Saturday, December 29, 2007
I mentioned that my son's birthday is January 15th. For those of you who know about his Dash obsession, I thought you might want to know that he is having an Incredibles party. (He wakes up every morning and says "I'm still Dash"). I am ordering red t-shirts with the Incredibles logo on them and masks for us all to wear at the party. The best part is that we are giving him an actual Dash costume. Nothing like making dreams a reality. I predict that costume will be 20 bucks worth of joy for him. I will definitely post pics when the party is over.
I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions. Maybe a resolution or goal would get my mind off the bleakness of January. I have resolved to spend more time in the Word, but other than that the only two other resolutions that I can come up with are to exercise and lose weight. I hate to be cliche since EVERYONE makes a resolution to exercise and lose weight, but I will try ;-). I have to admit that I am skeptical every time I hear someone say that they are making a New Year’s resolution. I suppose it is because I, myself have never actually kept a resolution for more than a couple of weeks (okay,… days). It seems to me that the most common resolutions are ones having to do with our physical health, not our spiritual health (I.e. lose weight, get into shape, and spend more time on “me“). While those are all noble causes, I believe that many times as Christians we miss the mark on what God wants us to change about ourselves.
As women, I think we tend to compare ourselves to the rest of the world. We want to look and dress like the hottest Hollywood actresses, with no regard to the fact that most of them live totally immoral lives on and off the screen. We envy people who don’t even know the Lord, or worse, completely deny his existence. Should it not be the other way around? The Bible says , “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Too many times we get consumed by the latest trends, when we should be consumed by God.
This year instead of resolving to beautify our outside appearance, maybe (definitely) we should work on beautifying what is inside. Jeremiah 9:24 says, “But let him who boasts boast of this: that he understands and knows me”. While I think we will never completely understand God on this earth, to better know Him and understand Him is the best resolution for everyone. I think that my main resolution will be to spend more time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer. If I exercise more, then that will just be the icing on the cake (oh, wait I can't have cake......;-).
I pray you all have a Happy (Healthy) New Year !
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Luke 2:15 - 19
"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart".
In that verse, 'haste' means "to desire earnestly" and the word find translates "to find by searching". I pray that we desire Him earnestly and find Him by searching everyday in the coming year.
Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends! I hope you guys eat lots of good food and have lots of fun with your families. I hope the wrapping paper is piled high at your house tomorrow morning. I hope the kids love the toys you bought them AND the boxes they came in. I pray that you and your children are filled with joy, but most of all I pray that we all remember Whose birthday it really is.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The above picture was taken by my 3 yr old. I wish I had a picture of him taking my picture - that Dash is the cutest thing.
Monday, December 17, 2007
This weekend was the Christmas drama at our church. It is a huge deal (it's a two and a half hour production complete with live animals and professional lighting, etc, etc, etc). Every year we see many people accept Christ during the three performances. I haven't heard the final count for this year, but I know that we gained over 20 new brothers and sisters in Christ on just Friday and Saturday (not sure about last night) . The baby Jesus was a little colicky this year (or maybe it was the 95 member choir singing in the background).
When I see plays that depict Jesus' life I always wonder what it was really like when He was born or what it was really like in Nazareth when he worked with his earthly father as a carpenter. I wish I could see the look on Mary's face when Joseph told her that he wouldn't 'put her away' because she was pregnant. I wish I could see exactly how the stable looked when Mary and Joseph had to settle for a barn instead of a room in an inn. I wish I could see those wise men coming to see that little toddler they had heard so much about. I wonder if He talked to them or if He was shy around those men who were undoubtedly dressed in royal robes. I would love to see the look on the faces of Mary and Joseph as they ran back to the temple to find Jesus. I can just hear Mary saying, "You scared us to death!". Can you imagine watching Jesus heal people? Or what about the woman at the well? I picture a dry desolate land with a few scattered houses and a white-washed well with Jesus leaning against it. I wonder what her expression was when He said "You have had five husbands and the man you live with now is not your husband"? I bet her bottom lip dropped to the ground.
In our church drama, the cross scene always makes me cry. I suppose because I know that it is my fault that there IS a cross scene. The soldiers beat a bleeding Jesus and then nail Him to the cross. The sound of those nails always makes me cringe. What if that were my son? Can you imagine someone driving stakes through the hands and feet of your precious son? I did that to Him. I caused God to look away from His only begotten. I am the one who caused Him to be beaten unmercifully. I wonder what He thought as those soldiers gave Him gall on a dirty rag instead of water. While He was on that cross, I wonder if He saw all the sins I would commit. I wonder if He had a mental picture of the despicable things I would do two thousand years later. It might as well have been me there holding that cat of nine tails whipping Him over and over. It was me.
I would have loved to see the look on those soldiers faces when they felt the earth shake beside the tomb. I bet they became instant believers. I wonder what it was like for Peter to see the Jesus that he denied knowing. I wish I could have been there when He showed Thomas His scars - Blessed are those who believe and have not seen (that is us). I have a lot of mental pictures of how things looked when Jesus lived here on earth, but none of them are accurate. I wish I could have been a witness to His earthly life. I wonder if I had lived then if I would have believed He was God's son. Would I have accepted Him as God on earth or would I have screamed "Crucify Him!" ? Probably the latter.
One of my favorite songs right now is "There is a Remedy" ( http://www.projectplaylist.com/node/20604906 - click on There is a Remedy) - somebody please help me do links, will ya? This version is actually by the Specks who are frequently at our church (one of the Specks' sister goes to our church). This song was sung in the program as people came to Jesus to be healed. One after the other- the blind man, the woman with an issue of blood, Lazarus' sisters, etc, etc. It is the same with us today. We are like those people in that play. One after the other, coming to Jesus with our illness and disease. Some of us have health problems, some family problems, some drug problems. The disease of sin is fatal unless we ask for the Cure. One thing is for sure we all have sin problems. We ALL have sinned and we are ALL in need of the remedy - Jesus Christ.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
**Hubs has been in Memphis all week and I will be glad to have him home tomorrow night. I have to say that it has been hectic trying to keep up with kid stuff, house stuff, Christmas stuff, basketball stuff, AND keep up with building a house. Have I mentioned that I know virtually nothing about building a house? I really just wanted hubs to call me when it was time to pick out paint colors, but it has become apparent to me that I don't always get what I want. Anyway, I have missed him even though he has called me on average 63 times per day. There is nothing better than crawling into bed and snuggling up against my warm man. Hubs and I love bed time (get your mind out of the gutter). We lay in bed and watch TV and talk about our day - laugh about the kids or his work.
