11.29.2017

HIS thoughts - HIS ways.


Every day I read this verse.
It is the first thing I see when I walk into our bedroom,
and I walk into our room at least twenty times each day.

No matter what I am struggling with, when my eyes fall upon this frame, 
the words of God squash every doubt, every fear, every frustration, and all delusions of control.
And I need this to be so.

Because truth be told, I like my own thoughts and my own ways.
They seem logical and right. They please me. And, I feel in control.
(I cannot prove it, but I think many eye-rolls take place in heaven when my name is mentioned!)

  And yet, God says that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts, and His ways are NOT my ways.
Our God has secrets. He is a God of mystery.
He does not need my permission, insight, or suggestions regarding His purposes and His ways.
What He requires is that when I don't understand what He is doing,
I will remember who He is ... and TRUST HIM.

My marriage,
my children,
my health,
education,
ministry,
relationships,
every detail of my life.
Each one must be surrendered to Him, day by day, hour by hour.

As much as I would like to be granted access to the secrets of God, He says, "No."
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," SAITH THE LORD.
And I need to be okay with that.
100%, fully satisfied and content, knowing that His ways are far better than my own.

Lord - make this so! Teach me to trust You quickly and completely, in all things.

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5, 6

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

11.25.2017

Already encouraged, yet there is MORE to come!

After reading the last chapter of Jonathan Edward's biography last week, I felt I needed to take a break from reading for a bit. The book was 500 pages in length, each page filled with fantastic details about his life, his convictions, his passion, and the criticism and hatred of others because he was a man of conviction and passion. It was a wonderful read, and a challenging one, for many personal reasons. I continue to think of Jonathan, asking the Lord to make clear what He wants me to learn about Him - and about myself - through the life of such an extraordinary man.

My hiatus did not last long, however. After reading the Gospel of Matthew, I felt the desire to devour another biography. Scripture is enough on its own, there is simply no doubt, but there is something incredibly encouraging about being invited inside the minds of godly men and women who recorded the Lord's dealings with them so we might benefit from their personal lessons. Praise the Lord for their willingness to write them down!

Every book in my stack of unread biographies seemed appealing, but the Lord pushed my hand to select the one that chronicles the life of this man: Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
I knew absolutely nothing about him, but boy is he making his way into my affections quickly! I have only finished the first chapter, yet I feel as though I know this man - and understand him. The author records dozens of quotes from M'Cheyne's personal diary, but I think this entry paints a vivid picture of how He saw himself - and His God. (in his early years, age 20+)

"What a mass of corruption I have been! How great a portion of my life have I spent wholly without God in the world, given up to sense and the perishing things around me! Naturally of a feeling and sentimental disposition, how much of my religion has been, and to this day is, tinged with these colors of earth!
Restrained from open vice by educational views and the fear of man, how much ungodliness has reigned within me! How often has it broken through all restraints, and come out in the shape of lust and anger, mad ambitions, and unhallowed words! Though my vice was always refined, yet how subtle and how awfully prevalent it was!
How complete a test was the Sabbath - spent in weariness, as much of it was given to God's service! How I polluted it by my hypocrisies, my self-conceits, my worldly thoughts, and worldly friends!
How formally and unheedingly the Bible was read - how little was read - so little that even now I have not read it all!
How unboundedly was the wild impulse of the heart obeyed! How much more was the creature loved than the Creator! O great God, that didst suffer me to live whilst I so dishonored Thee, Thou knowest the whole; and it was Thy hand alone that could awaken me from the death in which I was, and was contented to be. Gladly would I have escaped from the Shepherd that sought me as I strayed; but He took me up in His arms and carried me back; and yet He took me not for anything that was in me. I was not more fit for His service than any man, and no more worthy to be called and chosen.
Yet why should I doubt? Nay, I come to Christ, not although I am a sinner, but just because I am a sinner, even the chief."
... still I believe that my soul is in sincerity desirous and earnest about having all its concerns at rest with God and Christ - that His kingdom occupies the most part of all my thoughts ...
As surely as Thou didst make the mouth with which I pray, so surely dost Thou prompt every prayer of faith which I utter. Thou hast made me all that I am, and given me all that I have."

Imagine what words will flow from his pen after he has walked with the Lord for another decade!
I am eager to learn how this man, who is granted but thirty years of life on earth, lives out his final days. I already find myself stirred up "to love and good deeds," and the Lord is not finished with him yet!

