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Faith's Firm Foundation: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Steps to Overcoming Bitterness

Have you ever said to your children, "We should go _________ sometime (to this place or to do that fun thing)?" Have you mused out loud about something that sounded kind of interesting or maybe you'd like to do it someday? Am I being too vague? Well, maybe this scenario sounds familiar: Daddy comes in the door after work and the children run to meet him at the door with excited news, "We're going to go to the Science Museum and then we're going to go get ice cream and Jimmy and Susie are going with us, and..." Mom's brows furrow as she tries to figure out what they are talking about, and then suddenly she remembers: they were talking earlier today about some ideas of fun things to do. But the difference is, Mom thought it was just talk! And they were just Ideas!! But the children thought she had made a promise, and now they will be angry, disappointed, perhaps bitterly so, when she explains that it's not going to happen, at least not in the near future (cost, distance, etc. etc. prohibiting).
In the seminar this week we heard about some of the causes of bitterness and what to do about it if you have let a root of it (bitterness, that is) spring up in your life. I mentioned sometime earlier in another post that people often don't realize that they're bitter. And we often don't realize when we do things that make others bitter (like creating expectations in our children that we never fulfill--and maybe had no intention of fulfilling.) This is convicting to me--is it to you? This can happen not only with our children, but with our husband, and even with other family and friends! The answer isn't to fix their perceptions of what has been said, but to try to fulfill what they think you said, if possible.

But , back to not recognizing bitterness in ourselves: One of the signs that we might have some bitterness is: going over and over in our minds something someone has done that has hurt or offended us. Another sign is, well, let me express how it felt years ago when I, unbeknownst to myself, had become bitter. We all kind of have this little house that's "me." Sometimes the windows are wide open, with a beautiful warm breeze wafting through the open windows, lifting the curtains in jubilation. It felt like I was living emotionally in my little house, but in order to "protect" myself (which I rationalized was perfectly natural and normal) I went around my little house and "closed all the doors and battened down the hatches." I closed all the shutters of all the windows. When you do this you have closed yourself off from the person who offended you, and you think that now you are "safe". But it's dark and lonely and you can't breathe very well in there. And, though you're closing yourself off from the person who offended you, you're also closing yourself off from others as well. What happens little by little is that you become very hard, and cold and unloving and well, more bitter.
In the Seminar, Mr. G. lists four steps to overcoming bitterness (or whatever you call what you are feeling; it took a long time for me to acknowledge that I was bitter)--to simplify this post, however, I will call it bitterness.

1. Confess the sin of bitterness. (or confess to God your deep hurt or how offended you feel--whatever you have been calling it). 1 John 2:9--"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." But, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
2. Ask God to regain surrendered ground. (I will explain how to go about doing this in more detail in an upcoming post.) For now, suffice it to say that when we get bitter we give satan permission to harass or "torment" us and we will have a battle in our soul (our mind, will and emotions) going on . Doubts, fears, depression, surges of anger, pride (I deserve better than this) are some of the things we may be tormented by.

3. Tear down strongholds with truth. Though God has to regain the surrendered ground, we have weapons to fight with to tear down strongholds that satan builds. A stronghold is a false idea from the devil. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (like retaliating), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4 You will have to fight against the lies that satan tries to tell you if you have let yourself become bitter! The method we use to do this is to build up "towers of truth"! Read God's Word ("Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth" John 17:17), memorize God's Word ("Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalms 119:11), and meditating on God's Word. And thrust that "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" in for the kill by repeating God's Word out loud (loudly)! when false ideas come into your mind.

Ephesians 6:11-18 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

4. Show mercy by forgiving your offender. Obviously, anyone who's been bitter knows this isn't easy. In fact, it's impossible. Unless God gives you the ability to do it. Pray and ask Him to make you want to, first of all, then ask Him to make you able to, and then you need to "go the second mile." I'll tell you that story in my next post. But first, here's some verses that have some "ouch" in them.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:33-35 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (34) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. (35) So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Cancer Testimony

To those of you who came to this blog in order to read my cancer testimony in a previous post, I apologize, because that was just a snippet of the whole testimony of what God did in our lives! I really want you to know all that God did for us at that time, because He deserves so much praise and glory and I never want to forget what He's done for me!! So bear with me as I post the complete testimony that we shared with friends and family via our Christmas Letter in 2002 (it is long, for which I apologize):
Dear Friends and Family.
"O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining;
it is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining til He appeared
and the world felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the lonely world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices; O night divine,
o night when Christ was born.
O night, o night, o night divine."Praise the Lord, praise the Lord with me!
 Praise Him all ye creatures.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Merry Christmas!
Though this is a group letter, we write it to each one of you personally, and we thank the Lord for each one of you this Christmas, and pray for you as we send our greetings.  We thoroughly enjoy getting your letters, cards, and pictures, as well.  Thank you to all who have sent them.
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.”
Psalm 68:19-20

We want to give testimony of the Lord’s goodness in our lives this past year. It was a year like no other before. There are a few of you who don’t know what the Lord has done for us, and those of you who do, we want you to praise the Lord with us once more as we reflect on His goodness.

