Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Keys to Building a Good Marriage

Photo by Charlotte Duren
We recently moved to a new community.  In all the preparation for holiday celebrations and then the move, getting settled in our home and community, my quiet time dwindled to a few prayers on the run and scattered thoughts on the word.  Add family to the mix and it occurred to me how easy it is to neglect those things which are most important.  If my relationship to God is hurting, how much more so the relationship to my husband and children must be suffering!  

The natural ebb and flow of life is never a steady stream, but sometimes a rushing torrent, sometimes a trickle in the desert.  If we women don't carve out time for our own daily study, the whole family suffers and our marriage is not the best it can be.

Each of us has the same amount of time.  We have today.  No one is promised more or less.  But we much make a conscious choice how we spend that time.  Now we don't all have the same responsibilities.  Some of you have babies in diapers, small children clambering for your attention.  Their needs are great.  Some of you have raised your children, and your job may be the most demanding of your time.  Or you may be retired, and the demands of job or family behind you.  Time weighs heavy.

But each of us chooses how we respond to those demands.  Choosing to spend time daily in God's word and prayer will better prepare us to be the wives, mothers, friends and sisters we should be.  We cannot be all we are created to be without including the One most important.  

Today I choose to make my life more like Jesus and less like me.  I can only do that if I get to know Him better by reading His word and praying for wisdom in making it mine.  I will choose to shed some of my 'self' that I will look more like my Master each day.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Walk As Children of Light

As my family faces another transition in life, I am reminded that it matters how I act and react to the events around me.  I cannot control others.  But I know what is right to do and make a conscious effort to do it.  My desire is to be the face of Jesus to those around me; my friends, my family, my community.

"Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children."  Ephesians 5:1

It has been said that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation.  My desire to be an imitation of Christ is not a cheap, plastic design, but actually becoming Christ to those around me.  First, a true imitation must start with real ingredients.  I can't hope to be anything like Christ by changing any of them.    So the source must be God himself.  We must look to God's word to find that, handling the word with truth and reverence.  I must acknowledge that God himself has the right to set the requirements of his followers, and then adhere to them with all my heart, soul, might and strength.

Where do we find this?  By a diligent study of God's word, the Bible.  I must set aside my preconceived ideas and let God speak to me through His word and make me over into what He wants me to be.  (Hebrews 1:1-2)

This road we travel is not always easy.  It has a price to be paid, but those who desire to live in Christ have a wonderful destination, but also the assurance along the way, however difficult, that God will never leave us on our own.  (Isaiah 43:1-2)

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light, (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."  Ephesians 5:8-10

Think on these things as you travel your road today.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Growing Up Isn't Just About ME

"For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:7-8
I have been reading through Hebrews lately.  Being at my son's home with 2 little boys doesn't lend itself to much quiet time for deep reflection.  But God provides the insight. :)  He reminds me daily how important it is for me to drink deeply of His word and to live it always.  Little eyes (and big) are watching me.

We've all heard, "God sends the rain on the just and the unjust."  (from Matthew 5:45)  It states here that we should bear usefully for the One who is cultivating us.  So are we letting God garden and groom our lives? Does He use us as He sees fit, or do we spend our blessings on selfish desire and empty promises?  We know who wants us cultivating those thoughts and actions!  

Are you a beautiful herb garden, benefiting the kingdom of God or are you a briar patch?

Let me illustrate it this way:  My son recently moved into a home in southern California and the front and back yards are two very different environments.  The front  yard is kept by someone hired to water and cultivate green grass and neat gardens of rock and plants.  Roses bloom across the street, and a lovely tree shades the front yard of my son's home.  The other day I watched as a tiny hummingbird rested for several minutes on a now-empty plant hanger in that tree.  

But the back yard is a different story.  It is barren of green life; it is native sand and dirt and more sand.  The grass is brown and dry and the stickers are thick and grab on to the animals as they walk through them.  These stickers then drop on the tile and rug when the animals reenter the house and we find them with our feet!  Not pleasant especially in the middle of the night.

The point is, which yard are we? Are we allowing God to cultivate lovely herbs, useful to the kingdom He rules?  Or are we the stickers, weeds and thistles of the world, useful only for being cursed and burned?

Our choice is not only our fate, but the fate of those we influence.  Are we growing in the word, not just for our own benefit and eternal home, but those around us; our children, grandchildren, family, neighbors, and co-workers?  It isn't just a matter of making our own way to heaven.  It's a matter of being useful to God's kingdom.  


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I have a 'guest writer' today.  Paula Bailey has been an internet friend for years. . . .and she posted this on October 27th.  She is a wife and mother of 2 girls who loves the Lord and, like all of us, needs an occasional change of perspective on the journey she travels here below.  
Thank you, Paula, for graciously allowing me to share where that perspective should be.  God bless!

