8.30.2017

My daughter said I am lazy.

She wanted something.
Now.
But I was busy.
I asked her to wait, or to take care of it herself.
She rolled her eyes.
She asked again.
My response was a firm, "No. You need to wait. Patiently."
She saw my laptop balanced on my knees, which in her mind translates, "Mom is playing on the computer."
She looked at the other adult in the room and declared, with a rude tone, "My mom is lazy!"
I said nothing. But I did look her straight in the eye, one brow raised.
Her gaze could not keep up with the intensity of my own.
She dropped her eyes, mumbled something, and walked away.

I continued working. Not playing. I was preparing a devotion for the bridal shower of one of my girls. The topic? GRACE. The free and unmerited favor of God.
The Lord protected me from sin in that moment.
No pride.
No injury.
My daughter was speaking with the mind of a child. She saw one piece of the puzzle, one piece, and based all of her assumptions and judgments upon it. She was wrong in her accusation, and it was based on selfishness. She wanted something, right now, and therefore decided that whatever I was doing had no value because it was not important to her.
She is not alone.
Selfishness is a sin committed by seven-year-olds and 97-year-olds.
And laziness fits comfortably under the umbrella of selfishness, doesn't it?

la·zy
adjective
unwilling to work or use energy
synonyms: idle, indolent, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, underactive, sluggish, lethargic
characterized by lack of effort or activity
showing a lack of effort or care

"I don't feel like going."
"I am not in the mood."
"I don't want to clean the house."
"I don't want to create lesson plans."
"I'm tired. I don't want to go to the event."
Every sentence begins with self. How I feel, what I do or do not want to do. No thought of anyone else or how someone else will be affected by my lack of effort or care.

I was not being lazy when my daughter accused me of being so, but I have been lazy, and I fear I will be again. It is not a character quality I wish to possess, nor one I want to model for my children. I am married to a man who loathes the word, let alone the attribute, and I am thankful for this because he pushes me to "do" when I would rather not, and he pushes our children the same way. One of Dennis' greatest qualities is his incredibly strong work ethic. He works hard, even on tasks that shine an uncomfortable light on his weak points. Whether accomplished quickly or through unbearable hours of plodding, he stays the course and labors with purpose. And our children witness this tenacity every single day.

While pondering Ellie's accusation over several days (for every accusation should be considered in case there is a nugget of truth within it that must be addressed), this quote came across my path.
Laziness is not an affirmity, it's a sin.
It needs to be dealt with ruthlessly, immediately and consistently.
- Alistair Begg
Whoa!
Laziness is a sin, make no mistake, so Scripture must be sought to understand what laziness is, what God says about it, and how it must be remedied. And boy, oh boy, after a quick word-study it is clear that the Lord does not favor laziness! Who wants to be likened to a slug or a sloth? Yikes.

- Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys. Proverbs 18:9
- A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4
- Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. Proverbs 19:15
- In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:2
- Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him. Proverbs 10:26
- He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. Proverbs 10:5
- Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks. Ecclesiastes 10:18

These are the things we need to "put off" according to Scripture. Slack, slothfulness, idleness, words without action, sluggardness, shame, and indolence. A very unattractive list, to be sure! So what do we replace it with? What do we "put on?" Diligence, industriousness, perseverance, productivity.

When I would rather sleep than serve, I pray the Lord will recall these verses to mind, and convict me to obey so I can turn from my laziness and get busy doing the work He calls me to do.
Thank You, Lord, for showing us the ugliness of laziness as well as the blessing of diligence in Your Word. Make me a woman who "watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness," for I cannot do it without You!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men ... Colossians 3:23

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; Ecc 9:10

Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Prov 22:29

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

8.26.2017

A collection of (excellent) QUOTES.

The things that we love tell us what we are.
- Thomas Aquinas

A jealous God will not be content with a divided heart;
He must be loved first and best. 
- Charles Spurgeon

We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God.
He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.
- A .W. Tozer

Be an expert on the Word of God
and you will always know what to say to the culture.
- John MacArthur

Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners
who could not lift a finger to save themselves.
- J. I. Packer

In Him you have redemption. Out of Him, you are in bondage.
- Charles Spurgeon

While it looks like things are out of control,
behind the scenes there is a God who hasn't surrendered His authority.
- A. W. Tozer

Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads.
- Charles Spurgeon

God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.
- A. W. Tozer

Faith is being honest with ourselves about God.
Repentance is being honest with God about ourselves.
- Joe Holland

An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil
is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.
- A.W. Tozer

8.24.2017

Tennis shoes - and the Christian faith.

