The Journey

This blog began in an attempt to provide resources and encouragement for homeschoolers. However, during this homeschool adventure, I've found it's also about life. Specifically about losing my own life, that I might find it in Jesus and thus discover the joy of REAL life. (Matthew 10:39)

In March, 2012, our family stepped out in faith again as we moved out to the country. The first step of faith was trusting the Lord to sell our other home before our emergency fund ran out. He is faithful, and though I was hoping this would happen sooner, He knows what we needed.

I just know that He is going to use these 5 acres and this old house to teach me even more lessons in abiding with Him...and I look forward to the Adventure!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Warning About Love...Because THAT's What It's All About

On April 2nd, I was reading through my latest memory verse, 1 Corinthians 12:31, trying to get it to "stick" so to speak, before going to sleep for the night. (I find that is the best time to get something to permanently stick in my head, it's like the sleep helps the "glue" to dry.)  The Lord has been gently leading me to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 for some time, and it was now time.  To help me remember that, I had written down through about verse 6 in my spiral.

While reading and re-reading the verse, my thoughts meandered to another Siesta's verse for April 1st.  It's from Philippians 1 and also speaks of love.  She had shared her verse in an email earlier in the day and the common thread of love popped out at me then too.  What is it about love?  This question came to mind, and I'm pretty sure it was directed to the Lord.

Flipping to the next card, I began to read 1 Corinthians 13:1.  A song popped into my mind.  The chorus says, "Let my life be the proof..the proof of Your love."  Toward the end of the song this passage is read...starting with 1 Corinthians 13:1.  As I "heard" it being read, the question again came to mind...Is there a message the Lord is trying to tell His people about love?  (Okay, it didn't "sound" that "clear" my head, but that was the idea. Why the question?  Because I've noticed a theme sometimes in songs, messages, prayers, challenges, etc. and now wondered about this "love" theme.) 

Then it hit me...what Jesus told His disciples about the signs of the end of the age...their love will grow cold.  At that thought, I put my index cards (spiral) down and picked my notebook up.  I found the verse in Matthew 24:

"And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved."  
Matthew 24:12-13, Amplified

After finding the reference, I read through verses 3 to 14.  In the NIV84 this passage is labeled, "Signs of the End of the Age."  I looked through the other gospels for this passage where Jesus speaks of the end of the age, and read through Mark 13 and Luke 21.  They both have at least a little something about the suffering that will occur - especially regarding the destruction of the temple - but no others speak of their love growing cold - and it seemed to me that He is speaking of the Church.  However, there was a definite similarity in the need to "keep watch" to "stay alert" and to "not be led astray."  More to ponder...Jesus also spoke of false prophets and teachers as well and not to be fooled by them.

In thinking of guarding myself...and teaching my princess and warrior to do the same...I can only think of one sure way to guard least as sure as I can think know God's Word so well that any twisting of it would be recognized...AND (of course) to pray for the Lord to give wisdom, guidance, and discernment in ALL circumstances...for as 1 Peter 5:8-10 says...that enemy of ours prowls around like a hungry lion as he seeks to seize upon and devour someone - we must withstand the enemy by abiding in Jesus (John 15).

While writing this now, the phrase "guarding your heart" kept going through my mind, but I couldn't place it.  Finally, Psalm 119:11 came to mind in a little song we used in a children's church we led.  This passage from Psalm 119 is definitely one of my favorites as it so clearly points to the road we must follow to keep a pure heart!

"How can a young man keep his way pure? 
By living according to your word.  
I seek you with all my heart; 
do not let me stray from your commands.  
I have hidden your word in my heart 
that I might not sin against you.  
Praise be to you, O LORD; 
teach me your decrees. 
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth. 
I rejoice in following your statutes 
as one rejoices in great riches.  
I meditate on your precepts 
and consider your ways. 
I delight in your decrees; 
I will not neglect your word.
Psalm 119: 9-16, NIV84
(copied and pasted from

Here is my prayer from that night...I hope you'll join in praying this over my family and yours.  Because I want to let my life be the proof of His Love, don't you?

