9.29.2017

The Secret.


For two days, a sweet sister and I exchanged text messages about - contentment.
Wanting to move someplace where life is simple, slower, more relaxed.
Feeling frustrated with finances and the constant lack thereof.
Bemoaning the moral decline of our state and country.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
We discussed the fact that God rarely gives us the desires of our heart when we refuse to be content with what we already have.
And sometimes, He uproots us and sends us where we don't want to go. Will we obey? Will we trust Him, even when we don't understand what He is doing - or like it?

Contentment is a choice.
Yet often, instead of choosing contentment, we choose to play the game of Compare and Despair.
We look around instead of looking UP.
UP into the eyes of our Savior who bids us, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

In the late afternoon on the day of the final exchange with my friend, this quote showed up in my box.
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot

Talk about a heart check!
No matter where we are - where we go - what we do - or with whom we do it, the common denominator in every situation - is US.
If we refuse to find contentment in our current circumstances, why do we think we would be content in a new state, a new job, a new marriage, or a new church? Regardless if one or every one of our circumstances changes, we bring our thoughts, attitudes, convictions, and perspective right along with us. As a wise person once said, "The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but the lawn still has to be mowed!"

Our sin nature of selfishness and pride will always be at war with the need to surrender and submit to the Lord. We constantly have to kick Self off the throne of our heart to allow the Savior to take His rightful position of power. Paul summed up this fight clearly in his letter to the Romans.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 17:18-20
We could easily slide the word 'contentment' into this passage. "I have the desire to be content, but not the ability to carry it out. For I am not content the way I want to be, but the discontentment I hate is the attitude of my heart. If I continue being discontent, it is not me who does it, but the sin that dwells in me." So, what do we do? How do we defeat discontentment and create contentment - in all circumstances?
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Lord, pull out and destroy any discontentment that is buried within my heart. I can quickly identify many of the weeds, but others are so cleverly covered I know I will not be able to find them unless you point them out to me Yourself. It is embarrassing that I even have to ask, Lord, but I would rather see the ugliness of my sin when the weeds are small and manageable than wait until they are choking the life out of my spiritual growth. Reveal my discontentment, I pray. Reveal it, uproot it, destroy it, and replace every weed with seeds of contentment and joy. Forgive me for desiring my own way instead of Yours. You are God, I am not. Not my will - but Oh, Lord, let YOURS be done!

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.
This is my rule in all the churches. I Corinthians 7:17

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, ... I Timothy 6:6

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

9.25.2017

A most excellent quote.

When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply that . . .
his sense of sin is becoming deeper,
his faith is becoming stronger,
his hope is becoming brighter,
his love is becoming more extensive, and
his spiritual-mindedness is becoming more marked.

Let us read the Bible reverently and diligently - with an honest determination to believe and practice all that we find in it.

Imagination is the hotbed where sin is too often hatched.
Guard your thoughts - and there will be little fear about your actions.

~ J. C. Ryle

I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
Psalm 101:2-4

9.24.2017

We must remember. And we must prepare.

This book was added to my "wish list" when it came up in conversation several months ago during
COMMITTED. We were talking about the importance of memorizing Scripture so we would have the promises and truths of God hidden in our hearts if Bibles became illegal here in America as they have been in many countries around the world. One of my girls mentioned this true story, sharing that the woman knew she was about to be imprisoned for being a Christian, so she memorized 100 chapters of the Bible to prepare for her time in prison. That brief synopsis was enough to convince me that I had to know her story. I purchased the book some time ago, opened the cover yesterday, and finished reading the entire book this afternoon.

It is amazing how many Christians have suffered for Christ in ways we have never even considered. A choice few became famous for their suffering, traveling the world to share their stories, and writing books to preserve the detailed truths of what they endured. But for every famous figure tortured for Christ, there are thousands of others who are not remembered by men. Yet their names are recorded in the scrolls of heaven. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Revelation 6:9-11

We must remember them. The named and the unknown. For they stood firm in the day of testing and persecution, refusing to bow to idols, refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and boldly preaching the Gospel to every person set before them - without shame and without fear. Tortured or martyred, they willingly suffered and died for the sake of Christ. And thousands were brought to saving faith because of the unwavering faith of the martyred saints. Tortured - yet singing. Beaten - yet giving their daily food ration to another. Persecuted - yet smiling and praising God for His goodness and deliverance.

We cannot forget these men and women.
Because one day - it might be us.

I want to share some quotes from this book, for they inspire and encourage me to increase my faith because like Ahn Ei Sook, I know that on my own I am not strong enough to stand. Without Christ, I will fall. Without Christ, my flesh will win. Without Christ - I am nothing.

     *****************************************************

"I would not bow before the idol, even if He did not save me from the hands of the enemy. I was saved by Jesus. I could bow only before God, the Father of my Savior.
Of all the people at the shrine, I was the only one who remained erect, looking straight at the sky."