On May 21, 2002, I (Wendy) went in to the doctor for relatively minor symptoms and by the end of the day was facing the diagnosis that I had two tumors, one very large, one smaller, appearing to be cancerous, yes, and appearing to have spread, and by those factors, appearing to have not been caught early, but to have progressed to some degree.

Within three days, I was operated on and there now was only one tumor, it had not spread, and it was able to be completely removed. Further, when the tests came back, I was told that indeed the cancer, which was ovarian, had been caught early, a very rare event for ovarian cancer, and I was informed that I had a 90% chance of cancer not recurring.

I believe with all my heart that God gave me cancer, and I praise Him for it, which may sound strange. But I am so thankful.

Here are four reasons why I am grateful God gave me cancer: 1) We saw God’s hand on our lives in a powerful way causing us to trust Him more; 2) We experienced the love of friends and family through tangible and sacrificial acts of service causing us to love God more; 3) We experienced the power of prayer causing our faith to grow; and, 4) We saw the intervention of the Lord on our behalf in numerous ways causing us to thank Him.
We would like to share eight of these interventions that occurred in just a few days.
God’s Intervention #1
God brought me into the doctor by giving me one simple symptom that caused the nurse-line nurse to say “get in there today and if you can’t see your own doctor, go to the emergency room”. I would not have gone otherwise.
God’s Intervention #2
As I sat speaking to my doctor, I had a written, detailed summary of my symptoms over the past week, which I read to him (I never do that) and as he was diagnosing me with (possibly) something completely different than what I actually had, an urgency came over me to pray, “God, don’t let him let me leave today without knowing what is wrong with me.” Since I had not the slightest fear of anything seriously wrong with me, I believe this was the Holy Spirit’s prompting. God answered that prayer as my Christian doctor paused and said, “I think I’d like you to have a CT scan, just to make sure there isn’t anything else going on, since there‘s really nothing over there on the left side except your ovary…” That decision saved my life, I believe. 75% of ovarian cancer is not caught early, and 75-80% of those patients die.
God’s Intervention #3
Though my doctor advised me to try to get in for the CT scan within 2-3 days at least, God arranged for us to get in that very day, and for Jerry (my husband) to go with me.
God’s Intervention #4
We had to wait for a while following the scan, and thought they must have forgotten us, not suspecting anything at all, and were about to leave the hospital, but just as we were leaving, God intervened and sent someone to ask us to stay and wait for our doctor’s phone call. (Ok, that 20-minute wait for the phone call was anything but pleasant, but praise God for His peace in time of panic.)
God’s Intervention #5
The next day, only day 2, we were able to meet with our doctor again, see the CT scan ourselves, which already showed only one tumor to our untrained eyes, and more importantly, we were able to schedule a consultation with the surgeon! God was moving things along quickly.
God’s Intervention #6
“Would you like to have surgery in two days if we can fit you in?” our surgeon asked. Yes! Praise God, yes!
God’s Intervention #7
Aside from the first night, prior to the beginning of prayer for us by hundreds of people through the activation of two prayer chains, (when I didn’t sleep letting my mind go off planning for things that would never occur, and experiencing emotions I didn’t need to)...aside from that first night, I experienced a calm and peace that was out of this world, literally. Through God’s gift of cancer, I experienced God’s presence in a way like never before. We experienced the love of God through sisters and brothers in Christ praying for us and seeing answers to those prayers and being able to share those answers with our doctors and nurses who have been amazed. We experienced the joy of all the giving of dozens of people who cared for us through meals, cards, rides, and many other sacrificial acts of love. (Thank you!) We experienced trusting God in a new way, going deeper in our relationship with Him, finding out a little more realistically what it means that He is in control. Praise God that we know that He is not only sovereign, but that He can be trusted because He is all-wise and loves us perfectly and completely.
God’s Intervention #8
What happened to that other tumor that the radiologist saw? Was he mistaken? He would not have conveyed to a patient that she had cancer and it had spread without certainty of what he saw! But within 3 days, maybe sooner, there was no second tumor to be found, no other cancer to be found, though they searched diligently. I believe God intervened. Thank you, God. This might be a good time to testify that God is good, but He would’ve still been good if I had suffered painfully and died. Before we knew the prognosis, I wasn’t looking forward to the painful part, but God gave me peace about the dying part, and I felt a thrill at the possibility of being in heaven with Jesus, perhaps soon. (Any fear I have experienced has centered on leaving my children behind before I felt my “work” was through.)

