Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How are believer's known?

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom,
and his tongue talketh of judgment.

When people are hurting, where do they go? Having grown up in a pastor's home, and serving now as a pastor's wife, I can confidently answer this question -- they go to the church for help. Whether it is to ask for a meal, a place to stay the night, a ride to a job interview, or to conduct the farewell services of a loved one, many hurting people turn to the church. The question is why? Why the church and not their neighbors and friends?

The answer is simple. God gives true believers wisdom to answer, to comfort, and to give hope to the lost. Until presented with the gospel, man has no hope. Evolutionists believe that the present is all that is sure. After death, there is nothing. I have to say if this life is all there is, then man is in a state of hopelessness. Without heaven to look towards, what is the point of living in pain and suffering? -- there is no point. Without heaven to look towards all man has is today and what little happiness material things offer.

But, with heaven to journey towards, I have a hope that no one can take away. I have a reason to endure all pain and suffering -- because tomorrow I will meet my Savior. With heaven to look towards, life has a purpose -- to tell others the good news and train my children in the way.

The true believer has a character that defines him/her. They are known for wisdom and righteous judging. Now what about me? What about you? As a believer, how do people know you? Are they able to approach you seeking answers to their problems - or are you the last person they would want to ask.

As believers we must be ever studying the precious Word so that we can give an answer, so that we can direct the unbeliever to the answers in God's Word. People are seeking the answer to the economic troubles, to family struggles, and to facing harsh medical diagnosis. As believers, we have the answer and the hope -- make sure you are sharing it and not hoarding it to yourself.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:
and be ready always to give an answer to every
man that asketh you a reason of the hope
that is in you with meekness and fear:

1 Peter 3:15

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Once a Month Cooking Day

For several years I have been enamored with the idea of spending one day cooking for the entire month. However, when I've looked at purchasing the cookbooks, I've always balked at the price and told myself that realistically I would probably never do it. However, about a month ago I stumbled across a website of someone who just finished her shopping for a once a month cooking day, and her total spending was only $250. I thought that was a great budget for groceries for a month's worth of meals, so I headed over to the website where she received her menu.

After browsing her menu, grocery list, and recipes I thought it was doable. However, I did know it wouldn't work unless I had some help. So I approached JA and asked if he would be willing to take a day and spend it helping me prepare several meals in one day. He agreed (I think the thought of having lots of Yummy meals on hand is kinda what drove him to agree :) ).

So last week when I had to take Ezekiel to the doctor in Salina I went armed with a three page grocery list and hit Aldi's and Walmart. I did end up spending more than the $250 (about $300), but by the end of the cooking day I ended up with more meals than I was supposed to, and some leftovers (instead of packaging according to her system I packaged according to what our family would eat -- for example instead of four bags of six pork chops I made five bags of 4-5 pork chops).We cut up all the veggies the night before after the kids were in bed while we watched a movie (we also shredded a bunch of cheese since I bought the brick instead of prepackaged shredded -- to save money).I admit it, the day of the cooking day we hired a very CHEAP babysitter. We put a movie on for the kids, and then allowed them to sample different foods when they came up (We discovered Kara likes eating red and yellow peppers). JA chopped up the mushrooms very small so that the kids won't notice them in the food. In the above picture you can see Kara trying to drink the chicken broth through a huge oversize green onion (I admit it I have a strange daughter!) Kara was very helpful. Now let me clarify, the kids did not spend all day in front of the TV. We did take some time to read to them, and they spent a lot of time outside playing in the back yard.

Since my cooking day last week we have tried five of the meals that we prepped, and all of them have been a huge success with the kids. I have to admit that I was very leery about their reception to the pork chops, burritos, and the chicken cordon blue. Yet they love it.

And I will definitely be doing this again -- We are eating much healthier meals than we normally do (I enjoy cooking, but I hate prepping meals, so to have done it all in one day gives me the best of both worlds). Thank you Once a Month Mom for your fabulous menu and organization!

I'm not going to show you my freezer full of food because it is quite unorganized!

Memorial Day Activities

This year we didn't do much for Memorial Day outside of our own home. I was late getting my garden planted, so Saturday JA and a gentleman from our church tilled my garden and yesterday, I finally got my garden planted.

My front flower bed which I finally laid down a soaker hose and then mulched yesterday. I think it looks drastically better this year :)

My blueberry bed that JA built for me -- it has three blueberry bushes, and some small plants just to add a bit of color to the corner of the yard.
My strawberry plants are just amazing this year. I think we planted between six and eight plants last year, and now we have over 50 (and that's after giving some away). Today I was able to pick twelve ripe strawberries, but we have many more that we will be enjoying in the next month.
My peas are doing phenominal this year. The last two years they died, so I moved them and I think we will have an abundance of peas this year.
here is the side view of my garden. You can see all the pepper plants that were given to me, and yesterday I went and bought six banana pepper plants that already have peppers on them -- Hurray!!
Here is the side angle you can see our compost bin in the back corner. Up front by the garden fence is some tomato plants, and the big bush on the side is my rhubarb plant which looks like it has no desire to give me any ripe rhubarb this year -- not even a trace of red stem -- Am I doing something wrong?

For more pictures of my garden and the kids, check out my facebook photos.

Praising God

Psalm 35: 28
And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy
praise all the day long.

If God created us to bring honor and glory to Him, than why do we spend so much time complaining about what we don't have, how what should have happened didn't, or some other silly thing. Complaining does not honor God, in fact when others hear us complaining we actually are telling them that our God is not sufficient. Complaining comes out of a heart that is unthankful for all that we have.

David has a wonderful remedy for complaining. In chapter 35, each time he found himself complaining to God about his enemies, he stopped his complaining and turned his voice to praising God. David focused on what God has done in his life, and not what he wanted God to do in his life.

As a Christian, I need to remember that God is not my servant. When we go to prayer and only give God a list of wants and prayer requests, we are not approaching God with the right attitude. We must always approach God with honor and praise. Yes God wants to hear our prayer requests, but he also longs to talk with us. When I talk with my husband, I don't just give him a honey do list each time with talk. We talk about our day, what we are learning, and many other things.

When I am talking with God, and when I am conversing with others, I need to continually be praising and thakful for what God is doing in my life -- even those unpleasant situations.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Philippians 2:14

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Guard the Lips

Psalm 34:13
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

The mouth can be a very dangerous member of our body. It is vital to our Christian walk that we refrain the tongue from speaking and considering evil. One who speaks deceitfully is always afraid of being found out -- He has no peace. The person who guards his tongue and speaks only truth will not need to be afraid of contradicting himself.