Lord, Teach me to love more like You.  May it hurt when I don't so that I'll quickly turn back to You and Your ways.  May our family love each other as You do.  May we be a family after Your own Heart.  May our love not grow cold.  Amen.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stories...Not Even the Whole World Would Have Room

I began keeping a journal sometime in 2006.  At first I tried to have one for prayers, another for interesting things that happened in our family and another for taking notes during sermons and other speakers I listened to.  However, I soon found everything overlapping and blending together.  I now just keep one notebook, and everything goes into it.  (There is likely another post wrapped up here, but that will be for another day.)

Around Christmas time, I determined to go back and read through these journals.  Perhaps I thought about it because of all the changes which took place in 2012.  Perhaps not.  Regardless, I thought I would zip right through them before the start of 2013.  Wrong.  I'm still working my way through them...

As I've done so, I've been amazed more than a few times.  One of the most prominent things that amazes me is how LONG I've been asking the Lord to help me with certain aspects of my life and especially my habits.  I've written before on willingly and cheerfully placing myself under the authority of my husband (1 Peter 3:5-6).  In reading my journals I realized how LONG I've been asking the Lord for help in this area!  I must be one of the world's slowest learners, I guess.

I've also run across things the Lord showed me then that are still relevant now.  And that's just what brings us to the subject of this post...

Over the weekend I read something that seemed worthy of being shared...I hope you'll agree at the end.  This was written on June 16, 2010 (which just happens to be one of my sister's birthday!)...

"As I started to pray from my index cards this morning, some additional thoughts came to mind.  I was praying my 'wake up' prayer which speaks to the unpredictability of life with children.  I was saying thank You to the LORD for His creation - He created it for my enjoyment.  I then added that He created me for His enjoyment - which was old, but new. 

I went on to say that I wanted to be enjoyable to Him today - and also to my family.  I want to be an enjoyable mom, wife, friend, daughter and sister.  But I need help.  I can not do it without Your help, Jesus.  May Your Holy Spirit live and work in me and through me - today and every day.  I want to submit to Your will - to deny myself and pick up the purpose You have for my life.

As I was praying to continue to be amazed by Your love - I thought of the following verse from John 21:25 (NIV84):

'Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.'

As believers, transformed by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, we all should do have a story to tell about Him.  Imagine if we all wrote a book or books of what "things" He has done in our own lives.  Would the world have room?

Lord, help me to remember that Your 'story' doesn't end.  Indeed, it will continue until Jesus comes again, and then will be moved to heaven for those who believe.  May I live with Your story in my heart and mind.  May my lips be ready to share it when prompted by Your Holy Spirit.  May You continue to guide my feet along Your path, providing light and wisdom as needed (which will be a lot!).  I love You, LORD.

Today:  May I meditate on Your complete Goodness today.  Thinking of all You have done for me, Jesus.  And to think, the cross was the start, but You rose and sent us a Helper.  We are undeserving of Your love and blessings, and You still give us grace."

When my children were younger, I kept some index cards on a ring on my nightstand.  They had Scripture prayers from Beth Moore's book "Praying God's Word" along with other prayers and Scripture which spoke to my heart.  In the morning, I could easily grab those and read through them (at least a few of them) before a child (usually my warrior) woke up.  It involved no searching through a book, because I had His Word that most spoke to that season right there in my index cards.

If you are a believer, what's YOUR story?  Perhaps it would be better to say, "What are your stories?"  I'd like to encourage you to share ONE of them with someone today, as the Lord leads, of course, and tomorrow too!  If you're feeling brave moved, I would love for you to consider sharing one of them on this blog.  Perhaps it has to do with homeschooling, mothering, or some way you've grown in the Lord.  If so, please comment on this post, or send me a message.

There may not be room in the world for all of the books that would be written...but I'm thinking that computers bring a whole new aspect to the last verse of John.  What do you think?  Could we believers fill the whole cyberspace world with the many things Jesus has done?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More To the Point...I Hope

I ought to have put the following at the beginning of the last post:

"Caution: Rambling Road Ahead"

After hitting publish on the last post, I kept thinking about how much I rambled. This post will hopefully get to the point and stay there.

As we went through the difficulty of considering leaving one church family in search of another, many things went through my mind. I wanted to find another church home where we could "settle down." I thought of leaving our old home for a "new" one. I wondered how long we would be in this home...I hoped our children would finish their "growing up years" here.