**So, I am reading the "news" on the net this morning (really just the headlines on MSN homepage) and one of the headlines read "Jodi Foster Finally Out". In my mind I think 'Out of what'? So, I open the article and wouldn't you know it, she is gay! Am I the only one on the planet that did not know this fact? Now, I am not a movie buff and I rarely watch TV, but I am familiar with Jodi Foster (not a fan, but I know her work). I saw Silence of the Lambs when I was in high school and I made my mom sleep with me for 2 weeks! I loved Nell ('like a tay in da win'). I wonder why people come out of the closet. Seems like it would be better for everyone (including them) to just keep that closet door shut (tight). I am not gay, nor do I understand same sex attraction, but I do know that the world we live in was much better before Adam and Steve came out of their closets.
**On a similar note, yesterday I was at Kohl's (I heart Kolhl's madly) and I was in the junior department looking at some really cute zip up hoodies (I am a stay-at-home mom - I live for the hoodie, people) when I look over the rack and see this old woman staring at me. She is a strange looking old woman so I do a double take only to find out she isn't a woman at all (at least not yet). He/she had on make up, earrings, and women's clothes. He/she was holding up women's clothes to her/his self to see how they looked. I have to admit, normally I would stare and judge (just being honest), but this time I felt compassion for that poor soul. He/she looked like a caged animal staring at people staring at him/her. The only thing I kept thinking was that man/woman is going to hell. I could cry thinking about it. He/she is a mixed up, messed up person, but aren't we all? It is only by the grace of God that I am not bent toward homosexuality. God knows I have my own ugly sins and while they may not be sexual in nature, they are just as vile to a Holy God. I could go on and on, but I will save it for a later post.
** Yesterday at Kohls' I got a denim knee-length skirt for $6. I got 2 long sleeved tops that have some sort of print on them for $4 each. I got a short jacket with big buttons (I dont know what they are called, but you know what I am talking about) for $10. I got a pair of khaki courderoy pants for $12 and a red sweater for $13. See why I heart Kohl's? Here is a picture of one of my $4 shirts. Not bad for 4 bucks,huh? If you think it's ugly, just keep that information to yourself please. Also, I realize that I look like a crack head in this picture, please double click for the less ugly version. Thank you.
**All my presents are wrapped and under the tree. Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow! My back may never be the same again. I wrapped all presents in 2 days. I hurt, people, I hurt. My tailbone will never be the same and I look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
**Since I turned 35 my metabolism has gone into reverse. I know it isn't in my head! I used to be able to lose 5 lbs in a week by just cutting out bread and sugar.......I have done that for 2 weeks and I have lost zero. I need to lose 15 lbs. - yesterday. Anybody got any ideas to jump start my metabolism? (If you have been skinny all your life, please don't reply to this - thank you.)
**My nose is running and I have a cough that I cannot control. I sound like I have Active TB. It could be because we went from 40 degree weather back to 75 and 80 degree weather. It might snow this weekend - I will probably be hospitalized with pneumonia before spring.
**I am addicted to Chap-stik. Have to have it all the time. Something is very wrong with me. I sleep with it on my night stand and when I wake up in the middle of the night I reapply. Can someone please help me? I am reaching out, isnt that the first step?
**When you are from the south, strange sayings and mispronounced words become normal. Youins (pronounced you-uns) is commonly used instead of you all. I hate that word (well it really isnt a word, but whatever). When it snows just a little, people call it a 'skiffin' of snow. Instead of learned, many people say learnt (lurnt). Not only do they say learnt, they use it in the wrong context (ex. My son went to school and the teacher learnt him to read). My mother always says "I am gonna get my house cleaned if it hairlips Georgia". What is that? If you are laying down resting, people say that you are 'laid out like a week's warshin'". (One of my pet peeves is when people add R's to words when there is no R in the word - ie. George Worshington). Instead of saying "How are you"?, people say "Whatya allow?" The first time I heard that phrase was in college and I had the guy repeat it several times and then answered "Well, not much!" I thought he was hitting on me. If you are shy, you are 'backward' and if you aren't pretty, you are 'homely' - why homely? I have lived here all my life and I still don't understand where some of these things come from. I can't think of all the strange sayings I have heard in my time (and yes I probably say some of them too), but I think from now on when I hear one, I will write it down and share it with you all. Don't think I am making fun - I am a Tennessee girl through and through, but I do find some of the things we say quite odd. I wouldn't trade my southern upbringing for all the money in the world.
**Every time I go north, west, or out of the country, people always want me to talk. They say they like to hear my accent, but I think they just like to make fun of me when I leave so I usually don't say much to them.
**We have a saltwater fish tank in the wall at our house. My husband loves the fish and I think they are pretty, but too much work. When he is out of town, I am left to feed them. They like to eat out of your hand. I do not like critters of the underwater kind touching my fingers with their mouths - they bite! (it doesnt hurt, but I do not like to be bitten). One of the fish is somewhat mean. He only likes for my husband to feed him and when I stick my hand in the tank to feed him, he splashes me. I don't mean he flips a little water out of the tank. I mean he uses his tailfin to wet my face. My mother didnt believe me until she saw it for herself. I hate that fish.
**I am excited about the toys we got our boys for Christmas. It's almost like being little again. I suppose it's wrong to buy your kids things because you want to play with them, but we do it anyway. Sometimes we buy the toys for ourselves and act like we did it so the kids can play with them. Last year, hubs bought me a battery operated scooter (not a jazzy chair like old people have). It goes 45 miles per hour - no way my 6 or 3 year old is getting on that thing, but mommy sure does have fun with it!
**My three year old is obsessed with The Incredibles. He has made us call him Dash for the past three weeks and he gets mad if we use his real name. He wakes up in the morning and says "Mommy, I'm still Dash". He wants to play the Incredibles on Play Station2 all the time (he is actually quite good at it). He watches the movie all the time. He tells me long, involved stories about Dash. When we are in stores and people ask his name, he tells them Dash - I dont tell them different - what would be the point? His Sunday School/AWANAS/choir teachers all have started calling him Dash. So, his birthday is in January and I ordered him a Dash costume. I wonder if he will ever take it off. The Dash obsession is not nearly as embarrassing as the time we were in Marshall's in Nashville (Kaden was 20 mos old) and I realized people were staring at me and then at him. I looked down and he had gotten a tampon out of my purse - he had taken the paper off of it and was chewing on it. I almost died of embarrassment and I immediately left that store never to return!
**Why does Toys r Us have the R backward in their logo? They are a store for impressionable kids - why teach them to write their R's backward?
**As I sit here typing, my house is in semi-disarray, the laundry needs to be done (approx. 36 loads, okay, 35), and I need to be working on some things for the preschool Christmas party for church. I may need to go to B.A. (blogger's anonymous) - I am sure there is some sort of 12 step program for people like me---those who blog in order to get out of or delay doing work.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
When I was in high school, it seemed that most guys thought of me as their best friend. I was one of the guys even though I was not a tomboy. I was the girl that everyone's mother loved because I was friendly and 'a good girl'. When I went to college, I had more dates, but nothing too serious. I fell into the party scene and ran away from the Lord. The Lord never quit calling to me no matter how much I ignored Him. I gave attention to people who cared nothing for me and turned my back on the One who loves me more than anyone.
