Prayer

Ironing for Jesus

ironing-403074_1280

The other day, as we prepared for yet another wedding, I watched my brother and sister-in-law. They efficiently and diligently did every task asked of them without complaint or attitude. I have seen them do this before. Since they never complain and no job is too small or “beneath” them, they are wonderful to have around! While we have had so many helpful relatives and friends give us a hand these past few weeks, on this particular day there were just a few of us and I watched my brother and his wife closely. As they quietly worked, much got done and there was no drama. They willingly and gladly did anything necessary to help. By the end of the day, I was convicted.

On the way home that day, I asked the Lord to help me be more like them. I told him that I wanted to stop complaining when a task is boring or hard. Or when I’d rather be doing something else.

Little did I know that God would present me with a situation that would test my earnest prayer the very next day.

We had tablecloths to iron. Lots of tablecloths to iron. Somehow I ended up at an iron (probably because no one else wanted to do it!) But these weren’t just any tablecloths. These things were so difficult to iron. There was no feeling of accomplishment even when I’d spend 15 minutes on one tablecloth. I am convinced that many of the wrinkles in these rented cloths were permanently in place.

This made for a pretty discouraging task. For a variety of reasons–

It was hot.

It was boring.

And there was no possible way to do it well.

As I watched everyone having all the fun of decorating the venue, I stood at the ironing board, dutifully doing my “mom” thing but not with a very good attitude. I was bummed and started complaining inside my head. And then the complaints started spilling out of my mouth.

And that’s when the Holy Spirit challenged me.

Did you really mean what you prayed yesterday? Because this is a test.

No, I didn’t hear the words. But I was convicted.

I made a choice to stop complaining in that instant. What did it matter? Why not spare someone else from having to do this awful job and let others have the fun? The only reason I even cared was because I was thinking only of me. If this was my job, then I would do it cheerfully. I went to work and, instead of being resentful about missing out on all of the fun, I put on some uplifting music and chose to enjoy watching all of the activity.

Thankfully, God was so kind to me and provided my mom to help me with the ironing a little later on. But not before I learned a good lesson. Sometimes we don’t get to do the fun job or the job we think we should. Instead we are asked to do the job that we don’t want to do. The one that perhaps we think we are too good for. And that’s when our true character shows, isn’t it? That’s when we see who we really are inside. Because anyone can be pleasant and diligent when they are doing what they want to do.

Thankfully, the Lord hasn’t given up on me yet and so, while this could have ended up as one of my many spiritual failures, in this particular instance I made a choice, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, to respond correctly and started ironing for Jesus.

One of my favorite verse came to mind while I did so–

Colossians 3:23-24  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Are you doing your mundane or hated tasks with a joyful heart and pleasant attitude? If not, I encourage you to, this day, think through your attitude. For it is here that Satan can so easily ensnare us. We Christians don’t always view our bad attitudes as sinful, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are sinful.

Let’s improve our characters by making the conscientious choice to smile in the boring tasks. To praise God through the difficult demands. And to be humble when asked to do something we think is beneath us. For in doing so, the light of our Lord and Savior will shine ever so brightly through us!

 

Diamonds and Axeheads

Diamond Necklace

Several years ago, I lost a necklace. Not the big, chunky kind made out of brightly-colored beads. This was a delicate chain with a small diamond charm. The special kind your husband gives you to celebrate a special milestone or anniversary.

I had taken it off at the end of a long day and placed it on the end table. When I thought of it the next day, it had completely vanished. I searched everywhere. I couldn’t find it.

We came to the conclusion that it had probably fallen in the small trash can next to the table. I sadly realized that it was lost forever. We have a big dumpster which holds all of the trash that our sizable company discards. The bag holding this necklace was in that dumpster. The chances of finding a tiny little gold chain inside a large trash bag in an even larger dumpster were slim to none. We didn’t even know which trash bag was the right one.

My husband decided to look, anyway. That’s just the kind of guy he is. I sent up a little prayer letting the Lord know that I would greatly appreciate finding this special necklace.

Within just a few minutes, Eric came inside the house holding the chain in his hand. Unbelievable. Why would God care about such a thing?

