Would other people know?
Perhaps He'd use all parts of me
To love and shine and glow...
Jill Roman Lord
As I read the sweet little book to the children today, I could not help but think of a laundry detergent commercial that I saw on television the other day. Two little boys were playing hide and seek, but the one little boy was glowing so much that the other could not help but find him easily!
Of course they were saying that if you use their brand of detergent, your clothing will be this clean...
But I just liked the glowing.
It reminded me of this verse:
"Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3
...I'd always try to do what's best.
So someone else might see
That Jesus lives inside my heart
And works through little me!
I would like to get to that point - - that "Christ would be more and more at home in my heart" (Eph. 3:17) - - so that I would glow. Of course, in order to glow, I have to be connected to the Power Source.
Joni Erikson Tada spoke about this on the radio a couple of weeks ago. She talked about the difference between "charging up your batteries" in a short daily connection with God, and being
plugged in to the power all day. - -That to truly be in communion with God, we don't just do our minutes of Bible reading, then check it off the to-do list and get on with the day, it is a constant awareness of His presence. Talking to God moment by moment. Thinking on the scriptures read, and also putting them into practice. Allowing Him to so invade my persona that His takes over.
...I'll work through you and shine through you
Just like the brightest light.
I'll guide each precious step you take
And help you do what's right.
And though I live inside of you,
I'm here for all to see.
When others see your acts of love
They're also seeing Me.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
"Don't play that song." I heard my eight-year-old say as they watched the bonus features on one of their DVDs. "Mom doesn't like it."
"What don't I like?" I queried. I am not keen on the kids putting words in my mouth. I thought I'd better check.
"The song 'True to Your Heart'." they said.
I did not remember specifically saying that I did not like the song, but I DID remember taking the opportunity to talk to them about the fact that the "truth" presented in the song is in direct opposition of scripture!
I could not hold back a little smile. They had been listening.
I came accross this quote as I was reasearching for this article:
I am constantly reminding my kids that a great life does not happen by accident - it requires a planned strategy.
"No one wakes up one morning and decides to be a drug addict or a homeless person. Who says 'today would be a great day to destroy my family with an affair' or 'I think I'd like to go to jail today'." I say to my kids ad nauseum. "These things are the result of living in the moment. Of doing what feels right right now rather than following a set plan. You have to look into your future and decide how you want your life to look, then plan out the steps you need to take to get there and follow them."
I say it so often, they could probably quote me. I really want it to sink into their brains and help to form their life philosophy.
We recently finished reading the book of Daniel, so it is easy to use him as an example.
Daniel 1:8 says:
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. KJV
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. NIV
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. NLT
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. NASB
resolve verb - to fix or settle on by deliberate choice and will;
resolved adj. - determined; firm in purpose; resolute.
determine verb - to settle or decide by an authoritative decision
determined adj. - resolute; unflinching; firm. syn. stanch, inflexible, unfaltering, unwavering
American College Dictionary
I especially found these words interesting:
purposed in his heart
made up his mind.
I like them both. Together. It conveys the concept that we can tell our heart in which direction it should go.
If Daniel had been the kind of guy who lived in the moment, who "followed his heart" there would not have been "Daniel in the Lion's Den" many years later. His feelings would have told him to stop praying and avoid trouble. "It's only one month!" his heart would have said. Instead, Daniel made up his mind in the early days of his life about just exactly what kind of life he was going to live, then he purposed it in his heart - he pulled his emotions in line with his purpose.
This brings to mind 2 Corinthians 10:5 "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
It's the purposeful, intentional, deliberate, willful resolve not to allow emotion to lead us astray.
As these ideas have rattled around in my mind in the past few days, I could not help but think of Adam and Eve. It occured to me that, even though they knew in their minds what they should do, they chose to live in the moment and do what felt right just then - without thinking through the possible consequenses of that decision. Doubting, in fact, whether they would really have any negative consequeses at all! (Was God lying? Was He withholding some kind of blesssing from them, and they were missing out?)
They did not reason it out...
Weigh the character of God...
Consider the source...
They followed their hearts, and their hearts led them down the wrong path.
The truth of the matter is that our hearts CAN and WILL lead us astray.
"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
What method are YOU trusting with your future?
The unwavering Word of God? - - Or the volitile, changing emotions of the heart?
Thursday, February 21, 2013
"Have you heard of 50 Shades of Grey?" the young, unmarried woman asked me. "A coworker got me started reading them and I can't put them down!" She proceeded to give me a synopsis of the content of the books.