After college, I kind of came into my own. I was back in right standing with God and my phone was ringing off the hook. I dated lots of different men. Some good, some not so good. I met hubs in September 1997. He had just transferred back home (he is from this area) from Chattanooga. He was dating someone who still lived in Chattanooga. My stepdad introduced us - we all went out to eat one night. Steve ended up taking me back to my apartment and asking for my number. He didn't call for a year and a half. In that time I dated lots of different people, but none that really were 'prospects' for marriage. Steve called me after that year and a half and when I realized who was calling, I almost hung up. After all, my days of sitting beside the phone were long over. But, he was nice and I decided to give him another chance. We were married six months later.
You see, when I was young, immaturity caused me to chase after love. I remember my grandfather telling me not to marry the first guy that asked me. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I thought it was impossible that more than one man might be slightly interested in me, much less ask me to marry them. In my teens, I had no idea what life was REALLY like. My life was contained in a small fish bowl called high school. But once I got out into the world on my own, I realized that I don't have to fight to get love and keep it. A love that is contrived is a lie and I finally learned that around the age of 24 (I am a slow learner apparently).
It is odd that I spent my younger years trying to catch a man and keep Him when THE MAN - God - was right there all along. He called to me when no one else would. He loved me when no one else did. He thought I was beautiful when everyone else thought I was 'okay'. (Could you ever think of one of your children as ugly? - Neither can God) He loved me when I left Him. He loved me when I acted like the rest of the world. He loved me and welcomed me when I asked to come back home. He has done for me what no other man (including Steve) has done. Too bad it took me so long to realize that He is the man I was looking for all along.
We do strange things to get human love and we do strange things to keep human love, but what is even more strange than anything is how we overlook Everlasting Love. The Bible tells us that 'God loved us and sent His son'. It tells us that we didn't do anything to deserve His love and there is nothing we can do to keep it. There are no hoops to jump through when it comes to God - we just come to Him and He opens His arms. Once we are saved, we need to continue to confess our sins, but we don't have to try to keep His love. Once you belong to God, you always belong to Him. It reminds me of an old song that is actually a paraphrase from the Bible:
I know not why God's wondrous love
to me He hath made known
or why, unworthy, Christ in love
redeemed me for his own, but
I know whom I have belived
and am persuaded that He is able
to keep that which I've comitted
unto Him against that day.
If there was something we could do to lose our salvation, He wouldnt be a very powerful God. It is a cheap grace that would allow our works to save us. My husband grew up in a church that taught a works salvation (which is contrary to scripture). It is a heavy burden to bear when you have no security in your salvation. Salvation through works does not exist and it is purely false theology. Jesus did all the work on the cross - we didn't do anything to earn our salvation and we surely arent powerful enough to do anything to lose it. Jesus said in John 10:28, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand". That, my friends, is good news--no, it is GREAT news.
Here are a few of my favorite verses that talk about eternal security in Christ:
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.
And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold
Monday, December 10, 2007
Have you ever known anyone whose greatest desire is to be seen? I am talking about the person who lives to be noticed and thrives on trying to impress everyone. I know several people like that. One person in particular comes to mind and I have to admit, I have some 'not so holy' feelings toward her. This is a person who serves in several ministries of the church, many of which are very public ministries where she can be seen often. I admit that when I see her in the spotlight, I feel as though she is there for personal attention and not to bring glory to God. I will be totally honest, for the past 6 years, I have viewed this person as a complete fake. To make things even worse, the Lord has put us together in several church activities over the years. You have no idea how many times I have come home from church whining because I had to work on a project with her AGAIN. Sometimes I am not amused by God's sense of humor.
It's funny how the Lord will repeat Himself over and over to us until we finally answer Him. I have been really convicted lately because of my feelings about this person because even though I see her as a person who serves to get attention, I do believe she is saved. I believe she is my sister in Christ-- my attention craving, self-serving, 'look at me -look at me' sister in Christ. Anyway, in my Bible study the other day Priscilla Shirer tells of a time when she did something strictly to get the praise of others. Then she asks the question: How do you feel when you see another woman who obviously seeks attention for herself? The next question is: What might the Holy Spirit save us from when He prompts us not to seek attention for ourselves?
When I read the first question, I of course had this same person in my mind - she is someone I see every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. As I thought about the answer, the Holy Spirit brought another person to my mind - the person I see every time I look into the mirror.
See, I may not do all the very public things this person does, but I also do things that steal the glory from God. God is not in the glory-sharing business - He wants all the glory. I don't deserve any glory, yet there are times when I have the 'look at me, look at me' attitude as well. I like to have people pat me on the back as much as the next person. The reality is that my flesh desires the glory that belongs to God alone. I wonder if I would be so eager to take a meal to a SS class member, or bring gifts to needy children, or serve in the nursery if no one knew about it. I wonder if I would be so quick to volunteer for jobs in the church (or at my son's school for that matter) if I knew there would be no one there to say 'thank you'.
1 Corinthians 3:3 says, "For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?" Paul says proof that we are controlled by our sinful nature is that we are jealous and argue with our brothers and sisters in Christ. To that list couldn't we add that another proof we are controlled by our sinful nature is that we steal God's thunder every chance we get? God tells us in Genesis that Eve's desire would be for her husbands position. In the garden, when the snake came to Eve, he tempted her with the promise that if she ate the fruit, she would know everything that God knows. Yep, we glory stealers have a long history. I think when we get to heaven most of us will be eager to talk to our Bible heroes. There will be a long line to get to talk to John and Paul, but I am pretty sure there will be no line to talk to Eve.
I have asked to be forgiven for my terrible thoughts/attitude toward this sister that I have mentioned, because I do believe she is also a child of God. In Acts 9:4 Jesus says, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" In other words, when you come against God's people, you come against God Himself. So, I think it is important to hold our brothers and sisters in Christ up instead of tearing them down because what we do to our brother, we do to Jesus (and really, haven't we already put Him through enough?). Besides, who am I to judge the thoughts/actions of anyone else? I am the only one who answers for me and I have to remember that if I am going to attempt to do great things for God, my greatest desire HAS to be for Him to be honored. Humility should be the rule of the day every day. After all, I was called to be a servant not a celebrity and I should act accordingly.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Both boys sang in church tonight. Lake, the oldest, sang very well and did exactly what he was supposed to. Kaden, on the other hand, didn't. When Kaden's choir practiced, he stood in front of the microphone and wouldn't keep his little hands off of it. He kept trying to get it out so he could hold it. When he finally stopped touching the mic, he realized that everyone was laughing at him so he got down on one knee and started to sing loudly - very, loudly, very very very loudly. When the practice time was over, I went to have a 'prayer meeting' with him and told him not to sing so loudly and not to try to take all the attention because we are supposed to give Jesus our attention (this coming from the woman who sang and danced unashamedly at the party the night before). So, when all 1,500 people are in the worship center and my kid gets on stage, he doesn't sing at all - he directs. He postitioned himself where he was facing the other kids and he moved his arms like he was their choir director. Not only did he direct - he bowed several times after each song. Where does he get this stuff ? (Okay I know where he gets it, but it is not good). Everyone laughed so it only encouraged him. He constantly cracks me up, but there are also times where he embarrases the heck out of me too.
