Articles by " admin"
2 Sep
2012

Following Christ By Fulfilling Unspoken Promises

I have always marveled at my husband’s ability to let his ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and his ‘no’ be ‘no’.   When the particular situation would tempt anyone else to promise he will do this or that, my husband seems to always choose, instead, silence, and then resolves in his mind that he will do this or that and when he will do it.  Watching him over the years, and seeing the fruit that comes by following Christ in this way, has helped to convict me to do likewise.

The backyard playground has always had a large beam of wood at the top of the ladder, requiring the children to duck under it when they reach the top.  Sometimes that necessary step is forgotten and a child will get a head bonk, the poor dears.  The other day, while my husband was standing by, my little 5-yr-old climbed to the top of the ladder and, forgetting about the beam, knocked her noggin on it.  She then worked very hard at holding back tears, and, though she rarely complains, being especially exasperated she asserted, “I hate that thing!”

I can see myself in this situation, telling my hurt little girl that we will surely get that awful beam cut off so it doesn’t happen again.  Not my husband.  He simply consoled her.  Though he knew he was just about to fix the problem, he still said nothing, keeping the principle of Matthew 5:33-37 in his heart.  After some love from her daddy, she was once again a happy little girl and ran to play in the house.  My husband set to work right away, getting out his circular saw and extension cords.

Awhile later, my little girl was on her way outside to play but stopped in sudden disbelief when she saw that the beam had disappeared.  She gasped audibly, and with love & gratitude in her shaky voice she quietly cried, “Oh Daddy….”.

This whole scene made me think of our Lord, right down to the carpenter cutting the wood.  Moved with compassion, Christ would have consoled the child, then, without empty words, the Great Carpenter would have cut the wood, performing the deed out of abundant love and concern for the child’s little need.

What an example our Heavenly Father sets for us.  The King of Heaven, having never uttered one vain word, continues to perform mighty deeds of compassion, even tending to the littlest of needs.  Certainly, the wise realize it is best to hold the tongue, thereby avoiding any possibility to sin by producing empty words, for there is very little we control, we “cannot make even one hair white or black.” Matthew 5:36b

 

Give Us This Day…

“But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit [it to be so] now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

This verse is easy to pass by to get to the actual baptism of Christ, but I linger here this morning, it’s beauty striking me; the Spirit holding me captive to it.   What is it about this verse that is so rich?  What is the Spirit saying?

Do you I know what is proper and when it is proper to ‘fulfill all righteousness’?

Jesus knew precisely what He should be doing and precisely when He should be doing it.  Like the earth knows when and where to spin in it’s orbit, allowing for just the proper distance for life to thrive on earth.  Jesus knows what is proper and when it is proper to ‘fulfill all righteousness”.   There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.

Perhaps another time wouldn’t have been proper, perhaps another place or another person other than John, perhaps Christ would not have said these words.  Christ humbled Himself not only to be baptized by a man, but also by subjecting Himself to time and space, God’s natural contraints upon man.

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of my various activities throughout the day as ‘necessary to fulfill all righteousness’.   Yet, each one, at the proper time, is just that.

Yesterday my dear husband was sweating up a storm working on our rotting garage.  The foundation of our 1915 garage has been completely covered by years of built up ground, buring the foundation which has the effect of rotting the wood wherever the dirt touches.  My husband has been digging a massive trench around the garage to expose the foundation, and it is truly hard work.

He kept telling me not to help him but to do what I need to do in the house with the kids.  Two days ago, I did as he wanted and stayed inside doing my regular duties, but I can testify that though I was not idle, it still didn’t feel right or good.  It felt improper.

In retrospect, I am sure that I should have said something like this to my hardworking man when he told me not to help him,

“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then, I should have gathered the kids and we could have all helped.

