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Friday, July 27, 2012

I Just Wonder

What if those who are rejecting Biblical values came into contact with someone who really loves Jesus? Would we be ANY different from anyone else?

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I wonder what would happen if we genuinely LOVED those who persecute God’s people and their values and helped them to see that the God of the Bible is such a loving and Holy God?

What if we stopped calling them “morons” and took a moment to see that they are people who sin.. JUST LIKE US.. and who need a Savior?

How will they know that Jesus died FOR THEM if we are not faithful to tell them and stop pointing fingers?

You know, when I didn’t have Christ in my life… I was an unredeemed sinner who didn’t get it. Still, today, I make so many mistakes and sin because my flesh is so strong!! I know I can not make it one day without the Holy Spirit directing me to make even ONE good choice. I’m not sure how we expect someone to live a life that honors God if they don’t know Him.

I don’t condone the behavior of anyone who isn’t kind, but I just don’t think we really get it. Whether you are a mayor, movie star or stay at home mom… the fact of the matter is without Jesus Christ’s power of redemption and salvation from our sinful natures we are going to live, act, react and make decisions based on that sinful nature and not on values that reflect God and His Word.

I wonder what would happen if we, as Christians, started obeying God’s Word ourselves and started living the truth of God’s love in front of EVERYONE we encounter on a daily basis to make them wonder what makes us different?

“…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree can not bear bad fruit and a bad tree can not bear good fruit… Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:18-20

“But I tell you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you love those who love you what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 7:44-46

It just makes me wonder…

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Influence

Lately there’s been a lot of attention on people/items/media of influence in our world.

Sadly, many influences are not good ones and they effect our hearts and minds in some negative ways. There are a few that have recently struck me to the core and I suppose I will not be popular with some of my thoughts, but I just can’t sit by… not any longer.

Now, I guess everyone is not going to agree with me, and I REALLY HOPE you hear my heart,  but I have just have to say this… and you will have to forgive my apparent nerdy-ness here, but the Magic Mike movie? The Fifty Shades of Grey  book? HOW have we as Christians embraced this? How have we allowed this to be acceptable in our lives when we know that God’s Word clearly states that our lives to be set apart? Is it just me?!?

I just struggle with the idea of Christians spending our money to support things that we KNOWINGLY  buy or pay for and they are labeled as “soft porn”.  I am SURE that as we are in God’s Word and as we see His people turn from Him and the wrath and judgment that He brings on them that the same judgment (or worse) is headed our way!! Why do we choose to go there?!

Perhaps because these media venues are so popular right now my attention to it is piqued. So does this mean that on a REGULAR BASIS people who claim to follow Christ are choosing this type of media? Or have lots of us just decided that “this one time” it’s really ok?

1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father, but from the world.”

I KNOW we ALL sin. It’s the entire reason that Jesus came and died, but once we accept Him and His forgiveness He calls us out. We are to be different from the world. RIGHT!?

Oh, I hope I’m not sounding mean. I hope I am not sounding like I am casting my own judgment. I think I am just so taken back. I must be living in the dark ages.

I am just so sad.

Well, fortunately there are also some amazing influences around. This precious lady…

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was a founding member of our church and she recently went to be with Jesus. There was not ONE person who came into contact with her that did not experience the love that this lady had in her heart. She served at our church with the BEST attitude and influenced hundreds of kids to follow Christ. She was a Sunday school teacher, a choir member and a food server on Wednesday nights for more years than I have been alive!!

At her funeral the entire left side of the bulletin was filled with Proverbs 31. As I read through it I could identify her with every attribute of the Proverbs 31 woman!! NO LIE!

As I sat there listening to the pastor speak it challenged me. I had to ask myself if I had that kind of love. I needed to think about how I greet EVERYONE I meet. I needed to ask if I am willing to serve all the days of my life. This sweet lady’s influence stretches far and wide, and I wondered if I could do that?