A few years later, I lost my anniversary band. It was a little big and when the weather grew cold and my fingers shrunk even further, the band must have slipped off. How well I remember that Monday at lunchtime. I looked down at my hand and realized it was gone. We searched everywhere for it. But my heart sank, knowing full well that it was unlikely that we would find it.

For several weeks, I prayed that it would somehow miraculously turn up. This ring meant even more than the necklace, as it was bought to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was very special and also rather expensive. I was heartbroken.

It never turned up.

But when my birthday came around a few months later, my husband presented me with a small wrapped box. When I opened it, I found the exact same ring that he had purchased over a year earlier. He had bought me this because he knew just how disappointed and upset I was about the loss of that ring. And you know what? This ring means almost more than the first one. It symbolizes unconditional love even through my failures and stupid moments. It shows me commitment and willingness to go above and beyond. He could have been furious and never bought me another piece of jewelry again. Instead he bought me a replacement for the ring I had lost.

So why am I telling you this?

These events came to mind as I read the account of the floating axehead in 2 Kings 6. Elisha’s servants decide to build a new dwelling. At least one of them is so poor that he needs to borrow an axe to fell the trees. While they are working by the Jordan, his iron axehead falls into the Jordan. He is in much despair over this, because it is not his and he does not have the money to replace it. Elisha asks him where it has fallen, throws a stick in the water, which causes the iron axehead to float, and the servant picks it out of the water.

This whole story takes place in only six verses. It’s only a minute portion of the Bible, but there is much to learn here. This man’s life was not in danger. His home, his wife, his children, his education are not mentioned. We know nothing about him.

What we do know is that iron was very expensive in those days and this lost axehead would cause him financial difficulty.

What we do know is that God cared enough about this man and his seemingly trivial problem to provide a miracle on this man’s behalf.

Now, I’m sure this didn’t happen every day and there were probably some axeheads that sat on the floor of the Jordan at the great displeasure and inconvenience of their owners and borrowers. God did not make every axehead float.

But in this instance, God decided to intervene.

This incident shows us that, just like my diamond necklace, God cares enough to help in the little things. Sometimes He chooses to show Himself in an amazing way.

But sometimes, as in the case of my ring, He instead has a lesson to teach us or something to show us by not interceding. And that’s okay, too.

No matter how God chooses to answer us, He knows best. We can count on Him to take care of us all the way. He will give us the strength and grace that we need–and even occasional little miracles–as we go.

And we come once more to the necessity to rest wholly in God’s Sovereignty. I am convinced that this one thing is what will bring us joy and peace as we travel through life. God cares about us. He cares about even the smallest thing. We know that He is in control, no matter what comes our way. What a comforting thought!

 

One Lone Voice

OneLoneVoice

One of my daughters decided to comment on someone’s outspoken support of Friday’s Supreme Court decision on one of her social media accounts. She was polite and kind and truthful, using God’s Word as her guide.

What she got was–

HATE.

Malicious, hostile, cruel hate.

I find it so extremely interesting that the cry is to love, love, love. But somehow that love does not extend to those who disagree. No matter how lovingly and gently you state your disagreement.

I want to unequivocally state here that I am not against people who support gay marriage. I know and care deeply about several people who live gay lifestyles. I do not have to agree with you to love you.

Somehow we have grown just a bit confused about what love really is.

Love and tolerance are the words of the day, but those two words that are thrown about by this group are not extended to Christians who simply want to practice their faith. In my mind, the vicious attacks made upon Jesus Christ and His followers are a great confirmation that we are on the right path. Few others are maligned the way we are these days.

The coming trials and persecution are going to give us many opportunities. We are going to be able to share Christ’s love and the Gospel with those who are confused and hurting. And we will be used by God in a mighty way if the Gospel is lived out in our lives like never before.

But are we brave enough for this daunting task before us?

Since the Bible Challenge began in January, I have been writing about what we are reading on Thursdays. But on Saturday I read something in my Bible reading that is so fitting— so pertinent— so applicable— to what we are going to face soon in this nation as true believers that I just had to write about it today.

In I Kings 22, we read of a man named Micaiah. As a little background, we read first of Ahab and Jehoshaphat discussing whether or not to join forces against the King of Syria. To confirm their decision, they decide to ask the prophets of the land. All 400 men– four hundred men who claim to be men of God– tell Ahab that he will experience victory. There is not even one voice of dissension.

