willing to look into it.

Tragedy, by its very nature, is never pleasant. It's painful, heart-wrenching, and devastating. Loss is never easy. Whether it's the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, of possessions, or of your home. We have an expectation that life's supposed to be easy and go our way. Bad things aren't supposed to happen and when they do, we're caught off guard and want to blame God.

However, while in control of every detail of everything in the universe, God is not to blame. God knew before He set the foundations of the earth that sin would enter the world, and with it pain, disaster, and trials. But just as we have children knowing that they will most likely rebel against us, God created us for the love that would be returned in relationship.

Our parental instinct tells us that we'd protect our children from everything bad that we can, and wouldn't God do the same if He loved us? No. Because easy and pleasant isn't always what's best for us.

One of the reasons my heart is so drawn towards the people who most recently experienced tragedy in the form of devastating tornadoes is because I've lived through a natural disaster. Not nearly as life-changing as what most people are going through now, but I have an inkling of the emotions and difficulties attached. And so I'm compelled to give.

And so are thousands of other people. Whether they've been through disasters or not. They are compelled to help others who are hurting. Whether they know them or not. They are cleaning out their houses, buying extra groceries, delivering goods and donating money.

People are coming together to help each other.

And this is only one way good comes from tragedy. We are willing to get out of our regular routine and get outside our selfishness and think of others. It brings joy to us to be useful and joy to those we help to know someone cares.

The good that can come out of tragedy doesn't take away the pain, but it helps lesson it. It doesn't make it easy, but it makes it easier.

When I recognize what others have lost and focus on what I can do for them, I quit grumbling about the little things like a clogged sink or stepping on legos or piles of laundry. And I will learn to always Praise God in the Storms.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Earnest Thirst

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my sould thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Recently, I was blessed to be able to participate in a simulcast of David Pratt's Secret Church. An amazing, godly, on-fire, teacher of the Word, David's main message throughout his works is: All to God, all for God, all in God.

Being exposed to David's teachings in snippets at church previously, reading his book Radical, and having participated in the most recent Secret Church, I am asking myself a few questions.

Psalm 63:1 is a verse I've had copied on an index card for a long time and have recited and memorized. But, do I really live it? Have I ever earnestly sought God? Does my soul thirst for Him and my body long for Him? Have I ever been in a dry and weary land, where I could learn to depend on God completely?

I'm not sure. I've had some difficult times. I've had some times of sorrow and discomfort. I've had seasons of mild depression. And many will say that this verse refers to spiritual dryness. Which, I suppose can be true.

But as I hear David Platt talk about the persecuted church around the world (and read other biographies of persecuted Christians) I wonder. Do I really know what it means to completely rely on God for my very breath and sustenance? No, not really.

I don't want to lose everything to have to learn to live this verse. But, God, I'm now sure, wants me to be willing to give up everything for Him. He doesn't want to be the first thing in my life. He wants to be the only thing in my life.

One way to do that is to immerse myself in His Word, which is a journey I will start in earnest tomorrow. What have I missed in His Word? I'm sure I won't catch it all in the next 40 days (my current commitment to focusing on scripture), but I am sure that if I seek Him earnestly and thirst and long for Him, that I won't miss the most important thing in the Bible: God Himself.

Care to come along? Choose to commit a day, a week, a month, or 40 days to reading nothing (outside of work commitments) other than scripture. No matter where God wants to take you and me, I'm willing to go because I know if nothing else it will be closer to Him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Abundant Life Conference for Women

I came that [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. John 10:10b

November 4-5, 2011

Lexington George Washington
500 Merrimac Trail
Williamsburg, VA 23185


Angie Williams
as the Keynote Speaker
Debbie David
as Worship Leader

Breakout Session Topics Include:

God in the Details
Financial Fitness
Fruit Development
Love is a Choice
Time Management

Topics subject to change

Sponsored by:
Smith Memorial Baptist Church

Find more information at:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weary Moms

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you ever grow weary? Do you ever get to the end of the day and crash onto the sofa next to your husband, or slump off to bed to have sleep take over in seconds?

I think all moms go through times like this. I went through about seven years of it, due to having and nursing four babies and medical issues. Recently, I switched from Vitamin D capsules to liquid vitamins, and for the first winter ever am not pregnant or nursing/sleep deprived. I spent a couple weeks with more energy than I've had in years. Then I crashed again. And I asked, "Why?"

