Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To be a lover of books...

I have always know that loving books was a good thing, but Randy Alcorn shines some light on why it is also an IMPORTANT thing. Not only should we be teaching our children to enjoy quality books, but we need to be modeling that discipline to them through our own lives. He says it much better in the video below. I love that he goes so far to call reading a "holy habit". At least there I have one good habit that comes naturally! :)

"...those who are not readers will not be readers of God's Word." Randy Alcorn

LATE NOTE: Not one to take what anyone says as law, I couldn't figure out why this quote was nagging at me all day. Now- 5 hours later it struck me. I will give you Renee's edited version- "...those who are not readers will STRUGGLE with being readers of God's Word." There. That seems better. Because I know lots of people who ONLY read God's Word. They aren't readers by taste, but they love and value the Bible so much- they read it regularly. Makes you wonder what they would be like if they had cultivated a love of books as children. :) Maybe reading wouldn't sometimes feel like a chore and more often a delight? You tell me. God bless you with a special verse just for you today as you remain faithful to Him.

Where did you get your love for reading? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stability would be a beautiful thing...

Waking up with the knowledge that you have to go to work is something that should be cured. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to wake up at least THINKING you had the day to spend with family, plant flowers, go on a hike, or whatever? I do think getting out of bed would be so much easier.

Many things happening this last week, all for our good, but all things that control freaks freak out about. :) Yep, that would be me. I really think that my dear peace loving husband would like to throw me out for a few months, and have me come back with a new attitude.

So this is what I am working on right now. Another woman shared the verse, and it so hit my heart that I decided to cruise through Isaiah for the next week. God, help me to see you as "the STABILITY of my times":
The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high;
And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge..." Isaiah 33:5-6 (abbrev)

Such a good reminder, yes? Maybe you will read through Isaiah 33 today and tell me what you see. Another verse in that chapter that amazed me was in 17, and instead of pointing to Hezekiah, the ruling King at that time, the commentary I read said that it was a clear shout out to the Messiah- and the people of Israel would have understood that and hung their hope on the coming Christ- my Jesus. So cool!

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will behold a far-distant land.
For the LORD is our judge,
The LORD is our lawgiver,
The LORD is our king;
He will save us-- " Isaiah 33:17, 22

God bless you today!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Don't miss it...

Pause the music on the right, and enjoy the reminder Pastor Francis Chan gives. God bless you today, my friend. I'm smiling thinking about the day that God has made- no matter what happens.

This guy wrote a fantastic book, "Crazy Love". Check it out. Fast, amazing read.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oswald Chambers hits hard!

What's happening to April? That's what I want to know. It seems like it was winter just a week ago, and now we are almost mid spring! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the weather and don't wish for cold winter days. I just am finding it harder and harder to grab hold of the moments as time passes.

We had some good times the last few weeks, even with all the illnesses, home was a great place to be. Then Saturday we found out about some really discouraging things and I found myself going into the whole "Why, It shouldn't be like this, How will we survive" whiner mode. As I played into my pity party, God reminded me of something I had read recently. Oh, don't you love when He does that? :)

"We all have moments when we feel better than ever before, and we say, “I feel fit for anything; if only I could always be like this!” We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight which we have to live up to even when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for the everyday world when we are not on the mountaintop...Pick yourself up by the back of the neck and shake off your fleshly laziness. Laziness can always be seen in our cravings for a mountaintop experience; all we talk about is our planning for our time on the mountain. We must learn to live in the ordinary “gray” day according to what we saw on the mountain."
That was from Oswald Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest" devotional for April 16th. (My book has it in the old style English which is just more fun to read, but I posted the quote from http://utmost.org/can-you-come-down-from-the-mountain/ if you are interested in a free, INCREDIBLE web devotional.)

(Did he really say shake off my lazy flesh? Ouch! How right he is though!)How often do I do that? Embrace the mountain top experiences that transform me, the moments that come EASY...and then struggle to relate it to my everyday life. I know I wish I could live in only the high moments, but that isn't how God grows us. I get caught up in the worry and the struggle, and forget that EVERY thing that happens in life is important. Sometimes the drudgery of parenting teens DAILY is more important than the moments that take our breath away. That moment when we are so pleased with something our teen says, does or displays, and we feel like our hearts are going to burst. Sure, those times are crucial to keeping our heads above water. But I want to do it well in ALL the moments. :) True of marriage, work, friendships, even daily Bible study too.

