"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Like A Vapor

Today makes 4 months since my father-in-law (who was like a father to me) was suddenly called Home to be with the Lord.  

He was one of the godliest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. And he was a humble man. He was always concerned about everyone - except himself. He was a man of prayer. And that's one of the things I miss the most: the comfort of knowing that Dad was praying for me and my family. James 5:16 describes Dad well.  He effectually and fervently prayed for his family and others.

He was called Home so unexpectedly, but I was hoping that I would eventually adjust to his absence. And that, as time passed, it would get easier. But it has only gotten harder.

Yes, it gives me great comfort to know that Dad is in the presence of the Lord.

Yes, there is joy in knowing that I will see him again someday.

And yes, it gives me peace to know that Dad's physical suffering is over.

But the fact remains: he is gone and we are left behind....

...without his daily prayers covering us...without his godly counsel...without his fellowship...without another opportunity to tell him how much I love him.. without.....him.

One thing that I've learned from his sudden passing of Dad is that we are not promised another tomorrow.

So I'm hugging a little tighter, listening a little longer, laughing a little louder...just trying to cherish every moment.  Time is fleeting. There may be no tomorrow.

James 4:14b  "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little and then vanishes away."

Monday, April 25, 2011

These Little Lights of Mine

 Can our children's behavior in public be a testimony?

One of the employees at our local pharmacy must think that our family is very interesting. No matter where we are in the store, she is watching us.  We are under her constant "surveillance" til we exit the door.

She is also very unfriendly to us. I have seen her smiling and chatting with the other customers, but her countenance does a 180 when we get to the check out. She doesn't even speak to me, much less the children, or make eye contact while I'm paying for my things. I've always smiled and tried really hard to be friendly to her, but it didn't work.

I was beginning to dread going into the store and  I even considering changing pharmacies. Then, not long ago, my doctor called in prescription for me. When the children and I went to pick it up, guess who was at the check out?  

"Oh, no!" I thought. "I don't want to deal with her today!" But I breathed a prayer for help and headed her way. She saw me coming and put my prescription on the counter. As I was paying for it, she was her usual no eye contact, unfriendly self...even glaring at the children, who were standing obediently beside me. Before I turned to leave, she leaned over the counter, looked me in the eye, and said, "Tell me the truth...you threaten them before you come in here, don't you?"

So that was it!  She apparently was watching us to see if the children would misbehave. Her question caught me off-guard. I'd never been asked that before. But I heard my voice saying," No, I don't threaten them. We just discipline them the way we're supposed to, and they know what's expected of them."

She responded, "Well, they certainly are well-behaved."  As I left the store that day, I was hoping things would be different from then on. Wrong. She's still hovering close by the whole time we're in the pharmacy. But that's ok. She's watched us enough to know that my children are going to behave themselves, and they aren't going to ransack the place. The next time she decides to talk to me, I'll be ready to share why we train our children as we do.

And I consider that, at least to a very small degree, shining the light.

Matthew 5:16 :  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

This post is linked up @ http://raisingmightyarrows.blogspot.com

Friday, April 22, 2011

Genesis 22

Genesis 22 is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.

I love the 2 wonderful symbols of the Lord Jesus in this chapter:

1. Isaac - an only son, loved by his father, willing to do his father's will, and, in a figure, raised back from the dead

2. the ram - innocent victim died as a substitute for another, its blood was shed, it was a burnt offering, wholly consumed for God

Someone has said that, in providing the ram as a substitute for Isaac, "God spared Abraham's heart a pang He would not spare His own."

May we consider our Savior's resurrection every day, and not just at this time of year.

2 Corinthians 5:21 : "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Teaching Our Children

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 :
" And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes.
  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "

I chose these verses as the theme verses of our homeschool over 17 years ago. The Lord is telling us to teach His words to our children  while we're sitting in our house, walking by the way, lying down, rising up. In other words, we should incorporate the Scriptures into our daily lives - at every opportunity. I was really challenged by these verses in the beginning. I struggled trying to find ways to apply Scriptures to whatever it was that I was doing with the children that day. But practice makes perfect, and over the years it has become easier. And the children seem to love the Scriptural applications. For example, when the children were helping me make bread, I asked them when leaven (or yeast) is mentioned in the Bible. They quickly tried to come up with an answer, which led to a discussion about it. I have gradually learned that there are ways to apply Scripture to everything that happens in our daily lives.