It is 8:45 a.m. right now and I have finished my devotions and I have finished my response.  Though I didn’t get to the day’s entire prayer list, I know I can continue to come before the Lord throughout the day while driving or cleaning, or for a quick 5-minute Scripture pick-me-up.  I can now confidently move ahead with the duties the day offers.  The Spirit has shown me what is fitting and proper.  I am to spend an hour or two on that garage, blessing my husband.

If I choose to ignore this knowledge, choosing instead my own spinning thoughts of ‘but this, and I need to do that’, I will lose my step with the Spirit, my conscience pricking me each minute I do not turn, and eventually, as the day dwindles, my mind will be ever more racing and anxious, having accomplished only my own agenda while ignoring the Spirit’s promptings, resulting in anxious thoughts, bitterness toward the constraints of time and duty, and a sense of meaninglessness of what I did accomplish.

No.  Not today.  Today is my opportunity to capture each moment of the day, by asking, ‘What now Holy Spirit?’  ‘What’s next?’.   If it is not terribly obvious, then to my knees in stillness and prayer, and I know the Spirit will guide.  What is fitting and proper for this moment and this place, to fulfill all righteousness, Lord?

28 Aug
2012
Posted in: Answered Prayers
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Current Prayer List; My Heart’s Desires

God is glorified when prayer is answered and then proclaimed, so it is well worth the time to write down what has not yet been answered.  I write it here in case you feel led to pray for me and so that I can proclaim it later, when God answers, so that God can get even more glory.

– That this blog would be a tool used of God to point the redeemed toward a deeper dependence on Jesus by means of Scripture, prayer, and praise.  That God’s faithfulness would be clearly communicated to the redeemed that struggle with doubt. “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8b  And that the ‘Begin‘ page would become a powerful force in the spreading of the gospel.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19 & 20

– Daily praying for wisdom and strength for my husband (and I have been daily witnessing God’s hand upholding my dear man).  Praying that I would be a good wife: loving, kind, compassionate, submissive, and diligent.  “…admonish the young women to love their husbands…” Titus 2:4  Praying that I would know him enough to please him in ways he didn’t even realize he needed.  “But she who is married cares about the things of the world–how she may please [her] husband.” 1 Cr 7:34

– Praying that praise and prayer would be hallmarks of our home environment.  That strife and complaining would be swiftly confessed to the Lord.  That a stranger walking in for 20 minutes would leave refreshed because of the Spirit’s undeniable presence and our uncontainable joy for the Lord.  That my children and all who enter would feel the warmth of a loving and secure home, grounded in righteousness.  “The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.  My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places…” Isaiah 32:17&18

– Praying for faithfulness and wisdom in my calling to homeschool my youngest two, that homeschooling would be accomplished in reverence to God with chaste conversation, a quiet spirit, with great joy, patience, love and diligence.  I am praying for wisdom in prioritizing my to-do’s in submission to the Holy Spirit so that His to-do’s are my to-do’s, then peacefully letting go of what does not get done.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5&6

– Praying for faithfulness and wisdom in my calling to my older children who are currently in high school at a local private Christian school.  My son is a senior so I want to be faithful to ‘finish strong’.  I am praying that my daughter would feel my love for her, that I would encourage her with my words, especially encourage her love for the Lord.  Again, Titus 2:4 says: “Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children”.  That’s a friendship ‘love’, a love they can feel.

– The salvation of beloved family members.  I am praying specifically that the Lord would put beautiful believers in their paths, people they can not deny liking because they shine with grace and genuine kindness.  Many of my loved ones have had bad experiences with ‘Christianity’ which left a sour witness for Jesus. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16

– That the Lord would use me in the lives of the less fortunate, especially the oppressed in the Nuba Mountains of Northern Sudan.  Also that I would be more faithful in visiting my friend in the nursing home, for the glory of God. “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.” Psalms 10:18

– That the Lord would use me in the lives of the less fortunate here, especially those who have never heard the gospel.  Praying specifically that the Lord would provide a regular activity for my children that would involve unbelievers, such as a local library club, or a YMCA class, etc, so that we can invite kids we have met to our Wednesday night children’s church program.  Also that the Lord would give me courage and power to share the gospel with other moms at park playgrounds, on a regular basis.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16a

