Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Redeemer Lives

As we approach Thanksgiving I wanted to share this incredible video with you.  It's about 4 minutes long but such a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father and us.  Also Steven and I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.  We are praising God for the opportunity to spend this time of thanks with our family at Lindsey's house as we prepare to return to the Philippines.  Here's the video:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Something to Ponder

This quote is from John Stott's book on Basic Christianity.  It was brought to my attention by an article written by Dr. Derek Thomas.  It's quite thought provoking!

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish.  For thougsands of People still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect ont he cost of doing so.  The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'.  In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but think, veneer of Christianity.  They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable.  Their religion is a great, soft cushion.  It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, which changing its place and shape to suit the convenience.  No wonder the cynics speak of hyprocrites in the church and dismiss relitions as escapism." (p. 108).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Respect and Leadership

As I have mentioned before, I am a strong willed woman. While it is a characteristic that God blessed me with for survival as a child, God continues to show me that it no longer needed in my life. HE has shown me that being strong willed often inhibits my ability to respect my husband. Have you read the book "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs? Man I only wish I had been able to read this book before I was married not after I have been married for 34 years! I highly recommend it for men and women alike - it's a must read!

Anyway, today God clearly allowed me to see how Rebekah disrespected Isaac in Genesis 27 and the consequences that played out because of her actions.  Isaac was old, about to die and wanted to bless his eldest son Esau.  Rebekah heard Isaac speaking to Esau about this blessing and began to put "her" plan into place.  She wanted her younger son Jacob to receive Isaac's blessing not Esau and so she went to great lengths to make that happen (who is leading here). While the blessing is obviously passed on to Jacob according to God's divine pleasure, what struck me were the disastrous consequences of Rebekah's lack of respect of Isaac and her blatant lack of following Isaac's leadership, both areas which I often fight against in my sinful flesh.

Because Jacob deceptively received his Father's blessing Esau wanted to kill him. Therefore, Rebekah sent Jacob to her brother Laban's home to live. Jacob was there for 20 years avoiding Esau and Rebekah NEVER saw her son again.  She missed out on 20 years of fellowship with her son and never laid eyes on him again.  Esau lived out his disregard for the covenant blessings by marrying daughters of the land.  In Genesis 27 verse 46, Rebekah says to Isaac, "I loathe my life because of the Hittite women" (which Esau married).  And Rebekah died without any mention of her death in scripture.  Could it be because of her deception, lack of respect and her not allowing Issac to lead?

But what saddened my heart the most was when I read how all of this sin in Rebekah's life adversely affected Isaac's life as well. Probably the most significant was Isaac appeared to stop leading his family somewhere along the way, especially when compared to his Father Abraham. Isaac followed his senses (touch, taste and smell) rather than to depend on God's divine guidance when he was about to bless who he thought was Esau his eldest son. Isaac made no attempt to find suitable wives for his sons as Abraham did for Isaac. It was Rebekah at the end of chapter 27 that moved Isaac to talk to Jacob about this wife thing. And Isaac lived on through out scriptures without significance. It's apparent that the lack of Isaac's spiritual leadership was not only insignificant but contributed greatly to the family chaos. And I found myself wondering did Isaac's leadership diminish because of Rebekah's strong desire to lead? Did Isaac just get tired of fighting to lead as I am sure has been the case in my own marriage? It was obvious to me the ripple effect my sin can have on my own husband who I strongly desire to lead our family.  

I don't mind sharing with you, that I struggle breaking these patterns of 34 years have been prevalent in my own marriage. But today as God showed me how obvious it was in Rebekah's life, He also convicted me that it's obvious in my own life/marriage as well. I Praise Him for allowing me to see the end result in Rebekah and Isaac's life and the motivation that His word provides to be more obedient in this area of my life. Oh I know that I can't "work it up", "grit my teeth" and seek to accomplish these changes in myself. However, I John 2 verse 1 says that I "have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" and it's here that I can fall on my knees and plead for His intercession on my behalf, to change me into a respectful wife who follows the leadership of my husband.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Life is Not My Own