Alas- what a dilemma. To know the good I want to do, and yet epic fail at it a good portion of the time. But Mr. Chambers gives some insight in how to live in the dull days, and he says it beautifully: "Never allow a feeling which was stirred in the high hour (on the mountain) to evaporate. Don't put your mental feet on the (coffee table) and say- 'What a marvelous state of mind to be in!' Act immediately, do something, if only because you would rather NOT do it." (My Utmost For His Highest, page 122.)

Interesting idea. Grab the bull by the horns, right?

Gotta remember to look at the BIG picture.

Thank you for the reminder, good sir. And off I go- to do something.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes" seriously makes me gag.

Back and forth, back and forth. I am trying to decide if I should write a BAD book review, or point you towards a good book. My negativity makes me want to rant and rave, but at the same time- I know God didn't design me to use my tongue (typing fingers) abusively.

So I guess I will try to find a happy middle. I will start by STRONGLY encouraging you NOT to bother reading Joyce Meyer's new book, "Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes". If you don't think the fact that the doctrine is false, the concept is selfish or the writing is mediocre are good enough reasons to choose a different book, consider this. The biggest concern with this book, like other self help literature, is it caters to the idea that "I" should be bigger than "We". In a moment, the idea of not beating yourself up for small pleasures is just. But an entire book that encourages you to look out for number 1? Soooo many other great reads out there.

The premise of the book is to start celebrating life and not feeling guilty for our mistakes. While I would agree that God never intended us to carry a burden of guilt as Christians (that's why He sent Jesus- to pay for our guilt), I wouldn't go so far as to say God intended for us to view Him as the greatest "Party Planner" as Ms. Meyer's states either. Or that guilt for sin does not serve a purpose- ask the teenager who is taking care of their self indulgent parent, or the family who is homeless because the primary bread winner couldn't say no to living outside their means. Indulgence has consequence for someone, even if it's not you. If God did not intend for us to feel the sting of guilt- our conscience that judges us- why is the New Testament full of verses telling us to "repent" and to live BETTER?

There is actually a chapter in the book titled "You Are Worth a Little Waste". In it, the author tries to use the story in Matthew 26 of Jesus being anointed with expensive perfume as an analogy of why it is OK to spoil ourselves once in awhile. Now I am ALL for spoiling, but please oh please don't misuse the Word of God to justify it. When I spend $100 on plants, or $30 on a pedicure- I WILL NOT try to say that was the best use of my funds and that God would be as pleased with my self indulgence as He would have been with my donation to an orphanage in Haiti. Seriously, don't try to make eating a cookie when your 50 pounds over weight a holy calling. :) This passage was specifically speaking about the SAVIOR of the World, and why that perfume was not wasted on Him. It was an offering to our Holy God, prior to His ultimate sacrifice to save us. "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. " Matthew 26:11 I know I am valued, chosen and adopted by God, and worthy to be loved- BECAUSE of Jesus, but I am not to be worshiped.

As an author on faith, Joyce Meyers has a responsibility to read, interpret and present Scripture in context and without distortion. (I won't get on my soap box about what I think of her ministry, but I so encourage you to protect your hearts, friends. Don't take anyone's word for it. Read the Good Book for yourself, pray for God's leading and discernment, and ALWAYS ALWAYS read it in context.)

Do what you want, but as you pass this book in Costco, Walmart or wherever,take a minute to thumb through it before you plunk your money down. As you read her story about indulging in a cookie because she "NEEDED" it, and getting irritated at her friend who tried to encourage her not to- the same friend she had asked to help her be accountable to her diet and exercise program they started together 4 weeks ago...ask yourself, "I totally get that, but is it really OK?" As a food addict, I understand comfort foods. I would never deny that I am a "Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes" kind of girl. But I will also NEVER say that is God's best design for my life. He doesn't want me to be a slave to anything, and self indulgence makes you a slave to yourself. Period.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it MY slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1Corinthians 9:24-27
That passage might not sound as pretty or feel as exciting as buying yourself some expensive perfume to "waste", but oh- the "prize" will be so worth it!

