Friday, July 13, 2012

Lessons from Buster

Buster is our two year old Beagle.  He keeps us constantly entertained by his hilarious antics (otherwise known as hard-headedness) and his incredible amount of laziness.  Someone once described a Beagle as a hyperactive couch potato.  They were exactly right.  Buster loves food.  He loves food of all kinds.  But he has a special, strange affection for cereal.  He recognizes the sound of the cereal box, or cereal in a bowl, and comes running from wherever he is. 

Last night, I was eating some granola (cereal, as far as Buster is concerned), and Buster was perched expectantly in front of me waiting for me to "drop" some his way.  I "dropped" a couple of pieces and he gobbled them up happily.  Then I dropped a piece, but missed, and it bounced under the couch.  Buster quickly took up his "reaching for an object under the couch position". This involves laying on his side with his nose and paws under the couch.  His legs are too short to reach beyond his nose, so he just lays there, wiggling his paws hopelessly, with no chance of reaching anything.  Occasionally, he would get up and move around to the side of the couch and take up the same position.  This went on for THIRTY minutes.  He could not be persuaded to leave his vigil.  I gave him another piece of granola, which he gobbled up, and he went right back to reaching for the lost piece.

Meanwhile, his food bowl sat across the room, untouched.  Now at this point, it was getting late.  We were ready to shut down and go to bed.  Buster was getting close to being put in his kennel for the night.  He was in danger of getting put up with no supper.  I called and called him to his bowl, but he would not let up on the lost piece of granola.  It was ridiculous and funny all at the same time.  Finally, I gave in.  I got down on my hands and knees and scooped out the tiny piece of granola, literally four or five pieces of oatmeal stuck together!  He swallowed his prize happily, and then went off to eat his dinner, just in time for bed.

As I got ready for bed last night, I was laughing at my silly Beagle when God reminded me that I am just like him sometimes.  God has prepared something much better than a bowl of dog food for me!  He has incredible plans and gifts for me, just over the horizon.  But sometimes I get so focused on something miniscule that I can't even see what He is offering me.  I often miss great reward because I am fixated on a tiny, insignificant issue.  God is calling me to something so good, and I risk missing it and "going to bed hungy".  I ignore God's calling, choosing instead to reach helplessly for something that isn't satisfying at all.  Thank the Lord He has mercy on me time and again, and allows me to get my focus back on him before it's too late!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Radical Decision

Today the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a law that takes yet another swipe at the freedoms Americans supposedly hold dear.  Not too long ago, I would have sat down at this computer and typed out a political rant outlining the reasons why America is (to borrow a quote from an old friend) "going to Hell in a handbasket".  But God has been doing something in my life recently, and while I still hold very strong, very definite political views, I find myself thinking of something else today.

It is more important now than ever that I teach my daughters about the Lord, that I turn their focus to Him and to His Word.  We can no longer take comfort in the fact that we live in a "Christian nation".  We can no longer rely on cultural Christianity and basic morality to protect our families.  In fact, that very "comfort" is why we are where we are today as a nation and as a church.  The church dropped the ball years ago.  The family dropped the ball years ago.  "Cultural Christianity" has done more damage to the church and to the family than anything else I can think of. 

My girls will become adults in a world that has no respect for God or for His Word.  They are living in a world that scoffs at the ideas of fidelity, one-woman-one-man-marriage-for-life, and the protection of life at every stage.  The basic "truths" that I assumed were universal when I was their age are no longer even relevant in this world.  They are, however, still relevant and completely true in the face of Almighty God.   Comfortable, cultural Christianity will no longer get it.  This generation of believers, if they are to survive, are going to have to be totally and completely, radically, sold out for Christ. 

Everything has to change.  Every focus, every goal, every decision has to become a radical focus, a radical goal, a radical decision.  My job (and their dad's) is to point them in that direction.  We have always said that our goal is to raise Godly young women who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls and spirits and who will be Godly wives and mothers.  We have never claimed to be raising super scholars or performers.  Their education, their talents, their gifts have all come as a distant second to their spiritual development.  But I am reminded today that that has to become even more intentional.  The world my girls will become adults in will challenge every belief they have.  It will defy their God, laugh at their convictions, and mock their lifestyle.  Living a Godly life will be a challenge every day.  They MUST know what they believe and why.  It must be completely real to them.  They must own their faith now, or they will stumble in it then. 