Speaking of our children, they are doing great. Life goes on, amazingly, and they are still involved in piano exams, schoolwork and art lessons. Dane just finished his first two PSEO classes,  (Remember, this was written in December, 2002) independent study via internet, and enjoyed the challenge. He did well. He also obtained his driver’s permit prior to his 17th birthday. He is our resident computer expert, is working on starting up a used-book-selling business, loves to read, and loves to play hockey on our lake with his friends. Kelsey, now 13, enjoys baking, knitting, stamping cards, anything connected with animals, (she’s trying to train our dog Mocha), giving gifts, doing things for others and especially reading. One or both of them accompanied me to chemo weekly for the last six months.

We agreed to be part of a test group who would be given additional weekly chemo treatments for six months--lower doses of only one drug, with minimal side effects. The purpose is to see if these additional chemo treatments reduce the recurrence of cancer in patients whose ovarian cancer is caught early. I will be done Jan. 13, and then be followed up every 3 months for 2 years, and then every 6 months for 3 additional years.

Everything's The Same...
Everything Is Different
Everything else is pretty much the same--but everything is different. Isn’t that just the way it was 2000 years ago, when Jesus was born. Everyone went about their same lives, but everything was different, forever.

Praise God for His plan to save us from our sins, and His willingness to send His Son, Jesus, into this world to die a painful death on a cross in punishment for our sins.  Praise Jesus for being willing to come and for living a sinless life and for being obedient to the Father in every detail,

even unto death.

That takes on new meaning this year. Praise God for accepting that payment for our sins, past, present and future and by bringing Jesus back to life.
We serve a risen Savior.
Is He not worth all our love, all our honor, all our praise and adoration and all our lives in service to Him?
Have a blessed Christmas holiday
and a wonderful New Year.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

"Don't Despise the Small Things"

I’ve been thinking about the small things in life.

A lifetime is made up of millions and millions of .....minutes, small choices, little acts.
I want to encourage you: “Don’t despise the small things:”
The little moments and small efforts you make every day towards order and discipline in your home and life, for instance.
This got me to thinking about all the things you can do in 10 minutes (or less!) Years ago when I was a new bride, I would put off loading the dishwasher because it was such a "big" job. Then one day I timed myself: it took me less than 10 minutes! Time yourself! You can do each of these things in under 10 minutes: Unload the dishwasher, clean out a sock drawer, wipe down the handles on the kitchen cabinets and drawers, straighten the linen closet, pick up the family room, call a friend and encourage her (It truly is possible to keep it to 10 minutes, but if you’re like me, this one’s a little more challenging:), read a story to a child, write a note to an elderly person (like Grandma!), write a thank you note, straighten up your laundry room and wipe down the appliances, clean the top of the stove and inside of the microwave, memorize a Bible verse, pray for your city, state and country.....I’m sure you can think of many more. Today I tried to see what I could get done in the 1 minute waiting for my cup of coffee to reheat! You'd be amazed!

Do not despise the small things:
The small words: Thank you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you.
The “little” loving touches you give to your family: The little hand on the shoulder that says “I’m here for you”, the little squeeze of the hand that says “I Care”, the look into someone’s eyes with a tender smile of encouragement.

Do not despise the “small” act of faithful training of your children that nobody sees:
Following through for the umpteenth time consistently disciplining your toddler.
Taking your little child back to the store to ask forgiveness of the store owner and confess to stealing that “little” thing and making her return it.
The little words of truth that you lovingly tell to your child every time you change their diaper, get them dressed, etc. (God made you, He loves you, I love you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made—look at your toes and fingers and nose and eyes, He’s going to do great things through your life).
The minute of prayer before you hop out of bed in the morning. Every minute you spend in the Word and in prayer in the morning. The minute you take to teach your child a Bible verse.
The few minutes of prayer with your children before every meal, before bed, when they disobey.
The extra minute it takes to show your child from the Bible the “Why” and not just the “What” when training them in God's ways.
The time you take to read the Bible verse to them when they’ve disobeyed you and need repentance and restoration, and which shows them how God views their sin.

The perpetual calendar in my room says, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing becomes a great thing." Plato
The Bible says, "He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much!"