But then I would hear the chorus to the song, “Where I Belong.” This is NOT where I belong. My real home is in heaven. In my heart, I yearn to be able to put down roots, to know that THIS is where our children will grow up. To know that THIS is the church our princess will be married in. To know that THIS is where we will house our grandchildren. The problem is, THIS is NOT my home.

Paul says this in his letter to the Philippians:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21, NIV84

If I am to “eagerly await” the time when Jesus comes again, I can not get too comfortable here in this world. The Lord has been removing many of my “comforts” to help me learn this Truth in a more “hands on” way over the past year. And while I've learned that air conditioning is a comfort I don't absolutely need. I've also learned that I ought not to get so comfortable with a church that I'm not willing to move when the Lord says, “Move!”

Does that mean I throw away the relationships from that church family? NO! Does it mean I am bitter toward that church family? NO! Does it mean I need to broaden my world? YES!

I thought of this before drifting off to sleep last night. Think of a box. A large box. Put a pinhole in the box. Look through the pinhole to see what's inside the box. How much can you see? What if you put a pencil size hole in the box? You could see more then, but you'd still be “blind” to parts of the box.

Now consider the maker of the box. He is inside of it and all around it. He sees every nook and cranny. That's our Lord. I need to trust His viewpoint, not mine. So while I look around the box through my pinhole wondering how this or that will work 10 or 15 years down the road, the Lord is saying, “Don't worry. I know things you don't. I've got a plan, and it's better than you could ever imagine.”

And every time I step out in faith and follow Him out of my comfort zone, my pinhole is enlarged ever so slightly. Why? Because I'm opening the eyes of my heart to see more from His perspective than mine.

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].
1 Corinthians 13:12, Amplified

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Plans, Promises, and I'm Not Home Yet

Plans...we make them...the Lord changes them. Or so it seems to be the case in my life over the past year. Wait...upon further's been happening a lot longer than a year. This afternoon I told a very good friend something hard for me to tell her. She wasn't surprised. Which I, of course, mused over for the rest of the afternoon.

The Lord has been teaching me in a variety of ways over the past year the truth to the lyrics of a song I've been singing for just as long...

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong
Chorus from “Where I Belong” by Building 429

If you've read some of the past posts, you know that we moved to the country almost a year ago. Praise the Lord! It's been awesome. Challenging. Freeing. It's something we've talked about for a long time. A Dream. Come. True. I thought we'd only be changing our address. Silly me. The Lord seems to have had a much different idea of what this move would change.

Another homeschooling mom moved out to the country about 6 months before we did. She told me that when they did so, they decided that when they moved to the country...they would MOVE to the country. By that I mean leaving their church family and searching out a new one in the country. Not easy to do. I was impressed.

I reasoned that our life and outside activities would remain much the same...we'd just be driving a little farther (and be able to have a larger vegetable garden and chickens!). In our search for a home these were things we kept in mind as we chose which locations to look at. Doesn't that seem reasonable? I thought so.

Here are some of the plans we made and the Lord rearranged...

1.  Selling our home quickly became 6 months with two mortgages...during that time the Lord changed the way we did a few things...
  • We dried all of our laundry on a clothesline for 5 weeks because the dryer was not working. The best comment was from a little boy in our lifegroup who was 6 at the time. He saw some rugs on the line and asked why they were hanging there. I told him they were drying. He said, “Why don't you just put them in the dryer?” Priceless... : )
  • We began burning our trash and bringing our recycling into town on our own. My man is our family's recycling “sorter.”
  • We survived without air conditioning in another hot, Kansas summer.
  • We canceled our vacation plans a few weeks before we were supposed to leave, only to have it “rescheduled” a few days before we were supposed to leave thanks to the generosity of family.
  • We found out our furnace stopped working with the first cold snap in early October. With our emergency fund near zero, we opted to use our wood stove and some space heaters to keep the house warm until we closed on our other house at the end of the month.
  • We closed on our home on October 24th, 2012 for less than we bought it for in 2005. And we were happy!

2.  Our plans of continuing at our church “in town” gave way to stepping down from our leadership of a children's church, attending a Messianic congregation that meets on Friday evenings, and visiting churches in our new community. (We've been going to one “across the street” since Christmas and have really enjoyed it. Lots of other homeschooling families and going through the Word systematically.)

3.  With the redirection in our church home, we also stopped meeting with our lifegroup. Another plan change we did not anticipate.