"I was only an ordinary woman. No kingdom was awaiting my rule. Still, I knew that my Lord had ordered me to fight. I had no choice except to bear testimony of my Savior until I should die."

(Before entering prison, when she was still in hiding.) "During those days and weeks I sang and prayed and memorized more than one hundred chapters of the Bible as well as many hymns.
I felt faint to think of what would happen to me. 'How long will I be able to endure?' I kept asking myself.
I read the Bible earnestly and had a new concern to memorize important chapters against the day when I would be in prison without my Bible."

(The underground church.) "We took great care to go to the house every Friday night ... We met quietly, sang hymns in low voices, read the Bible, gave testimonies, and prayed. Our prayers were long and serious.
We were filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more an honor to die for the Lord. We constantly lived in fear of the police, but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one.
I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God's presence and trust His promises."

(A godly, older man encouraging her.) "When the world is at peace, not very many people diligently seek God. Only at times such as these of persecution and disorder by the hands of satan do believers awaken in faith.
What would happen if God kept silent at such a time as this when satan is working so powerfully to kill men spiritually? It is at such a time as this that God works even more zealously to protect His believers. It is at such a time when God never rests."

(When taken to prison and speaking with her mother before entering.) "Now I'm going to enter the advanced course in the college of faith ... Christ Himself is the Principal, so I am sure He will teach me about true faith. Isn't that wonderful?"
"You must follow Him completely," she said, "if you are to learn from Him. You must lose your life so that Jesus may live within you. That will mean death to yourself every day, every hour, and every minute."

"Having been overwhelmed by God's infinite love and glowing with love for Jesus, I looked forward to being persecuted and tortured for His sake as a trial of my faith.
I had read the Bible several times and stored God's Word, will, and promises within my heart. I was prepared. I thought I would probably be able to give a good answer in this test. This was truly the trial I had been waiting for."

(Regarding prison and wicked jailers.) "I decided these experienced might be God's will. Hunger, trials, and unbearable tribulation provided good opportunities to experience the Lord's promises."

(When all persecuted Christians were released from prison at the end of WWII.) "When we were all together just inside the gate, the jailer in charge shouted for attention. 'Ladies and gentlemen! These are the ones who for six long years refused to worship the enemy's gods. They fought against severe torture, hunger, and cold, and have won out without bowing their heads to the idol worship of the enemy. Today they are the champions of the faith!'
Suddenly the throng of people outside the gate shouted as one. 'Praise the name of Jesus!'
A hymn was sung:
All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all."

Thank You, Father, for the work You have done and are doing in the lives of Your saints. Some died for Your name, some have endured indescribable suffering, and some have only felt the sting of persecution. Thank You for giving them the strength to stand firm on the day of testing, letting others see that the "joy of the Lord is our strength" so others marveled that they could sing and pray and smile in the face of death. Death has no power over the believer since Your Son conquered death when He surrendered His life on the cross of Calvary. Praise You, Lord, for this truth! PRAISE YOU! And we thank You, Lord, that every saint who suffered for Your name, and for the sake of the Gospel, is now enjoying peace and joy in Your presence - forevermore.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3,4

9.22.2017

PEACE. One day at a time.

Trials,
concerns,
frustrations,
disappointments,
unknowns.
They surround us.
They overwhelm us.
And they can push us back to Christ. The One who says, "Come to ME, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

May this writing by J. R. Miller encourage you today!

"As your days - so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day - but the bit of God's will for that day. If we do that well - we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day - had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plow for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.
We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are - life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down - we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat - if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through - and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

- J. R. Miller

9.20.2017

A gift of love.


Every week we receive four to five requests for our hand-written letters penned by women who have walked through the sorrow of miscarriage or stillbirth.
They write words of encouragement, comfort, and hope 
to women who are living in darkness, discouragement, and despair.

Our team of women is made up of faithful, committed, compassionate, and thoughtful women who are quick to respond and eager to serve each time I send an e-mail with the names of women who need their kindness. We are so blessed to have them!

And yet - we need more.

If you have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth and would be willing to share your story, your understanding, your empathy, and your heart ... we would love to have you join us.

There is no shortage of hurting women longing to feel their babies in their arms,
and something as simple and sweet as receiving a personal note,
written by hand on beautiful paper by a woman who understands their pain
is a most precious and desirable gift - of love.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
II Corinthians 1:3-5

9.19.2017

I want the one that comes with GRACE!

Pride is the oldest and most common of sins.
Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces.

This is a wonderful quote!
And there is plenty of Scripture to support it!