Now- if you still want a fun, quick read, can I point you towards "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper? Little book with a BIG punch. When I read this years ago, it was the first time I understood WHY seeking pleasure is naturally a part of who we are as humans. I LOVE the concept of Christian hedonism now, and Piper does a fantastic job of explaining why we have a "restless, inconsolable longing" within us. Wanting the "cookie", desiring the "shoes" is a pathetic attempt on our parts to fill the need that God placed in our hearts. The need for more of HIM. Self interest isn't the sin, but the way we choose to satisfy it can be. Statements like "The pursuit of pleasure is an essential motive of every good deed. If you aim to abandon the pursuit of full and lasting pleasure, you CANNOT love people or PLEASE God." (pg 39) YES. Chew on that for a bit, right? Good stuff.
Piper gets it right as he shows us Scripture upon Scripture of why we want pleasure, why we should look for pleasure, and how God designed us to enjoy pleasure. Beautifully written, doctrinally sound, and full of statements to put a smile on your face. Let this little book challenge and encourage you, in a way that the "Cookie" or pair of "Shoes" never could.
"Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." Saint Augustine

Celebrate your life, love! Enjoy the beauty and God Stops of every day, but don't let anything on earth become your master. Living for earthly pleasures will never touch the joy found in living for God's pleasure. God bless you today!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Telling it like it is was never so good. Thank you, Harold Estes!

Interesting that Snopes.com would not say "True", just "Correctly Attributed"...........
They did print a statement from the publisher of Fore 'n Aft stating that he could personally vouch that "the letter is REAL and so is Harold Estes".

"This is telling it like it is........

WW II Battleship sailor tells Obama to shape up or ship out !

This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii
for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes
all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body,
he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now.
He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.

Dear President Obama,

My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor, allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.

One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.

So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.

I can't figure out what country you are the president of.
You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:
" We're no longer a Christian nation"
" America is arrogant" - (Your wife even
announced to the world,"America is mean-
spirited. " Please tell her to try preaching
that nonsense to 23 generations of our
war dead buried all over the globe who
died for no other reason than to free a
whole lot of strangers from tyranny and
I'd say shame on the both of you, but I don't think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

After 9/11 you said," America hasn't lived up to her ideals."

Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.

I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.

Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue. You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.

You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.
You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now.
And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.

Harold B. Estes"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Last Song

The bummer about being sick is the complete inactivity it causes! Just vacuuming and mopping this week had me wheezing and hacking for 15 minutes. It's truly driving me crazy. When I am sitting here, I think "Oh, I can do that...it will only take a minute." But the minute I try, I can't breathe. This is getting ridiculous.

The benefit of being sick is I get to catch up on my reading! Today I felt like reviewing a book, and it was a toss up between John Piper and Nicholas Sparks. :) Strange combination, but Nicholas Sparks had to win- mostly because I am thinking about my girl today and she loved this story. (Maybe tomorrow I will get around to telling you about Piper's book "What Jesus Demands From the World". WOW.)

"The Last Song" is probably one of the fastest, sweetest reads out there for teens. I am not a fan of Mr. Sparks as you probably know. The situations he puts his characters in, and the "romance worship" is usually too distracting for me to really find the meaning and relevance I like in a fiction work. (Same issue with the Twilight series) Not to say he isn't a creative mind- he just uses lots of words to say little. Not this time! The Last Song set on the coast of North Carolina, beautiful descriptions and is full of dynamic characters who he develops well. The teenage girl, "Ronnie" is meant to be the main character, but because Sparks writes various chapters from other characters third person perspective- it draws you into each of them just as much as to Ronnie. In fact, the most tender, heart-wrenching moments are focused on her Father, Steve, rather than the summer romance between Ronnie and Will, the young man she meets and can't stand, but later falls in love with. (Big surprise- hope I didn't ruin it for you.)

If you watched the movie version, you will think the story is mostly about Ronnie and the boy, but if you take the time to pick up the book- you will find that most of the best parts, and by far the funniest parts, revolve around Ronnie, her dad and her brother, Jonah. All in all, a very endearing book, in the clean and healthy vein of his other book, "A Walk to Remember" (the only other story I enjoyed by him). The story shows clearly the damage to children when parents choose their own happiness and divorce, and it shows clearly that with hard work and unconditional love- that same family can find forgiveness and restoration. There is only one scene I wish he had omitted (see if you can pick it out :) and he tries (fails but tries) to draw in a search for God and a definition of faith which at least will get people talking about God, His Plan and His Ways, I hope. My favorite piece is when he shares how Steve meets and befriends the local pastor as a young boy, and the role that pastor plays in the rest of the book is absolutely superb. THAT is what Christian faith and love is suppose to look like. Not being a believer but raised Catholic, Sparks has said he feels very comfortable writing about faith. That is apparent in this book, although because of his own distance from God, he gets confused in the attempt to help the characters "find" God. But again, in comparison to what is out there for our teens to read- this one is safe, engaging and one they most likely won't put down. My daughter's sweet response to this book was not wishing for the perfect guy, but rather "Oh, mom! I LOVE my daddy! He is the best!" That's exactly how the book makes you feel. You want to pick up the phone and tell your father how much you love him and appreciate all that he is, and helped you become. How often can you say that about a mainstream "romance" novel?