– That our family would bless our church by the giving of our lives and our service.  That we would be on the look out for strangers and unbelievers to welcome into the fold, that we would serve faithfully and wholeheartedly, for the glory of God.  Also that the Lord would use my kitchen to spread love and good will to believers that are sick or burdened.  That my children would someday teach their children to do likewise.  “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corin 12:14

– That I would be faithful in learning Egyptian Arabic while running on the treadmill, something the Lord called me to years ago.  And that I would be faithful in memorizing Scripture.  That the Lord would work something of a miracle to sink this knowledge into my head (something’s definitely not quite right with my memory, so I really depend on the Lord to cement what I learn into my leaky brain).  “It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them.” Isa 19:20

 

The Dilapidated Garage: Today’s Glorious Mission

Our garage, if you want to call it that, is in need of a lot of work.  Paint, a new roof, new doors, and now we’ve discovered it needs either a completely new foundation, or lots of reinforcement to the current foundation.   In short, it’s a mess.

Ever since my poor husband realized the foundation needed extensive work, he has spent hours poking the wood, walking around it, thinking, then poking again, walking, standing, talking about it, thinking about it, then inside on the computer looking up possible solutions, then back outside poking and thinking, etc.

He concluded that he would have to dig deeply around the entire thing to work on the foundation, but his time is so limited.  It will soon be cold and he goes to work everyday so he can only dedicate precious few hours to it each week.  These things are of great concern to him.

Yesterday, while he was poking and thinking, I kept asking him if I could be of any help and he finally directed me to the children, “if you could help Beks practice riding her bike, that would be wonderful.  I had to tell her I couldn’t help her because I had to work on this”.  I asked him if I ought to dig around the garage the next day while he was busy at work, and both he and I quickly brushed the thought away because I have many responsibilities of my own.

Earlier in the week I prayed that the Lord would give me something I could do that would really show my love to my husband.  Yesterday I prayed about the garage; that my husband would have peace about it.  This morning during my devotions, I asked Jesus to speak to me; I asked the Lord to lead me today.

So when I stumbled onto Luke 6:48 this morning, “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid a foundation on rock…” The words, “dug down deep” really hit home (or the garage) and I didn’t think it too far fetched to consider that the Lord was calling me to dig deeply around the foundation of our garage today.

So, there is today’s testimony about God’s amazing faithfulness in answering prayer.   I love God’s little surprises; I would have never, ever, guessed that I was going to spend today shoveling dirt because I happened to read Luke 6:48.

Yet, here I am, that’s just what God called me to for today.  I am thankful to look out my window and not only see a dilapidated garage, but also a glorious mission, full of His purpose and His presence.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

Update:

I was able to do some focused digging at various intervals throughout the day because the Lord graciously made it possible (I’m slowly learning I don’t have to be anxious about my other responsibilities when the Lord directs, because He always works it out one way or the other).  I had cookie making duty for my son’s soccer team which my 14-yr-old daughter gladly took on for me.   She had her headphones on and was joyfully be-bopping in the kitchen for hours, baking up a mean quadruple batch of chocolate chip cookies.

My husband got home in the evening and said, “Do my eyes deceive me, or do I see some digging has been done?”  Since I wasn’t totally sure that was exactly what he wanted, I was so pleased that he was happily surprised when he saw it.  Thank you Lord!

19 Aug
2012
Posted in: Answered Prayers
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A Proper Passage for a Get Well Card

How do I know what Scripture passage God might use in the life of another person?  I can guess by thinking of the person’s situation and then looking up topics that would be fitting.  I can pick a verse that has a lot of meaning to me.  But what verse does the Lord want this person to hear? What verse will speak to their heart like no other? I have no idea at all.

Oh the beauty of prayer!  How lovely it is that the Lord has invited us to participate in His work by praying!  My 46 year-old step sister was in the hospital, waiting to have double bypass heart surgery.  I might have no idea what verse to write down on my little get well card, but the Lord knows!