I don’t know. I guess we all have to decide what kind of influences we want to sit under and what kind of influence we want to be. To me.. sitting in this sweet lady’s funeral service helped me make up my mind! If I can point someone to Christ and His saving grace then THAT’s what I want to do. If my choices cause others to stumble or think differently of me and the Jesus I follow then I want to stay FAAAAR away from them. I know I will mess up. I am so human!

What kind of influence will you have?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dreams He Dreams

Not long ago a few of my friends and I met with some recent graduates to do a book on prayer. These girls are so much more spiritually mature that I ever dreamed of being at their age! We wanted to meet with them to let them know that we’d be praying for each of them as they moved to the next intimidating, exciting, overwhelming and interesting part of life. We also wanted to give them a tool to use as they move into this new phase of life so that they will have a strong prayer life moving into adulthood.

One thing that the book pointed out was to continue to pray for your dreams. We went around the table and each girl shared their dreams for the future. They were precious! Some wanted to be wives and moms. Some wanted to travel the world and live on different continents and some wanted to lead worship! Some were silly (be a pop star… even though I can’t sing!)  and some very serious (go to seminary to study God’s Word in depth so that I can be a missionary) , but all in all they are dreams that make these girls precious and hold onto the fact that GOD has a future in store for them.

We challenged the girls to hold onto those dreams, but to also let God have them. It’s really amazing what God can do when we take what He puts in us and hold it out for Him to do as He pleases. With God.. the sky’s the limit and we want to see these precious young women just soar!!

Now, I am obviously NOT a young chick anymore but when we got around to me the question was asked, “What are YOUR dreams.” It kind of took me off guard. Once you are a wife and mom you get a little consumed with what’s in the here and now. Dreaming about the future really takes a backseat to what you hope your kid achieves.

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Never the less, I do have dreams! I’ve dreamed of owning a store of my own for SO long. Recently God is bringing some things about that might help that dream become a reality. It’s funny though… that dream is now seen through HIS lenses. It’s not really a store that I could own so that I can be RICH! It’s more of a place where I could bless others and see His hand at work.

Talking about dreams really made me think about this old song from Avalon. It’s so true. When we open our hands and let Him author our dreams… Oh what they can be!!

(and I am having trouble downloading the video- of course! But here are the lyrics that speak so loudly to me!)

The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you're clinging to
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue
Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dump It at the Dump!

Every week (in an effort to save a little dough) our family has chosen to take our trash, recycling and whatever else to the landfill (or the dump!) ourselves instead of having the garbage guys pick it up.

At first it was mainly a trip for my hubby and our girl. SO funny how she’d always talking about “Dump Day” on Fridays. She actually looked forward to the, sometimes smelly, little trip!

Recently my husband has worked more than usual and so our family time on Saturdays is pretty important to all of us. We try to be together and do as much together as we possibly can. They usually beg me to go along and sometimes I find other reasons to stay home and out of the SUV with the smelly trash in tow.

I guess it was about two Saturdays ago now they asked me to go and I decided to humor them. I got in the car and as we were riding down the road the following conversation started.

Hubby- “Ok, so remember, as we ride to the dump I want you to think about which attitude or sin you’d like to leave behind. Is there something that you feel you need to leave at the dump along with the trash?”

Caroline-“Actually, yeah. Remember when I got so mad because I couldn’t get the Wii to work and I cried and got sent to my room? Well, I think I need to leave that at the dump.”

Hubby-“Ok, well, I think I need to leave an attitude at the dump, too. Last week I felt bad about something that really was a blessing. I need to stop looking at myself and start looking at the blessings that I DO have. “

And then they asked…

“Ok mama! What about you!? Is there something you need to leave at the dump?”

OH. MY. WORD-ah!!!!!!!

First of all… how about I am not prepared to spill my guts in front of my family about my terrible attitude, my lack of trust in the Lord or my feelings of lack of purpose some days!?!? We were going to the DUMP for the love of garbage!

Second… REALLY!?!? You made going to the dump some sort of spiritual experience!?!