But there is one man by the name of Micaiah, who has not been asked. Ahab even states that he hates to ask this man of God anything because he always gives him an answer he doesn’t like! (I Kings 22:8) But with Jehoshaphat’s encouragement, Micaiah is brought before the two kings.

Micaiah chooses to speak truth, rather than tickle the Kings’ ears, even though he is going against the message of the 400 men who call themselves men of God. The truth of the matter is that Ahab will not return home from that battle alive. Micaiah bravely shares this bad news with the King. He is the one lone voice of truth.

In reaction to this unpleasant news, the King throws Micaiah into prison.

A few days later, Ahab is killed in battle.

There is so much to learn from this biblical account, in light of what we are facing in America today. Here are a few of the lessons that came to mind–

1. We need to speak truth, no matter how many people disagree with us. Today we have the Bible–the inspired and inerrant Book that God has protected throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter if the whole world disagrees with us– we still speak the truth as it is presented in the Bible.

2. We speak truth, knowing full well to do so could be at our own peril. Micaiah landed in prison because he chose to spoke the truth. Are we prepared to lose our freedoms, our reputations, our jobs, our comforts, our wealth, our friends, and our families? We are moving into a strange new land. It is not the land of our grandparents. And to follow Christ is going to mean sacrifice. Are we ready for this? Even as I write this, I realize that to do this will require the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in my life, giving me the courage and grace I need. Because when I think about this in my own strength, I tremble. Will I be strong enough to bear what’s coming?

3. We cannot alter our message to please the hearers. Micaiah could have tried to soften the blow and just hedged around, but he did not. While he wasn’t mean or unkind, he was forthright. If you recall, our ultimate example, Jesus, was very much the same way.

4. The majority does not represent God. The 400 men who told Ahab to expect victory were very obviously wrong. The majority can be– and often is– wrong! I am not sure what it is about peer pressure, but humans have this strange “herd” mentality where they just believe they need to follow the crowd. But the crowd is rarely right. Micaiah stood against the crowd. And so should we.

5. So-called revelations are not trust-worthy. These 400 prophets claimed to have special revelation from God. But they were lying. Just because someone says that God gave them a message doesn’t mean He did! These men were either lying to please the King or had been given a false message from demonic sources. Whatever it was, they were not trustworthy and we should take a lesson from this. With so many running around saying they have heard a special message from God–and particularly if it goes against God’s Word–we can know that they have not had a message from God. It may have come from their own selfish thoughts or from a demonic spirit but it certainly did not come from God.

6. The consequences of sin are real and Jesus is the only way, no matter what we choose to believe.  Ahab chose to believe that the majority was telling the truth but he was still dead by end of the day. Have you ever heard someone say that “whatever you believe is true for you?” I do not understand how a logical, thinking person could be brainwashed into believing such garbage, but most of our young people today do believe this. (This fact gives great proof to the brainwashings of our public education system and higher institutes of learning, in my opinion.) Truth is truth. It cannot be swayed or changed or twisted. And it certainly isn’t going to bow the knee to my whims and desires. Ahab was set to die and his choice to not believe Micaiah’s message would not change the outcome. And so we, too, are going to pay a very real price for our sin unless we come to the Savior. We can choose to believe this or choose not to believe this but, in the end, it doesn’t change the truth.

Fellow believers, we live in a frightening time. While many of our brothers and sisters in other lands have faced persecution and hard times for following Christ, we have lived in our comfortable homes, freely worshipping and sharing our faith. But the storm that was off in the distance for such a long time has now settled in upon us. Oh, it may not affect you directly…today. And you will be able to fool yourself for a few more months, or if we are fortunate, a few more years. But I encourage you to get in the Word of God and to grow your knowledge of His great strength and help in the time of trials. I encourage you to deepen your relationship with God and to grow a strong prayer life. Prepare to be the one lone voice in your churches, your families, your work places.

Because it’s coming.

It’s just a matter of time now.

 

Wednesday Wisdom: A True Story of Revival

As you know, I stopped doing Wednesday Wisdom officially about a year and a half ago. However, occasionally, I come across something that I can’t resist sharing–like this testimony of a pastor from the former USSR. His memories of what his country was like is so eerily similar to what’s going on in America, that I thought this may help us find the silver lining to the dark cloud. Perhaps true revival will come to America, as well!