So, Saturday morning I had to get up pretty early. I helped hubs with a few things before he left for work and then I grabbed my Bible and Bible study material and headed back to my comfy bed for some quiet time. I opened my Bible and the study book and just started reading without much thought to what I was doing - and without a prayer. Then, it was like the Lord was whispering in my ear, "You're hands aren't clean and your heart is not clean - you need clean hands and a clean heart if you expect to hear from Me." It wasn't an audible voice of course, but it might as well have been - it was strong and powerful - it was a command that I knew was from Him. You see, I had been helping hubby with a semi-dirty job and I had not taken the time to wash my hands before I picked up God's Holy Book and I also had not taken time to pray and ask for Him to reveal Himself to me. It's not that having germy hands is a sin, nor is it a sin to touch your Bible without washing your hands first. The sin comes when I approach God and His word with a flippant 'I need to hurry and get this out of the way' attitude. The germs aren't the problem, but the attitude is.
Sometimes I come to God in the mornings with so many 'to do's' rushing through my mind that I can't concentrate on Him or what He wants to tell me through His word. I am easily distracted and my attitude is completely wrong. I should enter my time of prayer and study with reverence - with clean hands and a clean heart. I believe that before God will give us a word He expects us to take care of the dirt in our lives. Before I begin my quiet time with Him, I need to do business with Him - which means I need to confess and ask forgiveness, but I also must get my attitude and heart prepared so that I can hear Him speak to me ---oh how I want to hear His voice. After all, spending time in the Word is spending time with God Himself (John 1:1). I have spent too many mornings treating my time with God as an obligation that has to be fulfilled instead of a priveledge. When we study the Bible, we are on Holy ground.....we are literally in the presence of God and we need to treat that time as such.
Friday, December 7, 2007
No matter how much money a person has, there is always something that is out of their price range. There is one thing that even a billionaire cannot afford. I know you may be thinking that nothing is unattainable to a billionaire, but there is one thing that even a billionaire cannot afford. What is it? Salvation. Our salvation is the most expensive thing ever invented in the history of the world. Salvation is something we cannot afford and something we cannot afford to take for granted. Our salvation cost the God of the universe His one and only Son. God owns everything, the Bible says ‘without Him nothing was made that was made’ (John 1:3), there is nothing that He cannot do, nothing He cannot create, yet He loved us so much He sent His only Son to be sacrificed in an inhumane, humiliating, excruciating way so that we could live. No, there is no limit to what our salvation cost God and it cost Jesus everything - grace is not cheap!
I think we look at our salvation way too carelessly. God gave up His darling son so that we, in all our ugliness and selfishness, could live forever. Not only will we live forever, but He made us joint heirs with Jesus. Yes, we make way too little of that cross. That cross is where our inheritance was sealed. What we deserve is what Jesus went through on His way to Calvary plus what He endured on the cross plus an eternity in a burning hell. We all deserve that (and I mean ALL). ‘None of us is righteous, no not one’. Can you imagine being beaten, naked and carrying that cross up that hill to be nailed to it by your hands and feet? Can you imagine standing before Jesus, the judge, and hearing ‘Depart from me, I never knew you’? Makes me cringe to think about it.
You see, our salvation is given to us in spite of ourselves. In spite of our sins (big sins/little sins) God has given us mercy and grace. I think of grace in this way: Pretend you have very little money and your family is hungry. You go to the grocery store and place milk and bread in your cart. When you get to the check-out line, the clerk rings up your sale and says “That will be $6.78”. The problem is that you only have $1.50. While you are standing there trying to figure out how you will feed your family, Jesus taps you on the shoulder and says “Here is a coupon for $10 off everything you purchase today.” Grace is our coupon or ‘get into heaven free’ card. It cost God His son, it cost Jesus everything, but it costs you and I (who the Bible calls the vilest of offenders) nothing. I guarantee you that if someone came to me and gave me that Lily Pulitzer sweater for free, I would be forever grateful. God gave His son so that I could have eternal life ABSOLUTELY FREE, yet I take that fact for granted everyday. We value tangible, visible things while we devalue the Jesus who lives in our hearts. Romans tells us that "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". It is highly unlikely that there will be a reduction in the wages of sin, so we should be forever grateful for God’s free gift of grace.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Hebrews was written after Jesus' ascension because Hebrews 1:3 b says, "When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven". So the Hebrew writer (we don't know exactly who it was) was writing the book of Hebrews after Jesus was already in heaven. Even then this man who penned Hebrews knew that God's Word was inspired, living, active, and would be as relevant to people in the future as it was to those who lived in his day.
How can words be living and active? John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God". The Hebrew writer knew that the word was living and active even though the Word was in heaven. The Word of God is living and active because it IS God. God could have taken Jesus back to heaven and left us here on earth to fend for ourselves, but because He loves us so much, He gave us His word in the form of the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.
The Word of God is just as relevant for us today as it was for Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, and all the other people mentioned in the Bible who had physical encounters with messengers of God. The only difference is that the Word is in different form. We don't have angels that visit us saying "Fear not", we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts saying "Hear the Word of the Lord". The Word of God is living and active because it IS God! When I think about this truth, I am brought to conviction EVERY TIME! Conviction because if the Word of God IS God, then I am a terrible failure at seeking Him and spending time with Him.
Let me say it like this: Let's forget the OT verse that says no one can look on God and live. Let's pretend that God comes to my house in human form and rings my doorbell. Am I going to say, "Sorry, God, I don't have time for you right now, I have laundry to do." Considering the fact that the Word of God IS God, that is exactly what I do when I place chores (or whatever else I am doing) over spending time in the Word. It's like saying, "Sorry, God, you'll have to wait until I do the more important things."
Before Jesus came, God sent angels to speak to His servants. When Jesus came, He was God in human form bringing the Word to His servants. When Jesus ascended, God sent the Holy Spirit to speak to His servants and much of the time (if not most of the time) the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word. I think sometimes we expect an angel to appear and bring us 'glad tidings of great joy', but while we are watching for the angel, we are missing the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is how God chooses to speak to us today. The Holy Spirit IS our angel that helps us understand the heart of God. It's time we stop looking for the burning bush and start listening to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit speaks when we seek Him through the Word.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I have to say that the past few weeks have been some of the busiest in my life. The bad part is that things don't show any signs of slowing down (at least not until April or maybe June). My little one has a sinus infection (at least I hope that's all it is). I am taking him to the doctor in about an hour, but I wanted to tell you about my Saturday. Warning: the following story is graphic and some of you may be offended by its content. So, forgive me in advance.