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Do you have real or imagined "defects"? I do. I have scars. Quite a few, actually. They're hidden for the most part, but I know they're there. I've found it very helpful to apply the teaching from the seminar on this. Mr. G. encourages us to think of our scars (or defects) as God's mark of ownership on our life and thank Him for them. And to use them as opportunities to talk to others about Christ. I thank God often for my scars. They remind me of His great love and faithfulness to me. It's a long story, so I won't go into it here, (you can read my ovarian cancer testimony in a previous post) but God did a huge work in my life through having cancer. And I'm grateful for the open doors to talk about Christ that having had cancer affords me. That's why, whenever I have the opportunity, though my scars are hidden by clothing, I try to tactfully bring the cause of my scars, my cancer surgery, into the conversation. It gives me an opportunity to testify to God's power, love and faithfulness in my life, and it makes people more open to hearing about Christ. I'm grateful for my scars. Perhaps God has given you something similar in your life. Have you ever thanked Him for it? How we see our "defects" is very important. In the seminar, we heard that we should not only thank God for any "defects" we have but think of them as God's mark of ownership. Whenever we see them, we can remember how much He loves us, enough to send His Son to die in our place. Christ now has scars which are a precious reminder to Him (and us) of that great love!!

How we think about our "defects" is very important. In the seminar, we heard how at one time in history men with scars were highly esteemed as great swordfighters! (They were the brave and skillful ones, while their opponents were dead!) so some young men would cut their own faces, wanting to appear brave and have the admiration of all the girls, without actually having to fight, seeing how desirable the scarred men were! So, it's not the scar (or whatever "defect") but the meaning attached to it that counts. So, he suggests you attach new meaning to your defects--thank God for giving you a reminder that He is Lord of your life, that He loves you and that He has a purpose and a plan for you that He is working out even now in this very moment.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Accepting Adverse Circumstances

Rembrandt's Painting of Queen Esther

I've been reading in the Bible from the wonderful book of Esther. Esther was such a good example of someone who had to deal with this principle of accepting your design and was used greatly by God in doing so. We may think, "Oh, sure, she was gorgeous, lived in a palace--what did she have to worry about!" But, every person--Every Person--has something that they have to accept about their circumstances or looks. In Esther's case, it wasn't her looks, but her circumstances that she had to accept.

There are certain "unchangeables" that God has prescribed for each one of us.
Let's take a quick look at the 10 "unchangeables" and see what God prescribed in Esther's life:
1. Parents: She had none; they were both dead; she was raised by an older cousin
2. Time in History: She lived at a time when her country was besieged and her people were taken into captivity and had to live under a ruthless king
3. People Group: Israeli, Jewish, from the lesser tribe of Benjamin
4. Nationality: Jewish (not highly thought of, often despised, even persecuted)
5. Gender: female, at that time in history, and in that place, being a woman was very low, insignificant, powerless
6. Birth Order: There is no report that she had any other siblings
7. Brothers and Sisters: none mentioned
8. Physical Features: She was "fair of form and good of countenance" (beautiful)
9. Mental Abilities: The Bible doesn't make a big statement of her mental abilities. Her strength came in obeying the counsel of her authority, Mordecai, and in her wisdom, not her knowledge or reasoning ability.
10. Aging and Death: She was young, but her life was very much in danger, so she had to accept God's timing on how long she would live and when and how she would die.

Being beautiful doesn't automatically mean that you'll be happy or that life will be a "piece of cake". It wasn't so in Esther's life. God used her gender, nationality, time in history and physical features to place her in the position of being used by Him to save her people. But she had to accept her circumstances and trust God in the midst of them. She didn't know how it would turn out! We don't know how our lives will turn out either. Esther is a wonderful example of sweet, humble acceptance of the place and circumstances God places you in. And she shows us one of the important things we can do when God allows us to be in difficult circumstances. She prayed and fasted. Moreover, she asked others to join her and pray for her! That's a great lesson! We can't always see the big picture of why God made us the way He did, or allows us to be in the circumstances we're in. But He promises (if we're a Christian) to work it out for good and to use it to conform us to His image.
Romans 8:28-29 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." How did Christ respond to His unpleasant circumstances? (With meekness, trust, and love for His enemies) What does the Bible say about His looks? (Isaiah 53:2 "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.") The things that we go through cause His character to be formed in us, when we respond in a Christlike way. But if we fight against His plan, or take ourselves "off the easel" before He's done with the painting, we may miss out on the amazing things He wants to do in and through us.