But we can't teach our children unless, according to verse 6, we know the Word, and have it in our "heart".   Daily devotions are a must. I have mine in the morning before the children wake up and the house gets noisy.  But I know some people who have them at night before bed. What's important is that we have them, not when we have them.

May the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), so that we may teach our children and have "godly offspring". Malachi 2:16                      

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We're in the midst of spring cleaning here at our house. And with the urge to clean also comes the urge to de-clutter; everything from books to clothes to toys to household items. Anything not being used gets put into the bag destined for the local thrift store. For some reason, I feel as if have to de-clutter each room of the house before beginning to spring clean it. It's as if all the clutter is weighing me down, preventing me from making any progress in the cleaning department.

It reminds me of Hebrews 12:1: "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."  The children and I were discussing this verse last week.  I explained to them 2 things. First, I told them that the writer of Hebrews compares the Christian walk to a race. Second, I asked them which type of race would be easier to run: one where each runner had a to carry a weight (like kind their dad uses when he lifts weights), or a race where the runner doesn't have to carry anything. They knew the answer.

The Greek meaning for laying aside is to "cast off". The New Testament commentary by William McDonald says, "We must strip ourselves of everything that would impede us." And "weights are things that are harmless in themselves, and yet hinder progress; they could include material possessions, family ties, the love of comfort, etc.."  and the sin mentioned in this verse is "..sin in any form.."

So, what about us? Are there things in our lives that we need to "lay aside" in order to grow spiritually and "run with endurance"? Let's cast it off, and "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Poem by Amy Carmichael

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril.
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them.
Holy Father, save them.
From the worldling's hollow gladness
From the sting of faithless sadness.
Through life's troubled waters steer them,
Through life's bitter battle cheer them.
Father, Father, be Thou near them.
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

                                          - Amy Carmichael

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Merry Heart

"A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22
According to this verse, a merry heart is medicinal, or good for your health. But the opposite is also true: a broken spirit dries up the bones.

So which one do we have: a merry heart or a broken spirit?

Proverbs 15:13 :  "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance." This verse tells us that how we are feeling on the inside will determine how we look on the outside.

Which type of person would you be more wiling to approach and talk to: a long-faced, grumpy person, or a cheerful, smiling one? I'd choose the cheerful one - no question. Everyone is drawn to a smile, including men. When our husbands get home from a long, stressful day at work, do we greet them with a grumpy, complaining countenance or a beautiful, glowing smile?

How about our children? Are we expressing joy in front of them or do we gripe and complain all day? They need to see a joyful mother. It will encourage them to be joyful. But having a complaining or spirit will be contagious as well.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22
And the joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10

May the Lord help us to have merry hearts and cheerful countenances.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Meek and Quiet Spirit

1 Peter 3:4 : "But let it be the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

I've been fascinated with this verse since the first time I read it. It says that a meek and quiet spirit are "in the sight of God of great price". The New King James version says that a meek and quiet spirit are "very precious in the sight of God." Wow! If these  two character traits are "of great price" and "very precious" to God, they must be important. But what does it mean to be meek and quiet?

I asked my husband what he thought the words mean. He said meek means "strength, in check". Quiet means to be calm, peaceful, not troubled.  Obviously, the Lord Jesus is the epitome of meekness and quietness. He could have called 12 legions of angels to deliver Him from going to the cross. (Matthew 26:53) But He kept His strength "in check" to secure our salvation.

I find it easy to be meek and quiet - when I'm asleep.  But somehow it's much harder when I'm awake.  I usually respond to my circumstances. (Remember what John MacCarthur said about being independent from circumstance??)  I used to think that if someone/something was annoying me, I could be meek and quiet on the outside, but it was ok to be fuming on the inside. My thoughts were in turmoil.This is not true meekness and quietness; it's just faking it. A meek and quiet spirit stays calm on the outside and inside.

In Galatians 5:23, meekness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. And I am slowly learning, with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit, to be calm and peaceful when things go wrong or I am provoked. This has been a long process. And it's only through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit that I've made any progress at all.