I think the Treasury of David best explains this verse:

Ver. 13. Keep thy tongue from evil. Guard with careful diligence that dangerous member, the tongue, lest it utter evil, for that evil will recoil upon thee, and mar the enjoyment of thy life. Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh. And thy lips from speaking guile. Deceit must be very earnestly avoided by the man who desires happiness. A crafty schemer lives like a spy in the enemy's camp, in constant fear of exposure and execution. Clean and honest conversation, by keeping the conscience at ease, promotes happiness, but lying and wicked talk stuffs our pillow with thorns, and makes life a constant whirl of fear and shame. David had tried the tortuous policy, but he here denounces it, and begs others as they would live long and well to avoid with care the doubtful devices of guile.

While I don't listen to Steve Green, I've always appreciated the words to his song Guard Your Heart

Guard your Heart
Guard your Heart
As a payment for pleasure
It’s high price to pay

For a soul that remains sincere with conscience clear
Guard your Heart

The human heart is easily swayed
And often betrayed at the hand of emotion
You dare not leave the outcome to chance
You must choose in advance
Or live with the agony
Such needless tragedy

Guard your Heart
Guard your Heart
Don’t trade it for treasure
Don’t give it away

Guard your Heart
Guard your Heart
As a payment for pleasure
It’s high price to pay

Matthew 12:37
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Psalm 22:15
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue
cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the
dust of death.

This Psalm is a Messianic Psalm, meaning that this is a prophecy concerning the life of Jesus Christ. This particular Psalm is prophesying the detail's of His death upon the cross. Verses 7 and 8 detail mocking and scorn he received from the people. Verse 15 demonstrates the weakness Christ felt after being beaten, and finally put upon the cross. He is so thirsy that his tongue is stuck in his mouth, and he feels that death is very near.

Psalm 22 is an incredible passage with a very dear message. Christ endured great pain in order to offer me life. My precious Savior came to earth from His throne and lived the life of a poor man and died the most cruel death possible. When I reflect on all that Christ has done for me, how can I do anything else than serve him with my whole heart. My own fleshly desires matter little when compared with what Christ has sacrificed for me.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

To hear this song click on here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Flower Child

On to the second of my neglected children in the way of photographs. I really need to carry my camera around more frequently. Lydia is my little emotional roller coaster. One moment she is flying high, and the next moment she's in the depths of despair because of something someone said or did. While my first born is my kitty, my second born is my flower.I tend to let the kids pick out their own clothes (unless we are going someplace special and I want them to look decent). Kara does a great job matching, but Lydia on the other hand, well let's just say Pippi Longstockings has nothing on Lydia. Because of her unusual style, she has become my little flower, and she loves the name.
Other things Lydia loves doing is riding her bicycle. In fact, she does a better job riding her bike than Kara does -- she's also braver as she's not afraid to bike down the hills. She also loves the color pink (which has been prescribed to her by Kara, and by the picture below you can tell she loves smores :)
Lydia has really sprouted up this past year. She went from being very quiet and hardly understandable to talking as much as Kara, and we can even decipher what she is saying. Right now, thanks to my little brother, Lydia has renamed herself Batgirl.

Characteristics of God's Children

Psalm 15
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in
thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh
righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that
backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour,
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a
vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the
LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He
that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against
the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Who shall abide in the tabernacle of God? What does a child of God truly look like? How are we as Christian's to behave? That is the context and purpose of this chapter. The chapter begins with the question as to who will abide in God's presence. When this Psalm was written, it was the duty of the priests to take care of the tabernacle, and since nowhere in this passage is there a description restricted only to the priests and Levites, I believe this passage is focused more on standing in God's presence rather than the literal building.

The first description is He that walketh uprightly. This means he walks perfectly. Now we each know that we cannot walk perfectly. However, we can keep our eyes focused on God and take his word as the rule by which we behave. Adam Clark states that this man "considers himself a sojourner on earth, and is continually walking to the kingdom of God."

The second description is and worketh righteousness. This believer is not satisfied with just getting by -- by doing just enough to pass. Let me clarify with an example. When I was in high school, academics were not my focus. So, I did just enough in each class to make sure I passed the class. This believer is not satisfied with not going above and beyond, just completing the bare minimum. Unfortunately in our society today, we do not see many of these believers. The normal or average believer should be excited about doing all that he/she can for the kingdom of God. I owe my life to God, and as such I should be diligently seeking to serve and further the kingdom of God.

The next description is speaking truth in his heart. The true believer is not a hypocrite. He is in his heart exactly what he says with his mouth. With the true believer "there are no hollow friendships, vain compliments, nor empty professions of esteem, love, regard, or friendship."

The next description is that of what the believer does not do, backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. The true believer behaves only out of love towards others. He does not hold a grudge, gossip/spread rumors about others, nor seeks revenge when he has been injured.

The passage goes even further in the description of a true believer He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not, he that putteth not out his money to usery, nor taketh reward against the innocent. The believer goes so far as to accept the injury himself rather than to push it off on someone else. Again, looking at believers in today's society, it is difficult to find a believer who will lend out money without receiving interest. What about when you lend out a significant amount of money, or rent out your own property -- When the money is not paid back, or your property is damaged, what is your response. Society tells us believers to press charges or sue the person in order to retrieve what is MINE. But the Bible tells us that the true believer accepts the injustice done towards him and does not seek harm towards the one who harmed him.

Just a side note on this last part. As a true believer, and a steward of all that God has intrusted us with, we need to recognize that all that is ours is indeed not mine -- it ALL belongs to God. From my house, car, money, even my children, they are all God's, and an offense done against me in any of these areas has been done against God. God will enact justice; I must trust Him.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the
whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
Psalm 119:1-3

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The tongue shall be cut off

Psalm 12:3
The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and
the tongue that speaketh proud things.

This verse reaffirms that God hates the deceitful tongue -- building someone up with your words whether it's to set them up for a fall, or to avoid telling them the truth about something -- both are wicked in God's eyes.

The Lord also does not approve of our boasting with our mouths. Once again, we see that my pride comes out in my speech. I must humble myself before God (which isn't to difficult if I can keep my mind constantly focused on how God sees me in my wickedness -- the problem comes when I stop thinking about how God sees me and start thinking about how others [or myself] sees me).

I'm going to finish today up with some quotes spoken in relation to this verse:

They who take pleasure in deceiving others, will at the last find themselves most of all deceived, when the Sun of truth, by the brightness of his rising, shall at once detect and consume hypocrisy. George Horne.