Go pick it up- 9 bucks at Costco. Borrow it from me, check it out at the library (if they have it!) Give yourself a a handful of hours to indulge in a truly great story. The Last Song will remind you to smile as you breathe in God's good air, make you want to hug your family close, and thank Him for every minute you have.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Abigail is my hero. Doing what you "should" can turn out pretty nice...

House full of sickies this week, and I am trying to keep my lungs INSIDE my body. Coughing never hurt so much. I keep thinking spring is right around the corner and the cold season is over, but apparently not. We haven't been this sick in a long time.

Had a great chat with a dear sister in Christ tonight (I suppose I should say "last night" as it is now 4:00 in the morning, but besides trying to expel my lungs, my body has decided sleep is overrated). As I talked with her, God reminded me just what He expects of us ladies in the marriage role, and it was a good thing to hear.

Have you heard of Abigail? Have you heard of Nabal and Abigail? Well- even if you have, humor me with a little reminiscing. Abigail was said to be "intelligent and beautiful" back in the day, during King David's younger years. Nabal was a fool. No literally- his name meant "fool", and the story says he was a "worthless man". Nice, right? I wonder how I would feel about my dear sweet Steve if I had to call him "Moron" everyday. Could I say it with a straight face? Instead of "Hey, Stevie- what do you want for lunch?" I would insert "Moron". Bahahahaha!
Anyways, total hottie married to a real winner, and along comes David. Young, vibrant, handsome, and chosen by GOD to be the true King of an entire nation. One catch- the current King Saul doesn't want to give up his post, and David honors Saul's position too much to just kill him and take the crown. So, David has been chillin' in the wilderness, playing pranks on King Saul when the opportunity arises, sharping his sword and hanging with his closest buddies. BTW- All of David's buds are serious soldiers...like totally buff. One of them killed 800 people in one battle. WOW. Another 300, and another took a lion out- just for fun on a "snowy day". And these dudes weren't even part of David's inner 3- David's Mighty Men.(Check it out in 2 Samuel 23- good stuff)

What does David's mad fighting skills have to do with marriage, and in particular, the marriage of "Pretty Lady" and "Fool", you ask? A lot. You see, Nabal was a fool, but he was also extremely rich. He had an abundance of wealth the story says, and David and his buddies spent their time protecting and being a living "wall" around all of Nabal's wealth and household. Not one little lamb went missing or got eaten by wolves while David was on watch. So along comes "shearing day". Doesn't sound too exciting to me, but back then, this was a PARTY. "Festive" day for all the people, and David sends a messenger with a nice little "Congratulations, Fool- I mean Nabal- glad things are going so well for you thanks to my protection. May I have a piece of cake and a beer?" Even in our modern minds, if your super helpful and nice neighbor, who happens to be built like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and was just elected as the next President of the United States, swings by your barbecue for a little taste of the good stuff- you wouldn't think that was too much to ask, right? Well, apparently "Fool" was never taught basic manners or self preservation skills. He pretty much spits in David's face and pretends he has no idea who he is. Ummm...not only would anyone find it hard to believe you didn't NOTICE the 600 dudes living outside your yard, but saying anyone in Israel didn't know David, the Son of Jesse, had been chosen by God to rule would be like saying you didn't know Brad Pitt is shacking up with Angelina Jolie. Dumb dumb move, Nabal.

David gets the unfriendly note, and says to his comrades "Strap on your blades, boys- we're gonna teach this boy a lesson." Actually, he says "Each of you gird on his sword...Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness...and he has returned me evil for good. May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male" alive. Nice, right? When I read that, I can almost hear Clint Eastwood swearing an oath to his cowboys, and them mounting their gorgeous steeds and charging off- pistols brandished high to clean up the town!