4.  We planned to have our chickens in the “lean to” which was already on the property. A week or two before closing on the house, we decided to build a new coop closer to the house. My husband's dad and stepmom came out with a few weeks notice and built a coop together.

5.  We planned to begin remodeling the kitchen, including a gas stove, as soon as possible.  Our plan now is to replace the bathtubs and flooring in the upstairs bathrooms along with the sink in the master bath.  

As I sang the song, “Where I Belong” during this time period, I would think about all of these changes. What hit me is how much we want to make things on this earth permanent. We want to stay in the same church. We want to stay in the same house. We want to know how long we're going to be somewhere. We want to “settle down.” We want to put down roots.

The Lord has been teaching me that I don't know the future. I don't know how long we'll be part of each church we worship at. I don't know how long we'll live in each house we move to. I don't know how long being a part of various groups will last. I don't know how long my life will last. Or that of my husband. My princess. Or my warrior.

I can make promises...but I'm learning that the Lord has the right to change them. That is hard for me, because I do NOT like to break my promises! In fact, I remember someone asking if we'd still be attending our church and leading the children's church and I said something like, “Of course we will. None of that will change!” It seems I made another promise years back that we would move back to the area I grew up in one day. Another promise broken...unintentionally. Why? Because I didn't know the plans the Lord had for us.

Thankfully, the Lord doesn't change His Promises. He Promises to be faithful. He Promises to bring good out of bad for those who love Him. He Promises to be with us when things are going well...and when they're not. He Promised a Messiah to the Israelites, the Jewish people...and He sent One. To them. And to us, the Gentiles. Praise the Lord!

Through this Messiah...He Promises to forgive our sins. He Promises to make us a new creation. He Promises to give us His Holy Spirit as a teacher...a Guide...a Helper. He Promises to set us apart for His Glory. He Promises us a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus is there now, preparing a place for us in His Father's House. He Promises us eternal life in this House...provided we have put this life on earth in His Hands...

So, if you look around and feel like this isn't your home, there is a reason for that. This is temporary. Our home. Our church home. Our social groups. Jesus is permanent. He is the only thing Solid enough to last through the changes in this life and into the next...

He is like a man building a house, who dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood arose, the torrent broke against that house and could not shake or move it, because it had been securely built or founded on a rock.
But he who merely hears and does not practice doing My words is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, against which the torrent burst, and immediately it collapsed and fell, and the breaking and ruin of that house was great.
Luke 6:48-49, Amplified

Where is your home? I want mine to be on the Rock. Even if it means a lot of digging down deep...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Overflowing Bathtub or Coffee Maker?

This morning, as I lay with my warrior with the hope of helping him go back to sleep, I was thinking, praying and asking God what I could do if he fell asleep, and I got up for the day. (In other words, if I didn't get back in my bed!) Laundry, cooking, and sewing went through my mind. I told Him, of course, I could always spend time with You, but I was trying to think of something Productive to do.

Yes, I answered Him, I KNOW spending time with You IS productive, and I LOVE to do that, in fact, I could do that while the rest of the house fell down around me! However, I don't think the Lord put me here to spend all day having quiet time with Him. Please hear me, sometimes I need to do that. And, as I mentioned, I can do that VERY WELL! However, if I do nothing but let Him pour into me, how am I glorifying Him?

This brought the passage from James to mind about having faith, but no good deeds. James 2:17 says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (NIV84) That is something the Lord has been teaching me lately. 1 Corinthians 13 has been resonating with me also.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV84)

[Aside: I DO need to be sure that I'm being filled by the Lord. If asked how one can change, I'd wave my hand frantically in the air and say it's His Word alone that gives you the power to change. Praying and memorizing Scripture is the best (possibly only) way to connect knowing what we ought to do (the “rules”) to our hearts in a way that makes obedience personal. It's His Word and abiding in His Word with every step you take that makes a difference in your life. I say this to be sure you all know that I'm not one to take lightly the idea of spending quiet time with the Lord daily. I'll move on now...]

I could go on (okay, I did a little), but that's not where my thinking and praying led me. As I thought of overflowing the God's love and Spirit, a bathtub overflowing with water and bubbles came to mind. What good does that type of overflowing do? None, except to provide work for your hands! : )

I then asked the Lord to give me a better analogy. A coffee maker came to mind. Our coffee maker always has hot water in a reservoir, ready to brew some fresh, HOT coffee at a moment's notice. I put the FILTER in, then the grounds and slide the basket in above the carafe. Then I pour some fresh, cool water in the top of the coffee maker.