For the past few years, I have been trying to find a time in the summer to take my oldest son to swimming lessons. The problem is that we are never home in the summer. We usually vacate for about 4 weeks out of every summer and there is little time for proper swimming lessons. so, this year, I decided that we would just do swimming lessons in the winter. I called to sign both boys up, but the lady who I spoke with said that you had to be at least 5 to take lessons. So, I only signed the oldest up. Lessons are every Saturday at 9 am (not happy about that, but we do what we have to do to teach our children valuable life skills).
**** I know this post is long, but I have to include the next 2 paragraphs in order to give you the background info.....so you don't think I am an idiot for not being prepared. If you want to skip the background move down to where the ***'s are.
I get to the pool at 8:45. I have my kids dressed in layers because it IS winter after all. We walk in the door to the pool and it is like a huge sauna. It had to be 98 degrees in that place. So we start shedding layers immediately. Finally, it is time for the lesson and my big boy does GREAT! The teacher even asked if we could come for the advanced class at 9:30 am. Well, wooohooo, yes, of course, we can come 30 minutes later! I noticed some children who were younger than 5 getting their suits on and getting in the pool. I quickly went to the receptionist and asked if there was a class for my 3 yr old (well, he will be 4 in January). She said yes and apologized that someone had misled me earlier. I decided to sign him up and just let him wear his brothers swim trunks this time (even though they were a tad too big --- and by a tad, I mean like 3 sizes- it took 3 safety pins to make them work).
I was so excited that they both get to take lessons on the same day each week! Swimming is a life skill - I would be a terrible mother if they never learned to swim, right? I paid the lady and she said, "Y'all will need to go to that end of the pool in 5 minutes". I say "Excuse me? Did you say y'all?" ( Here in the south that means you all -plural - meaning I would have to get into the pool as well). She said "Oh, I forgot to telll you that you have to get into the pool with him." Okay, I know I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I think I would have enough sense to remember to tell a woman that she is going to need her bathing suit. She could plainly see that I was standing there in my Jeans and sweatshirt! Sheesh, what is wrong with people?!!!! The teacher kindly agreed to take him out with her that day thankfully. So, now, I have to put on my bathing suit every Saturday morning for the next 8 weeks and get into that public pool against my will. Oh, the things we do for our children! I know there will be men and women there shielding their eyes from the sight of my huge white body (I used to be somewhat thin and tan, but that was in the good old days). They will be saying "Why did that woman sign her kid up? Why must we look upon her large pasty white frame every week? Why? Why? Why?" All I can say to those people is : I am sorry, I did not know I would have to subject everyone to this misery. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience I have caused you and I will gladly pay for any eye damage caused by the rays from my white skin. (Thankfully, my stretch marks have faded a bit since the muchkin was born, so they will be spared that ugly detail).
***So, when the muchkin's lessons were over, I took them into the women's locker room to change. After all it IS winter here in east Tennessee. That's when I saw them. The image will forever be seared in my mind. I stopped as I entered the door and my mouth gaped open like I had seen a ghost or had been witness to a terrible crime, but I wasn't so lucky. There were women everywhere. Women in their 70's - some in their 80's. None of them were clothed. What I saw was almost too horrific to tell. There were boobies everywhere. They were mishapen and awkward. I have to be honest - they were hanging down way farther than they should have been (way farther than they should have been --- way farther!!!!!!!!!!). I wanted to scream, "My eyes! My eyes!", but there would have been no one there to listen to my cries.
Fortunately, I quickly remembered that I wasn't alone. My two young, impressionable boys were holding my hands at my side. I immediately went into mommy mode. I shut my gaping pie hole and took action. I looked for the closest place where their eyes would be safe from the scene around them. I noticed a bench on a wall in the corner. I grabbed my boys and ran (I know it's against the rules, but desperate times call for desperate measures). Here is how the dialogue went:
Me: Boys, face the wall!
Boys: But, Mommy...
Me: I said face the wall!!!!
Boys: Mommy, why do we have to....
Me: Because I said so! Keep your eyes on the wall in front of you!
After what seemed like years, I finally got little one out of wet clothes and into his dry ones. I was sweating by the time I finished (the hair wasnt pretty, my makeup was sliding off my face, and I fear that I may have not smelled as fresh as one should that early in the morning). I told them to look down at the floor (actually I said "Do not take your eyes off your shoes until we get to the door" - I thought it could be like a little game :-). I smiled at all the women this time making eye contact for fear I might see the sad, tired girls hanging down again. (No chance of seeing them if I make eye contact if you know what I mean). I have never been so happy to leave a place in my life!
Now, before you judge me or write me nasty comments saying that I am cruel and uncaring, please understand one thing. I was not scared by the fact that gravity had hit these women so hard, but by the fact that one day I will be standing there with my boobies hanging down to my belly button and one day I will have skin on my body that looks like I am wearing the skin of a 600 lb woman on my 140 lb frame. (I fear that it wont be long before I am those women!) I am sure that many of you are thinking that I was quite harsh with my kids, but the truth is that the sight of those women could have scarred my boys for life. Or even worse: they could have stared or asked embarrassing questions OUT LOUD that the women could have heard (oh, I cringe at the thought!). So, you see it's not that I am uncaring or cruel --- actually quite the opposite. I was concerned for the women in there (for more reasons than one) AND for my impressionable, innocent young babies (what if that sight was burned on their minds forever? It could turn them against women and I may never have grandchildren! - I couldnt allow that to happen).
So, now I am forced to go through this torture every week for 8 more weeks. Pray, sisters, pray like you have never prayed before. I need mercy in this situation. Don't think I haven't considered taking my chances at us all getting pneumonia and just running to the car in our suits from now on. But you all know I can't do that. My husband can't take them - he is working on our new house on Saturday mornings. It seems that I am between a rock and a hard place on this one. Please dont leave me ugly comments as I am only sharing my thoughts here - Judge not! Maybe we should also pray for each other. Pray for those who already have the plunging nubbies and pray for those of us who have yet to experience that problem. Would it be wrong of me to ask you to pray that when my time comes I have the extra money to have them surgically brought back to their upright position?
The past several weeks, our pastor has been preaching a series called "Revival Time". (I also love a good revival - I get excited when he announces that we will be having revival services - yeehaaa! I love church!). His sermons have been a God-send for me, because I truly am in need of revival everyday. Yes, everyday. So, since today is a busy day for me (lots of errands and chores) I thought I would share my notes from yesterdays sermon on revival with you guys. (If any of you have some great truths you have learned from your pastor, I would love to read them as well!)
Revival is only for God's people - you can't be revived if you never had Life in the first place.
You need revival if there has ever been a time in your life when you loved Jesus more than you do today.