I had heard of them - they were all the rage last summer and I had read several great blog postings by Christian women on the subject, so I was knowledgeable enough to engage in the conversation.
While listening to her recount the story of an emotionally damaged young man who made contracts with young women to allow him to use and abuse them, I began to frantically pray about how to respond. She blushed as she glossed over the abuse, then became animated as she spoke of the young woman who "saved" him from himself by requiring him to treat her with some level of dignity. The book apparently ends with the typical "they got married and lived happily ever after" type of an ending.
I wanted to say, I hate to burst your bubble, sweetheart, but we women can never have enough feminine charms to save a man for good. He might like us enough to change for a while, but it cannot be lasting. Becoming entangled with a man like that might make you feel like you made a difference, but it would be a victory short lived, and would be followed by a great deal of pain and difficulty. The only thing that could save a man like that is an encounter with God. It would take a complete heart transformation - nothing else would do!
(I know. How annoying to be logical when it feels better to be emotional. Sometimes I must play the devil's advocate and turn it all on it's head! I get it from my mother.)
"He is an adrenaline addict, so he would go right back to his former lifestyle." I added. "He would never be content with a 'vanilla' relationship."
Since that conversation, I've thought more about this recurring theme:
Vanilla is not good.
I don't know when it became synonymous with all things bland, unexciting, boring...
I love peaches but, let me tell you, I am not going to reach for mint chocolate chip ice cream or lemon meringue yogurt for my next peach shake or smoothie!
It will be vanilla.
No, vanilla might not be my first choice when we wander into an ice cream shop near the beach, but it certainly would not be my last choice either.
And the last time I checked it was an important ingredient in every recipe that is GOOD!
It is a staple on my grocery list - something I cannot do with out - it's called for in so many things. I even put it in my egg batter for french toast!
Yes. I need vanilla, I LIKE vanilla.
I could not be happy without vanilla.
I like the vanilla in my love life, too.
There is something reassuring about the ordinariness (is that a word?) of stable, common, everyday love with a stable, reliable, ordinary man. I don't need a whole lot of excitement (I don't think my ticker could take too much - I'm a pretty contemplative person, not very spontaneous).
I don't want to go skydiving, a walk on the beach would do. (No cayenne, just a little cinnamon.)
I like going to bed and waking up with the same man every day.
I like hanging my clothes next to his in the closet.
I like knowing how he likes his coffee, his toast, his eggs...
I like the way he teases the older children and rubs the little ones' feet when they are sleepy...
He knows what kind of soda pop I drink.
He helps around the house when I need it.
He goes to work. He comes home. Always comes home.
to me, it is the most comforting and reliable flavor.
And vanilla love is so good that, even after 17 years, it still makes my heart skip a beat at the sound of my husband's voice.
I would not trade my vanilla life for all the excitement in the world!
Now THAT is an every day kind of love!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
After all of these children moved into my body and made it their home, their moving out has left the dwelling somewhat like a college frat house - a bit untidy, and in a state of disrepair.
Last year, what had started out as an on-going mild inconvenience, suddenly turned into a full blown problem. Some mornings, the simple act of getting out of the bed was extremely painful, and lifting and carrying a crying child in the middle of the night was completely out of the question!
Most days my back would loosen up enough to allow me to do my job without a great deal of difficulty, other days I had to rely on anti-inflammatory or pain relieving medications to help me through the day. On occasion, I was forced to set aside my to-do list and make a new plan for what I was actually able to accomplish. I definitely have a new compassion for people who live with chronic pain.
I had to start every morning sitting with a heating pad - sometimes for a half-hour, sometimes for more than an hour, while I did my "soul nourishing." At some point, my tiny children would wake up and sit by me while I waited for my back to cooperate. And we cuddled, warm under an afghan, and we talked, and I would smell their heads. So it was not ALL terrible!
I also had to give up exercise completely since that would set me up for a great deal of pain the next morning. I didn't like that last adjustment. I want to be healthy and trim off the extra pounds that those babies left laying around!
After an MRI, I was told that I had significant degeneration in my spine for my age. It would require physical therapy or surgery to correct this.
One day he announced that he would be ordering a new mattress. An expensive new mattress. One of those mattresses that advertises that it can make a difference for back pain.
He'd been thinking about it and saving up for it for a while.
A loving gesture.
A thoughtful gift.
But this story is about to get ugly.
(You might want to close your eyes.)