     You know the big question that God continues to ask me is where is my focus?  Am I focused on Jesus and what He would have me to do with my life or am I  being sucked into the leadings of our country? This world wants me to buy in to building my own empire, doing whatever my heart desires, free reign.  This world tells me to make myself extremely comfortable, to collect "stuff and more stuff".  Seriously, how many outfits can I wear in one week.  Yet, it's so easy to get sucked right into the ways of America.  I must confess that in my lifetime I have been guilty of being sucked into "collecting stuff" myself.  It's only by the grace of God calling us to serve in the Philippines, that this "stuff" began to loose it's importance.  We packed it into boxes and stored it. Then we were exposed to people who do not have the means to collect "stuff", they don't even have the means to buy food, or to buy a home.  And when we got home all of that "stuff" in those boxes didn't seem nearly so important.
     Well, Jesus calls me in Matthew 16 to "come after Him".  It's a passage that we are all familiar with but am I living it out? Oh dear here we are again at that focus war.  Am I focused daily on seeking Jesus?  Then Jesus tells me to "take up my cross and follow Him".  Hum, that would definitely look different for each of us.  For me it would indeed mean to open my hands and let go of my precious Children, Grandchildren and dear friends, to leave this country, the comforts of home, easy access to so many different kinds of food, hot showers, a bathtub etc. 
     But, it gets even better.  Jesus tells me that if I continue to focus and live the way this world wants me to live, focused on "collecting stuff", living in comfort, having everything I could possibly want, "I will indeed loose it all in the end". All of those things that I could spend my life working so hard to get and collect will not matter one whit in eternity!  Jesus says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?"  
     My heart was so sad today as I realized how easily Americans are deceived (myself included) into believing the things of this world are the most important.  It's so much easier here in the good old USA to focus on earthly things, to let the things of this earth enthrall our hearts and pull our hearts away from the One who deserves total surrender and adoration. It happens so quickly and before I know it I am focused on building our own little empire here in the States, doing what I want to do with my life and collecting "stuff".
     And yet, God reminded me that I should "deny myself".  And then my imagination took off and I began to dream and wonder what would happen if each one of us made a commitment to limit our spending on "stuff, including Christmas stuff".  My heart was drawn this morning to some dear Pastor friends of mine who are raising support to plant churches right here in our own country.  All are struggling to raise support right now in our economy.  All three are so committed to sharing the gospel with Americans that each one of them are willfully giving up "stuff" in order to be able to answer God's call to share the gospel.  One is planting a church in North Carolina, one in Texas and one in Utah.  Then I thought about the Reformed University Fellowship minister's that are making such a difference in the next generation; many of them right here in our own state that are working under funded.
     Jesus is calling us to fight the ways of our country, to ask ourselves what are we doing with our lives and our resources (which He has given to us), to refocus and to "lose our life for His sake".  

Trapped in Neverland

A Pastor Friend on mine suggested this article on Facebook and it is well worth reading.  When you have a few minutes check it out, you won't be sorry your did!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Focus War

     Have you ever thought about Esau and how shortsighted he was when he sold his birthright to Jacob in Genesis 25?  He didn't appear to put much thought into what he was doing (of course he obviously didn't hold dear God's promises) but nonetheless he sold his birthright for some stew.  Esau sold the right to be the principal heir of the family's fortunes, and also the covenant family blessing of his father Abraham which included blessings of offspring and land all for some stew.
     Oh how my heart is so often like Esau's heart.  I too am often focused on the here and now, the things of this earth (what I am hungry for or want right now) and not eternal things.  There is a consistent focus war that goes on in my life day to day.  My heart is often drawn to my Children and Grandchildren and the desire to be closer to them than 10,000 miles, which is just as shortsighted as Esau's focus on his hunger. And then there is the call of God to go and give my heart to many who don't even know their parents or grandparents.  And not to just give them my heart but the privilege of sharing the Lord Jesus Christ with them.
     It's only by God's grace that moment by moment the focus war is won.  God ever so gently takes my chin and lifts it above the things of this earth, the comforts of home and my own longings.  He reminds me that He holds it all in His righteous right hand. He only asks me to surrender, to lay it all at His feet and to walk, day by day, moment by moment and He will supply all the grace that I need each step of the way as I get there and need His grace.  It's a daily surrender of my will and my life to him.  I am so thankful that only by His grace, love and sovereign hand, that I am not Esau left holding only a bowl of stew, only a life lived for the comforts of this earth and not eternity.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is My Offering Dear Lord

I just love good music!  Often the songs say what my heart longs to say to the Lord and they also keep me focused.  This morning as I was ironing I was listening to Third Days Album and there were many great songs on it but the one that captured my heart was Offerings II: All I have to Give.  The words are incredible and I just wanted to share them with you.