I pray that my progress will continue and that I will have a meek and quiet spirit that is "very precious in the sight of God".

Philippians 4:13:  "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Quiver Full

Naomi is four years old today. How time flies! It seems like yesterday that Todd and I were bringing her home from the hospital.  She is such a joy and a blessing to our family, as all our children are. I am so thankful for each and every one of them.

However, by the stares and comments I get from people when we are out in public with our five youngest children, most people in our society apparently frown on large families. One of the most common remarks I get is, "Are all those yours?", which begs the answer, "No, I stole them from the park down the street." But instead of saying that, I opt for shock and awe, and tell them (with a huge smile on my face), "Oh, no! We have 2 older children and 3 grandchildren!" That response usually causes a jaw-dropping, deer-in-the-headlights reaction. Most people don't expect that type of reply. Maybe they expect me to complain about my children. Maybe they don't understand that I consider motherhood the highest calling and that
I love being around my children. Maybe they don't understand what a blessing children are.

Another remark I hear alot is, "Wow, you have your hands full!" And it 's usually not said in a very nice tone of voice. My answer to that is, "Yes, I do have my hands full - of blessings!" Sometimes, if time allows, I continue with, "My husband and I believe that children are a blessing, and not a burden." I realize that our perspective of children is the very opposite of what is the cultural "norm" in our country.  In our culture, children seem to be considered a burden. Every time I go to the grocery or pharmacy or wherever, I hear parents yelling at the children, complaining about them, and I even heard one mother telling her little boy,"If you don't behave, I'm going to tell the policeman to take you away."  How awful! I feel so sorry for those children.

Psalm 127:3 says that children are a "heritage from the Lord" and  the "fruit of the womb is a reward". Children are a heritage and a reward, and what a blessing they are! I've heard it said that we can't take anything with us when we leave this earth. But that's not true: we can take our children. Our children are our biggest spiritual investment....an investment that will last for eternity. My prayer is that the Lord will take my feeble efforts at raising these "heritages" and use them for His glory.

Psalm 127:5 : "Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.They shall not be ashamed. But speak with their enemies in the gate."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Once upon a time....

     Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was loved much by her parents, and always tried to please them. She always thought that being good would get her into heaven, so she tried each and every day to be good. She did all the things that were taught in the denomination where she grew up, but no matter what she did or how hard she tried, she just couldn't be good all the time. She wondered, "How many good things do I have to do before I'm considered good enough to get to heaven? When will I know that I'm good enough?" She thought about death often, even though she was very young. She had been to funerals and wondered, "If that person's soul isn't in his body, then where is it?" She had no peace, often lying awake at night, wondering where she'd end up if she passed away in her sleep.

    Time passed and eventually the little girl grew into a young woman.She had gotten tired of trying to 'measure up' when she really had no way of knowing if she was saved or not.  She decided there was no point in trying anymore and gave up. So she became very rebellious toward practically every form of authority in her life.

One day a friend asked her to go with him to talk to a preacher. She reluctantly went, wondering if this man was going to tell her more things she needed to do to try to be 'good enough'. But what she heard was nothing like she'd ever heard before! He shared Bible verses with her, and  told her that the Lord Jesus loved her so much that He paid her sin debt when He died on the cross for her sins -  and the sins of the world. (John 3:16) She had a hard time understanding that Jesus loved her - and died for her sins. How could that be? she wondered, but the preacher was very patient in explaining it all to her.  All she had to do was admit that she was a sinner. (Romans 3:23)  That was easy; she had spent the biggest part of her life trying to make up for all the wrong things she had done.  Then she had to believe that the Lord Jesus died on the cross and rose again and that His blood was shed to pay for her sins. (Romans 5:8) She believed. And she trusted Him alone for the forgiveness of her sins.  What a peace came over her! After all the years of trying to earn her salvation, she now rejoiced in what only the Lord Jesus could accomplish on her behalf.  She now knew that she was saved and kept - for eternity.

That little girl was me.

2 Timothy 1:12  "...for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Children and Eternity

Some would gather money
Along the path of life.
Some would gather roses
And rest from earthly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin;
I would seek a golden curl
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
Into the land of endless day.
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But, oh, the laughing children
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven
I can take them in with me.

                                       -  Anonymous