By Georgi P. Vins
(Pastor in USSR who spent 8 years in Soviet prison camps for his faith | Author of The Gospel in Bonds)

forest-gathering-color
Photo: A communion and worship service in the persecuted church in 1984 in Kiev, Ukraine (taken from The Gospel in Bonds; from the personal collection of Georgi Vins’ daughter, Natasha Velichkin; used with permission)

Revival

At the beginning of the 1960s, the Lord sent a spiritual revival among the Evangelical Baptists of the Soviet Union. The revival preceded a great assault from the atheistic authorities. Soviet newspapers and magazines spewed an endless flow of articles against believers and the Christian faith, against the Bible and God. Radio, television, and movies were used for anti-religious propaganda. Believers were fired from their jobs, and Christian young people were kept out of educational institutions.

In 1960, the Soviet leader, head of the Communist party, Nikita Khrushchev, announced a twenty-year program of definitively creating communism in the Soviet Union. By 1980, there was not to be a single Christian left, nor one church. All citizens of the USSR would have to become atheists and confess only Communist ideology.

In Evangelical Baptist churches, sermons on salvation were forbidden, and children under the age of sixteen were not to be permitted to be present at church services. As a primary measure, it was also forbidden to baptize young people under the age of thirty. This decision of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was enforced by the KGB, the police, and other authorities.

 Unfortunately, some of the ministers of Evangelical Baptist churches, fearing persecution, accepted these ungodly decrees as the basis for their ministry and actively began to implement them in the church. The churches were going through great testings. Many thousands of believers raised their voices in fervent prayer to the Lord for help and deliverance. The Lord heard those prayers and answered His people, as it is written in His Word: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalm 119:126).

A spiritual awakening began. New churches started to take shape, and groups of believers who refused to compromise with atheism proclaimed the Word of God as the absolute authority in all matters of faith and life. Young people and children attended newly formed congregations whose worship services often took place in crowded private homes or in forests. These meetings were subject to cruel disruption by the KGB and police, with the police beating up believers, and throwing them out of the meeting houses into the snow. Bulldozers were sometimes used to destroy the places where the meetings took place.

The atheistic authorities went to believers’ work places with threats of arrests and trials. But no one could stop the revival, because the Word of God says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

By 1966, several hundred independent fundamental Baptist churches had formed. Sixty to seventy percent of the membership of these churches were young people between the ages of fifteen and thirty. The hearts of believers burned with great love toward God, courage, and selflessness in ministry. My poem “Revival” was written in January of 1966, and five months later, in May of 1966, I was arrested in Moscow for taking part in the revival.

My Savior! How I love Your precious call
To slaves of unbelief, by sin defeated.
You long to bless and have each one delight
In all the joys of our eternal promise.

My Jesus! Mighty is Your matchless love,
Your hands are full of tenderness and kindness,
As constantly You lift to life anew
The sons of earth, to save them from destruction.

Our brethren You have visited once more
With Your pure flame of heaven-sent revival!
For exploits and for suff’ring You inspired
To stand for truth and infinite salvation.

When I behold the vibrant Christian youth
With glowing faces, joyous and exultant,
Their gladness like a boundless ocean’s tide,
Burst forth in ever glorious songs of triumph. . . .

And when I listen to a youthful soul
For the first time, his heart to God uplifting:
Scarce breathing then I reverently pray,
While in my thoughts the sufferers recalling. . . .

I know that not in vain their blood was spilt!
They did not bear the pain and grief for nothing.
For now I see our youth’s pure, fervent love
Their hands stretched out to Christ in supplication.

For the revival burning in our church
And for our youth rejoicing in the Savior—
We may, without misgivings or dismay,
Lay down our very lives in distant prisons.
January 1, 1966
Kiev

Praying for Our Children

prayer

Many years ago, when I was just a young girl, I became aware of the fact that I had some grandparents praying for me. I also learned that my parents were praying faithfully for me. I know that their prayers affected the course of my life and the life of my brother (and cousins). I can see now how God worked despite some less than perfect circumstances.

And so when our children were born I realized the importance of prayer because of this godly heritage with which I had been so incredibly blessed.