“Lord, what verse should I use?  This is your work and I am your vessel; I don’t want to get in the way by assuming I know anything, if it pleases You, please pick out the proper passage”.

I started with one that I thought might be it but it didn’t seem quite right, so I left a marker on it and moved on, flipping through my NIV, checking my highlighted passages.  It wasn’t long before one popped out like a sore thumb, and I knew the Spirit was nudging me to write down Philippians 4:6-7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ”

When my step sister read the passage, she started crying.  She said that particular verse had a lot of meaning to her because once she had to go to the Mayo Clinic all by herself and she clung tightly to that verse.

Later, after dropping the card off, I looked at the passage again and read it to my children.  I noticed the very appropriate promise that the Lord would ‘guard your hearts’, which was exactly what my step sister needed, in a very literal way!  And we prayed for her again, that the Lord would guard her heart.

Her surgery went well and, though she is not yet through her trial, her recovery is going well also.  And in that surgery room, the peace of God guarded her heart, literally.  Praise be to God.

A Thousand More Smiles Than Yesterday

Today my 7-year-old Ana said something to me that shot right to my heart,

“If I went away from you, what I would miss is your smile, that one smile.”  She sweetly said to me while I was helping her wash her hair.

“Sometimes I actually cry because I think about how much I would miss your smile if you were gone.  Like if I were living at my friend’s house, I think of how much I would miss your smile and I actually cry!”

I was very touched by her tender words, and, of course, smiled at her. “Yeah, that smile!” she reinforced.

Oh what a gift that was from above!  I started thinking about the power of something as simple as smiling.  Mothers have it in their power to chose to smile consciously, generously, and sincerely at their children.

Each smile a wordless love poem, reminding them how precious they are, that they are unconditionally loved and accepted.  It is so easy, but smiling generously is not obvious; it must be done consciously or can too easily be neglected.  A mother’s hearty smile can change the atmosphere of the room from dismal to cheerful. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30   And heartfelt, consistent & sincere smiles give glory to God in a way nothing else can.

I find the smiling women at church far easier to approach than those that do not smile very often.  One can certainly love Jesus without smiling all the time, but some have discovered the power of their contented smiles, and they use this power for the Glory of God.

There is an older woman at our church that really stands out from a crowd.  Wrinkles and white hair serve only to enhance her beauty and elegance.  What is it about her?  It’s her smile: frequent, contented, loving and kind.  Though I do not know her, her smile and twinkling eyes, coupled with her faithful church attendance and beautiful white hair, speak volumes about who she is.  This woman knows God’s faithfulness and is content in Christ.  “A happy heart makes the face cheerful…” Proverbs 15:13a  If I were ever in need of another older Godly woman’s opinion, I am almost certain that I could go to her though I have hardly spoken to her!  Smiling is that powerful!

It has been my conviction for some time now to smile more lovingly, more generously, more consciously, more.  I want my family to feel my adoration and approval and my community to see what overflowing joy results from following Christ.  It comes down to a desire to shine for Jesus with everything I’ve got!  If God is at all praised with my smile, then today might I give a thousand more than yesterday.

:)

The ‘Foolish’ Method To Scripture Memorization That Works

My 17-year-old son just got back from Camp Barakel in Fairview, MI.  He said the preacher was absolutely amazing simply because he had so much Scripture memorized.  The man gave a sermon on the weapons of spiritual warfare and my son said it was mostly Scripture, the man simply tied the passages together logically in his sermon.  The man never had to read the Scripture, it was all in the man’s head; this unnatural ability completely astonished my son and greatly motivated him to listen and take notes.

This preacher said that there was a time he deeply wanted to memorize Scripture, but just couldn’t.  He’d ask his wife to help him study and he’d have a hard time getting the first word out.  Then he prayed hard and much about the matter, for about a month.  The man testified that the ability he now has to so easily memorize came from diligently asking God for it.  We already have it in Christ because we have been enriched in every way when we became His children by His sacrifice on the cross.