I LOVE new tennis shoes!
Clean, bright, unfaded, ready-to-walk-a-thousand-miles shoes!
I like to look at them, keep them in the box so they "stay clean," and walk around the house to enjoy the squishiness of the new soles.
Of course, I know the newness will not last. The first splash of mud, the first step in grease, wear and tear ... all of them will happen soon enough and then my fun, new, perfect shoes will become plain, old, everyday shoes.
If I was independently wealthy I would have a dozen pair lined up in my closet and rotate them each month. Since I am not independently wealthy, and only have two feet to cover at a time, however, I only own one pair. I wear them down to the thread, eagerly waiting for the day when I can choose brand-new shoes.
And it is a process.
I used to wear a size 11.
Now, I am sporting a size 12. Yep. You read that right. A TWELVE. (see photo for proof!)
When you are on the tail end of the sizing chart your options are limited. My size 8-1/2 friends can pick up shoes at any discount store on the planet. Nice, name-brand, drastically discounted shoes by the dozens. Me? The size "10 and up" rack looks like someone emptied a circus trunk on the shelves! Who wears neon green, patent leather sneakers, I ask you? Who?! (I need to start taking photos of the shoes I find in these places or no one will believe me.)
Because of my elongated foot, my best option is to order five or six pairs of shoes online (shipped to and from for free), try them all on, select the one that fits best, and return the rest.
For me, the excitement of shopping for shoes has been tempered, but the thrill of owning a new pair of shoes will never lose its luster!


The other day, while staring at my new purple beauties (because, of course, I cannot actually WEAR them the first day I get them ... I just look at them), it struck me that everything I experience in my search-for-shoes-that-fit-a-size-12-foot saga is much like the Christian life.

The day the Lord saves us we are on FIRE!
We are excited! Full of enthusiasm! We want to tell the world about this new Jesus we have met!
Everyone notices that something is different about us. We seem joyful, exuberant, and ready to face the world.
We love reading the Word because everything seems ALIVE. Exciting. FRESH.
We count the hours until it is time for church.
We are excited to be with other believers.
There are not enough sermons, podcasts, articles, blogs, or devotionals to satisfy us.
We keep talking about our salvation to anyone who will listen.
We feel close to God and are completely confident in His love for us.

And then someone close to us dies.
A friend betrays us.
We lose our job.
We miscarry.
Our child is molested.
We get cancer.
Our husband wants someone other than us.
Our adult children walk away from the faith.
We feel completely alone.

And our enthusiasm for Christ, like a brand-new pair of tennis shoes, begins to fade.

But just as we endure with dirty, faded tennis shoes, walking and running, chasing children, pulling weeds, running errands, taking trash cans to the curb and climbing jungle gyms at the park until it is time to replace them with brightly-colored NEW shoes ...
we must also endure the trials and sorrows and difficulties of life while loving our spouses, serving our families, worshiping with the body, respecting authority, working with integrity, and giving thanks in every circumstance until the Lord chooses to replace the dark shadows with a NEW joy and a BRIGHT hope.

We may not be cloaked with the passion of our newly-found faith every minute of the day as we run the marathon of the Christian life, but the thrill of knowing we belong to an amazing, loving, gracious, and merciful God should never, ever lose its luster!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:3-9

8.22.2017

Studying Scripture provides GREAT lessons for life!

My friend Kristie and I continue our study of the book of Job - and we are loving it! Such a rich book filled with the truth of God's sovereignty.
Last week we read several chapters, and while there were only three small sections that caught my attention, they caught ALL of my attention.
I hope someone else will be challenged and encouraged as well!

(Zophar speaking to Job about "the way of the evil man.")
In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress;
Every hand of misery will come against him. Job 20:22

This verse hit me between the eyes!
I constantly have to battle NOT to do things of my own will, and in my own strength and then say, “Please bless it, Lord!”
Instead, I must ask, “Where are YOU working, Lord? Draw me into YOUR work!”
I love the way the Lord pairs self-sufficiency with distress because it is pretty darn accurate!
Striving exhausts us.
Resting in the strength of the Father? A refreshing delight!
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
“Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat!
I would present my case before Him, And fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say to me.
Would He contend with me in His great power? No! But He would take note of me.
There the upright could reason with Him, And I would be delivered forever from my Judge. 
Job 23:1-7

I love this! Job’s miseries have not come to an end, yet once again he looks UP and remembers who his God is. He honors the Lord’s goodness and His perfect character as he proclaims that God is a fair judge who listens to His children.
“He would take note of me.”
This reminds me of the story of Zaccheus. Jesus sees him (in the tree) - He knows him (calls his name) - He wants him (let’s have dinner together).
Job understood that God is our Shepherd and He calls us by name!

When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food. Job 23:9-12

Another monologue of PRAISE!
And in it, Job reminds those around him that he is a faithful servant of the Lord.
“My foot held fast to His steps.”
“I have kept His way and not turned aside.”
The friends may be blind to Job’s faithful obedience and love of the Lord, but Job is not! He knows what his relationship with God looks like, and he stands securely in that knowledge.
And we have chapter one to remind us of this truth!
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1





Studying the Word of God with a sister in Christ is a privilege and a sweet joy.
If you have never studied Scripture in this way, I highly recommend it!
Sharing the truths, convictions, and insights of the Bible is a precious thing when you do so -
with a friend.