Why is it I can't live off of five hours of sleep and keep moving all day? Why is it that if I actually sit and do nothing I'm asleep in two minutes flat? Why when I actually take a day to sleep in, exercise, keep my blood sugar under control, and remember my Vit. D do I still get tired? Well, because I'm human. And there's always things to do!

So, okay, even God's holy Word says we young (yes, I think 34 is still young) will grow weary. And what's the answer to this bone-dragging weariness? To rely on the Lord.

Okay, Lord, could you give me super strength and help me function on less sleep?

Sometimes, yes. But for some reason, he likes to keep me humble and remember that to rely on Him is not always to gain the supernatural ability to do things. Sometimes He wants to teach me something.

It could be to slow down.

It could be to do it even if I'm tired.

It could be to reevaluate my obligations and activities and cut something out.

No matter what it is, though, the answer is always the same: hope in the Lord.

Hope, meaning live in the expectation

~ that He will provide strength when I need it.

~ that He will guide me to make the right decisions

~ that He will bring help to me at the right time

~ that He is always with me no matter what

~ that He knows infinitely more than me and my job is simply to rely on Him

While not always the tangible answer I'm looking for, it reminds me of the times He's been faithful to take care of me. Then, weary or not, I know that the answer, strength, and anything else I need is there waiting for me. I simple have to look to the right source.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keys to Contentment

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

I'm fortunate enough to be part of a Sunday School class that aims to get closer to God and walk deeper with Him. We are currently going through Living on the Edge, which is a study/book based on Romans 12. In going through, this verse stuck out to me.

Our circumstances are always changing, whether it's of our own doing or because of things out of our control. New children arrive and join our family. Children grow up and change. Jobs come and go.Family members move or live in disfunction or die. Responsibilities for housework, service at church, and school obligations ebb and flow. The only thing that stays the same (other than God's unfailing love) is that things are always changing.

We often question, "So, how do I deal with this situation?" ~ How do we cope with a husband who doesn't do everything we want him to? ~ How do we keep up with the messes made by several small children? ~ How do we cope with the lost job that was needed? ~ How do we deal with the disappointments of people who aren't faithful to their word? ~ What do we do when we're hurt or discouraged?


No matter what, we can be joyful in hope. True? You think not? That depends where you hope lies. If it lies in the Lord, you can always cling to it and be joyful. God promises to never leave us of forsake us and that He always has our best interest at heart. If these things are true, we have no reason to ever lose hope. Even when what we see is hard. If we turn our eyes from what we see, to God, we can soak in the joy that comes from hope in His omniscient control and unfailing love.

Affliction will come. There will be difficult times. Trials happen. Discomfort, pain, and things we dislike are a part of life. God never promises othewise. Time and time again, He tells us what to do during those times, which lets us know they will come. This scripture tells us to be patient. In James, we are told to count it joy when we go through trials. How do we do that? By knowing that it will end. By knowing that we can get through it with God's help. And by knowing that if we cling to Him and stay focused on His purposes, He will work them out for our good. Then, we can hang on until the trial, affliction, discouragement, heartache, passes or diminishes.

Lastly, we are to stay faithful in prayer. We are to pray about everything. We are to praise God in everything. We are to be still and listen to Him. That's how we get through and know what step to take next - even if that step is the same one we've been taken for eons. Sometimes, God calls you to make your next step to stay right where you are. Sometimes, He calls you to move to the next thing. To be assured and gain divine support on that next step, it must be taken in prayer - not for what we want, but for guidance to do what He wants. That's how we hand over our family members we are worried about or disappointed in. That's how we stay connected to God and His love, and overflow that love to others in our lives.

So, no matter what you're facing at this time, be JOYFUL in HOPE, PATIENT in AFFLICTION, and FAITHFUL in PRAYER.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get Encouraged

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. (MSG) 2 Corinthians 4:1

I absolutely love this version of this verse! How many times as a mom have I wanted to throw my hands up and walk off the job? I can't count them. Occasionally, I declare a Mommy-vacation where everything is let go for a day or a week, then I return to normal.

It's not because I don't love my children. No, loving them is the easy part. Snuggling with them. Talking with them. Playing with them. Those are the fun things. But, they are not the things that make up the bulk of motherhood (as if I had to tell you that!) It's all the work that comes with motherhood that is repititious, redundant, and unappreciated that makes me want to throw my hands up and quit.

There are hard times in motherhood. For some reason, I was totally unprepared for these hard times. I was also unprepared for the constancy of hard work and lack of control of my own time. These three things sometimes rush in all at once, crashing over my head and overwhelming me. Like being caught under a wave in the ocean, with another on the way and undertoe trying to pull me down, I struggle to catch my breath, much less make headway.