At our Valentines dinner my husband gave our children gifts (as he does every year), but there was nothing in the bag for me.
I was calm.
But in my heart I was questioning his love for me.
"Why didn't he get something for me? I am the 'sweetheart' here, not the children, after all!" were the thoughts that plagued my mind the next day as I cried selfish pity-party tears.
Finally, I screwed up the courage and told him that what he had done on Valentine's Day had hurt me deeply.
"What did I do?" he asked incredulously.
I recounted my version of the events.
He was hurt that I had wasted any time thinking that. He explained how he thought that he had made it clear that (hopefully) pain-free sleeping was his gift of love to me at Valentine's Day. He didn't think that I would want candy since I am trying to be more healthy, or the half dead flowers at the grocery store or a cheesy card. He was giving me the best thing he could think of and I had not seen the value that it possessed!
You see, my husband is the kind of man who believes in Living out your Love.
He began to explain his frustration over Valentine's Day, saying that people go out of their way to show love on that one day, when they SHOULD be showing that kind of love all year. He does not value the day because it is nothing more than an ordinary day to him - just another day (like ALL days) to Live out Love.
His love is practical.
It is everyday.
If I say, "My love-tank is feeling a little bit low." He will clean the bathroom or run the vacuum.
This is true love.
Because, despite which love language you most relate to, what it comes down to is that the essence of love is giving of yourself for someone else.
Love is doing what is best for the other person at my own expense.
- - And that is just exactly what Jesus Christ did for you! (You did not think that I was going to leave HIM out of this story did you? If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know me better than that!)
THAT is where TRUE love comes from!
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Friday, February 1, 2013
This weekend my niece got married. As we sat around the table visiting with family members, my sister in law mentioned that my brother in law had really struggled that whole week with marrying off his oldest daughter. I remembered when I got married. My dad took it kind of hard, too. In fact, that was about the time the movie Father of the Bride came out. My Dad said that he could relate to all of the emotions expressed by the father in that movie surrounding this life-altering event.
For quite some time now, I've been thinking about how uncomfortable we all are with change. It seemed odd - considering that there is constant change taking place in our lives, whether "good change" like a marriage or the birth of a child or "bad change" like moving away from loved ones or the death of a family member. I was thinking that it would be so much easier if we could just accept it as inevitable instead of fighting against it all of the time!
"...All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes." Job 14:14
Suddenly I understood.
We've all heard about how we have a "God-shaped hole in our hearts" that can only be filled by HIM, but I've most often heard that said in the context of salvation or marriage (not expecting another person to fulfill needs in our hearts that only God can fill).
I guess that it did not occur to me until that moment that the "God-shaped hole" is applicable to any and every aspect of our lives!
The more I thought about it, the more I remembered that I had heard about God's unchanging nature before! I simply had not seen how it applied to ME.
"But He is unique, and who can make Him change?" Job 23:13
"For I am the LORD, I do not change..." Malachi 3:6
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19
"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind." 1 Samuel 15:29
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8
How does this apply to me?
"Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 6:17-20 emphasis addedBecause God is unchanging and unchangeable, I have the hope of eternal life.
A firm and secure kind of hope.
Like an anchor.
I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my future - whether in this vascilating current life or in the "after" life - is completely secure in Him!
Is your future secure? It can be!
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God..." 1 Peter 3:18
Sunday, January 6, 2013
*When others cannot handle your vulnerability. For example:
You have been mentoring a young woman who is a new "baby" Christian and she gives you a call when you are having a rough day, doubting your faith, questioning an answer that God has given to one of your prayers... It would not be wise to dump those problems on her. You may not feel able to encourage or counsel her that day and may need to call her back at another time (so you can call your mentor for some encouragement of your own!)
* When the other person might use your vulnerability against you - to bring you harm either physically or emotionally, or to destroy your reputation.
Sometimes our stories are so intertwined with those of others that it is impossible to share our own story without damaging this sacred trust. There are times when I have considered sharing something, but could not think of any way to explain it without involving another person. I have a few un-posted stories for this reason. (At least writing about it is still cathartic!)
Those are a few good reasons to hide.
There are also some not so good reasons that we hide.
Fear is certainly one of them. Think of all of those people who try out for television talent shows. All of them, I am sure, believe that they possess a gift or skill worth sharing, yet most of them are told that they do not - often in a tactless or rude way. In some cases, as in Susan Boyle's tryout, you can actually FEEL the whole room scoffing at her. She was able to blow them away with her gift - but imagine that she had not. What a joke she would have become along with all the others!