May there not be here an allusion to those terrible but suggestive punishments which Oriental monarchs were wont to execute on criminals? Lips were cut off and tongues torn out when offenders were convicted of lying or treason. So terrible and infinitely more so are the punishments of sin. C.H.S

Lying lips are abomination to the LORD:
but they that deal truly are his delight.
Proverbs 12:22

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Cowboy Farmer

Ok, I admit it. My two middle children are neglected -- only when it comes to picture taking. As I scrolled through my pictures to create this post about Andy, I found lots of Kara and lots of Ezekiel pictures, but I struggled to find a handful of pictures taken of Andy over the past few months. There are two reasons for this -- I never have the camara handy when Andy is being goofy, and Andy would rather be behind the camara seeing what is being filmed or photographed instead of being in front of it. So, even if I had the camara available for a photo, it probably would not get a good shot of my little cowboy.I think we are in the ideal location for my goofy son. Other than playing with basketballs, he is obsessed with cowboys and combines. What better place than rural America where ranchers and farmers are everywhere. Andy has become my little mimic. Everything Kara and Lydia does he has to be right there imitating. Whether it's carrying a baby doll, wearing a necklace, pretending to be super heroes, flying to the moon, or running away from the moon monster (a.k.a. daddy), Andy is right there in the middle of it.Of course, Andy is also going through the typical two-year-old stage. He has decided that he is his own man, and refuses to hear if something is not to his own liking. He is a smart little boy that loves counting. Andy frequently runs through the house yelling 8,9,10, or 2,3,4,5. He also has an unusual fascination with the term 89 dollars. I don't know why, but everything costs $89 in his book.He loves riding his bike. He is eagerly anticipating the day when he can graduate from his trike to his real bike with training wheels. Unfortunately he is a tad to short to for it, but the way he is growing he'll be riding it by the end of the summer.

The mouth of deceit

Psalm 10:7
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud;
under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

There are some people we know not to trust. A person's reputation is well known -- especially in a small town such as ours. We must take care when encountering those whom we know will twist our words and use them against us.

However, we must not only take care to guard our words with those whom we know we can't trust. It is vitally important to my Christian testimony that I when I speak with people I guard my motives. I can easily fall into the trap of thinking primarily about myself that my words with others can become deceitful as I seek to advance myself rather than others.

As a child of God, I must make sure my language honors God. Now, those of you who know me personally know that I don't go around swearing and cursing. However, what constitutes cursing? Our culture defines cursing as a profane or obscene expression, usually of anger. However, I want to take this a bit further than our typical list of swear words. I know many Christians who swear -- they simply replace the obscene with an alternative such as shoot, junk, man, etc. . . When I was in college, I used to say shoot all the time -- until someone thought I said the alternative. Then I changed my verbiage to junk. Shortly after that I realized I have control of these words, and they are simply idle words spoken in frustration and anger. They do not honor God, therefore I should not speak them in that context.

I challenge you, as I continue to challenge myself -- guard your mouth from idle words. Even if the words you speak in and of themselves are not obscene, someone may overhear the feeling and anger behind them and assume your are swearing. It does not take much to destroy a testimony -- don't let your words kill yours.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Matthew 12:36

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Psalm 5:9
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part
is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter
with their tongue.

Unless you know the context of this verse, it is rather difficult to interpret. In verse eight, the writer is asking God to lead and direct him. He needs this guidance from God because his enemies are waiting to misdirect him, so the only way his path can be sure is if God leads him. Verse nine then continues talking about his enemies.

However, these enemies are not the typical enemy you can identify because they are blatant in their destructive tendencies. The enemies in this verse is referring to those enemies who come across as being a friend. The most difficult enemy to identify is the one who is right beside you presenting himself as your friend.

These friends are double tongued. They speak one way in front of you, but then they speak differently when you are not around. When you speak with them, you only hear kindness, but their motives and their conversation with others indicates destruction for you.

I don't know about you, but this verse reminds me of junior high girls. I think junior high was the worst time of my life. In junior high, girls are always trying to get in with the crowd, so if it means betraying the confidence of a good friend - so be it. This behavior is not right, but it aptly describes this verse. One whom you think to be a loyal friend becomes a traitor and sells your secrets to the highest bidder.

Let me put this another way. Today I was washing and cutting some strawberries. When I bought the strawberries yesterday they looked fantastic. By the time I got them home they were starting to mold (because I kept them in the hot car too long). So, today I began to sort my failing strawberries and slice them trying to salvage as much as I can. I was very excited when I found a nice red strawberry with no signs of distress. It look sweet, it smelled wonderful, and then I cut the top off and sliced it in half. I was so disappointed to find the center of the strawberry had rotted. This strawberry as wonderful as it looked on the outside was like the enemy of my tastebuds.

Now, how does this apply to my speech. I must be so careful to guard that I do not become an enemy to my friends. It can be so easy when talking with others to let something slip about someone else. Now I may not mean destruction to that person, but by allowing their struggle or weakness to slip I cause pain. When another person entrusts me with personal knowledge of what is going on in their life, I need to cherish their trust and confidence and be a true friend to them.

However, I do want to clarify that there are some situations where I am obligated to speak. If I am given confidence of a child being physically or sexually abused, I cannot remain silent. Also, if a friend confides/brags about their sin and refuses to repent, and continues to dwell in their sin after confrontation, than I need to go to my pastor/church leadership so that they can seek out my friend and help them. Their are other situations, but I believe you get the general idea.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of
an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6

Again, I want to thank you for praying for our family this weekend. I did take the last few days off of posting because I didn't have much time on the computer.

Works of God Monday (on Tuesday)

I know it's Tuesday, but I arrived home too late yesterday to type anything up. God is sooo good and gracious to me. Yesterday I took Ezekiel down to Salina for an appointment with a pediatrician. God has been preparing me for this day for about three months. Three months ago, I suspected that Ezekiel may possibly have a specific disorder, so I have done a bit of research off an on over the past months. The visit with the pediatrician was a blessing, as he reluctantly confirmed my suspicians. It's amazing how God had prepared me. The doctor did not want to state the diagnosis because he didn't want to scare me, and yet I was thankful for the diagnosis as it brought me relief. These are the possible things that I had been told last week which we are sure it is not -- a stroke in-utero, a growth, and nothing.

The doctor did request a ct scan in order to rule out the above issues (I just now received a call from the doctor and the ct scan came back clear). I was blessed to be able to stand next to Ezekiel during the scan and hold his hand, rub his foot, and sing to him in order to try calming him down. I am also very thankful for my mom who took the day to come up and be with me so I wouldn't be by myself in case the news was bad.

Again, I can't tell you enough about how good God has been to us. Ezekiel will be continuing physical therapy, but nothing more invasive will be necessary.