I don't swing the cover closed yet, because I've not put the pot under the basket to catch the coffee. There is no waiting for coffee, it will begin to “pour forth” as soon as I swing that cover closed! No, first I put some HOT water in the thermal carafe and swish it around. Why? Because when I heat up the carafe, the coffee stays hotter, longer! And I like that!

Once I put the carafe under the basket, I swing the reservoir cover closed and check the position of the carafe. I like it to drip right into the opening. The hot water sprays into the ground coffee, passes through the paper filter and into the carafe waiting below. In about 3 minutes, the coffee is ready to be poured out into my waiting mug!

I want to be like that water. First, I need to become hot - heated up - on fire - by the Holy Spirit. Next, I need to pass through the coffee grounds. Would that be the Word of God or bitter things in life? Maybe they represent the bitter things, the trials we've endured in life. Because the filter must be the Lord and His Word. Why? Because He filters out all those grounds, only allowing the water, now flavored by those grounds (trials), to pass through into the carafe waiting below.

And at that point, you begin to smell the sweet aroma of coffee filling up your kitchen. Ready to be poured out for myself and others to enjoy. WOW! [The wow was what I felt as I realized what a good analogy the Lord had given me. Especially for the challenges we've faced over the past year!]

I am reminded of all the verses in Scripture which speak of trials in this world. But, Praise God, he will turn those trials into something with a good aroma, clear and good to drink IF we add a good quality filter. (You know, there are some filters which are too short and end up letting coffee grounds up and over the side right into the carafe. That's not a pleasant way to end a cup of coffee! I don't think we ought to use that kind of filter with life's trials you?)

The best filter I know of is His Word. He's used it to filter out all kinds of things in my life! Jesus uses these words when praying for His disciples, shortly before being arrested: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17, KJV

Here is one of my favorite passages on living life, from the book of Psalms.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
Psalm 119:9-16, NIV84

Thank You, Jesus, for answering my off to shower! (I wrote this in my journal this morning.)

P.S. The best coffee filter I know of starts with a B and ends with an N. I'm not advertising here, just telling of my experience.

P.P.S.  I guess this was the answer as to what Productive thing I could do when I got up!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Musings on Roosters and Men...

The joy of guinea fowl! Last Friday I was in a hurry to get the chicken and guinea fowl back into the coop because we were leaving for the evening. I had already sent my princess and warrior inside to change their clothes, thinking I would just get the chickens and guineas into the coop, close the door and back inside I would go to change my own clothes. However, the guineas had other ideas.

All of the chickens were in and two of the three guineas. Every time I would go to grab at Snowball (our white guinea), she would duck right out of the way. To make matters worse, some of the chickens were beginning to come check out the happenings so I'd stop the chase and shoo them back in. Our rooster, Blackie, took up his spot right in the door way. How was I to encourage Snowball to go up the ramp on her own when HE was blocking the way?!? As you can imagine, I wasn't too pleased with our resident rooster...

I finally caught Snowball and put her inside the coop. As I did so, Blackie comes walking down the ramp into the chicken run! Oh, boy! I went inside the coop and, thankfully, he came back inside, and I closed the door. I hurried in to change and off we went.

My man was at the restaurant, and we were still 15 minutes away. He got seated, we were 10 minutes away. He ordered and my salad had just arrived when we sat down at the table. All in all, things worked out fine...though I did relate the story of the guineas to him with considerable emotion.

The next day, I went to let the chickens out again. As Blackie rushed out the door, he liked to be first, I thought of what had happened the previous night. I watched as Blackie walked, okay he's beginning to strut, around in the middle of the chicken run. In the middle of HIS flock. And I thought.

I thought of the many stories we've heard about mean roosters. I thought of the comment, “Roosters are good for one thing, stew!” I thought of how we wanted a rooster. I looked forward to hearing a cock-a-doodle-doo on summer mornings. After all, what's a farm without a rooster?

And as I thought, I realized something. Last night, when he was standing in the door way. And when he came down the ramp after I'd gotten Snowball inside. He was protecting HIS flock. He was helping me keep those hens and guineas in order. He was doing what our Creator created him to do...lead and protect.

