Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When it's all been said and done

Lord, you have so richly blessed me. My cup is overflowing. I am so unworthy. From the magnitude of what you've done to me, to the daily provisions and care for my needs, it overwhelms me. Thank you especially for the sweetness of loved ones in my life. Thank you for my dear husband, who 9 years ago today took a risk and asked me to be his wife. Thank you for his patience, for his love, for his commitment.

Thank you for Little Man, who daily brings joy and new lessons. How wonderful to have special Happy Birthday kisses today and feel his little arms wrapped around my neck. What a joy to see him smile and thrive under the loving attention of so many dear ones in our life!

Thank you for family, for those that are miles away, but close in heart. Thank you for their words and for the times that we have to savor our company with each other. Thank you for the example they give of lives well lived.

Thank you for friends who are family living here with us. Thank you for their open hearts and acceptance. Thank you for the layers of our friendship, for work, for study, and for play, which all seem to keep us bound close together.

Thank you for a church body to worship with and serve with. Thank you for them being real and letting me be real, too.

Thank you for a day filled with simple things...good things. Thank you, dearest Lord for the contentment of this season. And may my heart sing your praises when I'm feeling sunshine like today or when I'm feeling the biting rain of a storm tomorrow. May my life testify to your goodness!

Heard this song today and thought it expressed my birthday wish perfectly!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's it all about?

Sometimes I think life is all about me. I mean God redeemed me. God saved me. God loves me. You have similar thoughts don't you? Like any good parent, God is focused on his children, right?

God has been revealing a bit more to me of what it's all about. Recently I'd been working on memorizing Ephesians 2:6-7. (Been slow going since life seems to be full of LIFE and not a lot of down time!) In the NLT it reads, "For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus." Isn't that a cool picture? God wants to point to us and say, "You want to know about me. Well, here, take a look at them. Just look at how rich I am in grace and kindness. Look at what I've done for them. This is who I AM.

I am reminded me of another passage that I love. Isaiah 61:3 tells us that "In their rightousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." I actually like the wording in the NIV best, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.."

Doesn't that make you stand up straighter and dust the dirt off your pants (or straigthen your skirt)? I am a display of God's grace, kindness, and splendor. That doesn't mean I'm wonderful and worthy of it, but it means instead that because of it I am wonderful and found worthy!

As God points to you, what are you revealing about Him? Is His work evident in you? Are you living daily knowing that you are a display of who He is to those around you? God wants to point to you and say, "Yep. This is an example of the kind of work I do. If I do say so myself, it's the best there is around." (And God really can boast that, can't He?)

Be sure to check out other posts or join the reading at DeeDee's I Have No Greater Joy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sweet Moments

After writing the previous post, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Little Man and raising him to be a man after God's own heart. Even though he's young, two months shy of two years old, I know there are things we can do to help soften his heart and prepare it to receive God's work in his life. For several months he has joined us in praying at meal time by holding our hands. I've noticed recently that he often bows his head. May our time to thank God for what He has given us and remind ourselves that ALL we have is His already mold his heart!

Then, I began to think about my quiet time and how possibly Ethan could have a time of study as well. We've had three quiet times this week, and oh how sweet they have been to this mother's soul. There are tears in my eyes as I write this. I LOVE teaching, and I LOVE my son, but the two together's pretty close to heaven as I can imgaine on this side of things!

So, what does quiet time with an almost two year old look like for us? Ethan and I go to the window seat where I actually have my own quiet time. When we bought our house last August, I knew right away that this was going to be a special place for me! Ethan loves sitting up on the seat on a pillow. We've put his baby Bible and a small index card box in a basket nearby.

Today we started with a prayer that God would help us hear what He wants to say to us. Then we read from about Daniel in his Bible and talked about the story. Little Man liked roaring like the lion! I have chosen Daniel 6:26 as memory verse that we'll probably use for a month, and I read it to him and we talked about God being a living God. Then we thanked God for being a live and strong God. We closed our time by singing "What a Mighty God We Serve". Little Man is a good clapper! These moments truly were sweet moments!