You need revival if you sense yourself moving away from the Lord toward the world.
Only when your repentance is real and true, is there room for revival in your life.
There is a difference in confession and repentance. Confession without repentance is simply telling God what you have done and plan to continue doing. Confession with true repentance brings complete change. If you confess and repent, then you don't go back to that sin without conviction.
When we don't hear or heed the Word of God, He will go to any measure to get our attention.
Faith looks back and sees Jesus hanging on a blood stained cross, hope looks forward and sees Jesus in heaven holding out His hands to welcome us in, love caused Him to die and love caused Him to want us to be with Him forever.
We cannot get to God---He has to come to us. We are not spiritually or physically capable of getting to God. He has to come down to us in order for us to be saved. No man is ever saved without the Holy Spirit coming to him.
We can water down the Word if it makes us feel better, but the Word will not change. If God says something is sin, it is sin - no amount of wishing will change that and we are fools if we try. There is no gray area with God - He means business when it comes to sin - so much so that He sent His son to die for our sins - we are foolish to test Him.
Salvation was in the heart of God before sin was in the heart of man.
If you believe you are saved, but there was no change in your life, then you are only fooling yourself.
I take notes every week in church and it occurred to me that I file those away and rarely bring them out to review them. So, I thought what better way to remember than to post them on my blog! You might see some more notes posted here from time to time - hope they encourage you!
Hopefully, tomorrow I will have time to tell you about taking my son to swimming lessons last weekend. (It wasnt pretty - that is all I have to say about that for now).
Friday, November 30, 2007
Helpless. Totally Dependent. Unable to do anything alone. God’s children. Born into a world that is not our true home. Some have money and status, some do not. We are rejected by some and the rest simply do not understand a person can actually have a relationship with God. We are here to be servants of the Most High God, totally dependent upon our Heavenly Father. But are we totally dependent? Jesus told us we should come to Him as a child (Luke 18:15-16). The Greek word for child here is “bréfee” which means infant. We are to come to Jesus as a helpless infant who cannot even hold her own head up without His help. We are not supposed to come to Him as a whiny two-year old who hasn’t gotten her way.
Many times I approach God as a spoiled toddler presenting my demands and feeling unloved when He doesn’t immediately answer my requests. Believe me, I can out-whine any two-year old when in comes to telling God what to do for me. Or even more often, I approach Him as a person too “grown up” to have to depend on anyone. God wants us to rely on Him in every situation for every little thing. It is only when we are completely dependent upon Him and trust Him as an infant trusts its parent that we can receive His best for us. I think maybe God has not only called us to be like Jesus the man, but He has also called us to be like Jesus the infant in the stable at Bethlehem.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I have never been a 'King James Version Only' person. I usually use the New International or New Living translation, but sometimes in studying or preparing to lead a class I like to check out other (more 'hip') versions of the Bible. My favorite is The Message. Now, before you start condemning me (note to naysayers: read Romans 14:12-21 before you judge :-), let me say that I do not believe that The Message is infalliable. I do, however, like the way it 'explains' some familiar passages. For instance The Message version of Romans 7:14-19 says this:
"I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time."
"Full of myself"? "I decide to do good, but I dont really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway!" Are you kidding me? I am not sure if Paul wrote this or if I wrote it. Can I get a witness? Can anybody give me an amen on that one?
SIDENOTE: When I think of sins that I commit over and over the ones that come to mind are sins of the tongue. Yes, folks, that's right I open my mouth alot and many times I do not know when to shut it. I don't use curse words, but sometimes the words I do use are just as vile in the sight of a holy God. Maybe an undisciplined tongue is not a problem for anyone else -- I may be alone in this :-). Job said "my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit". Unfortunately, Job and I have very little in common. Psalm 15 says, "and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman". Again I have little in common with this person either. Psalm also says, "I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence." Oh, how I need a muzzle sometimes! I love Proverbs 17:28 which says "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue". In other words, better to keep your mouth shut and make people wonder if you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all shadow of doubt. Apparently tongue problems are not unique to me because God sure made a lot of references to sharp tongues in the Bible. I could go on and on with verses about the tongue, but I think you get my point.
I daresay each one of us has certain sins we revisit often. Maybe your weakness is not with sins of the tongue (or maybe it is). Maybe your weakness is a sin of thought or something you do that you know does not glorify God. Maybe you are flirting with a man who is not your husband, maybe you look at pictures/movies that you shouldn't, maybe you have a nasty habit that needs to be 'kicked', maybe you are jealous or bitter, maybe you have a negative attitude, etc, etc, etc. Only you know your personal weakness, well, you and God.
Romans 6:13 says, "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God". You see, from the time we are saved (even before) the Holy Spirit is working to make us like Jesus. WE are the roadblock in that work. We DON'T ALLOW the Holy Spirit to perfect us. The truth is that most of the time we have too much of the world in us to identify with Jesus and too much of Jesus in us to identify with the world. We are stuck between this earthly life and our heavenly life and it is pretty doggone hard to find a balance. Romans 12:1 says to 'present ours bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God'. That is a difficult task when you are living on this evil planet we call earth.
I have said this before, but humor me here. We are not citizens of this world. When we were saved, we became citizens of heaven. For instance, if we go to Mexico, we don't drink the water because it might make us sick. We drink water that is consistent with the water that is in our homeland. Likewise, while we are visiting here on earth, we should drink water that is consistent with the water in our homeland - Living Water. The water here on earth will make us sick every time.
Our flesh is bent toward worldly desires, but our hearts should be bent toward heavenly desires (after al,l the Holy Spirit of God lives in our hearts). There are going to be times when our weak flesh wins out and we fail God - even Paul had this problem. Thankfully, we live under grace and not under the law (otherwise there wouldn't be enough lambs in North America to sacrifice for all my sins). Like Paul, we do things we didn't intend to do, but in spite of our sinful selves, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work in those of us who believe. Even though we are depraved in our flesh, God looks at us and sees the precious blood of His only begotten and His Holy Spirit is always working to make us like Jesus. We humans are so fickle, but God is so faithful. And thankfully He is even faithful when we are not!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Anyway, here is what I mean: I know that my salvation is a gift that I can do or have done nothing to deserve (actually quite the opposite - I deserve the hottest hell ya'll !). But, there are times when I find myself doing things in order to please God. For example, there are times when I take meals to someone who is sick not because I want to be a blessing, but because I feel that it will somehow make God proud of me (stupid, I know). Most of the time I love taking meals or blessing someone, but there are those times when I do it out of a sense of obligation (to God, not to that person). Or, there are times when I take on responsibilities at church so that God will know for sure that I am serious about serving Him (um, God knows my heart - why do I need to prove anything to Him? duh....I don't). I can think of a million times when I have done 'acts of service/kindness' not out of love, but out of duty. There are times when I am a Pharisee in the body of a true believer.