11.20.2017

There is only one place to look!

Jesus does not take us away from our suffering.
He gives us a way through it.

What is your perspective in pain?
How do you respond?
Where do you seek comfort?
To whom do you look for encouragement and hope?

May we always run to the Savior - fastest and first - dropping all of our sorrows, doubts, and fears at His feet so we may receive the forgiveness, grace, restoration, and rest we so desperately crave.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

11.15.2017

My THEME SONG for Motherhood.


"I Need Thee Every Hour"

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

11.13.2017

Inspiration and Strength!

Our Sunday sermon was a great encouragement to me.
I share my notes and personal reflections here with the hope they will encourage others as well.

The text:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1, 2

✲ The Encouragement Recorded
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,..."

- The author encourages the saints to run hard and run fast - BY FAITH - after reminding them of the faithful saints of the past.
By faith Abel
By faith Enoch
By faith Noah
By faith Abraham
By faith Sarah
By faith Isaac
By faith Jacob
By faith Joseph
By faith Moses
By faith Rahab
(Hebrews 11)

Remember them! And follow their example! Not because they were perfect, but because they pressed on in their imperfection - BY FAITH.

✲ The Encumbrance Rejected
"...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,..."

As believers, we are challenged to remove every encumbrance, hindrance, and distraction so we can focus on what is important. Jesus Christ.
A sprinter does not race down the track wearing a jean jacket and cowboy boots, just as a marathon runner does not run 26.2 miles in a wetsuit and SCUBA gear. The weight would drag them down and exhaust them. As does the sin strapped to the back of the believer as she covers mile after mile in the race toward the prize of heaven.

Weight = Things that are not 'bad' but also not Best. Things that slow you down and distract you.
Believers must choose between what is good and what is best.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Philippians 1:9, 10

Just because something isn't sin doesn't mean you should do it.
Can vs. Should
Which one pushes you to Christ?
Which one serves the Kingdom?
Which one minister to others?
What do we NEED to do in order to run the race with excellence?

It may not be 'evil' - but - is it ESSENTIAL?

Sin = Forbidden things. No need to discern what is good or best - because it is all sin!
Sin needs to be completely eliminated from the life of a believer.
-Are you aware of the sins that constantly ensnare you?
-Do you guard against those sins?

✲ The Endurance Required
"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,..."

- The Christian life is a MARATHON, not a sprint!
- It is a grueling, agonizing trek through the world and all of the sin which dwells within it.
- It is a long, long race requiring daily running.

→ Endurance requires strenuous effort.
- Neglecting the disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, and meeting with the church body is NOT AN OPTION for the believer.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9: 24-27

Endurance is a singular effort. Though we run as a body, we are also run an individual race.
- Each of us has a specific calling that is to be pursued and obeyed.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- Each of us was given specific spiritual gifts to be used within the body of believers.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:4-7

We must not fall into the temptation to Compare and Despair. God sovereignly chose the details of your life, for a purpose, and for His glory. Be content with WHO YOU ARE. Obey your calling and exercise your gifts and you will find the race much easier to endure!

✲ The Example Recommended
"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

- The author points to Jesus as the ultimate example of faith.
- Keep your eyes FIXED ON JESUS! HE is the prize! Not the world.
- He endured. He did not quit. He ran willingly. He ran obediently. He ran alone.

The Old Testament saints INSPIRE us, but Jesus STRENGTHENS us so we can run - all the way - without quitting - until the day we cross the finish line and are ushered into glory forevermore!

Lord, thank You for this fantastic passage in Scripture that reminds us that You have used weak, sinful men and women to accomplish Your will. You choose the weak so Your strength is more evident. What an encouragement this is to Your children when we look in the mirror and see flaw upon flaw, wondering if You can do ANYthing through us, or if You even want to. You never ask us to do something for You without giving us what we need to walk in faithful obedience, but like Moses, it is our focus on the flesh that keeps us from seeing the bigger picture. BUT GOD. We know You can do anything, but we allow the weaknesses and failings and disappointments of men distract us from this truth. You do not need us to accomplish Your will, but You choose to use us - as we are - because it is Your power that works within us to achieve Your purposes and plans. Thank You for this truth, Lord! Thank You for pouring new mercies on us each morning, showing us grace day by day, and strengthening us so we can be obedient to the calling You place on us. We obey because we love You, and we can only do so because You loved us first. And best.

Quote.