For everyone who was praying for us this weekend, thank you. I could feel the strength of your prayers as I met with the doctor, watched Ezekiel endure the ct scan, and drove the long drive home. I firmly believe God will use this for His glory, and I pray my response will continue to honor him and trust him with each day.

So, how has God provided for your family this week? What has He been teaching you? What are you thankful for? How did you watch God work this week? Take a little time to praise the Lord with your blog or leave a comment! You can use the mister linky here on Jenny's blog to link your post to the Works of God Monday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Child -- A Child of God

I can't think of a more precious moment in Kara's life, than the moment that I was able to share in a few months ago. Kara and I were sitting at the breakfast table, and she said that when she was 30 she would become a Christian. Sitting across from her I simply inquired as to why she was going to be waiting until she was 30. Her answer surprised me -- "I don't know the right words to say." She stated it so matter-a-fact as if mom, don't you know that I'm too little? With joy I asked her if she wanted to know what to say, and she quickly replied Yes!Taking her into the living room, we sat down with my Bible and I began by asking her to tell me why she wanted to become a Christian. She knew she was a sinner, and she could tell me exactly who Jesus was and what He did for her in dying on the cross. She wanted her sins to be gone so she could obey God.

I felt so honored and privileged to sit beside her and pray with her as she asked Jesus to forgive her for sinning and be her Saviour. She then proceeded to thank him for saving her.

Since her salvation, I have had no doubt about the veracity of her profession. She is constantly wanting to pray and talk to God. She is also continually reminding her brother and sister that they can't go to heaven because they are not Christians. She has even taken it upon herself to witness to Lydia and make sure Lydia knows how to become a Christian -- in fact, the other day she came downstairs telling me Lydia was a Christian because she (Kara) helped her pray. I then had to explain to Kara that Lydia did not yet understand everything she needed to in order to make that decision herself, but I did encourage her to continue talking to Lydia about Jesus and how to get saved. While my eldest still remains a little spitfire with extreme problems in the area of obedience and attitude, I have been blessed to watch her relationship with God grow.

Frequently I will find Kara walking around the house singing:
There is Only one way to get to heaven,
Jesus is the only way
No other way, No other way
No other way to go,
One way God says to get to heaven, Jesus is the only way.

or she'll be singing

My heart was black with sin, until the Savior came in,
His precious blood I know, has washed me white as snow,
And in His Word I'm told, I'll walk the streets of gold
To grow in Christ each day, I will read my Bible and pray.

The pictures above are of Daddy presenting her with her first Bible containing both the Old Testament and New Testament. We gave it to her to remind her of the decision she made the day she accepted Christ as her Savior.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Caught by the tongue

Job 41:1
Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, Or snare his
tongue with a line which you lower?

OK, what can this verse possibly have to do with my speech? This verse is discussing the futility of trying to capture Leviathan. Verse nine states "Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false;" This passage actually begins back in chapter 40 when the Lord answers Job "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it." And the passage concludes in chapter 42 when Job confesses "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand."

Now that we have established the context of the verse, lets look at the phrase itself "or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?" Regardless of who or what leviathan is (some claim a whale, others a crocodile), the point is they were attempting to catch it with the tongue.

Although not directly related to this verse, I need to take care of my tongue and what I speak. I need to beware what I say so that my own words do not become an entrapment for me. Others will pick up on what I speak, and they will use it against me if my tongue is not properly guarded. Just the other day, my husband had gone out on visitation, and the gentleman he was talking with knew exactly how many times we had taken our kids out that day. What would have happened to my testimony had I been yelling and screaming at my children when we were out on a walk. My testimony, and that of my husbands could have been destroyed in a moment of unleashing.

There is never a time we should not guard our tongues. Too often we loose our tongues with our own family while guarding them in front of others. This is not right. Loosing our tongues in front of our families can potentially destroy our marriage and injure our children.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.
Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
James 3:5

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Son Ezekiel

On Saturday, Ezekiel turns nine months old. Life has been very interesting and exciting with four children five and under. God has truly blessed me with such a wonderful family.
Let me tell you about my son. Before Ezekiel was born, we were told we were going to have a girl. We had a beautiful name picked out for her, and were pleasantly surprised when she was a he. We spent the morning discussing names and settled upon Ezekiel Peter because Ezekiel means God will strengthen. We settled on this name because I firmly believed that I would need God's strength in parenting four children so close in age. I am constantly amazed at how my kids names really fit each one including their personalities.

At this point in time, our family truly needs God to strengthen us. At Ezekiel's six month check up, everything seemed fine and normal. He was a little slow -- only having rolled over once or twice (which I now think was probably the way we had set him down rather than his own effort). and he wasn't sitting (which I thought was because with three little kids I didn't put him on the floor very often because I didn't want him to get bowled over by the others). Well, when he still wasn't rolling over or sitting up in March I began to get concerned. I began working with him, and within a month and a half, at eight months, he was able to sit up unassisted (when put into a sitting position). However, he still wasn't able to roll over.

I scheduled his nine month well-check visit two weeks early because I didn't want to wait much longer before having him looked at. We took him in, and our nurse practitioner wanted him to see the physical therapist. Monday afternoon I took him in for some physical therapy. She was able to teach him how to roll over, and he is very proud of the fact that he can roll across the living room (although he does still struggle a bit). However, she did notice something else that was wrong. The right side of his body is pretty much on schedule for development, but the left side of his body is significantly weaker (something I had not noticed before). The left side is about three months behind in development.
Tuesday I received a call from Tammy (our nurse practitioner), and she wants me to take him to a pediatrician about two hours away. Ezekiel will be seeing the pediatrician Monday at 4:00 p.m. I want to ask you to please be praying for us and especially for Ezekiel and the doctor that he will have wisdom to discern what the cause of the delay is. We know that God is in control, and that no matter what the problem whether it's nothing, or something much more serious, God will have His way and will give us the strength to face the challenge. Ezekiel is a precious and sweet little boy, and I can say with confidence that even this trial is a blessing from God. His way is perfect, and I do not doubt that He will be glorified.

Speaking with Pride

Job 33:2
Now I open my mouth; My tongue speaks in my mouth.
My words come from my upright heart; My lips utter pure

Elihu begins speaking to Job, and in his pride refuses to believe that he is wrong. Like the New Testament Pharisees, Elihu believes himself to be righteous before God. He also believes it to be his duty to point out to Job that Job is in the wrong and needs to correct his standing before God. Elihu, so full of pride, declares "Truly I am as your spokesman before God;"

I honestly cannot imagine anyone having the audacity to declare themselves as God's spokesman and then speaking their own thoughts and opinions as if they were Gods. However, I am not so naive to realize this happens on a daily basis. Pastor's who misinterpret God love and judgment who preach that God is only a God of love do this very thing, as do those who preach that the Bible teaches tolerance of the very sins that God declares to be an abomination.