Regarding trying circumstances, there's something that happens in us when we thank God for them. James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Trials and trying circumstances and people are God's tools to form His character in us, so when we respond in a Christlike way to them, the character of Christ is formed in us. Sometimes we look at what God is doing in us, or how He has made us so far, and we jump off the easel thinking He's not doing a very good job and we could do it better. We must get back up on the easel and let God keep working--we don't see the picture the Master Artist is painting, and we must trust Him. In Esther's life, when she faced very unpleasant (life and death) circumstances, the Bible records these words that her guardian, Mordecai, said to her: "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" And who knows what God will do in and through us when we respond in thanks and trust to His design of our lives.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!

This week we began attending a seminar and heard about the principle of design. (I have heard this information many times before, but because it is founded and based on Scripture, God always teaches me something new as He applies it to where I am now in my journey through life.) Over the next weeks, as I have time, I'm going to post some of the things God is teaching me. I hope the Lord will use them in your life, too--Please let me know how He does!

Most people don't accept the way God made them. How we view ourselves affects all our relationships: with God, with our family and friends, with ourselves. Oftentimes people are just "not happy" with themselves or their circumstances. (I'm not talking about sin which we are convicted of in our lives, and that we need to repent of and turn from, or the consequences of it.) I'm talking about things that we cannot change in the way God made us, and the circumstances He's allowed: the "unchangeables". Who our parents are, our time in history, our people group, nationality, gender, birth order, brothers and sisters, physical features, mental abilities and aging and death.

When we violate the principles of Scripture, surface problems and conflicts arise. Do you see any of these particular surface problems in your life? Self-criticism, depression, inability to trust in relationships, inability to love. These may have the underlying causes of inferiority (if I reject myself, it will be hard for me to accept my husband or my children), envy, or unreturned affection, and we may have the root problem of bitterness. Bitterness is one of those things that no one thinks they have. We say, "Oh, no, I'm not bitter. I'm just so very disappointed." "I'm not bitter, I just wish he'd change..." "I'm not bitter, I just can't believe they treated me like that." "I'm not bitter, I just feel so hurt." We call it a lot of different things, but never bitterness.

We may have a floating sense of..."I'm unhappy" (with how God made me or my circumstances). We would never be bitter towards God. We're just unhappy with things that He has made and only He has control over. Do you find yourself longing to be different, to be like someone else, or saying "if only" I had different circumstances? Do you think that others have it much better than you do: they were given so much more talent, they're so naturally good-looking, they're so lucky because they have wonderful parents/wonderful sisters or brothers/don't have any sisters or brothers/have a lot of kids/don't have any kids/they're a man/they're a woman/they aren't the oldest/they aren't the youngest/they aren't tall like me/they aren't short like me/they don't have these "defects" I have.......

Is there anything about yourself or the way you look that you would change, if you could? This is an important question, the answer to which can reveal a bitter attitude towards God.

Well, God made you and you are "wonderfully and fearfully made," according to the Scriptures. God prescribed you and knew you before you were born.
Psalm 139:13-16 says: "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. (14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
He created you. You were knit together in your mother's womb by the Lord Himself.
He's not finished with you yet:
Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

The cause of inferiority is comparing yourself. No matter how smart you are or beautiful or talented or organized or great, etc., etc. etc., you will always be able to find someone better than you to make you feel inferior! So stop comparing:
2 Corinthians 10:12 "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

God made you very uniquely and specially, He loves you and He has some work for you to accomplish that He wants to do through you, not someone else! As long as you are on earth, He still has work for you to do.
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

(Works don't save you or get you to heaven, but once saved from hell and receiving forgiveness of sins by trusting in Jesus Christ's shed blood for you on the cross, believing that He rose from the dead and submitting to His Lordship over your life, then He works through His Holy Spirit in your life to accomplish good works, which glorify Him.
Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.")

Today, let's take a look at our hearts and see if there's any root of bitterness there, or any evidences of not accepting my design such as surface things like feelings of inferiority, complaining, envying, comparing, etc. Why not thank God today for exactly how He has made you, and all your "unchangeables"?

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Worth Waiting For

Mr. K and Rachel
Derek (in uniform)
Preparing for his Bride
These past few days we've had the joy of meditating on marriage once more as Saturday we attended Derek and Rachel's wedding--the 4th wedding that we've attended and served at this summer! Two days earlier we'd also had the pleasure of attending what the groom's family calls a "Celebration Dinner." I love this custom they've established in their family! Let me tell you about it! When one of the T family's sons marries (this is the third), instead of a groom's dinner or rehearsal dinner, they celebrate what God has done, honoring and sharing with 100 or so of their closest friends and family: people who've been special to, or invested in the lives of, the bride and groom and their families. It's an intimate evening of loving God and family and being grateful.
On this past Thursday, the bride and groom and the groom's family, especially, expressed humble gratitude and honor to God, their family and friends. The couple each shared their salvation testimony, retold the story of their courtship and engagement, and the father of the groom charged his son with the seriousness of what he was about to do--he shared from scripture and gave his son a personal challenge, designed specifically for him, to help him as he begins his new role as husband and leader of his own family, and he no longer is under the authority of his father, but in a relationship of receiving his counsel.