Do you want to hear God speak? Read your Bible out loud.
- John Piper

11.11.2017

Dennis writes a letter to his sons.

As is his practice when he is serving in different parts of the world, Dennis wrote a letter to our sons today. These letters will be kept forever, and hopefully cherished by all of our children. I share this one because it is applicable to all of us, and provides a glimpse into the heart and mind of my husband. People often see one side of this man, but like many wonderful men, his family sees and knows much more.
I pray you will be encouraged by his words.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings My Sons,

Working in an Emergency Room is a five senses kind of job. To be sure there is much to see (I once saw an “entry/exit” gun shot wound through the forearm. When irrigating the wound, the water went in one side and came out the other much like you would see in a cartoon.), hear (crying/screaming children, this is a given, and non-stop for hours upon hours), touch (bodies, blood, bile, pus, etc.), smell (the smells are quite memorable), and, yes…taste (thankfully, not often). Regardless of the senses involved, during the course of a twelve-hour night shift there is a strong possibility some form of adventure will unfold.

One evening we had a patient, an elderly man, who was experiencing the five senses of illness. This poor guy was in bad shape. Raging fever, loss of bowel control, vomiting…you get the picture. A nurse was prepping the patient for the doctor when the man turned his head to the side and vomited on the floor. As the nurse called for someone to clean up the soiled floor, a man walked in wearing a golf shirt and casual pants. He grabbed a towel from underneath the counter and wiped up the vomit. He then placed the towel in the dirty linen hamper and asked the nurse, “What are we waiting for with this patient?” She replied, “The doctor.” Without missing a beat, the man stepped forward and said, “Hello sir, my name is Dr. Rosing, what can I do for you this evening?” This was his first shift on his first night at our ER. What a great introduction to Dr. Keith Rosing!

My point this week…SERVE! I know, I know, you have heard this story. “If you want to be a leader, serve”. Blah, blah, blah…

Please give a fresh effort to listen to what I am saying. Service comes in many forms and functions. When the sun is shining and friends are going down to the beach to pick up trash in the name of Jesus - I am in! When we are driving over to drop off groceries for a popular cause that everyone deems worthy and necessary, and it does not cut into my free time - Absolutely, count me in! However, there are times when serving is not convenient with my schedule (during a sporting event, scheduled free time, or a preferred activity), or the task to be completed is not considered conducive to my opinion of acceptability (interacting with certain members of the family, a task that takes more than 30 minutes, doing an unassigned chore, etc.).

The fact is, I am a selective service type of human. My service is often self-determined by a list of “ifs” rather than complete surrender to what, where, and when God is moving me to action. Please consider an example.
There is a couple in Cambodia, Scott and Helen, who have moved here with the intent of serving in the international school. Scott teaches math and Helen is the secondary principal. They have two wonderful young children. During dinner one evening, I asked them where they were attending church in Cambodia. Scott replied, “We attend a Khmer church plant in Phnom Penh.” I then asked, if he understood what the pastor was saying and he said, “No. I get a little bit of the sermon but for the most part, I do not understand the message.” I laughed and said, "You are attending a church where you don’t know what the pastor is saying?” Without hesitation, Scott smiled and said, “It is more about serving than anything else. We attend a morning service in English and then an afternoon service in Khmer. I figure that is why we are here.”

Admittedly, his reply humbled me. This family came to Cambodia to be all in. Including attending a church in which the language remains unknown, save a few words here and there. And, they are making a significant difference where God has planted them. Few people will ever know their story and their daily sacrifices, yet they are people who recognize that GOD is the one who has directed their steps and he will lead them to the next endeavor.

Gentlemen, God's work has never been measured by the difficulty of the task but is often accomplished due to the availability of the servant. There are numerous excuses and reasons available as to why someone else should do the “heavy lifting” of serving others. It reminds me of the quote by Chuck Swindoll, “The trouble with the Christian life is that it is so daily.” There is always some reason (personal preference, desire, lint on my clothing) that will keep me from serving.

The LORD often provides amazing “God moments” that look very much like everyday service to others.

Though mission trips, youth events, and training teachers Cambodia are fun and worthy ways of serving, it is the common elements of daily events where we truly learn to serve. Let’s you and I learn to be Christian men who serve. Daily.

Love,
Dad

11.06.2017

We care - but He cares MORE!

Prasie the Lord, Praise the Lord! Orphan Care Sunday was a SUCCESS!