Magnificent, Holy Father
I stand in awe of all I see
Of all the things You have created, 
but still you choose to think of me
And who am I that You should suffer
Your very life to set me free
The only thing that I can give You, is the life You gave to me
This is my offering Dear Lord
This is my offering to You God
And I will give You my life cause it's all I have to give
Because You gave Your life for me
I stand before You at this altar
So many have given You more
I may not have much I can offer
Yet what I have is truly Yours
This is my offering Dear Lord
This is my offering to You God
And I will give You my life cause it's all I have to give
Because You gave Your life for me

Flower Bed and Fire Pit

Although it was a bit dark when I took a picture of the flower bed you can still get the drift.  And the fire pit is incredible.  So much fun to pull up chairs around and enjoy good company and the fire.  Pastor Ken you need one of these at your house!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Sugar Plum from God

(Raney on the left and Lindsey on the right)
     What a day, I will long remember!  God did it again, just dropped a huge "sugar plum" right in our laps.  For those of you who don't know me I love to work in the yard.  There is something about crumbing dirt in my hands that is good therapy.  Saturday Steven and I got up early with much excitement.  Lindsey had a free day and we headed to her house to plant some pansies, make a new flower bed and dig a fire pit.  It was a glorious day, sunny about 74 degrees.  We had the best time working in her yard!  We cleaned out her beds and planted pansies.  Then strong armed Steven helped us to dig a new bed in the back with "swoop de swoops".  Our daughter Lindsey is an artist (water color and photography) and so she designed a beautiful curved edge flower bed!  And then the fire pit.  Steven did an amazing job digging down into that hard earth to make her a fire pit!  I'll have to post you a picture when I can get one, it's sweet!  And last night we had a bonfire!  Oh it was a delightful time being with our family and friends.  We roasted hot dogs and deer sausage - yum.  We had a blessed time eating and visiting.  Wyatt and Raney loved the marshmallows, "Granna, I don't like mine cooked" Wyatt said.  It just could not have been a better time together.  And then came the surprise.  God allowed me to hold Raney sitting by the fire as she fell asleep and then Wyatt fell asleep in Steven's lap.  What a blessing to snuggle them up and love on them.  My heart continues to be filled with Praise for a God who cares about even the smallest of details in our lives!  We were blessed beyond measure with some priceless family time!

Sugar Plums from the Lord

     God always amazes me with His "sugar plums", gifts that He sends right from Him to my heart.  Recently not only have I been mindful of our impending departure to the Philippines but I can feel God's presence reminding me that He knows as well of our departure.
     Last week was one of those times.  Our Grandson Wyatt who will be 3 years old on December 19, came over to visit with me.  I love having him one on one (he has a baby sister who is 17 months old) because when I am able to do this he knows he has Granna's undivided attention.  As we walked and talked back from the slide, I suggested that we make some chocolate chip cookies.  He loves to help me in the kitchen with dishes or whatever.  If I go to the kitchen here he comes dragging a chair to help me.  Well, he loved that idea but asked me if chocolate chips were good.  He has a wonderful Mother who doesn't let him have many sweets and last time we made oatmeal cookies he decided that flour wasn't too yummy.  I told him they were really good just like those special cookies (M&M's) that he eats on occasion at Granna's house.  He got really excited and we came in to make cookies.  He was able to run the mixer all by himself this time and we measured and poured and had such a good time.  Right in the middle of our measuring and stirring (he loves to stir) he said, "Granna I love spending time with you" ugh my heart melted.  God, thank You for Your grace that will make it possible for me to leave this precious fellow who has captured my heart.  And then when I poured the chocolate chips into the mixture his little hand was quick to reach some to try them.  He proudly told me last night that Wyatt, Raney, Mommy and Daddy liked chocolate chip cookies better than oatmeal.  When asked what about LaLa (Lindsey) who likes oatmeal cookies, he replied "But Wyatt likes chocolate chip cookies better".  My heart just praise God for special times such as there which I know come right from His hand to my heart!