It was a very moving evening. There was an intimacy, a warmth, a closeness in this evening, that was not even present at the wedding. It was a great privilege to be able to share in this special evening.
Derek and Rachel shared the story of how God had led them to each other: the patience and trust it had taken, waiting for God's leading and timing; and the parental counsel, prayer and involvement in both of their lives.
Marriage is a serious step, a serious commitment, not to be entered into lightly. It is forever. Mr. T., the father of the groom, exhorted his son, Derek, to be a "good fighter," an appropriate charge in light of the fact that Derek went to Boot Camp this past year and is now in the Marine reserves. Mr. T. told Derek that he must fight against three enemies and to remember Rachel is never the enemy. He must fight against his own selfishness (it would not be "my own" time, money, etc. anymore), fear (am I going to have enough work--how will I provide?) and lies (the world, media and people will be attacking the way they live and the choices they make and speaking lies every day).

And he exhorted him to fight for three things. He counseled Derek to fight for his family, for truth, and for what is right. He shared from the book of Nehemiah and used the example of their building the wall, each family building right where they were, at the same time they were fighting their enemies with one hand, building with the other.

On Saturday, two things especially impressed me at the wedding reception. Derek sincerely thanked his parents and expressed the desire that he might become like his father someday. That they honored their guests and parents by coming to the microphone and addressing them, expressing their gratitude: not only to their guests for coming, but also to their parents for how they'd raised them, (and to each other's parents for how they'd raised the other to be someone so wonderful), to their own parents for all their sacrifice, for everything--was very special. And the K family publicly thanked all the people who had helped serve (especially Mrs. D. who had planned and orchestrated the meal, and had been responsible for overseeing everyone and everything--a mammouth undertaking). Secondly, Rachel's family, which now includes Derek, sang and played their instruments for the 650 guests who attended the outdoor wedding. It was meaningful to me that the couple took time to give something special back to all who were there, not only unselfishly standing in line to talk to each and every one of their guests--before they ate anything themselves--but also sharing their music in an unhurried "mini-concert." It was something I've never seen before--the wedding couple getting up during the reception, singing and playing instruments with their family, the bride in her wedding dress, for the wedding guests.

A Grateful Bride and Groom Expressing their Gratitude

...and Singing
Gratitude, honor, humility, unselfishness, family, faithfulness (to God and your mate)--these were the themes of Derek and Rachel's wedding: a great way to start out life together!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Lesson from the Lord on not fretting

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
Psalm 121--"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore."
2 Timothy 3:12--"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Sometimes I forget about spiritual attack. We should not be surprised when we experience spiritual attack after some spiritual victory or time of fruitfulness in our lives. But God is our helper and protector.
I'm reminded, also, that our family can always expect attack when my husband is going to preach. This week is no exception. (It's a reminder to me to pray for the families of our elders, who preach every week!) My husband, not a full-time preacher, is filling in for Mr. T., whose son is getting married on Saturday. I have also found that we often are attacked in the very area that he is preaching on! Guess what he is going to preach on--1 Corinthians 13--the love chapter! The avenue of attack for me has been to discourage me and make me feel unloved by those closest to me, and a failure in the areas I most care about. But I find great help by going to my bedroom (my "prayer closet"), closing the door, getting down on my knees and crying out to the Lord. It is very important at times like these. ("What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere? We must never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer." Psalm 55:16-18--"As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me..." Psalm 62:8--"Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.")

Also, it is crucial to bathe myself in the Word. Psalm 130:1-2, 5--"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His Word do I hope." Psalms and Proverbs are very good, but God never ceases to amaze me by using whatever Scripture I am scheduled to read in my "Read Through the Bible in a Year" plan from Discipleship Journal to speak directly to my heart.

God also uses unique and very personal means of speaking truth to me at times like these. In the last few days, this is what He has done:
I confess to having fretted this week over the events scheduled. So, on Monday, God reminded me in two ways not to worry. First, He brought to my memory the fact that every time I feel truly overwhelmed, and sure that there's no way I can do what appears that I have to do, and I go to Him for help, He removes some of the load, often (surprisingly) through the illness of myself or one of my family, or adverse weather such as a snowstorm, which cancels one or all of my responsibilities or events that I was worrying about. It has happened so often, that in the past I had learned not to worry, because God always canceled the things I was worrying about before they happened! But He had to remind me of this on Monday. Then later in the day, He confirmed this rebuke for my fretting when He allowed my daughter to become sick! (Not that I'm rejoicing that my daughter got sick! Please don't write me nasty letters!) However, this canceled the dinner scheduled for Wednesday which I had been fretting about.