Twice a week I would like for us to pray for people in Little Man's life. I've collected pictures and yesterday we went through the pictures and I said a sentence prayer for each picture. Eventually I want him to make up the sentences.

I'm so excited about this special time we've had. My prayer is that this time lays a foundation for what Little Man can later do independently and that God will also use this to prepare his little heart.

Thanks to those of you who shared what you do to train up your own children. May you be encouraged as you keep on this path!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The next generation

I've just begun reading the book of Judges. As I began today, there was something waiting for me to think on.

In chapter 2 we read again of the death of Joshua, which is also recorded at the end of the book of Joshua. The land has been divided, but not all of it is conquered fully. There's still work to be done! And in chapter 1 we read that the Israelites are settling down. Some of the tribes are choosing to make the inhabitants slaves, but others are settling down with the people they should be driving out. in.

Judges 2:10-23 is what really caught my eye. Verse 10 says, "After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel." Now my thinking mind wants to spend some time digging. A generation? What does that mean? You mean to say that in ONE generation, they forgot? They didn't feel the impact of what God had done to deliver them and give them victory at such places as Jericho and Ai? (I'll be digging and let you know what I find.) But then I thought more. Hmmmm...think about the lessons my grandparents learned during the experiences of the Great Depression and World War II? They were life changing. But, did my parents, the next generation, have the same mindset? No. They were affected by what the previous generation experienced, but it didn't burn deep in their hearts the same way. So, it is possible to have the distance of one generation already cool the flames of devotion.

It's verses 11-12 that make me sad though. "The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshipping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord." Already, they turned away. They worshipped others.

I thought for a bit about why they worshipped other gods. The answer is found in the passage. They worshipped the gods of the people around them. Because one generation hadn't fully obeyed God, the next generation found a stumbling block. God had told the first generation to completely wipe out the inhabitants. He didn't let Joshua, his faithful servant, do all the work, but rather gave the people the choice to follow on their own. In vs 22 it says that God did this as a test. He wanted to see if they would follow Him in complete obedience. And because they didn't, because they chose their own ways, sin crept in, and a generation abandoned God.

Speaks to us, doesn't it? Little things are important. Am I seeking to obey FULLY? Am I following in complete obedience? Knowing that future generations are affected by those little things certainly helps me want to obey. How are you in the in the area of obedience?

I also find myself thinking a lot about Little Man and his generation. How do I ingrain faith in our life to help him make it his own in his generation? I'm praying for him. I'm trying to weave godly habits into his day so that it's easier for him. I'm developing a real and vibrant relationship with God that I know will shine in our household. I'm seeking to live in obedience to God. What are you doing to testify to future generations so that they remember the God who has delivered you? (I'd love to have people comment and share the answer to that question.)

God bless you as you follow him in obedience and then raise up the next generation! (AND we all are raising up the next generation whether we have children of our own or not!)

For further looking:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Since I was thinking of memorable hymns, this also came to mind.

As a child I attended a small country church. Sometimes we had a sunrise service to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. I loved those services! (The breakfast we had afterwards was also a reason to love those services!) My favorite part though was the last hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today- and not because I was eager to wrap up the service, but rather because of the victory it proclaimed. There were only a few of us in those pews, but we sang those verses with great passion and love. I couldn't wait to go see Jesus... and I still can't wait! But until then, I'll be watching, at work doing what I think He's asking me to do, and longing for that day. Oh sweet victory that Christ has brought us! Oh what a wonderful Savior! Oh, what an amazing God!

May your hearts ring with the anthem this Easter day!