I believe that we are all in possession of "secret" dreams and gifts - the burning passion of our heart, the hope that one day God will use us for something great or that we, too, can WOW people with something special and unique only to us. I believe that not only does God "give us the desires of our hearts" but that He, in fact, is the One who planted those desires there in the first place. He is the One who created each of us, along with our gifts and talents.
It is His intention to fulfill those purposes in our lives - if we do not succumb to fear and hold back.
I heard this song the other day and it made me think about what I've been writing on this topic.
First of all, it is not POSSIBLE to hide from God! If we think that we can hide from God, we are deceiving ourselves.
"For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths." Proverbs 5:21
Not only is He waiting for us to face the truth about ourselves, He is the only One Who can handle our vulnerability.
He can take it when we say what we really think. - - Even if it is ugly.
He does not fall apart when we are insecure.
He does not disown us when we question His plan or His goodness, or His justice, or His forgiveness...
He does not turn away in repulsion when confronted with our sin.
Instead, He covers us with a garment of righteousness just like he covered Adam and Eve with a garment of an animal's sacrifice. Our covering is a perfect one because it comes from the perfect sacrifice - Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
What are YOU hiding today? Are you hiding from God? From people? Afraid to reveal your gifts and the desires of your heart?
Start by baring your soul before God. Ask Him to show you what you may be keeping secret from Him and bring it all out into the open.
Ask Him to show you how and when it is appropriate to reveal yourself to others. Trust Him. He will work it all out and allow you to be everything He called you to be.
"We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away... Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord... from 2 Corinthians 3:13-18
Friday, December 14, 2012
"Jesus' Birthday is coming, and Santa's gonna bring me presents!" my sweet three year old boy announced with his hands clasped in excitement and a twinkle in his eye. He was sitting at the table while I prepared dinner and listened to my Jesus-Christmas music. One of my children's favorites started playing and it reminded him:
He has been watching for each birthday this year - ever since he learned which sticker was his on the calendar.
Jesus has a Birthday sticker too.
Christmas has been an odd kind of balancing act for me ever since I became a mother with children old enough to care. My husband has wonderful childhood memories of anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. His parents took special care to make it exciting for the children, even going up on the roof and making noise. He loved that and wants his own children to have the same experiences.
I was raised differently. We talked about Santa Claus - but only as a story, a fairytale, an idea. Not as an actual person. While my siblings and I eagerly anticipated presents, my parents were intent on not allowing Christmas to make us narcissistic. We spent several Christmases at a homeless shelter serving dinner to those who came in off the street.
Tiny Boy's comment exemplifies the odd combination of traditions that we have in our home. Our children will set out cookies and milk. One might even write a note to Santa. On Christmas morning they open their presents - usually three gifts because that is how many birthday presents that Jesus recieved. On Christmas day, we will have Birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
There is just one problem. I refuse to lie to my children.
And they know it.
Every so often they will corner me when my husband is not around for me to pass off the conversation to him. They want to know the usual questions: Is Santa real? How does it all work?
I struggle desperately with these questions because I want to respect my husband's traditions but I also fear that my children may lump God into the category of mythological creatures when they are old enough to learn the truth (as many children have done before). Sometimes I dodge the questions. Often I change the subject and put it right back on Jesus-is-the-reason-for-the-season topics.
One benefit of all of this is that it makes me more diligent to pour truth into their lives. Intentionally.
They cornered me again the other day but this time my eight year old would not allow the subject to get off-point. Finally I blurted out, "Do you want to know what I don't like about Santa Claus?"
Of course they wanted to know.
"Santa Claus is a counterfeit for God!" I said.
I started to sing.
"You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, you'd better not pout -
I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town.
He's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"
I began to explain how Satan loves to make counterfeits - something that looks almost exactly like the real thing. I pointed out the God-like qualities attributed to Santa: omniscience (knows everything), omnipresence (everywhere at once).
There is a HUGE difference, though. Santa only gives gifts to those who earn them by good behavior. God gives to people who do NOT deserve it!
The Bible says:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:4-6I explained that one of the best distractions that Satan has is to keep us busy trying to earn our salvation instead of accepting it as a free gift. At the biggest time of year for gift-giving, it is best to remember that the greatest and most unsurpassable gift that was ever given was a tiny Saviour, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. This gift cost God everything, but it cost us nothing. Whatever traditions you may have, remember this: CHRISTmas is for YOU!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9