Now, don't get me wrong, I believe we are supposed to do what God has asked us to do (ten commandments, love one another, etc, etc, etc.). Where I believe we (ummmm, well, I ) go wrong is when we (I) do things to gain the approval of God. Isaiah 64:6 says "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away". You see, where I go wrong in my thinking is that I can DO something to make God pleased with me or love me more. I even find myself being critical of those who don't serve where they are gifted or those who aren't at church every time the doors are open. I am not just a Pharisee - I am dadgum, outright judgemental at times (Note to those not from the south: "Dadgum" is a southern word meaning 'extremely').
The first thing that is wrong with that thinking is that God already loves me so much He sent His only Son to die for me --- there is No greater love than that. The second thing that is wrong with that thinking is that the whole purpose of and premise behind grace is that I can do nothing to earn God's love. So, all my rushing around pleasing God is really just rushing around pursuing something I already possess. Does that make sense? I think I might need some counseling :-) (or maybe just a swift kick in the behind).
So, if my service doesn't make God pleased with me, then what in the world does He want from me? Micah 6:8 says "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" What God requires is that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. What does all that mean, you ask? (Just pretend that you asked) Well, I wondered that as well, so I used the handy-dandy Webster's online to get the proper definitions of those words (I hate that Wiki - thing - too much information if you ask me).
Justice - the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
Mercy - a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion /compassionate treatment of those in distress /a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
Humble - not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive/ranking low in a hierarchy or scale
What God asks of us is to be fair, love the mercy He has shown us / love to be merciful to others, and forget our pride and arrogance. I believe the Bible speaks in simple terms, because God was writing it to His children -- we wouldn't give our children directions that are over their heads. He also knew that we would be able to turn the simplest concepts into something difficult to understand (I believe most of us are really Pharisees at heart - fight it, girls!). Think about it, children know about being fair - "Mommy, he took my toy- that is not fair"! Children know about mercy ---
Child: Mommy, I broke your favorite flower pot.
Mommy: Honey, that's okay - you didn't mean to. I forgive you.
Children know more about being humble than any other people in the world. After all, who is less proud and arrogant than a child? Children ask for help often and they cry unashamedly when they are hurt. Children recognize their limitations and depend on others for things they cannot accomplish themselves. When was the last time you saw an adult do those things? God made it simple for us to understand, yet we try to make walking with the Lord so difficult. His love is not conditional. He doesn't love us because of something we have done, He loves us in spite of what we've done. And that, my friends, is yet another thing for which we should be forever grateful.
Monday, November 26, 2007
When I was in college I took a class in post modern art. I can't remember the exact name of the class, but I remember it was very boring to me. I would love to say that I took that class out of my great appreciation for the arts, but the truth is I had to have another class to graduate and this art class was the only one that fit my schedule. Even though I was bored to tears most of the time, I did learn quite alot about art and ancient construction. One thing I remember talking about in class was how women in times past were viewed by the world. The most interesting thing to me is that women in the 1600's were seen as poor and destitute if they were not at least slightly overweight. I like to refer to the 1600's as 'the good old days'. I am telling ya if I had been alive back then people would have thought I was a billionaire! In those days, it was acutally seen as stylish to have belly fat! Oh, how I long for the good old days. My how things change! If you think about it, change is not only inevitable in our society, it is very prevalent.
Back in the 1600's it may have been seen as a good thing to be overweight, but today if you aren't stick thin you are overweight -- and today overweight is not seen as a good thing (which is why I would love to get rid of about 15 pounds, but whatever....). I remember when it was bad for your health to drink coffee and eat red meat and eggs. Now we hear that all those things are good for you (in moderation of course---again -whatever!). When I was in high school big hair was popular. I had seriously big hair - I mean 'wall 'o hair'! Then in early 2000 (maybe sooner for some of you - word travels slow to the south) it became popular to nix the big hair and make it as flat as possible. I would love to say that I love the 'flat hair' look, but I will always love big hair. I straighten my hair but only before a good teasing - sorry, I am a creature of habit. I am sure that at some point in my life, big hair will be 'in' again (at which time I will rejoice with thanksgiving in my heart because I say the bigger the hair the smaller your hips look).
Remember when skinny jeans were all the rage? Then flared, boot cut, and now skinny is back. (Fashion is cyclical- The problem is that some fashions were terrible in the first place and should never be brought back, but I digress..... ) In the 70's big cars (land yachts) were popular, then in the 80's it was the compact car, now we all have SUV's. I remember when I was little, we always sung hymns from a hymnal at church. Now churches all have huge screens from which we sing 7/11 songs (seven words sung over and over 11 times) or praise and worship music. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE those praise and worship songs - I am merely pointing out how even our church services have changed over the past 20 years.
Not only does our hair, makeup, clothing, etc. change constantly, but our relationships change over time as well. My relationship with Steve is much different today than it was 8 years ago when we got married. We are more comfortable with each other now than we were then. Back then, we were 'on our best behavior' now we are much more relaxed together. We arent trying to impress anymore - thank you, Jesus. I am not good at 'putting on' - I am a "what you see is what you get" kind of girl, so impressing is not in my nature normally. My relationship with my mother is also totally different now than it was when I was a teenager. I actually like her now - she really is smart - who knew? Even my relationship with the Lord is much different now than it was when I was saved at the age of 14.
When I got saved, I was truly filled with the joy and peaces that passes all understanding. I was on cloud nine and on fire for God. Over the next few years I became less and less on fire and more and more like smoldering ashes. I was far away from the joy and knee-deep (okay, over my head) in the world. Then one day it hit me that I was living like the devil and I turned back to my first Love. A few years later, I was again living a worldy, sinful life (I can't even think about it without cringing). Then after a season of sin and living like, well, living like hell, I repented and began to walk closely with the Lord again. I am determined not to waffle back and forth or waver in my faith like that ever again, because I know what it is to be at rock bottom in my walk with the Lord (and in life) and I never want to go there again. There is nothing worse than knowing that God is disappointed in you - NOTHING! You see, I was in a deep pit of sin. I was so engrossed in my sin that I justified it and glorified it to others. I was so far gone that I didnt even know I was disappointing God. I was a terrible witness for the Lord, but He loved me anyway. Like Paul said, we need to check ourselves often. We need to ask ourselves if we are really living for the Lord and if we are following after Him in the way He asked us to. Sometimes we are in a pit of sin and we dont even know it. Sometimes, we let the world get a foothold in our lives and we dont even see ourselves pushing God out. Sometimes, little sins lead to lives led without the Holy Spirit-- maybe we arent living outwardly sinful lives, but are living inwardly disobedient lives (that is a whole other post).