(Psalm 61:1-3--"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.")

Then on Tuesday, God used my very own words to speak truth into my heart, as I exhorted and encouraged a friend on the phone: to lean on the Lord, to trust Him to help, to not grow weary in welldoing and finish the course well, persevering--Every word was what I also needed to hear! In getting my introspective eyes off of myself, and trying to help someone else, God encouraged and helped me. (Isn't He wonderful?!)
Today, Wednesday, God used the words of special people in my life to humble me, and I felt very broken, but when I went to my knees before Him, I was in a very teachable state, as I cried out to Him in prayer. I realized there on my knees that I have been asking for "grace" a lot lately, and that in the Word, God says that, "He giveth grace to the humble." So, I thanked Him for the trials He had brought me through recently and the humbling words I had just received, which were the prerequisites for the grace I'd been praying for. I then cried out to Him to enable me to "succeed" through His Spirit in the three areas I felt so much a failure in, but also knew were my "work": being a wife, being a "nurse" to my daughter this week, and learning Spanish fluently in order to share the gospel with Hispanic people, a desire which the Lord has placed on my heart.
Tonight the Lord encouraged my husband and me through dinner with dear old friends whom we had not seen for years. This month was their 30th wedding anniversary, and they are celebrating, in part, by getting together with people who've been a part of, and who God has used in, their lives from the beginning of their marriage. They took us out to dinner, and we had wonderful fellowship sharing, catching up, rediscovering our friendship and likemindedness--it was so encouraging! I had been fretting, I confess, about seeing them and cooking dinner for them, but of course my husband was right to invite them to our home and I was happy to have them here and have the opportunity to show hospitality to them! It's just that our house is in an unusual state of turmoil due to changing and lack of furniture; my children (my right arms) were not going to be here; I don't feel I am a great cook and she is a fabulous one, etc., etc. etc. Every bit of my fretting was foolishness--but isn't what we fret about usually just that?? Anyway, God reminded me how foolish and sinful it is to fret. "Trust Me." "Yes, Lord, forgive me."
We went to the doctor today and found out that my daughter, Kelsey, has strep throat. She is now on antibiotics and we're praying she'll be able to attend the "Celebration Dinner" tomorrow night, fulfill her serving responsibilities at the wedding of Derek and Rachel on Saturday, that no one else will get sick, (especially my husband, who is preaching Sunday), and especially especially that the father of the groom, Mr. T., doesn't get sick, because Kelsey worked with him the day she got sick. But, for now, I am not fretting, but obeying His command, "Be careful (or anxious) for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication With Thanksgiving Let Your Requests Be Made Known Unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I'm sure that it's no accident that what follows these verses are instructions on what we are to spend our time thinking about!
"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." Ps. 56:3

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Joshua Harris is Eaten by a Beanbag"

I think you'll enjoy and be challenged by this video!

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A Good Day

We had a good day today. We had one of those rare but wonderful moments which a mother savors for a long time after. It began when my husband got a call from someone wanting to buy my mother-in-law's hospital bed that we'd listed on Craigslist. But they wondered if there was any way we could deliver it to their home two hours away, and they would pay an additional $100 for this service. My husband suggested that we ask our 23-year-old son if he would be interested in taking on this task using his vehicle and receiving the payment himself. Well, he was and he did. It worked out so well that he was able to "kill two birds with one stone" so to speak, and met us on his way home in order to join our family in attending the funeral of the mother of a friend. Before joining us, upon delivering the bed, he called to say everything had gone well and the man was very pleased with the bed. Our son had put it together and set it up for the man as well.

I was thrilled and grateful to the Lord. At selling the bed--(we had specifically prayed to sell it soon), at my son's manful response to the challenge, that everything had gone well, that he obviously felt good about rising to this challenge (which had been a little outside his normal comfort zone).