Well- now it gets to my favorite part. Nabal's employee comes running to Abigail, remember the smart, pretty lady Nabal somehow married? (Gotta love arranged marriages) They have a great little dialogue about what a total idiot Nabal is, and how because of his complete stupidity- they're all gonna die. What would I do if I was her? Unfortunately, if I am honest I would probably have fallen to my knees and shouted "Hallelujah! I am free!" at the prospect of someone putting me out of my misery. Since I am not a dude, David probably won't kill me- but he WILL kill my epic failure husband and I will never have to put up with another thing from him. Too bad for all the male servants who go down in the cross fire, right? Sad, but true. I am just that selfish. This is the part that gets me every time, and I just thank God for the reminder of what happens when you "do what you should" rather than what you want. Look at it:
"Abigail lost no time. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, "Go on ahead; I'll follow you." But she did not tell her husband Nabal." 1 Samuel 25:18-19

Amazing lady. I don't know that I wouldn't have "lost" some time going and ripping my idiot husband a new one. Or crying and whining about "Why! Why me?" Abigail didn't do that even for a second. She took action to save her husband and all the people of her household. She put her trust and her faith in God's mercy for her. Abby girl honored her husband even though he was the one who made the mess, and tried to save all their lives. Did she do this because Nabal deserved her? Did she use her wit, her beauty, her wealth to benefit her husband because he was her soul mate? I really doubt it. Nowhere is it recorded that she thought highly of him. In fact, her words of disdain for Nabal are recorded as she begs David for mercy. But how she FEELS about Nabal doesn't change how she BEHAVES. She is married to him, 'til death do they part, and she didn't wait around hoping for that day. :)She is the epitomy of a woman who "does (her husband) good and not harm all the days of her life" Proverbs 31:12. Whether he deserves it or not.

Anyways, she's cruising up on her donkey (I soooo wish God had said she galloped up on her 16 hand, jet black Friesian stallion- bare back with hair blowing in the wind, head proud and eyes blazing. But it doesn't. It says "donkey".) and as she crests the hill and sees the valley- there is David...and his FOUR HUNDRED soldiers. Ummm, yeah. It says she jumps off her donkey (MAN! Why couldn't it say HORSE!) and bows low to the ground at David's feet, but I bet she pretty much fell off trembling in fear. I would. Little chit chat, she lays the guilt trip on thick and reminds David that NO WAY would a man of his stature, position and integrity seek personal vengance because the Creator of the Universe will fight on his behalf...she just knows it. Nice, right? More bees with honey and all that. David is wooed by her words, he tells her she's the bomb and says she can go home in peace, he's heard her and will do what she asks. SWEEET! Abigail saves the day, oh yeah, woot woot! Talk about relief! I so wish I could see her and her servants faces as they ride away...on their DONKEYS. How long did they wait before they were out of sight to jump up and down, whooping for joy? How long could she hold back the tears of relief and happiness, and thankfulness to the God Who saves? I can't imagine how that felt at that moment.

Abby goes home, praising God, and guess what Nabal's up to? He's having a party. A drunken, loser fest for himself- a party fit for a king. NOW Abby goes off on him, right? Nope. No frying pan to the side of his head, no swear words or evil looks. It says "...Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light". Does this girl amaze you like she does me? If not- you must not be married. Because I REALLLLY doubt there are many ladies out there who would respond after the stress and emotions of a day like hers with politeness to her husband's drunken orgy. I freak out when I just feel the stress of not being able to clean the house AND go for a walk. I can't imagine being married to this winner and not killing him myself.

Abigail waits until morning, and then she tells him the adventure from yesterday. Doesn't say she lays into him, yells, freaks out. It just says she "told him these things" and guess what? He has a stroke. Seriously. It says Nabal has a stroke. (I will pretend I am not jumping up and down for joy right now.) Paralyzed for 10 days, but then finally he dies. SERIOUSLY.

Sweet justice. Please don't take this to mean God wants you to pray for your husband to die. But in this story, the Lord's justice does feel appropriate, doesn't it?

The story ends with David hearing about Nabal's death, and he asks Abigail to marry him because she is so rockin' awesome. She must have made quite an impression. Do you think David would have wanted her if she had spent her marriage harboring bitterness, anger, or unkindness towards Nabal? When David gave her props, he didn't praise her external beauty. He blessed her for being discerning and wise in her pleading. THAT was what got his attention, her personality.