When we met our oldest daughter for the very first time, we felt so overwhelmed and even a little scared. We knew the instant we held that first baby in our arms that we had been blessed with an awesome responsibility.

The heaviness of this settled in through the next few weeks, as we took our newborn home and got settled in. This wasn’t just a baby. This was a new life with the potential to do great good or great evil in this world. It was a life with the potential to bless others or to cause great pain. And this new little life was born a sinner (Romans 3:23) and in great need of a Savior (John 3:16).

Along with recognizing the seriousness of this responsibility, came the awareness that who she married also had the great potential to make or break her life.

I wondered how in the world we would be able to bear these great responsibilities, especially the ones that were outside our control– such as who she would marry.

And so, early on, I started praying for her and for her future husband. I had no idea who he was, but I was praying for him. As the other kids came along, I did the same. So I can confidently tell the young men and woman that my children are marrying that I have prayed for them for most of their lives!

Through the years, as I would pray for my children, I would find it easy to get distracted by the problems and trials that loomed in front of me at that moment and I would find myself praying directly about these situations. And there wasn’t anything wrong with that.

But somewhere along the line, I learned that I needed to be praying for their spiritual health most of all. If they weren’t right with God, then their career and who they marry wouldn’t be chosen well. This means that how they would raise the future generation would be in jeopardy.

And so I latched on to Mark 12:30 and have been praying that for my kids for a very long time.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

I’ve asked the Lord to help my kids to do this.

I’ve prayed through this verse for them when I would fall into bed exhausted after watching four young children.

I’ve prayed through this verse for them when they were teenagers and their spiritual future looked very, very bleak.

And I continue to pray this verse as I watch them start their own lives and make choices completely independent of their parents.

A few years ago, I was talking to my brother (Pastor Dean) about this subject of praying for our children and he mentioned that he also regularly prays that his daughter will love righteousness and hate evil. As he spoke, I realized the wisdom in such a prayer. The Psalms talks about this subject over and over again. If you are reading the Bible Challenge with me, you will have just read through many of these with me. And so I started praying this for my kids, as well.

Another prayer that I try to pray on a regular basis is that my kids would love God’s Word. The keys to a healthy spiritual life are held within its pages. There is no possible way to be a godly man or woman without reading and studying the Word.

And, finally, I pray very regularly for my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I pray that they would be bolder and stronger Christians than me. That our family would grow deeper spiritual roots, instead of being one of those families that gradually falls away from God.

My kids are not perfect and we’ve had our struggles and continue to do so. In fact, we will sometimes talk about how we wouldn’t want to be judged for our parenting skills on how our kids behaved as teenagers. How they were in school was not always the best example and they did not always make the best choices. Adolescence can be a very difficult time. But I just kept on praying through it, sometimes with many tears.

The spiritual battles continue and I continue to pray. Satan wants the hearts of our kids. If he can distract us by the temporal and keep us focused only on the present trials in our praying, he will have won half the battle.

God is faithful. He has answered so many of my prayers for my kids. There were times that I doubted and feared that we had lost a couple of them. But God heard our prayers and saved them. I get choked up thinking about his great mercy and kindness to us through those difficult times even now.

Our prayers will never make our kids perfect and they will still struggle and make bad choices and still have so far to go. But then I guess so do you and I.

This reminds me of something I once heard John MacArthur say: It is about direction, not perfection.

If our kids are headed in the right direction, we have much for which to be thankful.

So let’s keep praying for our kids. God is faithful. He knows them better than we do. And He loves them even more than we do!

A Call to Prayer for Our Men

1413873_25257163

{my apologies that my subscribers are receiving this post twice. I actually had to restore my site and re-post this.}

My daughter and I met some friends for lunch on Friday. The hour and a half drive there took us through a section of road that has adult stores dotting the roadside for several miles. Usually these stores have cars in front of them that are very obviously parked so that no one can see their license plates. A sure sign of embarrassment and shame.

As we drove back home on Friday, I happened to see a man get out of his work truck in front of one of these stores. He went around the side of his truck to fix or rearrange something. I stared at him as we went by. I wanted to see just what kind of men frequent such places.

And guess what? He looked like an ordinary guy that we’d hire to fix our car or stand and talk to at a sports game. He certainly didn’t look like an evil monster.