And so, while I will continue to voice my opinions in the political realm, while I will stand for what I believe to be right and vote for what I believe to be good, I will not let myself become so wrapped up in those things that I lose focus of my main goal.  No matter who runs our country, no matter what the current laws state, no matter what the world screams, my goal will be to send out from this house women who love the Lord their God with all their hearts, minds, souls and spirits, and who will teach others to do the same.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bold Humility

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that He had come from God, and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing...and began to wash his disciples' feet."  John 13:3-5

Did you see that?  The Holy Son of God, the Great I AM took off his outer clothes and washed his disciples' feet! The One to whom all creation must bow knelt on the floor and performed the dirtiest of tasks, knowing full well that He was on His way to His own execution.  Doesn't that just make you gasp?  What is that?  What would make Him do such a thing?  One word, Love.  Love for His Father, and love for his followers.

Jesus knew WHO he was (and is) and WHOSE He was (is). Because of that security in His identity and his position, He was able to boldly follow in servanthood.

Bold Humility.

Being certain of our position in Christ gives us the security and boldness to serve others with humility.  We have no need to prove or defend ourselves.  Our proof is already complete in Christ.  Our defense is already made in Christ.  We can walk in humility without concern for what others might think, because we are holy and righteous and we are daughters and sons of the Most High God. 

What does this mean for us and for our children?  It means that we can teach them to serve, to minister, to walk in humility and to do it all boldly.  There is no fear, there is no shame in humility found in Christ.  That's where the boldness comes in.  Our boldness is also in Him.   

I have been troubled recently by the lost art of teaching girls and young women to be Christlike ladies.  Our culture has determined that ladylike characteristics are weak and less than desirable.  The world says that "girls can do everything boys can do".  The world says that riotous behavior is more fun that righteous behavior.  The world says that outward beauty is worth more than inward beauty.  And so our girls want to be funny, they want to be strong, they want to be loud and they want to be beautiful.  We have lost the art of teaching them to be graceful and gracious and quiet and...yes...beautiful.  We do them a great disservice. 

Instead, we should show them how to live in bold humility.  Not ashamed of their gracefulness or graciousness or inward beauty, but confident in their position in Christ.  That confidence is a most beautiful, most desirable, most Christlike trait. 

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  1Corinthians 13:4

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sunshine Award

I was just awarded the Sunshine Award from K. Henriques Photography. Thank you! The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. As an award winner apparently I am supposed to ask a few questions about myself and then nominate my favorite bloggers for the award. (I changed a couple of questions to suit me.)

My Questions
1.  favorite color : coral

2. My favorite animal : dogs, particularly mine
3. My favorite book of the Bible : Ephesians
4. My favorite drink : Hot, regular coffee first thing in the morning
5. Facebook or twitter : Facebook...Twitter annoys me
6. My passion : Jesus, then my family

7. Prefer giving or getting presents : giving
8. My favorite song : Virtuoso, by David Phelps (preferably as performed by Ballet Magnificat!)
9. My favorite day of the week : Sunday

10. My favorite season: Summer!

Now, my nominees are:
Proverbs31gal (Debbie)

PrayerintheTanningBed (Karen)

JoyfullyEverAfter (Lisa) (Ridley's blog is also a favorite, but I can hear him laughing now at the thought of completing this, so I am not nominating him, but I will mention him anyway! )

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's All About Us, and Therein Lies the Problem

I ran across this today, from a favorite blog of mine (Raising Godly Children):

(James Smith, Affliction Regarded" 1865)

"They shed innocent blood-the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; so the land became polluted with blood!" Psalm 106:38

We may plead guiltless as to the shedding of the blood of the body - but there is the blood of souls! How many of us have sacrificed our children to the idols of the present Canaan - fashion, custom, dress, amusements, and worldly conformity in general!

Look at the poor example we give them!

Look at the worldly company we choose for them!

Look at the carnal practices we allow them to indulge in!

O how many of our children have been sacrificed to the custom, fashion, and the various idols of the world!

These words were published in 1865!  Yes, nearly 150 years ago, and yet look at what he said.    He refers to carnal practices, worldly company, idols of fashion!  If this was true 150 years ago, is it not more so today?