She, of course "quickly arose...and...became his wife." She rode out on her donkey once again, to marry the King. And he was probably a hunk. With lots of power and prestige, not to mention that he LOVED the Lord. The romantic part of me can hear the orchestra playing, the sun setting in the back ground as we see them ride off, happily ever after, with love and faithfulness in their eyes. The rest of me knows that she is his second wife, and history tells us David is going to screw up royally in a few years- lots of strife and struggle, exile, rotten step kids and stress for my poor sweet Abby. But you know what? With wisdom, love and faith like hers...I bet she handled it all just fine. I bet she was a shining example to every single one of David's wives, and a blessing to her husband all the days of her life. And I bet she had a whole lot of fun, laughs, and good times because her attitude was one of service and loyalty.

REALLLLLY long way to say, after talking to my dear friend, I am praying that she decides to take the high road. I think she will. I am praying that someday my own sweet daughter will read this and choose to do things God's way when hard times come. I am praying that I remember Abigail, and fight like her. That I would fight for my "household" with everything I have. That I would bless my husband, even when maybe he doesn't deserve it. That I would have his back every single day, like I would like him to have mine.

Everyone knows marriage is hard, it's never going to be like a romantic movie all the time. But it will be so worth it. Do it well, and you just might see a miracle happen in your life. Either your frog turns into a prince, God gives you a new heart and and grows you into an INCREDIBLE lady...or your husband has a massive heart attack. Either way- when you live the way God designed a woman to, you win. :)

God be with you, friend. May He make you brave, may He make you wise, and may He give you the strength and HEART to do what doesn't come naturally.

(Check this story out for yourself, it's way better told the way it is suppose to be. :) I just let my imagination get the better of me. It's in the Bible- 1 Samuel chapter 25. I hope you love it as much as I do. But do change all the words "donkey" to "horse". It is sooo much better that way. I don't think God will get mad. hehehe)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

AMAZING love! What a sermon that little girl preached to me!

Pleasantly surprised and astounded. What a great Easter weekend we have had, and what an amazingly awesome God we serve. Just one instance after another, He keeps reminding me "Grace, love. My grace is for you..."
I try not to post every thought that crosses my mind- as I post enough already- but I had to share my God Stop today. It was just TOOOOO good.

Easter Service...pretty much the same in Protestant churches everywhere. Could be mundane, but only if you aren't looking. :) Today I sat in my church, with my dear friends, and watched the children be called up to the front to sing with the worship leaders. They did a song they've worked on during their "Praise Parties" each Sunday School hour, called "Every Move I Make". I have been singing this song for nearly a decade, but today was really special. I stood next to a young lady, more woman than little girl anymore, and remembered when she was little and we use to sing this song during chapel at the Christian school she and my son attended. It has been a long time since I have had the chance to worship alongside this sweet thing, and as I sang I pictured her back then- her little 9 year old face, shining in a smile, doing hand motions she once knew by heart.
Then I looked up on stage and I saw her baby sister- now 9 years old. Life has kept these girls busy for a lot of years and unable to get to church, and I have prayed for God to keep them close. This little Bebo that I use to babysit as a newborn hasn't had the chance to learn these old songs or hear a whole lot about the God who loves her so much. I have been so blessed over the last few months to see her learning and growing in her understanding of who Jesus is, and as I watched her sing "Waves of mercy, waves of grace, every where I look- I see your face. Your love has captured me..." and do the sign language for face, and love- I about died. I tell you right now, had I died at that moment- I could not have been happier. God must have been busting a gut right then watching me struggle to maintain composure and yet absolutely, totally in love with Him like I never have been! That little girl preached about God's amazing love and grace in such a way to me right then, I could barely stand it. :)The goodness of my God- to answer my prayers so clearly, and show His love for His little people so gently. WOOT WOOT! Those who know me- just picture it. Thank God I didn't blow my cover at my little Baptist church and turn full out Pentecostal right there. I much prefer decorum during church and head stands in private worship. But today was a tough one to keep from being a total distraction!