Now, truthfully, I didn’t expect him to look like a monster. So what’s my point? I believe that we women have done a great disservice to our men if we are not praying for their sexual purity.

It makes us so uncomfortable to even talk about this. Even now, some of you will be appalled that I would be writing about such a thing. But, honestly– unless you are living in blind ignorance–you must realize that pornography has become a problem of epidemic proportions in the American family. Even in Christian families. So many face the consequences of this deadly, secret sin in one way or another.

I’m not going to speak to the men since I obviously can’t understand how that temptation works for them. However, I am going to challenge the women reading this– wives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers– to pray for the men in their lives regarding sexual purity. Pray for your husbands, sons, nephews, grandsons. Ask the Lord to protect them from this particular temptation.

We can’t just turn our heads and pretend this problem doesn’t exist. Because that doesn’t keep it from existing.

Will you join me in praying for the sexual purity of our husbands and sons? Our nephews and grandsons? Our brothers and brothers-in-law? And even our pastors and spiritual leaders? God will use our prayers to help them to resist the temptation of this secret sin that destroys so many marriages and families. We must never underestimate the power of prayer!

Obviously, this is not my typical kind of post. But when I saw that normal-looking man walk into that store, my heart broke for him and his family because I know that they have a serious problem that will only grow worse unless he seeks help. And it reminded me to pray hard for the men in my life in this particular area. I thought I would share this with you, in case you, too, would like to ask God to strengthen and protect the men in your life.

 

When You Can’t Fix It

toolboxAll of us are faced, at one time or another, with a situation we just can’t fix-

 

-Someone who won’t forgive us

-A child who has chosen to rebel against God

-A church situation that is beyond our control

-A health crisis

-A strained or broken relationship

-A political leader who systematically destroys a country

The list could go on and on…and on. Life is so full of “unfixable” situations.

The older I get the more I realize that there are so few happy endings in real life. For the life we live here on earth is full of strife and sin and sorrow.

We all handle these situations differently, don’t we? Some of grow angry and explosive when we lose all control over our circumstances. Others of us grow withdrawn and depressed. And still others of us worry and fret and complain.

But how should we face the uncertainty and frustration of a life we can’t control?

But before we talk about how we should respond, I just have to mention this–I think the thing I find almost comical (if it weren’t so sad) in my own life is that I have actually spent many days thinking I can control my life–until God makes it very clear that I can’t. When things are going smoothly we often forget to be thankful for the ordinary, don’t we?

Okay, back to how we should respond to these situations we can’t control. As I have grown older, I have learned (and am still learning) some things about this–

1. I have zero control over the events in my life. Let me write that one more time– ZERO control. Our uneventful lives hang delicately by a thread. At any moment they can be disrupted by any number of events. And I have no control over these events.

2. God has full control over these events. He knows exactly what He is doing. He is good and loving and merciful. We can rely on Him. If we are a genuine child of His, born again through the blood of Jesus Christ, He offers us peace and strength in the midst of every trial. We are not alone.

3. Trying to manipulate situations and people usually makes it much worse. I have found this to be true on many occasions. When I try to “fix” someone else or manipulate circumstances, I usually just fall flat on my face or end up in an argument. I have found the best response to be prayer and a concentrated study of my own heart– How can I change? What should I learn through this? How should I respond as a believer?

4. God is all-powerful, but sometimes He chooses to say no. We know that God can do anything.  And many of us have seen the evidence of a miraculously transformed life. We have heard of the extraordinarily disappearing tumor or health issue. He is Big and sometimes we see that in a supernatural way. But sometimes we don’t. And that’s okay. I like to think of our lives as this big tapestry, in which we can’t see the design of our lives but God, the master weaver, knows each and every thread — whether it be dark or light. We are just the canvas.

5. I need to submit to the sovereign will of God. And so we come back to this lesson I have been learning all of my life and continue to learn. I find that this lesson is a hard one whether I am suffering from an event that changes life permanently or just a small trial that is inconsequential in the scope of life. God knows best and He is good. I will only experience the peace and love and joy He has to offer if I submit my will to His.

Amy Carmicheal, a missionary in India long ago (if you don’t know her story, you should look it up- it’s amazing!) was a beautiful poet. I want to leave you with this short verse, written by her–

“And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire—
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging—
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.”