As I look back over all my changing hairstyles, clothes, relationships I see one constant - Jesus Christ. No matter how many times I have changed, He has always been there and always been the same. He watched in the 80's as I had the sides of my hair cut thus producing a mullet-like effect and He didnt care. He has seen all my fashion triumphs and disasters and He still thinks I am beautiful. He has seen all the stupid things I have done (trust me there are many stupid things I have done) and He forgives me. He looked down into my pit of sin and saw me at my worst and loved me anyway. He has seen me in places that I shouldn't have been doing things I shouldn't have done and when I asked to come home He welcomed me back with love.
The world changes everyday - a million times a day. The world has much different expectations for us than God does. The world expects us to have the best, look the best, be the best, but God says believe in me, love me, and I will take care of you. God says that His children are beautiful no matter what we look like to the world. He tell us to be in the world, but not of the world - which I have found at times easy for me to say, but tough to live. It is difficult not to let the world dictate how we look - I mean who WANTS to be an out of style, outdated frump? No one! The problem is that we easily get caught up in believeing what the world says about us instead of remembering what God says about us. We were made in His likeness and that is what makes us beautiful - not what we wear, what we drive, where we live, how we do our hair, etc. etc.
Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever". The Bible says His mercies are new every morning (and I really need those new mercies - I mean really). He loved me when I was born, He loved me when I was born-again, and He loved me when I was in the pit. God's grace never changes - God never changes. In a time when it seems like the world is spinning out of control, we have peace in knowing that the world is never out of His control. In an unstable time, we have complete stability in Jesus Christ. And that, my friends, is something to be forever thankful for.
Friday, November 23, 2007
The older I get the more I appreciate my mother. My mother went to work full time when I was 5. She worked all day, cooked supper every night, and got us to our practices and ballgames on time, too. She spent every Saturday cleaning the house top to bottom. She is OCD about cleanliness. I am sure I was the only kid in my whole school who had to clean the toilet with Comet every morning before school (I suppose it was a character builder to go to school smelling like toilet cleaner, but I can't really be sure). Needless to say our house was spotless ALWAYS! How on earth did she do it all? I don't even have a job (well, you know what I mean - two small kids IS a job, but not one I leave the house for) and I just can't seem to do all the things she did.
We had a debate at my house yesterday (well, actually it was me and my dad talking). My dad's side of the family is beyond huge. There are over 75 people - that is kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. We all grew up around each other and spent alot of time at my grandparent's house. It was fun to have so many cousins (it still is fun). Anyway, when we had a get together, the adults always got in line first to eat and then the kids ate last. Moms with little ones (preschoolers) fixed their kid's plates, but school age kids and teenagers were always last in line. It is sort of a respect thing. I grew up in a pretty strict household - much more strict than most today. We would have never thought (still to this day wouldnt think) of speaking to an adult without saying ma'am or sir (that might be a southern thing). Typical teenage talk today would have gotten my tail whipped back then (and I mean a whippin' with the belt!). We knew better than to ask for something when we went into a store. In church, if I would say something during preaching, my mom would pinch my leg and wring it then my dad would take me out and spank me for yelping. We would never go to someone's house and ask for something to eat or drink - we were to wait until we were asked. It sounds very strict, but my home was very loving and those rules (there are many that I didnt mention - not enough room) have helped me become who I am today. I consider myself a person who respects authority and those who are older than I. ANYWAY, Yesterday, my sister's kids got in line to eat first and later my dad mentioned that he thought it was disrespectful since my husbands parents were there and they are both 80. I sort of agree, but I wonder what you guys think about that. I also wonder what kind of traditions / expectations you guys grew up with. If you want to share some, I would love to hear them.
So, now my house is pretty quiet (unless you count the sound of the Playstation in the background). The rush to Christmas is on and I am already feeling the stress even though my shopping is done. I have to plan (and purchase everything) for our church preschool party. I do it every year and every year there are more children to plan for. I feel like it has to be something special and that I have to come up with something even more fun than last year. I am homeroom mother for my son's class and I have to organize the Christmas activities for his class (which includes contacting all the parents and asking for money - I am not good at asking people for money unless I am married to them). My husband will be out of town for a week the middle of December and I will be in charge of getting the builders and other people working on our house paid (right now I write the checks, but only when I am told). I have to get my kids to the mall to have their picture made with Santa - I hate that! (I really hate Santa - dont tell anyone - my husband says it would be cruel to deny our kids of the joy of Santa, but if he werent the head of our house I would so deny them, but that is a whole other blog). I have to get our 2008 calendars with the kids pics made and I have to address 150 Christmas cards. I begin leading a new Bible Study the first week of January and I have some studying to do for that I need to do it SOON! Do ya smell what I am cooking here? I have made so many "to do's" for myself that I have actually STRESSED MYSELF OUT! What is wrong with me? I could go on, but it would bore you and depress me.
I decided to stay home today. There were lots of sales that I could have taken advantage of (Target had kids movies for $4.98 and several other things I would have liked to have gotten) , but I decided it wasnt worth it. I usually go every year to certain stores with all the other nuts and try to get the great deals, but not this year. Last year I was at Wal-Mart at 4 am, the year before I was at Toys' R Us (does it bother anyone else that the r is backwards? Just asking) at 4 am and I lost my Christian attitude by 5 am. There were about 5 women (who were serious shoppers) jump right in front of me like I wasnt even there! - I was maaaaaaddddd!. They looked over me. Now I know I am short, but come on! These women were dressed in their fancy clothes and I had on my sweats - who gets up that early and dresses to impress? NOT ME! So, I think it is better that I stay home and away from temptation to become just like those women. You all will know I have lost it when I get up at 3 am and dress like I am going to the prom to go and buy my kids some toys.
Well, I am sure that I could totally bore you with many other completely random thougths, but I like you guys too much for that. I am off to play Chutes and Ladders with my two best boys! Have a great day and if you have been out shopping - I hope you kept your Christian witness in tact --- it ain't easy on a day like black Friday!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Beth's Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole
Crushed Ritz crackers combined with one stick butter. Press into 8x11 or 9x13 casserole dish and bake at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Combine 8 oz cream cheese (softened), 1 cup sugar, and 8 oz. Cool whip. Spread on top of cooled cracker mixture.
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (cooked)
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Mix all together and spread on top of cream cheese/cool whip mixture and refrigerate.
Top with crushed pecans before serving. This is served cold (but dont let that scare you - it is wonderful!).
If you are looking for something to do with that leftover turkey.....this is what we are haivng for supper tonight - you can substitute turkey for chicken just add a little extra chicken broth.
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
4-5 Chicken Breast (cooked in boiling salt water)
2/3 Bag of Curly Noodles
3-4 Chicken Boullion Cubes
2 cans cream of Chicken Soup
1 small tub sour cream
1 can chicken broth
Cook chicken till done. When cool cut into chunks (big or small, whichever you prefer). Cook noodles in water that you cooked chicken breasts with boullion cubes and can of chicken broth added. Add cream of chicken soup, ground pepper & chicken. After simmering and when nearly done, stir in sour cream.