Oh- I wish you could have seen it the way I did. Seeing these girls, come full circle in a sense- what a treasure. To see their family WHOLE- with Jesus in the center! I know life is going to rough them up a lot, and I don't know how the future is going to be for any of us. But it doesn't even matter! We are GROWING. Every day we look to Him. God stopped me in my tracks and gave me a picture of what He is like...and I know He was grinning like crazy! You would think I would learn some day to stop having my jaw hit the floor when He works, but He really is...amazing. I have no doubt in my mind that my children, and every single child I love- is right in the middle of God's hands. I have no doubt that the women I love dearly, and the families I cherish and pray for every night are going to see God work in their lives...no matter what. I love that no matter how many times we fall or forget- He will remind us and forgive.

Oh, Lord- thank you for this day. Thank you for my Bebo, my teens, my life. Thank you for my church and for my Pastors- who never hesitate to preach Your Word just the way You said it. Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for each one of us. That nothing...absolutely nothing can separate us from the love You have for us. For every single one who believes. And thank you for the little picture of what heaven will be like.

On a side note- our teens did this powerful skit today too- yeah, I know, I wish you had been there today too! I didn't think I should post our own since this is not a private blog and their are close ups of other people's kids that don't know I blog. But I do want you to see it- so here is the original done by a church in Tennessee. I have posted it before, but it is so good- you won't mind seeing it again I think. :)

"Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails." Psalm 111:1-3

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Living in between...

Good Friday. Strange name, but in reality so true, yes? Easter Sunday. We all know what that day is too. But what about "Holy Saturday"? An article I read describes all the days of Easter Holy Week pretty well, looking at it from both Protestant and Catholic angles. In summary, "However it is observed, Holy Saturday has traditionally been a time of reflection and waiting, the time of weeping that lasts for the night while awaiting the joy that comes in the morning." (http://www.crivoice.org/cyholyweek.html)

Where am I going with this? You see,I hang out in the Old Testament a lot. Is it because I like stories? Possibly. Is it because the amazing histories crack me up sometimes and let my imagination run wild at other times? Maybe. Is it because a God of justice and ferocity makes more sense to my legalistic mind than a God who loves a goomba like me and saved me...with nothing I can do to earn it? Probably. Grace is something God is constantly trying to get through my thick skull. Good Friday (even though it should be celebrated on Wednesday- but that's another rant. :) makes sense to me. Mourn your own stupidity, your own sin. Wallow in your grief over killing the One True God. Spend Saturday reflecting on what an epic failure you are, and look towards Sunday- when it all makes sense and you are supposedly FREE! Reborn! Made Alive with Christ! Not what God intended I know, but all things many of us do, or feel.

But this week I heard someone say something so clearly...In a discussion about the Holy Days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, this preacher said "Most Christians are stuck living in between. They live in Holy Saturday their whole Christian lives...somewhere after they confessed their sins and were saved (Good Friday) but never reaching Sunday- and all that resurrection and LIFE means." Did I ever think of it that way? That I live in the "Saturday"...reflecting and mourning the losses and WAITING for the new life Jesus gives every single one of us? Living like a dead person waiting for heaven, instead of realizing I am resurrected already? I can't explain it right, but WOW. God has been so amazingly good to me this year. He has been loving me gently, and pushing me to stop trying to EARN my life back. For the first time in my Christian life, I haven't felt total regret and sorrow when I look at Easter. When I cry over Good Friday, and remember my Lord and all that He did for me, for the first time- it is with tears of repentance and JOY. I don't feel like wasting my Saturday being all forlorn over my sins- they've been FORGIVEN. I am choosing...now and ever more... to live in the CELEBRATION of Easter. The day Jesus did all the rest to get me to. Oh, Hallelujah for that!

Am I still a goomba? Yes, unfortunately. I will always mess up and forget the things I most hold dear. But I can confess it and MOVE FORWARD. God has given me a complete picture of Himself through His Word, through Jesus...and every time I hold that treasure in my hands and dig into His nature, I can be sure that He doesn't want me "living in between". He doesn't want me hanging out in Good Friday or Holy Saturday. He wants me free to run, dance, and LIVE with Him in Resurrection Sunday. That was the whole point. And what a fantastic point He made, yes?

Happy Holy Saturday, friends. Father, help us to remember to live like You want us to. I am so praying that you have been "living in between" sometimes too, that today is the day you move forward. God bless you with more of Himself! xoxox

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:3-9

(We took a trip to Seaside for Spring Break, had to share a photo of my sweeties at Fort Stevens. I pray these guys learn about grace and understand it a lot faster than I am. :)