8.16.2017

Engage and Disengage so you can do MORE!

Our pastor has preached dozens of sermons that have been added to my "favorites list," and this one hovers near the top. The Lord prompted him to share these biblical truths with us three years ago, and I have drawn on his words and his challenges countless times since then. In fact, one of my new life mantras is, "Even Jesus took naps!" <grin>
The Lord has given me the privilege of speaking to a Mom's group this evening, and this particular sermon is the backdrop for our discussion. I cannot wait to see what He does with us!

Below are my notes from Pastor's sermon. I hope you find them encouraging and helpful!

At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Mark 1: 32-39

Jesus was busy, but not sinfully busy.
His pattern was to work - and withdraw.

➤ ➤ Jesus Paused
He had been working all day, teaching, preaching, healing, and performing miracles.
The following morning He slips into the wilderness ALONE - away from the noise and needs of the crowd. "Be still ..."

When life is busy and ministry is thriving – we need to REST!

Jesus engaged in life – preaching and healing – but He knew that time with the Father had to be FIRST – even when He knew there were needs upon needs: sick people, hurting people, dying people. He left them to commune with the Father!

Engage – disengage – engage – disengage. The rhythm of Jesus.
daily 
weekly 
monthly 
yearly 

Being still consistently teaches us to to be receptive to His voice, for He is ALWAYS speaking! 

- Retreats affirm the priority of the Spiritual.
- Retreats slow.us.down – allowing our souls to catch up with our bodies.
Time with God cannot be rushed.
It is like a three-course meal, relaxed and refreshing.

When we do not slow down it is an issue of PRIDE.
We think we are indispensable. “If I don’t do/say/plan "xyz" then it will all fall apart.” 
Shows a lack of faith. If YOU are not the one "doing" success will not happen.
The focus is on SELF – and therefore, sin.

Is God not big enough to handle things in your time of rest?!? (A humbling question!)

- Retreat affirms God’s help in life’s challenges.
Rest/reflect/recharge (See story of Elijah in the wilderness - I Kings 19. He was about to give up but the Lord starts him up again! A WONDERFUL example of God's care for our personal refreshment in a time of weariness.)

➤ ➤ Jesus Prayed 
His significant moments are marked by prayer. (His baptism, Gethsemane, His crucifixion)
There is a NEED to pray.
Jesus IS God. And yet – He understood the importance and need to spend time with the Father in prayer.
He lived as a man – and men need strength, patience, long suffering, wisdom, and rest. 
Jesus was in total dependence on the Father. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent me. John 6:38

Understanding our weakness makes us see how desperately we need to seek the Lord in prayer. 
When we know how weak we are we will RUN to the throne seeking wisdom and strength.
Amen, Amen, AMEN!

➤➤ Jesus Prioritized
“Everyone is looking for you,” the disciples declared. (for healing and deliverance from demons)
But that was NOT why Jesus came to earth. He came to preach the Word.
He responds: Yep, I know. Let’s move on so I can preach! (Mark 1:38, Michelle's adapted version)

Jesus had to keep His focus – especially once His popularity rose.
Doing the will of the Father was that focus.

Healing/casting out demons were all GOOD things to do, but they weren't the BEST of the good.
Eternal salvation is much better than present healing. (Wow. That's perspective!)

✶✶✶ Jesus DID NOT do it all. ✶✶✶ Neither should we! 

There will always be needs – even dire needs – but that does not mean you can, or should, respond to every one.

Love God and love others by saying NO.
You cannot compromise your time with Him or your time of quiet to be refreshed by Him.

FOCUS comes when we take the time to step away and see the big picture.
-push away the non-essentials 
-pull the important together 
-prioritize what is most important, to the least important
And then, re-engage.

And do it again.
And again.
And again.

We can do more when we do LESS.

8.11.2017

Pain is everywhere. And praise God - so is HE!


Joy is not the absence of suffering
but the presence of God.
- Elisabeth Elliot

There is no shortage of pain and suffering in the lives of those around us.
Every few days we receive news of a trial or tragedy, and there are no words that can erase the pain, change the circumstances, or stop the sorrow.
miscarriages
infertility
crumbling marriages
children living in hospitals
teens battling depression
aging parents
dying loved ones
physical pain and poor health
single mothers struggling to care for their precious children
families working hard to pay the bills
wayward children
depression, anxiety, and fear
BUT GOD ...

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 37:26

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty and truth of this verse!

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

8.09.2017

Quote.

Many blush to confess their faults, 
who never blushed to commit them.