Even though I may not declare myself to be "God's spokesman" when talking with others, it is very easy for myself to allow pride to set in and think that because I am a pastor's wife, went to Bible college, and grew up in a pastor's home that I have a better understanding of the Scriptures than other people. The truth is that while I may be a bit more familiar, that does not equal more knowledge or a better relationship with God. That simply means God holds me that much more accountable for my actions. When dealing with other believers, I must not be condescending, but be willing to learn from them.

I have a friend who I would have to say I disagree with much of what she believes. I firmly believe that she has been taught some great misinterpretations. Yet, I do not doubt her relationship with God. In fact, despite our disagreements, I believe she has a very strong relationship with the Father. In such situations, I must be careful with my words because it would be very easy to speak out of pride rather than a heart of love and longing for her to understand the Scriptures truthfully. She has been taught by false teachers, 2Pe 2:1 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." Through her own personal Bible study, and through our "godly" conversations, I can pray that she will learn to rightly interpret the Scriptures.

A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall
uphold the humble in spirit. Proverbs 29:23

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Matter of Respect

Job 29:9-10
The princes refrained from talking, and put their hand
on their mouth; The voice of nobles was hushed, and
their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.

At one time, Job was a respectable man of prominence in his community. Yet, as Satan bombarded him, the people turned from respecting Job to persecuting him with their malicious gossip and accusations. These verses fall in the midst of Job's reflection and longing for his former life when people regarded him with respect. When instead of whispering behind their hands, the people stood silent in admiration of him.

Respect is a powerful word. Respect is what our husbands respond to, and it is what causes us to feel honored and special. Respect isn't something my husband needs to earn from me -- it is something I need to give my husband. Pointing out my husband's flaws does not encourage him into being the godly man God wants him to be, but when I honor my husband and shower him with respect his confidence is obviously lifted and I am married to a different person than the one I criticize.

My husband is not the only one I am to respect. I am to have respect for God's Word. I occasionally face days where I want to question everything God sets before me, but this is not a respectful attitude. Sometimes I just need to go into God's presence and sit silently at His feet and listen to what He has for me. I challenge you today, as I challenge myself. When you go into your prayer closet today, don't just begin your list of requests and demands as though God is your servant. Take time to sit at the Master's feet as Mary did and sit quietly in prayer simply communing with your precious Savior.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet,
and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much
serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care
that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that
she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha,
Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part,
which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:39-42

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Maintaining Integrity

Job 27:4
My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.

In Job's defense, he is stating that he refuses to acknowledge that which he is not. His friends want him to repent of sin he did not commit. Job is determined to not reject his integrity just to stop the accusations of his companions. This verse shows that Job is not willing to sin and lie in order to make his life easier.

Job would have had a much easier time with his friends had he just agreed with them and "repented" of sin he hadn't committed. But Job knew to do so would cause him to be a hypocrite (vs. 8). Like Job, there are situations in life where a "little deceit" would seem advantageous in getting my way. Whether it's at the grocery store, talking with a neighbor, or interacting with my children, deceit and manipulation are WRONG! No matter what my objective is, to lie would be a sin against God.

I can think of a couple of TV evangelists I have heard, who in trying to get funds for their ministry will claim "If you sacrifice your money to support 'God's' ministry, then God will reward you financially." This kind of speech is not Biblical. God does not promise monetary gain when you give your money to the church. God does promise blessings upon the one who obeys. However, this blessing is not always in the form we want it to be.

In dealing with my children, if I use deceit to manipulate them to do what I want, then as they grow they will stop trusting and believing me. They will not view me as a mother who loves them, but as a mother who wants them to be her slaves. I must always be honest with my children, and all people I come in contact with, even when it seems that honesty will hurt me.

This morning I was reading the daily devotional from MacArthur's book, Drawing Near, in it he talks about the Apostle Andrew. Who at the end of his life was preaching in a province where the governor's wife believed on Christ. The governor tried to force his wife to reject Christ. When she refused, the governor took it out on Andrew and crucified him. In the two days he hung there, Andrew continued to preach Christ even though to reject him would have given him life.

Job 27:6
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go;
My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweetness turned deadly

Job 20:12-13
Though evil is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under
his tongue, though he spares it and does not forsake it,
but still keeps it in his mouth, yet his food in his stomach
turns sour; it becomes cobra venom within him.

Have you ever eaten something that tasted so delicious and wonderful you wanted to savor every bite only to make you sick to your stomach later on? I think of the peanut butter salmonella scare we had a couple of years ago. I love peanut butter -- especially as a peanut butter milkshake, or a smoothie made with bananas. As I savored each sip, I had no idea that the result would be severe diarrhea and vomiting for the next two to three days. As my children and I were confined to the floor and couch with sickness all I could say was "the shake was not worth it."

Evil is much like that peanut butter milkshake. It disguises itself as something sweet and enjoyable. As we tantalize ourselves with the thought and rememberance of the sin, we are clueless to the horrible grasp it takes on us. Such tantalizing sins may seem harmless -- Watching a tv program, reading a much too descriptive novel, or even forgoing our offering for the week so that your family has a little extra to spend for recreation. Each of these can be attractive to our fleshly desires. And yet each begins to form ungodly habits in our lives. The tv program lowers our senses and discretion which then turns to watching more ungodly programs. The novel causes us to think more about sex in an unbiblical manner which then could lead to the participation in unsanctioned sex or relationships. And forgoing the offering begins to build a habit of selfishness and forgetting that the money was God's to begin with.

As the sweetness of the sin wears off and we realize our mind is filled with filth, or our marriage is about to end in bitter divorce, we try to realize what happened -- "Where did we go wrong." The answer lies in savoring the sweetness of sin and allowing our bodies to develop a craving for sin that could not be fulfilled.

No Christian is immune to sin. The pull of the flesh can at times seem very strong. However, God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil. Christian, don't fool yourself into believing that you can handle the temptation of sin -- That is how great men have fallen. Turn to God each day to ask Him for the strength and wisdom to identify the mask of sin so that you can walk righteously in this present world.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are
in heaviness
through manifold temptations: That the trial of your
faith, being much more
precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire, might be found
unto praise
and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ

I Peter 1:6-7

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Honoring my Mother

Today I am departing slightly from my study on the tongue, and looking at how does the Scripture say to honor my mother. I have to say I was quite disheartened when I Google how do I honor my mother and the only sites that came up were in reference to people who felt like their mothers did not deserve honor, or advertisements for what presents to give your mother.