And that may be the reason he's first out the door. It may be the reason he struts around, with his head held high, in the middle of the hens. It's not because he thinks he's so grand. He has a job to do. And that's another reason we wanted a rooster, to help protect our hens from predators! How's he going to do that if I'm shooing him away while he's doing his job?

I think you can guess where I'm going with this. The Lord has a way of taking something you're looking at and applying it to other areas of our lives. I thought about men. I thought of how many times they are maligned in our words and actions. Just like the comments about roosters being good for stew, we comment that our husbands are only good for <fill in the blank>.

Oh, you're being too harsh, you might think. It's not really the same thing. We don't talk that way about our men. If you doubt me, think of some of the recent sitcoms that have been on. “What about Raymond?” comes to mind. How is Raymond portrayed? A strong leader of his home and family, whom his wife respects, appreciates and looks to for wisdom. Or a doofus, who couldn't find his way out of a paper bag. Are his children learning to look up to him or laugh at him? Admittedly, I've only seen that show a few times, but the general impression I got was Raymond is a blockhead!

We, women, cry out for a man to lead us, but when they do, we scold and nag them for not doing it right (read: our way). No wonder our culture has problems! Just as our Creator made roosters to protect their flock, He made our men to protect their families and those who have no protector. They are problem solvers. They want and need something to focus their attention and energy on that will serve their loved ones.

How can you say that, you might ask. Well, I'm learning about it with my 7 year old warrior. When he has productive work, he does great! He helps me in the kitchen. He lets the chickens out. He helps me with the laundry. He goes out to the mailbox and brings in the mail. He also does his school work well, often with much enthusiasm. And he plays well too, as long as it's grabbed his attention.

However, when he's left to his own devices and has yet to find something to engage him, watch out! It's then that he annoys his sister. It's then that he throws a ball around the room. It's then that he generally wanders around aimlessly and ends up trying the patience of all who are around. He needs purpose. (Don't we all?)

And when I was pushing Blackie back into the chicken coop, I wasn't letting him do what he was made to do. And when I get on my son's case for getting up from the dinner table to get us all napkins (or climbing on counters to get cups), I'm not letting him do what he was made to do. And when I tell my husband, no you're not doing <that> right, I'm chipping away at his confidence and desire to lead our family the way God created him to.

So, the next time you see a funny commercial involving a “dumb guy” in any number of possible scenarios, ask yourself what message is being sent to our sons and husbands. Is that what you want them to think of themselves? Is that the kind of leader you'd like for your family? I'll pass on that. I'll take my man just the way God made him, quirks and all. I'll thank the Lord for His graciousness in allowing us to grow together in our faith. And I'll keep praying for Jesus to help me be the wife He wants me to be, the wife my husband needs to be the leader in our family.

When Blackie has pecked my man, his response has been to pick our rooster up and pet him. When recounting this to someone, they recalled that they'd heard that's a good thing to do. Perhaps I ought to apply that to my son and husband. Instead of pecking back when they're a little out of sorts, I ought to love them more. I think I've heard that somewhere before...

Lead on, Blackie, lead on...

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33, NIV84

P.S. Since stories of persnickety roosters first reached my ears, I have been praying over our rooster. I've prayed that the Lord would make him a good rooster with an amiable personality. I trust Him to answer those prayers, after all, He's the One who gave Blackie to us.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Raise Your Hand if You're Good...

I got to thinking about being “good” again last night. It is so tempting to believe that if we're “good enough” we'll go to heaven upon our death. It brought to mind the song about Santa knowing if we've been naughty or nice. Because he's only going to give good gifts to those who have been nice for the previous year. If you've been naughty, though, the consequence will be a gift of coal. How many people do you know of who woke to find coal in their stockings?

How does this image of Santa affect our view of God? And how does it affect our view of our own “goodness” or “worthiness?” We are bombarded with messages like, “You deserve a break today” and “Have it your way” from fast food chains. As moms, we're encouraged to take time for ourselves, away from our families and the stress they cause us. Is this all really true?

Will the Lord be like Santa when it comes time to enter those pearly gates we hear about? Not to say that everyone will be able to enter those gates, after all, we all would agree that those who murder innocent children and adults will be rejected, right? I'm sure there are a few names spinning through our heads right now of those who fit into this category. But as for the rest of us, are we, in our basic human nature, inherently good? All we have to do is be “good enough” to step right through those pearly gates, right?