“For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all knowledge – ”  1 Corinthians 1:5a

I have a terrible memory.  Truly terrible.  I forget names, I forget places, I forget my purse, all too often for it to be cute.   And yet, about two years ago, I do believe the Lord called me to start learning Arabic.  That is a really crazy idea because, as I said, I’m absolutely terrible at remembering anything at all.  Arabic?  Me?  Nuts.  And yet…

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”  Luke 1:45

Arabic, huh?  Well, I’ve been stumbling along in Arabic every since.  It certainly isn’t going swimmingly well, but I have gotten a few things down, I suppose.

I’d also like to memorize Scripture more than I do presently.  I’d like to be able to pick up an appropriate verse for the occasion and toss it about in my head, all through the day.  To really internalize the words, you know?

Am I willing to really plead with God about these desires, like the speaker did?  How much do I want this ability, or perhaps the better question to ask is why do I want this ability?  Do I want it for the glory of God, or just cause it’d be pretty neato?  I’ll be praying about such things.

It pleased the Lord to give this speaker at Barakel an uncanny ability to memorize Scripture, but it would have never happened if the man didn’t first heavily seek the Lord about it.  I bet if I were to do a web search on “how to memorize” I’d get a lot of different techniques and not one of them would say, “get on your knees and hard pray about it, period”.  That would be foolishness to most.

“Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20

Isn’t God cool?  I love it.  He loves the weak and insignificant things that are humbly brought before Him, He loves to make things new, to stretch out His hand.  I want to bring my inability to Him every time, and acknowledge that He is the King, so if it would please Him to give me the ability, so be it, if not, so be it.  Blessed be the Lord.

 

12 Aug
2012

Another Encounter with the Living Word

I am always floored when I consider that our holy and almighty God is intimately involved in my everyday life.  He is so big, He is even in my littleness, condescending to meet even my smallest need, reminding me of His presence at any given moment.

Yesterday my step sister was in the hospital for heart problems.  Though I don’t know my step sister very well (my mom somewhat recently remarried), her condition led me to pray mightily for her that day.

Yesterday evening it seemed Christ was so near while I was praying and recounting my first encounters with faith as a young child, and then as a teen when I first read Scripture.

My mind moved to my step sister, laying in the hospital, and my mother who probably spent the day with her at the hospital, and it seemed to me that the Spirit might have me call my mom and check on how things were going, even though it was 10:30 p.m.

I wanted to quickly read a verse or two from Scripture, because that was my intention when I sat down in the first place.  I opened precisely to Job 5:1 and all I needed was the first half of the sentence to realize that God was confirming the direction to give my mom a call, “Call if you will…”.  Closed my bible and gave my mom a call; we had a very nice chat and I think my mom felt my love.

20 Jul
2012

Praising God for Hornworms!

Today we’re praising God for Hornworms. We were done with our swimming lessons at the YMCA and walking to our car when we spotted a very little organic garden near the parking lot.   I often pray for opportunities to teach the children how to see God’s goodness in our everyday life and little patches of nature have yet to disappoint me as a great resource toward that end.

Today was no exception because we found a hornworm on one of the sunflower plants, diligently doing what God made it to do; eating everything in sight!  I was quite sure those who tended to the garden wouldn’t mind a bit if we kidnapped their hornworm since these guys are a gardener’s worst nightmare, so we found an old container in the car and off we went with our captive.  Each amazing feature has been lovingly observed by my children, including its blackberry shaped poops, and I have had the glorious privilege to praise God along with my children at each discovery.

Our next door neighbor, a 46 year-old woman who loves kids and critters, also delights in praising the Lord over the little things in life and the girls have learned that showing her their critters thoroughly adds to the fun because you never know what this she might do.  This time she excitedly plucked the 3 inch creepy crawly off the stem and let it crawl up her arm.  Ew!