I tell you all this because that night we came home and there was a phone message from the man. He thanked us--the bed was wonderful, exactly as described, he was very grateful for having it delivered......and then he said words that warmed my heart and brought a tear to this mother's eye: "You must be very proud of your son." And he went on to tell what he had done, and to thank us. These are the moments that make it all worthwhile. It was a very good day. Thank you, Lord. May You receive all the glory.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Bearing Fruit

Many times it has occurred to me that being a Christian mom (and specifically a Christian Homeschooling mom) is a lot like gardening. Now, I am not a huge gardener...but, I've been around Gardeners (with a capital G) and gardened enough myself to know this much: children are a lot like the seeds you plant in the garden. First of all, you can't tell at all what they're going to turn out like when you plant them--you just have to trust--and then, in the beginning, you work hard!! (Though you know that nothing can grow without the Heavenly Father providing the rain, sun, and the miracle of growth.) But you still have to work hard! In fact, that's all you do do. All you do is weed and water, and water and weed--you don't see any fruit. But, if you think, oh, this is too much work, and you slack off(!), what happens? Your garden gets taken over by weeds, and you never do see any fruit, or not much. (You see a lot of that in our world today.) But you cannot let up--you have to be diligent, and keep on, and trust God by faith that it will bear fruit if you don't give up! You still only see a smidgen of hope once in a while. And, if you become distracted by other things in life, or just get too busy, and let the weeds get away from you, you will have a lot of work to gain back the ground you've lost, so it's best if you are daily attentive & diligent.

Yes, children are a lot like a garden. Because, one day, I'd say it's at about 15, though if you've been working in your garden daily for years, it might be earlier, say, even 10 or 12......but all of a sudden, you start to reap what you've been sowing all those years! Now, that's exceedingly good news if you've relied on the Lord, kept obeying, trusting, and conscientiously and intentionally training your children according to the Word of the Lord! Because, bless the Lord, you begin to see your children act responsibly, and talk to other adults, looking them in the eye, and be kind to their little sister, and sometimes the Lord gives you a little "gift" like that first really nice-looking "whatever" from the garden, that gets you excited that you're going to have a really nice crop, if this is any indication! He allows some blessed soul, friend or stranger, to be impressed and pleased in some way and for some reason in interacting with your child or observing them, and that person comes back and tells you about it--Hallelujah! Someone saw something good, some unselfishness, some act of kindness, or a servant heart or respectfulness in my child!! Praise the Lord!!! That is a good day. And those actions and attitudes become more habitual day by day, no, our children are not perfect, but neither are we, but pretty soon you see the mature fruit of a godly young man or woman before your eyes. What joy!

So, I encourage you to press on. Deal with that attitude in your child (the little weed) before it becomes an action (a big weed), be on your knees before the Lord for your children, weed out the sin in your life as well as turning them to the Word and their Heavenly Father in repentence when they sin, live before them as examples by God's grace and daily be in the garden! Trust and obey. And you will bear fruit a hundredfold by God's grace. And you will have many good days.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

On Being a Keeper at Home

I've been thinking about some Scripture passages:
Proverbs 16:20 and 21--"He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. (21) The wise in heart shall be called prudent, and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning."

1 Timothy 6:8--"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

Titus 2:3-5--"The aged women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed."

I've been reading some posts about being a "keeper at home" and excuses women give to not obey that. And, as I get older, I see myself coming into this "aged women" classification. So when I tell someone the truth in love about being a "keeper at home" and the truth hurts, did I handle the matter wisely? Will "sweetness of lips" mean that people will always receive what I have to say, or not get angry? Hmmm.

The issue of being a "keeper at home" is one that makes some younger women, well older ones, too, very angry. It seems to me it makes some women very defensive. I would ask anyone who has questions on the subject, to go to the Scriptures and do some studying. Go to Titus 2 and study the words' meanings and read the cross-references and study and pray. Do a study in the Bible on covetousness. And on contentment. I guarantee it will be rewarding, perhaps convicting.

I think the best time to teach a young woman about being a keeper at home is when she's a very young girl. Mothers, we must teach our daughters well.

I realized today how easy it is to fall into ways of talking that are not Biblical, or that encourage thinking that is worldly. I realized that I had been unintentionally doing this when I was trying to encourage my 20-year-old daughter to frugality in her spending, by pointing out to her that "you don't have a full-time job, you know." I don't have a full-time job, either--that's irrelevant, I will never have a full-time job, and don't intend that she have one, either. The motivation for frugality should be that she is a steward of the Lord's resources. She should have all her needs provided for her by the Lord through her father, at this time in her life, and use what he gives her wisely. Later, her needs will be provided for her by the Lord through her husband, just as I have mine provided by the Lord through my husband.

Learning as a young woman to rely on your father to provide for you and contentedly using what he gives you in a wise manner ("he that handleth a matter wisely shall find good"), is good practice for relying on the Lord, and being content. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." And "whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he."

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Hello out there!

Over the last month we've been very busy with the work related to mom's death, as well as many other things. The thought has floated around my head: Should I continue? Is anyone reading?Thinking about throwing in the towel, quitting the blog, only because I don't know if you're out there unless you comment. So, please let me know you've been here! Anonymity isn't always a good thing! :)