This might be a good time to define good. Here is an applicable definition of good according to, “2a (1): virtuous, right, commendable <a good person> <good conduct> (2): kind, benevolent <good intentions>.” That sounds good, I mean we all want to believe that, don't we?

But the Word of God tells a different story. We might have a tendency to think of it as a harsh story, one filled with outdated rules, wrath for disobedience, and a life devoid of fun and adventure. But that's not true! One only has to look at Paul's life to find a God who loves to extend mercy and forgiveness to sinners, including murderers, like Paul. And talk about adventure!

Paul boasts in 2 Corinthians 11 about frequently being in prison, being flogged, beaten with rods, and stoned. He continues to say he's been in danger from rivers, bandits, his own countrymen, Gentiles, in the city, in the country, at sea, and from false brothers. He worked hard and often went without sleep, food, and drink. That sounds far from living a boring life. And he's not talking about video games or movies either, he's living them out because of his faith in Christ as his Lord and Savior!

The Word of God also tells us the truth about ourselves. We've all sinned and have fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). What do you mean we've ALL sinned? What have I done wrong? I am a nice person. I do all kinds of good things. What do you mean by “sin” anyway?

According to Jesus Himself, murder is not just killing someone and adultery is not just...well, you know. Read the following two passages from Matthew 5 to see what He says about these two items of law found in the famous Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22, NIV84)

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28, NIV84)

Perhaps you're one of the few who has not fallen in either of these ways. What about lying? You might say, I don't lie! What about the so called “white lies?” (Why are they called white anyway, are they somehow more pure than other lies? And are there “black lies?”) Another commandment given is to not give false testimony about your neighbor. In a nutshell, that means we may not lie. About anyone. Anything. To anyone. Ever. So what, you ask? What's the big deal about a little lie?

Well, it's a really big deal according to the Lord. James, who was a brother to Jesus, writes that if we break just one point in the law we are considered one who has broken the entire law. Read it for yourself:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point
is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10, NIV84

Knowing this, is there anyone who can claim to be without sin? Not really, but we do love to turn a blind eye to this truth. The Lord knows this too! We read in 1 John that when we say we haven't sinned we are lying to ourselves and “the truth is not in us.” In claiming this, we are calling Jesus a liar. James says if this is so, the Word of God has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:8,10, NIV84) BUT... “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV84)

It is Jesus Who purifies us. He makes us righteous. Through faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe that He is the Son of God. Wholly human. Wholly divine. We must believe that His life had to be sacrificed for ours. He made a way for us to be reunited with the Lord Himself. (Romans 2:21-26).

You see, it's not about our good works, it's about His Grace. We've been saved by His Grace, through faith. And this faith doesn't come from us. It's a gift from Him. It's not through our works. Why? So that no one can boast that he did it himself. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God does it all. Past. Present. Future.

When we are ready to leave our darkness of sin behind and walk in the Light of His Truth, His Word, then it's time to come to Jesus. As we confess our sins and ask Him for forgiveness, we can look forward to a new life in Him. (1 John 1:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Then we need to receive the gift of faith and seek Him. For “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV84)

Do you believe He exists? Our Creator put knowledge of Him inside of all of us, all you have to do is look around to see evidence of His handiwork. We are without excuse! (Romans 1:19-20) So seek Him earnestly. Look for Him as if you were looking for lost or hidden treasure! (Proverbs 2:4) Seek Him wholeheartedly and you will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13) God is faithful, and if you seek Him, He will be found by you. Praise the Lord!

When you put your hope in Him and look to Him for help, you will find a happiness that lasts longer than that new outfit (jewelry, car, home, etc.) you bought. Or that party of the year you were invited to. Or that game you won. (Psalm 146:5, NKJV)

And then, if someone says to raise your hand if you're good, you can raise your hand, not because you're good, but to announce, “I have Jesus as my Lord. Apart from Him I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2) And you will know true joy and the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) Because you have given the reigns of your life over to Him. All of your joys. All of your sorrows. All of your sinful tendencies.

**If you have more questions about following the law and being good, may I invite you to read the book of Romans? If you do, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your heart to His goodness and the gift He is holding out to you.**

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:9, NIV84