- William Secker

8.05.2017

Troubles and trials - and God's Sovereignty.

"Affliction does not come from the dust - nor does trouble sprout from the ground. For man is born unto trouble - as surely as sparks fly upward." Job 5:6-7

Affliction does not come of itself; it does not spring up from the dust of the earth, nor grow naturally from the ground, as plants do; nor has chance anything whatever to do with it. As common as it is - affliction does not come without a cause, or without being sent on purpose by God.

Yet affliction does fall to the lot of all. No one, however prosperous, is without sorrow and trial. Sooner or later: "Man is born unto trouble - as surely as sparks fly upward." As surely as sparks go up from anything burning, or from iron beaten on the anvil - so surely does trouble in some shape befall every man who is born into the world.

Whence does it come? God sends it - or at least allows it to come. But it is not saying too much, to say that He sends it.

When Adam fell and sin and death entered into the world - then trouble came too. This was God's appointment. He said to Adam, "Because you have listened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you - cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken - for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return."

And not only is trouble in general appointed to man by God - but each man's particular trouble is of God's appointment as well. Your troubles and mine do not come forth of the dust or spring out of the ground. They do not arise by chance or accident. God sends them! Sickness and sorrow are ordained for us by Him--each sickness and each sorrow as it comes. We do not see the hand that sends them, but a hand there is--the hand of God!

Job's troubles were many and great--yet let him not despair. Everything was in God's hand. All that happened was ordered by Hima - ll was subject to His control. "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave - and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:20-21

To all who truly know God - it is a most comforting thought that their affliction comes from Him. It seems to take away the strangeness and the bitterness of it. When once they can realize His hand, then in all their sorrowful thoughts about their afflictions - they think about God too, and this comforts them. It is no longer mere trouble - but trouble which God has sent. If He has sent it - then it is wisely and kindly sent. Is there not a hidden blessing in it? Then the heart goes in search of the blessing and begins to ask why the trouble was sent, what it was meant to do, and how far it has done what it was sent for. And this is the very way to find the blessing.

Besides, when the sufferer thus sees the hand of God in trouble - he reasons that God will never let the trouble be too great. If He sends it - He will not send it too sharply, nor too heavily. There is no chance about it. All is measured and dealt out by an omnipotent hand of wisdom and love! The affliction, therefore, cannot become too sore. When the right point has been reached, when the fit time has come - then He who sent it will say, "Hitherto shall you come, but no further!"

(Francis Bourdillon, "Man is Born to Trouble!" 1864)

8.04.2017

Exactly what we needed. And it was beautiful!

Wednesday night I sat in my living room with a small group of women sharing our joys and sorrows and struggles and triumphs about the realities of daily life with children who struggle with learning, emotional, mental, and physical needs. What a rich time of fellowship we enjoyed together! Though our circumstances are the same, our children, family life, and the details are different for each one of us, and it was in the details that the Lord showed Himself that night. There were "Aha!" moments, heads nodding in agreement, sympathetic smiles, understanding, compassion, and empathy. It was exactly what we needed, and we knew it.
Walking into someone's home knowing that the purpose of the evening is to be vulnerable with everyone inside can be frightening. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to choose vulnerability over hiding and isolation, and more courage is required to share your secret worries, fears, and concerns - with strangers. But that was a sweet "aha" moment as well. We did not gather as long-time or intimate friends, but we shared the most important thing that could ever unite us - Jesus Christ. We didn't care if we liked the same style of music or shared an affinity for Pizookies. We all showed up with the same desire ... to be encouraged. And in His faithfulness, the Lord met our need.

We opened our time together with prayer, and Scripture that brought comfort and HOPE.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121

My favorite line from Psalm 62 is "pour out your heart before Him." So, that is exactly what we did! We poured our hearts out before the Lord, and before each other. And it was beautiful.
Each woman shared her personal testimony, describing the struggles of her child(ren) as well as her own struggles in response to the daily battles her child(ren) face. Because we are fallible sinners like everyone else, our responses were often linked to sin, so we confessed that too. Every confession and every regret that fell from the lips of the woman sharing received words of encouragement, an attitude of compassion, and a spirit of grace in response. "Confess your sins one to each other, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." James 5:16

We prayed together, we prayed for each other, and we closed our night with a passage of Scripture to remind us of the sovereignty of God. For, the more we remember and acknowledge that our God has gone before us and will never leave us, the more we can trust Him with our children no matter how daunting, frightening, or impossible the future may appear through our human eyes. He created each of our children with detailed design, and for reasons only He knows, He allows the physical, emotional, mental, or learning thorns to dig into their flesh, and He has a purpose for each one.
Thank You, Lord, for this truth! Teach us to trust You and SURRENDER to You more often, and much, much more quickly. You are an amazing God, and we love you.

Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said:
“Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours.
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name."
I Chronicles 29:10-13