Ok. So, I still can't find some of Mikayla's uniform clothes. They are hiding out somewhere. We have enough to make it for a bit, but still.... As I was looking for them today, I was aggravated. I can be pretty grumpy, so here's a list of my thoughts: Why should my kid HAVE to wear a uniform to go to school????? Really, so because there are gangs and other violence in schools, my kids have to wear uniforms-some of which I can't find right now!?!?! I then thought about our consequence-driven society. We live in a society where, regardless of the freedom people want, we are still dealing with the consequences of a few, and our freedoms - in this case to wear whatever we want - are taken away. So, she has to have uniforms. My mind went to Billy Joel's song, "We Didn't Start the Fire", because I was thinking her wardrobe choices are mandated by somebody else who decided to start a fire. After I fumed and fretted for a while, my mind then turned to how we are not to be "of the world". We live IN it and WITH all of the consequences of man, but we are not to be OF the world. Not only that, we need to be a light to show others that there is a way out of the darkness of our present circumstances.
John 17:16King James Version (KJV)
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain
By the way, the missing pieces are still AWOL, but I learned a new perspective.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Courage and Strength

On this journey below, we often stumble.  Someone once said that success isn't how often we fall, but how often we get up.  Success in the Christian walk is about discerning and avoiding the pitfalls of life, and when we do fall, acknowledging God's strength in overcoming the weakness of the flesh.  It isn't how strong we are, but how strong our God is.

When we were expecting our sixth child, we found that he had many physical problems.  It was a time of grief, tears, searching for answers, and learning to depend on God.  One of my Christian sisters commented, "You are so courageous."  My reply, "No, but my God is."

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"  Psalm 27:14  

Our strength is only from God.  It doesn't  come from any other source.  Even Paul was encouraged more than once by his connections with the people of God; their gifts, their prayers, their presence.  (Acts 28:15, Phil. 4:17, Rom. 15:30, Phil. 1:22)

I would encourage you to spend time daily in the word, letting God strengthen you with His wisdom and knowledge that is available;  spend time with God's people, encouraging one another, worshiping together the God of all strength; and in prayer, seeking God's grace and mercy for our weakness, and wisdom to reflect the image of Christ to a dark world.

When the people of God had been taken captive and Nehemiah had the law read to the people, they recognized how far they had strayed and were deeply grieved.  But Nehemiah, inspires them with these words, " Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (Emphasis is mine.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Living In God's House

Psalm 15 (verses one through five)

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?

Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,

    And works righteousness,
    And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
    Nor does evil to his neighbor,
    Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
    Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Today is my youngest daughter's 15th birthday.  We decided to read this psalm for our devotional time together.  If we wish to live in the house of God, we must be willing to follow His words.  We have to change our character to the image of Christ.  

When we put on Christ in baptism we are on a spiritual high.  We are thankful, grateful, excited.  The world ahead looks bright and easy.  But as we begin the daily walk, we see it is a much more challenging.  There are those who speak against us, we might face challenges as we no longer share the outlook on life of those around us.   There are temptations everywhere as we change to reflect the face of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks of this change. 

If we want to dwell with Christ today (Colossians 1:27) and for eternity,   
we must walk in the light, as He is in the light, (1 John 1:7)  giving up our will for His, joyfully enduring trials (James 1:12.) 

We have an example in Jesus, who was obedient to the Father (Hebrews 5:8), trusting Him, and then was raised, the first of many (Romans 8:29.)  I think of His time in the garden.  How alone and abandoned he felt as he waited in unthinkable pain and anguish for what he knew was coming.  

I think to myself and share with you; can we do less than Christ?  Nothing in my mind is worth missing heaven for and I want others to know that joyful expectation as well.  (read 1 Corinthians 2:9)

I am praying today for my daughter as she begins a new year of her life, and for those about us to see life lived to the glory  of God and His kingdom.  Today is a new day, living in the house of God!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Believable God

As we make our way towards heaven, it requires copious amounts of faith.  It is this faith which not only sustains us, but fuels us, and prepares our way into heaven. Hebrews 11:6 states that ". . . without faith it is impossible to please Him. . . ."  Pleasing God is my dearest desire, without which my life is an aimless ship adrift on the ocean of time and space.

Tomorrow morning, Rodger and I are putting our faith into the hands of an eye surgeon as he undergoes a refractive lensectomy on his right eye.  We trust in the doctors skill to do the job with mastery and excellence.  But we don't blindly do this.  We know that the surgeons at this center have a good reputation.  They have many years of combined experience and success to bolster our confidence in them.

Our faith in God is no less based on blind faith, but on the recorded deeds of our God.  The Bible is full of His promises, kept.  He never waivered in doing what He said, whether it was in response to faithful living, or discipline of His chosen people.

Not only is God's hand seen in the events of the Bible, but His reliability is seen in creation.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, each faithfully follows one another throughout the years.  There is variation in their character, some are warmer, some are colder, wetter, drier, stormier, and on and on, but they do come without fail.  The sun is always there, whether we see it or feel it's heat.  The moon continues to orbit our earth, night after night.

These things, big and little help me believe in a God Who is Himself believable, reliable, trustworthy and faithful.  My faith is built on those things I can judge.  Even though I cannot feel Him, see Him or hear Him, I know by the record of those who did that He is.  I believe because the complexity and wonderful design nature speaks to a Creator.

So my life depends, not on whether God answers our prayers in the way we want tomorrow.  But on His faithfulness in doing what is best.  He sees the big picture.  I know that no matter the specific outcome that He will faithfully keep us and love us.  He will care for us until we do see Him face to face.

The journey continues;  sometimes over rocky ground, sometimes smooth.  But no matter, His hand guides and steadies.  It picks me up when I fall because He is totally dependable and believable.