I must say, neither of these fit the biblical description of honoring my mother. As a child, I was taught from Scripture that I am to obey my mother and father. And as a mother, I can see that one can demand obedience from children. However, as an adult I am no longer called to obey my mother's authority. Instead I am to offer her honor. My mom does not demand honor. Honor is a gift I am to freely give her.

But what exactly does it mean to honor. The dictionary describes honor in two ways. The first definition of honor reflects a position that one has earned. Looking at Proverbs 31, we see a woman of honor. This virtuous wife is one who remained loyal to her husband. She diligently cared and provided for her family. This virtuous woman has earned the honor and respect of her husband and family.

The second definition of honor is that of bestowing respect towards another. This respect is the gift I can give my mother. A mother cannot demand respect it is something that a child must freely offer.

Proverbs 31:28-31
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband
also, and he praises her: Many daughters have done well
but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is
passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be
praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own
works praise her in the gates.

By praising my mother and thanking her for all she did for me as I grew up is only one of the many ways I can honor my mother. My mother helped to mold me into the person I am today, and now I desire and strive to mold my own children into young adults who will honor and fear God. My mother has given me a legacy of love and service to God that I desire to hand down to my own children as I pray and watch them come to know the Lord as their Saviour.

I rejoice in the salvation of my oldest, but I realize that my task of mothering does not end at her salvation. In fact, the training will get harder as Satan will seek to turn her away from Christ, and my husband and I teach her to follow the Spirit's prompting and to deny her own fleshly desires. To do this, like my own mother, I must seek to deny my own flesh so that I set a godly example for my children. Honor is not only a gift that is given, but it is a precious status that is earned by the day to day diligence of walking with God.

in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness with good works.
I Timothy 2:9-10


Saturday, May 09, 2009

When Others Condemn Me

Job 15:5
For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou
choosest the tongue of the crafty.

Again we are looking at Job. However, this passage is not coming from the mouth of Job. Eliphaz is speaking to Job and accusing Job of mocking God. Job stands accused of speaking lies, presenting a pious attitude, and blaspheming God all because Job stands firm on his right standing before God. In verses 7 - 10, Eliphaz accuses Job of thinking he is wiser than them even though Eliphaz has an elder with him in the confrontation of Job.

I can't help seeing how similar this passage is to today. How many times do I talk with someone about biblical parenting, and wifely submission and hear the call "Your just old fashioned." Or what about corperal punishment. You know, the psychologists and hummanists tell me that my children are going to be emotionally scarred because of the spankings they receive. You know, there may be some truth to that -- I am afraid of doing what's wrong because I don't want to reap the consequences. The other day Jenny posted here about parents not setting their kids up for failure in the area of purity because it will injure their self-esteem. How ridiculous is that? If our kids don't have a goal to strive for how can they accomplish anything -- especially remaining pure for their spouse. And yet "all the experts" agree that teens experimenting with sex is now a "right of passage."

I urge you fellow believers, do not allow the world's wisdom (or great lack thereof) to discourage you for doing what we know is right. Critisism from friends and family is very difficult to face, and can often cause us to second guess ourselves. However, we must not question God's truth -- He will strengthen us to stand for Him.

Let me leave you with a little story of the ridiculous wisdom of man. Last summer I was heavy with child :) A couple weeks before Ezekiel was born I was coming out of the doctor's office and ran into a neighbor. He proceeded to tell me how so many third world countries were starving because men and women were having multiple children. (now realize I only have four and yes they are all five and under). You know he was telling this to me to make a point -- Stop having Kids it's not right.

Maybe I'm a little dense here, but how is my ceasing to have children going to take care of solving the starvation problem on the otherside of the world? You don't really want me to send my leftovers to them do you? Let's not consider the fact that my grocery bill for my family of six is less than the typical grocery bill for a family of four. Regardless, am I to question our decision to have a large family because most American's frown on having more than one or two children? I can't begin to tell you how many people have told me that our family structure is perfect with two boys and two girls. You know, that very well may be if God doesn't choose to bless us with more children, but should God choose to give us one more or ten more, does that mean I should be disturbed because American philosophy is against large families? No -- if God chooses to bless us with more children, then my response should be the same as when I found out I was pregnant with my first -- Rejoicing because God has given me a child.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's
wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing
spiritual things with spiritual

1Corinthians 2:13

Please feel free to comment on my posts and share what God is teaching you, or share a story exemplifying the principle discuseed. Also, if you think I am misinterpreting these passages, please let me know. I want my words to honor God and rightly reflect His Word.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Speaking Truth

Job 13:19
Who is he who will contend with me? If now I hold
my tongue, I perish.

Here we have Job entering into the courtroom. Job has been urged by his friend to repent of his sin. Job has already responded to his friend and is now asking for someone to come along side him and agree with him. As Job prepares to go before God in prayer, he exclaims that no one will stand for him, so he must stand for himself.

Being a Christian in America is much like standing as a defendant in a courtroom. Christians are no longer able to stand for what is right and true without their love and compassion being brought into question. Our government is even passing laws to squelch our freedom of speech in order to protect those who would stand against God. As God-fearing Christians we are standing on the threshhold of being imprisoned because we disagree with abortion, homosexuality, and the list goes on as speaking against these issues become "hate" crimes.

It doesn't matter that I have a couple of homosexual friends who could stand up in court and testify that I don't hate them. All that matters to the judge and jury is that I hate the SIN of homosexuality. Yet, please tell me who is going to be imprisoned for egging my home, or calling my children names because their father is a preacher. The truth is NO ONE! The prosecutor's case no matter how weak has already won.

You are probably asking me what this has to do with this verse -- Everything. Christians, we need to stand up. If we hold our tongues now, we WILL perish. We are not far from having True Christianity and Biblical preaching outlawed in America. We must take a stand and speak up for our freedoms now while we have some. I know I am guilty of standing on the sidelines and watching unbiblical laws being passed. I remember as a child taking a day off of school and going to Madison in order to protest and picket against allowing teenagers to have abortions without parental consent. Yet, when was the last time I attended a political rally. Just a few months ago I wrote my congressman for the first time. However, one letter is not sufficient. As a child of God, I must speak out and let my voice be heard for I am not only defending my own personal right -- I am defending God's TRUTH!

Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach
in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your
doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered
and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Acts 5:28

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Correct my view of self

Job 6:24
Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me
to understand wherein I have erred.