I was recently made aware of The Gospel Project , a new teaching tool from Lifeway with the aim of "immerse(ing) participants — adults, students, and kids — in the gospel through every story, theological concept, and call to missions from Genesis to Revelation."  Matt Chandler introduces the curriculum briefly in a video clip on the website.  I urge you to check out the website and listen to Matt's video.  He uses the story of David and Goliath to explain how the Gospel Project approaches Scripture.  Basically, he explains that many (most) people view the story of David and Goliath by putting themselves in the place of David, and their problems in the place of "Goliath".  But this isn't the point of the story at all.  David is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ and Goliath is sin.  David's victory over Goliath is, likewise, a foreshadowing of Christ's triumph over sin. (First and foremost, David and Goliath were actual people, and this account is an actual encounter.  But God used their encounter to demonstrate his plans for our future salvation. Don't miss the reality and truth of the Scriptures.) 

In thinking about this understanding of Scripture, and in discussing it with others, I made the observation that one of the reasons so many people, students and adults alike, have difficulty with God's Word is that our culture has developed a "me-centered" theology.  We think it's all about us.  We go to the Bible to find out how we are to live our lives, how we are to deal with our problems, and what God is going to do for us.  That is not at all what the Bible is about.  The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to the world.  Yes, we can learn from it and fashion our thinking and lives on it's premises (and we should do just that).  But the point of Scripture is to know God.  Once we know Him, our lives will naturally reflect that knowledge.  Our problems, likewise, will pale in comparison to His glory.  And understanding who He is, we see the immensity of what He has already done for us.

So, back to that "me-centered" theology.  Doesn't it permeate everything in our culture?  In our churches?  We are a generation who has been made to believe that our desires, our needs, our likes and dislikes dictate everything we do.  And we are raising a generation who believes this even more than we ever did.  We live in a culture of political correctness, fairness, "rights", and tolerance.  We make our decisions as a culture, as churches, as families, based on how our children will "feel".  We never allow them to hurt.  We never allow them to work.  We worry about them having fun, having things, having friends.  And so they believe that they should always feel good, should always get what they want, should always enjoy whatever they are doing.  And then,  we are surprised that they walk away from their "faith" (if it ever was faith).  To quote my husband, "If we keep giving them everything they want, how in the world will they ever understand grace?"  It's no wonder they don't understand the depth of the love of God for them.  It's no wonder they don't return that love with enthusiasm. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't Follow "At A Distance"

Luke 22:  54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter spent three years with Jesus.  He witnessed miracles.  He walked on water!  He witnessed the transfiguration!  He was in Jesus' inner circle, one of the three Jesus chose to pour into even more than the others.  How, then, did Peter find himself denying that he even knew Jesus?  I think it started in verse 54.  Peter "followed at a distance'.  He got too far away from Jesus. 

Look at what happened next.  In verse 55, the Scripture says Peter "sat down among them"...them being the people in the high priest's house, maybe servants and officers.  Not only had he gotten too far away from Jesus, he got too close to those who were against Jesus.  He sat down with them, tried to blend in with them, tried to act like one of them.

But it didn't work.  Before long, someone called him out.  Then another did the same...and again.  And what did Peter do?  Peter, who had gotten too far away from his Lord and had gotten too close to the wrong people, denied he even knew Jesus.  In such a short period of time, a matter of hours, Peter had gone from fighting for Jesus to denying him completely.  It started with distancing himself, and it ended with bitter weeping (verse 62).

Isn't that how it always works?  We never start out planning to disown Him.  It's just a step away, then another step.  Soon we are backing off, not following as closely as we were.  We start to try to blend into the crowd.  We try to look like everyone else, act like everyone else, avoid being noticed.  The next thing we know, we are "sitting" with them; spending time with the world, conversing with it.  And then comes the opportunity.  We can either stand up in the face of evil and say "no", or we can deny the Lord and say nothing.  Even worse, we deny Him and condone the evil.  For Peter, it was fear of recognition, fear of association.  Isn't it the same for us?  Fear of offending, fear of appearing "judgmental", fear of being left out. 

Learn from Peter's hard lesson.  That path always ends with bitter weeping.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interactive Blog Experiment

Well, I am putting myself out there. I may live to regret this. I may find out no one actually reads anything I write. But here goes anyway... This is going to be an interactive blog post. The meat of it will come from anyone who chooses to respond. I will post my own response later, but I want the responses to come from your experiences, not your reaction to my experience.

 What I want to know is this: As a parent, what has surprised you most at this stage in your children's lives? What did you not expect/plan for/anticipate? Feel free to share how you have responded to the surprise as well. Now...GO!

 Yes, that's it. Nothing more from me right now. The success or failure of this experiment depends on you. Keep in mind that any comments must be approved by me before they will appear. That's just the way I set up my blog.