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory. Proverbs 25:27

When we look at pride through God's eyes, it is most repulsive.
What is paired with this grievous sin?
- disgrace
- destruction
- falling
- being an abomination to the Lord
- being opposed by God
- deception

Who wants to be known as such a person?
To be known as a man or woman of humility, however, is a reputation to be desired and pursued.

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
I Peter 15:33

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. I Peter 3:8

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. Psalm 25:9

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. I Peter 5:5, 6

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground. Psalm 147:6

Humility, when observed through the eyes of the Lord is a beautiful thing indeed!
And unlike the unattractive pairings of pride, humility is linked with:
- honor
- grace
- being lead by God in His ways 
- being lifted up by the Lord

May we pray as the Psalmist did, "Search me, O God, and know my heart," so He can find and remove any pride lurking within us, destroy it, and replace it with the humility that brings His grace.

9.18.2017

Who will it be?

I love when the Lord makes a familiar passage come ALIVE!
Especially when you are not expecting it!
I am currently taking a class on Suffering.
It is being taught by one of my favorite men on the planet. He is a godly, wise, gentle, compassionate, honest, and vulnerable man, and every week I leave his class with a mind full of biblical truth, and a heart full of encouragement.
I don't know if the Lord has me in this class to prepare me for personal suffering in the near future, or if He is equipping me to serve others who will suffer. Either way, my toolbox is being filled with excellent resources to use when needed thanks to the faithful study, preparation, and prayers of a man who finds great delight teaching the body of Christ.

We flip through the pages of Scripture constantly in class, and it was near the end when we paused in Isaiah 55. Though written to Israel, there is much we can learn and apply from this chapter, just as we can from all of Scripture.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

What struck me while reading this passage was the number of active verbs used by Isaiah.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to Me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call upon Him while He is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Come - Buy - Eat - Listen - Delight - Incline - Seek - Call - Forsake - Return.

These are active verbs.
And each one is INTENTIONAL.

in·ten·tion·al
adjective
done on purpose; deliberate.
synonyms: calculated, conscious, intended, planned, meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful, purposive, done on purpose, premeditated, preplanned, preconceived;

We do not accidentally come into the presence of the Lord.
We do not accidentally listen to, delight in, call on, or seek the Lord.
And we certainly do not accidentally forsake our sin and return to the Lord.

Our God gave us free will - the ability to CHOOSE.
The question is - who will it be? The Savior - or Self?

Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth,
and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side
of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord,
choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. 
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:14, 15

9.11.2017

The Eastman Academy 2017-2018.


Our theme for the year:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, 
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, 
rightly handling the Word of truth. 
2 Timothy 2:15

Our character goal for the year:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, 
but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29






Micah - our Senior!


Luke - Junior


Caleb - 8th Grade


Josiah - 4th Grade


Isaiah - 3rd Grade

  
Ellie - 2nd Grade

9.07.2017

A terrific quote - and one I want to make a reality!

This quote found its way into my inbox, and I found it encouraging. Especially as we begin the new school year, which brings with it many assignments and tasks. The daily toil required of students, mothers, and men and women in the workplace can seem monotonous, purposeless, and futile. Some parts of our days are repetitive, seemingly without results, for we must do the same thing again tomorrow. But often, it is not the success of the task that matters - it is the character created during the task that matters most.
As a wise man once said, "God made Adam with a Bible in one hand and a shovel in the other, for he was created to worship and work!"
I love this! And my goal is to instill the same philosophy into the hearts and minds of my children - and myself.
                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nothing helps more to develop the transfigured life in us, than work. Some people chafe because they have so much to do. Their days are filled from morning to night with dreary, monotonous task-work. With men it is the never-ending work of the farm, the office, the store, the shop, the mill. With women it is the thousand duties of the household, the care of the home, the tending of children, the weary chores of domestic life.

There are many people who think their greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character - is in the drudgeries to which they are indentured by their condition. They imagine that if they could be freed from these and could have leisure for reading, for study, and for fellowship - then they would grow into a far more radiant beauty of character.

But this is a mistaken impression. The only one perfect life the world has ever known, was not spent with a book - but with a hammer and a saw! The school of common taskwork, with its perpetual round of dreary duties - is the best place in the world in which to attain noble spiritual culture. There is no other way in which one's life will be so surely, so quickly transfigured - as in the faithful, cheerful doing of every-day tasks.

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things - as for developing character. Household life is not primarily a sphere for good cooking, tidy keeping of rooms, thorough sweeping and dusting, careful nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day; it is a sphere for transforming women's souls into radiant beauty.

The shop, the mill, the factory, the store, the office, the farm - are not primarily places for making machines, selling goods, weaving cloths, building engines, and growing crops; they are, first of all, places for making men, building character, growing souls.

Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery - is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life! The doing of common tasks patiently, promptly, faithfully, cheerfully - makes the character beautiful and bright!

- J.R. Miller, "The Transfigured Life!" 1893