Our children/family Pastor preached a wonderful message based on James 1:27, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. He also incorporated the first two chapters of the book of Ruth, a beautiful story of redemption.

We have two goals for our Orphan Care Ministry.
1. To create an encouraging, supportive, prayerful Orphan Care Community for the families who are actively involved in orphan care, whether through adoption or fostering, so each family feels supported and understood as they walk faithfully and obediently through the daily life of caring for orphans.
2. To bring awareness to and educate our church body about the biblical mandate to care for orphans and the tremendous need for families to rise up and serve the thousands of children waiting for homes in our own backyard. Every believer is not commanded to bring a child into their home, but every believer is commanded to care for orphans.

The goal for creating an Orphan Care Community was accomplished in the first few months of the ministry's early days because these families are amazing and open and always the first to serve when a need arises. They talk, they text, they visit each other, they counsel one another, pray, babysit, and cook for each other - and they are THERE. Whenever a family needs anything - someone responds. Every time.

The second goal - education and awareness - was accomplished from the pulpit Sunday morning.
Jason, our family pastor, spoke boldly of the biblical command, the calling, the statistics, and the need.
And he did it with grace.

I noticed Dennis writing several notes in his journal during the message, and when I glanced over to read his words, my eyes fell on a quote he copied from William Wilberforce, the man who drove the British government to abolish the slave trade in 1833.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

What a powerful statement!
Ignorance is bliss, but awareness = accountability.
The seeds of Orphan Care were scattered across our sanctuary yesterday, and it will be exciting to see what the Lord will reap at harvest time!

Our evening event was also a sweet delight.
We had young couples join us who are interested in orphan care, families who have already adopted children and want to be part of the ministry to encourage and support others when they step out in faith to do the same, one lovely couple who wanted to learn how to support their siblings who will be taking in foster children in the next few months, and a handful of older men and women who want to be part of our Support Team so they can provide encouragement and help to the families in their moments of greatest need. Such a wonderful combination of God's people!

Three of our current foster/adopt families shared their personal testimonies, I explained the vision and purpose of the ministry, Jason gave a wonderful devotion, and Dennis shared his personal adoption testimony. He closed with these words, "Provers 31:8, 9 says, 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.' Someone spoke for me when I could not speak for myself, and I am forever grateful."

As we drove away from the church last night, my heart was full of praise and gratefulness to a God who can move the hearts of men - and cares for orphans more than we do. Thank You, Lord, for this truth! And thank You for moving the hearts of Your people to respond to the tremendous need to care for the thousands of orphans waiting to be taken into safe, loving homes. You ARE an amazing God!

Oh, and THIS! Our wonderful design team took all of the words we wanted to share and placed them on the backdrop of these lovely images of our own people in our church body. It is exciting to have an official brochure to give to people who are interested in bringing children into their home through foster care and adoption, or to those who want to encourage and support the families caring for orphans. "Visiting orphans and widows in their distress" cannot be accomplished alone. It is a command to the church - and a mission for the body. How sweet it is to watch members serve one another in this pursuit!

11.03.2017

A confirmed lesson.

Last night the Lord used a godly older woman to direct my thoughts even deeper into the purpose and benefit of studying God's Word.

I love when the Lord confirms a lesson He has been teaching me.
He makes it crystal clear that He is the teacher, I am the student, and keeps me focused on the details of the lessons until I am fully surrendered to His calling and His will.
I will admit, I have been known to close my notebook, toss my pencil across the room, and drop my head on my desk when I feel overwhelmed or simply do not care for the particular lesson being taught.
But, just as a good teacher does everything possible to engage his student, the Lord does the same with this rebel. Sometimes He simply has to call my name to draw me back. Other times He must stand beside my desk, hovering, until I look up. And every once in a while, He finds it necessary to thwack my desk with His ruler because I refuse to sit up straight, focus, and obey.

Thankfully, I am a willing, active participant for the current lesson, and though I need a stern hand to keep me on the right track so I do not lose heart or stray, I have not had to endure any hovering or thwackings from the Lord. He has encouraged me through His Word, other believers, and quotes by godly men. And for these things - I am thankful!

Immerse yourself in the written Word of God.
Saturate your mind with it so you spill over with truth.
- John Piper

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

There is no sin-killer like the Word of God.
Wherever it comes, it comes as a sword, and inflicts death upon evil. 
- C. H. Spurgeon

As an ordinary Christian, go deep in the Word and prayer,
and then go boldly into your sphere of influence. 
- Steffen Mueller