Christ the Lord is risen today Alleluia
Sons of men and angels say Alleluia
Raise your joys and triumphs high Alleluia
Sing ye heavens and earth reply Alleluia

Lives again our glorious king Alleluia
Where o death is now thy sting Alleluia
Dying once He all doth save Alleluia
Where thy victory oh grave Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Love’s redeeming work is done Alleluia
Fought the fight the battle won Alleluia
Death in vain forbids him rise Alleluia
Christ has opened paradise Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Soar we now where Christ has led Alleluia
Following our exalted head Alleluia
Made like Him like Him we rise
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Friday, April 10, 2009

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

I've always loved the words to this hymn.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

I'm so grateful that God uses the arts to help us focus on Him. Whether music, photos, or film, ALL can be used for His glory and to bring attention to Him. May these clips from the Visual Bible also give you cause to worship.

A Holy Hush

This morning I finally had quiet time before the rest of the household was up. What a wonderful time! Even though I may not have had the morning to myself for a while, God has been faithful to meet with me when I have drawn near. I have been so blessed as I’ve been preparing for a special Sunday School lesson this Sunday. As I posted earlier about celebrations, God planted seeds that I should continue to dig deeper and share with my Sunday School class what He has been teaching me. The time studying has made the Easter season so very sweet to me. And so this morning, this Good Friday morning, there’s been a holy hush. I can’t explain why, but the emotions have poured over me this year and worship has just welled from my heart as I’ve contemplated God’s plan of redemption.

As part of my quiet time I thought on Isaiah 52:13- Isaiah 53:12. Isaiah 52:14 tells us, “His face was so disfigured that he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” The description continues in 53:2 by saying that there wasn’t much there that would attract us or make us think that he was the one for us. In fact, he was despised and rejected. The words in vs 3 really got me, “We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care.” Isaiah refers to Jesus as “a man of sorrows”. He also writes that it was our sorrows that weighted him down.

The description of what Jesus encountered for us grieves me and draws out such love for this God of mine. Notice:
He was pierced for our rebellion.
He was crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
He was oppressed and treated harshly.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
He was led away unjustly condemned.
He was struck down.
He was buried like a criminal.

What a price God paid to redeem us! And how willingly he paid that price! Verse 10 and 11 tell us that after Jesus life was made an offering for sin, he would have many descendants and enjoy a long life. He would be satisfied after seeing all that is accomplished.

Our God is amazing and His love so beyond my understanding. I hope you too will take some time for a holy hush to come over you as you think on Jesus’s sacrifice for us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chris Tomlin- I Will Rise

A few weeks ago I heard Chris Tomlin's song, "I Will Rise" for the very first time. It struck something deep in my heart. As we prepare to celebrate our Savior's death and resurrection, it seems to be a wonderful anthem for the heart.

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Don't forget Him...

As I was reading Deuteronomy chapter eight a while back I was struck by something in verse 11. To give you the context, Moses is preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. They've wandered and been disciplined, and now it's time to take what God has long promised. Moses reminds the people that this is a wonderful land; A land that overflows with abundance, and a place where they will be filled. In verse 11 he warns the people, "But that is the time to be careful! (Meaning when they've entered the land and been filled) Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today."

When we feel we've arrived, it's time to get on our knees and remember the One who's delivered us. It's then that we must humble ourselves and remember who we are and who He is. I found myself identifying with this. Life for me right now is in a good place. We're experiencing God's blessing in our life. He's providing in abundance for our physical needs. He's giving us good health in our immediate family and caring for those in the extended family. He's allowing us to enjoy a wonderful home and to fill it with happy memories of our Little Man. He's giving us times with good friends who bring great joy to life. Yes, we have much that could make us forget Him. So, I want to fight desperately to remember and keep things in perspective. Life isn't about me being comfortable or successful, it's about God receiving the glory that is due to His Name. I want to remember and obey.

Where are you in your journey?

Are you back in Egypt, under the control of one who does not own you? Do you need to turn to your Deliverer and follow Him?

Are you wandering in the wilderness? Is God supplying for your needs, building your character, and working to show Himself to you?

Or are you in the promised land? Is God giving you a time of peace and rest with abundance in your life? Do things seem easy and you find yourself assuming that this is the way life always was and always will be?

Regardless of where we are in life, the principle found in verse 11 is important. We must remember who God is and obey Him. We must pursue knowing him and follow him.

Don't forget Him...