I am more than grateful for verses like this one found in 2 Corinthians that can speak to me and act like a hand pulling me above the wave, helping me to get my footing, and hang on until the deluge is over. God is there waiting, He never moves, and all I have to do is continue to reach up and rely on Him to provide everything I need. He has given me this task of raising these four invaluable gifts and He will equip me to do so. And for that, "thank you" doesn't seem adequate.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moms Working Together for God

to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited. Titus 2:5 (RSV)

This verse continues from the previous one about the things that older women are supposed to teach the younger women. By proxy, this means that the older women are expected to exhibit these characteristics, too.

I am sure that many reading this verse cringe at the phrase "submissive to their husbands." This is, in part, due to the lies we've been fed and eaten ravenously about what submission means. The other part of this is our flesh desiring to be selfish and independent of anyone else. However, we are commanded time and time again to be submissive to our husbands (Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1, 5.) We are not the only ones told to submit, though. Slaves are told to submit to their masters, masters are told to submit to God, children are told to submit to their parents, and all belivers are told to submit to each other out of reverence to Christ. So, women are not the only ones told to submit.

Secondly, submission does not mean being a doormat. Submission means exhibiting the characteristics described in the beginning of the verse: sensible, chase, domestic, kind. It doesn't mean take a beating, put up with emotional abuse or blackmail, or think of yourself as less worthy in God's eyes. It means to maintain a relationship with your husband by being self-controlled, pure, busy at home, and kind (NIV.)

Trust me, these characteristics are harder to learn for some people, especially naturally dependent, strong-willed personalities like mine. But, as God has convicted me about my attitude and lack of submission to His will and encouraged me to be a kinder, gentler wife, I've been the one to benefit. And, as the last portion of this verse says (as well a the other verses that talk about being submissive), it is all to make sure that God is glorified - that I don't do anything to bring discredit to His name. It is true of how I treat my husband, how I treat my children, how I treat my extended family, and how I treat my friends. That is why I need God to help teach me these lessons on a constant basis.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moms Working Together

and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, Titus 2:4

Have you ever thought about having to learn to love your husband and children? Or that we as women have a responsibility to each other? According to this one verse, we do.

Titus 2 focuses on conduct as Christians and mirrors many other verses in many other books of the Bible. Romans 12:16 tells us to live in harmony with one another, Romans 15:7 tells us to accept one another, 1 Corinthians 1:10 tells us to agree with one another, 2 Corinthians 13:11 tells us to encourage one another. When we train each other to love our families, we do each of these.

So what does that mean, practically speaking? First, it means talking positively about your husband and children. This doesn't mean that you can never be honest or get support for things you're struggling with, but it means loving them with words even when they're not around.

It also means being willing to spend time with other moms. Life can get crazy quickly and is very busy, but spending time with other moms (older ones to learn from, ones in the same life stage to share with, and younger ones to pass on lessons to) is essential to healthy, balanced living. It may mean joining a ladies Bible Study, play groups, MOPS group, etc. It may mean inviting another mom over for lunch, going out for coffee after the kids going to bed. However it happens, time spent is relationship built.

Teaching also involves listening. Often, we learn by talking things out and just having someone to bounce things off of. Being that sounding board, the one who calls and never gives up, the friend who cares, teaches love - to our girlfriends, and to us.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Beginnings

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

It seems appropriate to talk about new beginnings at the start of a new year, however, God has reminded me that we have an opportunity to make a new beginning each day. And boy, am I glad!

I don't know about others, but it seems that I struggle with doing the right things, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit of God, on a daily basis. No matter how much prayer I put into it, how much time I spend in Bible reading/study, no matter how much praise music I listen to, I constantly fall short. Now, on the days I do have my quiet prayer/Bible study time and turn up some inspirational music, I notice improvement. But I don't experience perfection.

I'm reminded through scripture that I'm not the only one, though. Romans 3:23 tells us that ALL fall short. I'm glad that I'm not alone. But I'm more grateful that God has redeemed me from being a slave to the sin that reaches out to ensnare me and delivers me through His Son. Through Him, I am more than a conquerer. Which means that I don't give up. I continue to keep my eyes fixed on Him and rely on Him to help me discipline my flesh and practice making holy choices instead of fleshly ones.

And He gives me that option every day! I've made some new beginnings and gotten back to some disciplines I've let slip, with the new year motivating me. But there are still others I need to work on. As I start the process (again), I will continue to remind myself that I can't, but He CAN!