When Life Feels Impossible

DSC05675rev

So the other night I was at a Tough Truck competition. This would not tend to be my usual choice for a Friday night. But this was different because my son had entered the contest sponsored by our local fair. Of course, I wanted to support him. It’s his third year participating and, honestly, it’s kind of a fun night.

But it can get a little monotonous watching these beat-up cars and trucks take the same track again and again. So when a very lifted truck–is there another term for this that I don’t know? “very lifted” just doesn’t sound like I know what I am talking about! Anyway— when this truck pulled up to the starting line, we were growing a little bored. I heard a few comments around me wondering how the truck would survive the course. It looked like it would topple over as it took the various jumps and turns. I had to agree.

But, lo and behold, it stayed upright. The driver was able to keep his truck under control as he quickly maneuvered his way through the course from his high perch. As he took the last hill and landed on the dirt in front of him, he gunned it towards the finish line. For some unknown reason, a giant hill of dirt sat at the end of the course this year. The driver was going so fast that he had to swerve to miss this pile. As he swerved, he finally did what all of us had been expecting all along. He tipped his truck over on its side. There he lay, helpless, as men started running towards him.

They gathered around him and started trying to push the truck back over. More and more men ran to the truck and added their strength. But the truck wasn’t budging. Which is actually a good thing for the fellow who was trying to pull it back down and stood on the other side of the truck (what exactly was he thinking?!?)

After a few moments of pushing, they finally got a tractor and hooked it up. With this machine, they were able to quickly pull the truck back over onto its four wheels. The truck driver was just fine and drove off the field. The competition continued.

As I watched this whole thing, I just had the thought come to me that all that manpower really did nothing. Now could they have, with enough men, rolled that truck over? Probably.

But, oh, how that tractor had made easy work of the whole thing.

Made me think…

Sometimes we have a personal problem. It’s a giant problem (or in most cases, a giant sin issue)–whether it be an addiction, a bad marriage, anger issues, needing to lose weight, or whatever. You fill in the blank.

And we start gathering our resources — books on the subject, websites, support groups, seminars, conferences, and counselors. We gather our family and friends for support and encouragement. And all of these things gather to push us back over to where we need to be. And sometimes it works.

The show Biggest Loser (is that even on anymore?) shows us that it can work. All that pushing does help the contestants get to healthy weights (although I think many of them end up where they started — but, hey, that’s another subject for another day).

I can’t help but think, though, that as believer we have a better way to go about it.

We have the Word of God to teach and to change us (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are told in scripture that the Holy Spirit is here to strengthen us in our inner man (Colossians 3:16). And that the Holy Spirit will help us to keep the pattern of good works that was committed to us (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

All of the extra resources are okay (if they are from a biblical viewpoint) but they are just that –extra.

I know this isn’t a popular viewpoint, but the bottom line here remains that all we need for a life lived for Jesus is God’s Word. All we need to get to the bottom of any problem is God’s Word. We need to read it, study it, know it, and obey it.

Does that seem too simple for you? It may be. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

This does not mean we will have a problem-free life. However, what it does mean is that we will have the strength, courage, and guidance necessary to face our sin issues and problems. The Bible will show us the best way to get back on all four wheels and, if we obey, we will get there. It may be slow and hard, but we will get there.

I think that is really where the rubber meets the road– what the Bible tells us to do isn’t really what we want to hear.

We don’t want to hear that we need to be selfless (in a bad marriage or unpleasant work situation) or have self-control (losing weight, addictions, anger issues). We want to blame it on someone else or something else. Funny thing is, though, that God’s Word never gives blame as an option. Instead, it always hits us right where we are in our sinful hearts.

And so we wriggle uncomfortably and turn towards other options, following after the wisdom of man instead of the wisdom of God. We push and sometimes even unwisely pull without much success.

Oh, how foolish we are.

Let’s turn our hearts back to God’s Word today. I love how Psalm 119: 9-11 puts it —

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

 

Mixing It Up Right

Wartime Hair Dresser REVYesterday I finally made time to color my hair. Yes, I color my hair. If I didn’t, it would be three {very unattractive} shades darker and streaked with gray. I’ll go gray…eventually. Just not quite ready for that yet. ANYWAY…

As I sat there on the floor in the bathroom waiting the set amount of time for the color to process (45 minutes to cover gray) I couldn’t help but have some time to think. I remembered the time, probably at least seven or eight years ago now, when I really messed up this process. That was when I bought the boxed kits at Wal-Mart–before I discovered that you could buy much better hair color at Sally Beauty Supply.