After a long pause I decided to share that even though I know that God has a plan for me to not work full time right now so that I can be home for our family, it is still hard sometimes for me to not always feel that I have a real purpose. I know that is a lie from the enemy and so I need to leave that… at the dump!

Once I said it my husband started praying in the car for all of us. He asked the Lord to take each one of our smelly sins and forgive us so that we can come away from the dump knowing that we are clean and forgiven.

We got to the landfill and it’s actually like a recycling center. It’s very organized and clean (for a dump) and it’s not what we’d normally picture…

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but getting out of the car to help unload made me have a greater understanding.

There was a smell. It was hot. People working there wore masks and they were so hot standing out there helping people unload their smelly, yucky trash. I was ready to get the junk out of our car and into those bins so that we could high tail it out of that place!

Suddenly it made a lot of sense to me. My husband wanted to paint such a clear picture for our daughter. Our sin is so gross. It is a stench in God’s nostrils. He can’t tolerate sin in His perfect and Holy presence and He suffered and died a terrible death so that we might have that terrible funk taken away from us, too.

Once we left the dump our Caroline said, “Ahhh… doesn’t the car smell better? We got rid of all of that trash!”

“Yes, and our hearts are cleaner, too!” said my husband. “Don’t you love going to the dump? We leave a lot more than trash there, don’t we?”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Busy and Questions Galore!

This has been the busiest summer so far! I keep thinking I am going to download all my pics and tell you all about everything, but that’s not happened yet!

We’ve had VBS (where I led the worship rally for the preschoolers) and we’ve been to the beach with friends. Our daddy didn’t go but we still had a good time. We are leaving today to head to my parent’s house for the 4th and next week is my sister-in-law’s birthday so I know there will be more pictures. Hopefully one day I will get to share our adventures… soon!

Being busy is  fun for me, but sometimes my girl gets really tired. I am not sure if it’s trying to work to process it all or if physically it just wears her out, but we’ve had several days of absolutely NOTHING and she’s been good with it. No pool, no errands, no friends… just home and she has seemed to enjoy the quiet. 

Going on the trips sometimes causes her to get into question overload. She will ask me (or whomever we are with) hundreds of questions about where we are going (even though she knows), when we will get there, how we will do whatever we are doing and who we will see while we are there. It’s sometimes overwhelming for everyone involved.

A long time ago I had a daily schedule for her that was typed out so that she could read it and know what to expect.Now that she’s  older I have tried to do without the written schedule since we do many of the same things each day and she seems to understand more.  Sometimes, though, when things don’t go well she just has a melt down.

Going to the beach with friends is fun, but the questioning makes me go into “protect all friends from all the questions” mode and I start compensating for her. I don’t enjoy the time away because I am on guard that she’s taking over everyone’s down time with all of the “needing to know right this very second.” While at the beach my friend asked me about a written schedule for the times that we go places. Maybe it will help with so many questions and she will know what to expect. I thought it was a great idea SO… here we go! We’ve come up with a little plan for going to see mom and dad…

Tuesday

o Leave around 3:30-4

o Play DS game, read or rest in the car

o Arrive and have dinner (make good choices and eat really good)

o Go for a little walk

o Get a bath and put PJ’s on (NO COMPLAINING!)

o Go to bed

Wednesday

o Wake up

o Have a good breakfast (including some sort of fruit)

o Do a couple of workbook pages

o Get dressed

o Be ready to go with the family to the Peach festival

o Have lunch

o Rest and help get things ready to come home

You can help make this a fun trip by listening and helping!

 

Hopefully putting in some reminders (like “No Complaining” at bath time and “including some sort of fruit”) will also help with the little battles that we face on a daily basis.

Funny! As I am typing this she’s reading her copy out loud to herself. She just said, “When dad gets here I can check off the “leave around 3:30 or 4,” right?” I guess we will see how this goes. If we have a schedule she might know what to expect, but if the schedule doesn’t work out… well… it could be a whole other story!