If ever there was someone who felt like he was being judged by God, it was Job. Even Job's friends were convinced that God was punishing him, and they made sure Job knew their opinion. Yet Job knew of no sin in his life to be punished for. This verse comes as Job's response to his accusers. In this verse, Job is not admitting to having sinned, but asking his accusers to be more precise in telling him where he sinned. While Job is not admitting sin, he is also not stating that he is without sin.

When I am confronted by another regarding a sin in my life, what is my immediate response? Most likely my response is one in defense of myself. Attempting to justify sin is a very easy thing to do. However, the Bible tells us that sin is not to be justified. A pragmatic approach to life is not a holy and godly approach. God is holy, and I must always choose righteousness and obedience regardless of how painful the outcome may be.

Getting back to the verse. When others raise an accusation before me, or confront me with a sin they think I am dealing with, I need to hold my tongue and listen. Before responding and defending myself I need to hear out their argument and then examine myself to see if they are indeed speaking truth. Only when I have examined myself can I verbally respond to their accusation.

Is there iniquity in my tongue?
cannot my taste discern perverse things?
Job 6:30

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Injured by Gossip

Job 5:21
You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and
you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes.

Whenever I hear the word scourge I get the mental picture of me bending over the bed and having a leather belt aimed at my rear. Now I understand scourging is far more detrimental and painful than any spanking I ever received. However, there was one thing about getting spanked that I learned very quickly -- I cannot fight it. The more I squirmed the more it hurt. If I tried to put my hands over my bottom, they got punished, if I tried to use my feet, they got hit also and the spanking continued till my fighting ceased and I accepted the discipline.

The scourging of the tongue is far more painful because it decimates one's character. I'm sure that each of us can think of people we have known whose lives have been destroyed because of false accusations. The verse says we will be hidden from the scourge (or gossip/accusations) however, it does not necessarily mean we will never have to face painful and false accusations. This could mean that God will allow our integrity to shine through and make things right in the end.

Regardless, we can not fear or become anxious when people make false accusations about us. I remember as a child being taught the rhyme "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I can't help saying -- how wrong and how right the rhyme is. As a child, I would rather have had my bones broken: they would have healed much faster than my hurt feelings. As an adult, I can see how right the rhyme is because those words can only hurt me if I continue to dwell on them or choose to believe them (if only I had such wisdom as a child :) ).
Words are very painful, and choosing to ignore and disbelieve them is a very difficult task for a person who wants to be accepted by others. As I mature in Christ I am continually reminding myself that what others think or say does not matter as long as I am pleasing God.

As long as I am doing what is right in God's eyes I need not fear what people say about me because God will bring me through it and give strength to overcome.

Let your conversations be without covetousness; and be content
with such things that ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave
thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is
my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Hebrews 13:5-6

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Holding my Tongue

Esther 7:4
For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed,
to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male
and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the
enemy could never compensate for the king's loss.

Wow! Can you imagine holding your tongue as you watch your family and yourself being sold into slavery? Living in America, I can't picture anyone doing that, and yet hear we have Queen Esther telling the king that this is such a grave situation that she has no other hope than to bring it up before him.

I have to say when I read this verse today I was struck. Having three very verbal children, I could handle a verse talking about not being entitled, and earning privileges. However, that is not what this verse concerns. This verse is telling me that I need to be willing to take offenses without speaking a word. I have to admit this concept is very difficult for me to grasp. Growing up, my brother and I developed an earnest sense of fairness that we did not like being taken advantage. Yet, that is what Scripture says I must be willing to hold my tongue.

I think back to a story my parents told me. While my dad was in school (I was probably three or four), he sold a car to a neighbor. Shortly after he sold him the car the neighbors moved -- taking the car with them and never paying my parents. My parents were taken advantage of and yet they held their tongue. Now looking at my life today, I realize that I find myself in situations that I tend to want to argue out of or fight back because they either put me in an uncomfortable situation or cause me to lose more than I was willing to pay.

When confronted with those situations that are not life or death, I need to learn to hold my tongue. Fighting for my assumed rights does not guard my testimony. Which is more important -- being comfortable and getting MY way or honoring God with a proper response to offense? Other people are watching, therefore I must hold my tongue so that God will be glorified.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies
of the field, how they grow; neither do they spin. . .
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which
today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he
not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith.
Matthew 6:28-30

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Are my words God's?

II Samuel 23:2
The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was
on my tongue.

Studying King David would be an incredible study. The Bible refers to David as "a man after God's own heart." I hope that at the end of my life I can say that I pursued God and my heart was likeminded to that of Christ's. I have to confess that as I look over my life, and even over the past few months I am not able to say that. But here we have a man of God writing to us and telling us the secret of his life.

David begins in verse two by writing and saying that He allowed the "Spirit of the Lord" to speak through him. God used David to write most of the Psalms we find comfort in today. The tongue can be the most encouraging or the most spiteful member of our body. I can either allow God to use my tongue to be a blessing to others through my speech or I can take control of it. Typically if I am in control of my tongue, my words are not what I want them to be. My words become muddled and occasionally quite hurtful to others.

Verse 3 continues on and tells us the secret of David's rule -- "Ruling in the fear of God." David feared God. He respected God, desired God's opinion, and was fearful of the consequences disobedience brought. Remember David's response when Nathan confronted David with his sin? David fell down in repentance. Yes he mourned his son while his son was dying, but he did not fight God. He accepted the punishment for his sin. I also must have that same respect of God. I may not have a kingdom to rule, but I do have to rule over my body, and I have to rule over my children (notice I do NOT have rule over my husband -- In fact, my husband is to rule over me). I must ensure that every thing I do and every word I speak demonstrates an awe and respect for my God -- He is my creator. I am not better than my creator, so I must honor Him.

While I do not live in fear that God is going to strike me down with a bolt of lightening, or have me run over by a car when I disobey Him, I must recognize that I will be judged for my sin, therefore I must keep my sin account with God short. Consider this: You go to the store to buy some groceries, and you discover you left all forms of payment at home. The store graciously allows you to take out a line of credit and be able to take your groceries home. If you continue to do this without repaying what you owe, the store will eventually cut off your credit. However, if you pay them back the next time you enter the store, they will allow you to continue to shop there.

Similarly, I must keep a short sin account with God. When I sin, I must confess and repent of that sin immediately when it is brought to my mind, and then I must avoid falling into the trap again. I am not saying that we can keep committing sin and confessing and not be judged. If you think I am saying that then you do not understand the definition of repent. Repent means to turn completely away from. When you repent of a sin, that means you refuse to commit that sin again. We are not to intentionally choose to sin.

I must do the same with my words. If I allow hurtful and unedifying words to exit my mouth then I must repent of my speech. I must refuse to speak those things -- even to someone else (that would be gossip). I must then turn over my mouth to the Lord and allow Him to guide my speech so that it encourages those around me and directs their focus upon the one true God.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ready at any Moment

Judges 7:5
"So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon,
"Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog
laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone
who gets down on his knees to drink."

Let me explain the background of this verse. God has called Gideon to rise up against the oppression of the Midianites. Thirty-two thousand people came up along with Gideon and said we will fight with you. The Lord told Gideon he had too many people so Gideon told all those who were fearful to return home. He was then left with ten thousand -- a number which was still too great. God sent Gideon and the men down to the water and told Gideon to send home any that laid down on the ground to drink with their mouths as well as any who got down on their knees. The three hundred men who were left used their hands to bring the water to their mouths.

You may ask me "What is the significance of how they were drinking?" Well, those who drank from the stream directly with their mouth were not guarding their backs. They were so focused on meeting their physical need for drink that they failed to be aware of the danger that might overtake them. Were the enemy to come up behind them they would be caught off guard and the battle would be lost.

I believe this verse can be a great warning to us as Christians. I Peter 5:8 states, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" A lion is not going to announce his presence to you. He is going to sneak up and crouch down in the brush until the moment he catches you unawares and then he will pounce.

In today's failing economy, it is very easy to get caught up in providing and caring for your own needs. This mentality can quickly cause us to be consumed with greed and selfishness that we aren't even aware of. Like Gideon's men who drew the water to their mouths while watching and expecting the enemy to attack, we need to be watching for attack from both our flesh and Satan.

Now you are probably wondering why I say it's easy to become consumed with greed and selfishness. Greed is seeking to horde more than you need. Do you find a great deal at a store and then purchase all of them so that you stockpile and no one else is able to take advantage of the deal? There are many other ways that greed creeps up on us that we don't realize either. Selfishness is even more difficult to identify. It is very easy to look into the pantry and say, well I have enough food to feed my family, but I'm not going to be able to provide a meal for my sick neighbor this time or for the lady at church that just had a baby. I'll have to let someone else do it. Or what about cutting back on your offering for church? With prices going up and incomes remaining the same or even shrinking, one easily tries to justify restricting how much she offers back to God. These little attacks that we don't even realize our things Satan rejoices in. The more we focus on ourselves, the less we focus on serving God and others.

I am challenging myself, as well as you, as I write this. Take a few moments every day to pray and ask God to help you be aware of when you are allowing your circumstances to put blinders on you. Ask God to help you see the peripheral and be able to acknowledge the attacks and overcome them.

For as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is dead also.
James 2:26

Friday, May 01, 2009

Silence in the camp

Joshua 10:21
And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah,
in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the
children of Israel.

Has God ever done something in your life so miraculous that those around you could not even pretend that God was not working in your life. Looking at the background of this verse, we see Israel, under the direction of Joshua, entering and conquering the promised land. Their first battle -- Jericho was a battle that left no doubt God was giving the land to Israel. However, their second battle where they lost to the small city of Ai because of sin in the camp gave the Canaanites hope that maybe God was not fully with Israel.

This verse comes at the end of their third battle. Prior to this battle Israel learned that God would NOT tolerate the slightest disobedience. After fighting Ai for the second time, Israel learned a second important truth -- Before making a treaty go to God (they where tricked into signing a treaty with the Gibeonites). Now entering into their third battle with the five Amorite kings, Israel knew they had to place full confidence in God. This third battle ended in a great slaughter, including a great hailstorm that killed all who escaped the sword of the Israelites. The outcome of this battle was so great no one in Canaan could deny that God was working on the side of the Israelites. The people were so convinced that they could not even speak a word of negativity against Israel because they were fearful of what the outcome may be.

I have had two such experiences over the last few months that clearly said "Tracy, God is in control you do not need to try to force your will." The first situation happened about three months ago. I woke up on a Friday morning and was rushing around to get my kids ready for MOPS. I am the discussion leader for our group, so I was also responsible for making sure the video and discussion questions showed up with me. I failed to gather everything together the night before, so I did not realize that the video was not sitting on the counter in the same place it had been for the entire month (I had moved it when we had company the previous week). Running around the house like a frantic woman I could not find it. I finally packed up my kids in the car and headed to MOPS - hoping that I had left it at the church at our last meeting. Well, I got the kids placed and then proceeded to look for the video. I was wrong, it wasn't there. It was finally at this point that I realized there was no place left for me to look -- I had already spent more than an hour searching my house. I decided to head home and take one more look. It was finally at this point where I turned to God and said "Lord, I've already searched my house and I don't have any clue where it might be. You know where it is, please give me wisdom to be able to find it." I parked the van and went into the house. Literally within one minute I had the DVD and the discussion questions in my hand. Without God I would probably still be looking for them.

My more recent very clear situation was yesterday. Our little town is about an hour and a half from any major shopping area -- Those of you from NBBC (NUI) can probably relate however I am in an even more rural area as our nearest Walmart is an hour and a half away (I'm not complaining, I really don't want to live anywhere else right now). Getting back to my story. We were on the way home from shopping yesterday and probably about 15/20 minutes from home. I was asleep and JA was driving. Well, he happened to have dozed literally a quarter of a mile before we would be driving under a bridge. We hit the shoulder of the road and we were both shocked into reality. The reason I say this was a complete example of God's protection is because we drifted to the right side of the road. Had we been drifting to the left we would not have awoken until we either hit a car or went off the road. Had he dozed just a few moments later we would have ran into a cement wall. God is so good in soooo graciously protecting us.

My point in telling you these stories is that my life shows plenty of evidence that God is alive and working. Some of you may say that these are just coincidences -- Miracles don't exist. I am not sorry to say YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG!!! My husband is a walking miracle which I would be glad to share with you if you need the proof. Let me challenge you, even those of you who are believers may at times feel like you are all alone, or that God is not working in your life (you may feel this way when you observe God working great miracles in the lives of others), examine your life and spot one or two major milestones in your life that leave no room for mistaking God was working in your life. Maybe it's when God saved you, maybe it's when he protected you from certain death, maybe it is in the birth of your child, or how he provided for you financially in a way you can't comprehend. Maybe it's simply in the miracle of life as you observe creation coming out of its winter dormancy. Whatever it is, write down that moment and keep it someplace you can turn to when you need the simple reminder -- God is Alive and He is Working in My life.

God does not forget His people, and He will continue to work in my life and yours as long as you allow Him to.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Earlier this week I received a book in the mail by John MacArthur called Drawing Near. I don't know who sent me this book, but if you are reading this post, I want to say thank you.