In the kits were three tubes–color, developer, and conditioner. The key was to mix the color and developer together and, after the set amount of processing time, to use the conditioner after it was rinsed out. Well, this time, I wasn’t paying very close attention (didn’t spend much time on me, homeschooling young kids) and I accidentally mixed the color with the conditioner. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I would have caught it. I could have just went to the store and bought another box. But I didn’t catch it. Not until it had sat on my head for thirty minutes (didn’t have much gray back then) and I had rinsed it out and went to grab the conditioner.

Oh, no! Now what?

Well, I had no choice now, did I? I rinsed my hair out as best I could and proceeded to style it. Oh, my word! I had helmet hair in the very worst sense of the phrase. My hair lay, in all its lackluster and vapid glory, completely flat against my head. Hair full of body has never been my best feature, but that was…well, awful. For weeks afterwards, I had the flattest, dullest hair around. It was embarrassing. To say the least.

So why this incident came to mind yesterday, I have no idea. But for some reason I did think about how parenting is so much like this.

The color is God’s Word, the developer is living by God’s Word and a robust prayer life, and the conditioner is love and discipline. So follow along with my thinking here–

If we mix God’s Word with only love and discipline, but don’t have the life to match, we will raise kids who don’t see God making any difference in our own daily lives. If our kids are hearing God’s commandments in church or even from our own mouths, but then, in our daily lives, they are hearing us scream at each other or they are hearing offensive music on the car radio or they see the seething romance novel on our bedside table, no matter how much love and discipline we meter out, our parenting will fall flat.

We have to be who we want our kids to be.

Unfortunately, that is the way that works best. Oh, sure, sometimes, God is in His grace rescues a child from becoming like their parent–and we thank Him for that. But as I observe the world around me and the many hurting families, I wonder if our examples at home aren’t messing up our testimony in front of our own kids. Every time our kids hear us lie, every time we watch or listen to something that doesn’t glorify God, every time we treat our spouse with disrespect, every time we react in pure and unadulterated anger to our son or daughter’s childish mistakes, we destroy our testimony.

Parenting is such a wonderful privilege but it is no easy task. Remaining genuine and transparent in our own homes isn’t that difficult. But setting a godly example and pleasing the Lord with our choices and actions in our own homes–now that’s hard.

I don’t know if it’s always been like this, but I know I have to fight against my own selfish desires every day. This culture, where instant and complete gratification of any and all desires, reigns supreme, has crept into even the lives of us sincere Christians. I really have to work to keep God number one in my life instead of myself.

But, just like that hair color, if I mix it up wrong, it will not end well. And the big–the tremendous–difference is that, while my constantly growing hair provides me with second chances, we don’t have that second chance with our kids. We have to do it right the first time.

And that’s where the robust prayer life comes in, which is also a part of the very critical developer.

And then the conditioner, comprised of both love and discipline, makes this parenting thing go so much more smoothly.

Okay, so my analogy may not be all that great. Who knows where I come up with some of these things? But, at any rate, I hope I gave you a little something to think about on this day.

 

 

It Will Be Worth It All.

IMG_5697rev

I derive comfort from these words and thought I would share them with you, as I will find it difficult to write today.  This is a beautiful old hymn that gives hope in the midst of discouragement and darkness.

IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL

Sometimes the day seems long,
Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain,
to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear
to catch his bride away!
All tears forever over
in God’s eternal day!

CHORUS:
It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face,
all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

At times the sky seems dark,
with not a ray of light;
We’re tossed and driven on,
no human help in sight.
But there is One in heaven,
Who knows our deepest care;
Let Jesus solve your problems,
just go to Him in prayer.

Life’s day will soon be o’re,
all storms forever past;
We’ll cross the great divide
to Glory, safe at last!
We’ll share the joys of heaven:
a harp, a home, a crown;
The tempter will be banished,
We’ll lay our burdens down.

IMG_5649rev

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: