Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finding Peace in Discipline

I'm learning that an old dog can learn new tricks. God has been teaching me discipline over the past few days. I think I'm actually learning now too. There are many times I have to totally surrender my will to God's and depend on Him to help me do what I know I should do, but don't really want to. It's quite amazing. I often find that once I really get into the undesired task at hand it's not nearly as bad as I thought it was.

The coolest thing is that I have been filled with so much more joy! The joy doesn't come from all of the things I've gotten done (even though it's Wednesday, and I have accomplished more than I typically do in a whole week). I find that the guilt I used to be bogged down with from not doing what I should, or feeling guilty because I hadn't accomplished the task I set out to do is gone. I don't always get everything done, but I know that I am doing my best, and that I am living in God's will, and that's a wonderful place to be!

I have enjoyed reading John 14:15-31. It goes right along with what I'm learning. I will leave you with one of my favorite parts.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14:27

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Every Morning

Today I took the reigns. When I had a chance (time scheduled to spend with God), I did other things and continued on my way. I allowed the burdens of this world to crush my soul and discourage me. I listened to the chastisements of the Tempter. But by God's grace, I returned to Him, and this is where He led me:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:22-26

How thankful I am that we have a compassionate Savior. How unworthy I am to receive His grace. How blessed I am to be called His child.

Thank You Lord, for never giving up on me!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More Time With Thee O Lord

Image by: Ian Britton at

There is so much that God is teaching me right now that it's rather difficult to know what to write about. I guess that's why blogging is so great. I forces me to slow down and process one thought, one lesson at a time.

I think right now, I am going to share with you two quotes from the book I'm reading. Before I get started though, it's just amazing to me how many things in this book have been so on target with the things God has been teaching me over the years in my life. It is quite astounding actually.

That being said, here's quote number one:

These are lessons that only he who himself has learned can teach. It is because so many parents and teachers profess to believe the word of God while their lives deny its power, that the teaching of Scripture has no greater effect upon the youth. -p.259

This is the whole push behind Joshua's House. It is so important that children are raised from a young age, with a love for God. It is crucial that they learn to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. Knowing all the right things simply isn't enough. Yet how are the children supposed to learn when few adults have this relationship with Christ themselves?

'Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.' My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. - Ezekiel 33:30-32

I pray that I may be a doer of the word and not merely a hearer. Listening to God's word, hearing His voice is not enough. As I teach children and work with them, my responsibility is great. I cannot teach them to have a relationship with Christ if I do not know Him myself.

After reading this, I could not help but ask myself - do I have this deep relationship with God? Do I have something to share with them, or am I merely passing along information? As I questioned, another paragraph in my reading caused me to probe even deeper:

Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ's loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work. -p. 260

Wow - that is totally me. It hit the nail right on the head! Why do I constantly fret and worry? Why do I stress out? Why do I continually struggle to lay my burdens at the feet of Jesus? It's because I do not spend enough time with Him.

Oh Lord, help me to spend more time with you each and every day. Help me to wait for Your council. Help me to know You.

Here is another passage to ponder.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Woman of Proverbs 31

Last night as I was spending time with God, I decided to study one of the women of the Bible. In my study, God led me to Proverbs 31. If you are a female, just bringing up this figure most likely elicits one of two responses.

Response #1: You are squirming with discomfort. The woman of Proverbs 31 is too much to look up to. When does she sleep? Can someone possibly do that much? She must be Superwoman. If I just ignore she exists, my life will be much happier.

Response #2: The Proverbs 31 woman - now she is someone to look up to, someone I strive to be like. And then you make a list of all of the tasks she has accomplished and plan to be just like her.

Those may not be 100% accurate, but I have to admit that I frequently jump between the two responses. Yet, as I studied last night, God taught me a few things.

Point #1: Jesus is our ultimate example. While the Proverbs 31 woman is pretty cool, and we can learn a lot from her, we must never place her example above God's example.

Point #3: It's in the principles. Just as with most Biblical characters and stories, God often chooses to teach us principles. There are many in the Bible whom God specifically called to follow Him. Yet when the healed demoniac asked to follow Jesus, he was told to stay where he was and tell others about how he was healed. Yet in cases of both followers and the demoniac, the principle is the same - we must be willing to give up everything, including our own desires, to be obedient to God's callings.

Here are some of the principles we can learn from the Proverbs 31 woman:
  • Diligence/Hard work
  • Care for family
  • Stewardship
  • Compassion
  • Wisdom
  • Fear of the Lord
Point #3: We can't do it ourselves. This is so crucial, and is something I'm learning in so many areas of my life. Just as I posted before, we can do nothing without God. We must allow Him to work in us. Then life becomes less of an issue of a list to check off, and more a life of surrender and dependence on God's strength to follow through with His plans for our lives.

I guess the main thing that is sticking with me from this study is my need to depend on God. So often I become stressed and overwhelmed. What do others think about my house, my work, my life, etc? How do they perceive me? Am I doing things the right way? Am I making the right choices? I often feel that my life has to look perfect and pristine - just like the Proverbs 31 woman. So I try . . . really hard.

Yet it is in trying that I go wrong. I cannot let social constraints determine what is important or how I should live my life. I cannot base my choices on perceived expectations of others. I must allow God to have all of my heart and my life. He can then work in me to make me more diligent, caring, compassionate, wise and a better steward. He can also help me to learn to grow in Him and give Him higher priority.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question.

So, I'm realizing the importance of blogging again. It's not to get my grand ideas out there to share with the world what's going on in my life. It's not to build a strong community. It's not to share advice. It's to help build my relationship with God.

That may sound like an odd reason, but it couldn't be any closer to the truth. I am someone who processes my thoughts, who makes sense of life by sharing. I am a talker by nature. However, in this day in age it is hard to come by people to listen. Even if I did, there is only so much I can say at once. Blogging gives me an opportunity to internalize, sort thorough, and apply what I'm learning.

Sometimes it's hard to make things concise. Sometimes it's hard to make things make sense at all, but that struggling through my thoughts, that sticking through until something comes out, tends to make all the difference in the world.

So, I am going to try to do just that. I am going to try to blog more. Hold me to it too. If you haven't seen a blog in a while, ask me why. And pray for me. Pray that this blog does not become something that's all about my cooking or how good I am at this or that. I may share some of these things at times, but this should never become my focus. If no one ever reads this blog, I pray that through my writings and ramblings I may draw closer to God. If others do read it, I pray that it may provoke some deeper thinking in their minds that they may draw closer to their Heavenly Father.

So, with a whirlwind racing through my mind, I am going to jot a few notes about some of the important things that I want to share, but must save for other blogs (writing about them all now would produce a volume far too large for one entry).

This is the book I'm currently reading. It's "Education" by Ellen G. White. I am learning so much from this book, and I look forward to sharing insights with you. I really think that this is a great read for Teachers, Parents, or anyone who comes into contact with children at any point. In fact this book has great stuff for people who don't do anything of the sort. It has truly been a blessing to me.

The lesson that I'm currently learning is self-discipline. I have a long way to go, but God is helping me. I know I can't do anything on my own. When I see that pile of dishes that needs to be washed I am learning to stop trying to muster up the discipline to just get up and do them. Rather, I'm learning to turn to God and say, "Lord, I don't want to do them, but please, help me do them anyway." He usually not only helps me, but gives me a cheerful heart as well.

The last thing I'm learning is how to love my husband more. I won't go into much detail as I'm just beginning to touch the surface of this area. I just know that I have been pleading with God for such a long time to show me what it means to be a wife. He is starting to show me step-by-step.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Not About Me

All too often I get caught in a trap. It is a trap that many Christians get caught in. It's the trap of focusing on self. Now, I'm not talking about narcissism here. What I'm talking about is sort of akin to a theology of works. Let me explain.

I continually have this measure of things that a Christian is supposed to be. Some of the things on this spiritual yard-stick are Biblical, some are self-imposed and others come from the influences of those around me. For example the fruit of the spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23
It's easy for me to take a look at that passage an say, "Okay, I need more love, I need more joy, I need more peace, certainly more patience, I can use more kindness . . . So, what do I need to do to be more joyful? How can I make myself more happy? Maybe if I put on a joyful mask, my heart will follow suit. "

I think you get my point - I try to change myself and to focus on theses acts or works to make them a reality in my life. That is all wrong. I can't. No matter how hard I work. No matter what I do. I cannot change myself to have these things be a part of me. In the case of the fruits of the spirit, I must remember that they are just that. Outgrowths of the Holy Spirit at work in my life, not a result of my striving.

Jeremiah 13:23 says:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
This can seem hopeless but after talking to the rich young ruler, Jesus tells His disciples,

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." ~Matthew 19:26

Although we cannot change ourselves, Christ has the power to change us. So what are we to do? Why does the Bible tell us these things? Why does it show us the actions that follow the commitment? It gives us an opportunity to see our need of Christ. When we look at God's word and recognize where we have gone wrong, it is not our job to reform ourselves. No, we must draw closer and closer to our heavenly Father, surrendering our whole heart to Him. It is only in this submission that we may become changed.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." ~John 15:5