Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fire!

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It must have been about 2 in the morning when my sister's screams woke me up.

Fire!!  Fire!!!  There's a fire outside!

When I bolted out of bed I saw that she was pointing out my bedroom window to the makeshift shelter I had made for some sick calves.

It was completely engulfed in flames.

Running outside to turn on the water at the pump house, all I could think about was how I didn't want to see what I knew I was going to see.  These poor little sickly calves we had bought were dressed, that fall morning, in little sweatshirts.  (Yes, I suppose all homesteaders start out as honyockers.)  I imagined that they had somehow knocked down their heat lamp and it wouldn't have taken long for the straw to catch on fire.  In an attempt to block out the cold, I had positioned straw bales in front of the door; blocking their exit from the inferno.  All I could think of was getting the hose to them in hopes of easing their discomfort and hopefully even saving one if I was quick enough.

Recently I was telling The Cowboy that I think our mission field is actually the American church.  I told him that I feel like I'm in a house with folks sleeping everywhere - the bedrooms, the couches, even the floor.  Like my sister years ago, I can see the glow of the fire, hear it crackling, even - but I can't get hardly anyone to wake up.  I shake them, I scream out a warning, I run from one sleeper to another - to little avail.  Some won't waken.  Some waken and can't see the fire.  Still others waken, see the fire, but don't care enough to do anything about it - especially because they figure that their family is safe inside the house.

As I was reading David Platt's Counter Culture, that scene came to mind again as I read this passage:
When we observe our churches today, do they look like groups of people who gather with one another as they give their lives to spreading the gospel among unreached people, impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, dying babies, sex slaves, and suffering brothers and sisters around the world?  Sadly, I don't believe that's the picture we portray.  Instead we spend the majority of our time sitting as spectators in services that cater to our comforts.  Even in our giving to the church we spend the majority of our money on places for us to meet, professionals to do the ministry, and programs designed around us and our kids.  What in the world are we doing?  Or better put, what in the Word are we doing?  We have filled even the most Bible-believing churches with so much that is not in the Bible.  I can't help but wonder what might happen if we put aside our personal preferences, let go of our extrabiblical (and in some cases unbiblical) traditions, laid down our cultural comforts, and organized ourselves solely and sacrificially around God's Word and gospel mission.

We are experiencing multiple wildfires in the Pacific Northwest right now - one not far away in the community in which many of my family members live.  Thank goodness numerous firefighters have responded to the call to risk their own lives to save not just the lives of others, but even their property.  How much more important are souls?  What if 90% of those firefighters responded to the call for help by saying, "wow...what a neat rescue mission...but, our family has a vacation planned"?  What if they couldn't be bothered to turn off the TV or put down their smartphone?  What if they figured that others had more time to devote to fighting fires...or that they could do that when they retired?

Ridiculous.  I know.

And yet this attitude is prevalent in the American church.

Somehow we've watered down, "whoever wishes to be My disciple must deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Me" into "please show up to church on Sunday when you can and don't forget to drop a check in the box outside."

This - this total perversion of what it means to follow Christ - will result, I believe, in one of the scariest scenes in all of Scripture.
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

We're not talking about the fate of unbelievers here.  We're talking about believers.  And we're not just talking about pew warmers, we're talking about those who prophesied - or brought God's Word to others...those who performed miracles and exercised God's authority over demons - and they will not enter heaven.  Jesus declares He doesn't even know them.  Why?

Because they did not do the will of God.

This will absolutely come as a shock to some, but God never commanded that you go to church every Sunday.  He never commanded that you take your rotation in the church nursery or make your kids go to VBS.  

He wants so much more than that.

He wants you.  Every bit of you.

He wants you to deny yourself - not just for an hour or two on Sunday, but every day.  Every hour of every day.

He wants you to sacrifice yourself.  He's not just asking you to die to yourself, He's asking you to participate in your own undoing by picking up the cross on which you will die and carry it.

He wants you to actually follow Him.  Not only to gather with the saints to worship (though He does want that)...but to wash their feet, to bathe their wounds, to feed, clothe, and house them....  Jesus didn't just go to the beautiful places, the religious places...He went where the hurting, the messy, and the lost were.  We're supposed to follow Him there - to bring aid and, more importantly, the good news of eternal life.

Are you wondering what happened to my poor, leppy, sweatshirt & Vicks wearing calves?  Amazingly their self-preservation kicked in and they were able to knock over the bales of straw that outweighed them considerably.  When I got to the fire and put it out, they were huddled in the corner of the outside pen, petrified and cold.  But they were alive.  Because my sister saw the fire and woke me up, they were alive.  Because I got out of bed even though it was cold and I figured the poor calves were already dead, they were alive.  Because there was a greater cause than my own comfort and wishes, they were alive.  (Until we ate them.  But I digress.)

Think of how many lost will be saved - how many dead will be made alive - if only we who call ourselves Christ-followers will do the same.

I suspect most who started reading this post didn't make it this far.  This is a wild rant from a crazy God-lover.  But I had to try.  Consider this me screaming:

Fire!!  Fire!!!  There's a fire outside!

There's so much to do.  We can vacation later.  Saving souls is way more satisfying than weekends at the lake, hours of television watching, or season tickets to your favorite sporting event or other entertainment.  On that great and terrible day, I really don't think we're going to wish we spent less time caring for God's beloved and dragging them away from the fire and more time being entertained or indulged.

Don't get me wrong, depending on the situation, I don't think that recreation or leisure is wrong.  However, if the primary reason I engage in those activities is for my own pleasure - rather than an opportunity to serve God - or if I my pleasure ranks higher to me than God's mission, it's time to seriously reflect on God's Word and my obedience to it.

Look!  Look out your window.  Can't you see that glow threatening your neighbors?  Your family? Yourself?   So, let's grab our gear and go.  There's so much to do - so many in need of the love of Jesus!
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back.  If you say, 'See, we did not know this,' does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?  And does He not know it who keeps your soul?  And will He not render to man according to his work?  (Proverbs 24:11-12)

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Christian Parenting: Sheltering Kids or Raising God Lovers?

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I recently read a very interesting post on the problem of over-sheltering in Christian families.  The truth is, I don't know a parent who doesn't want what is best for their children, and in the pursuit of what is best for our children, many of us have decided to homeschool, make counter-cultural restrictions on our children's dress, recreation, acquaintances, etc..  Those are not bad things at all.  In fact, in many cases, they are great, godly, decisions.

As the blogger in the linked article pointed out, however, sometimes we can come to perceive the spiritual threat to our children and families as being something outside of our families - rather than something that is also inside our families.

At that point, the blogger went on to talk about the inherent evilness of human beings - specifically our children.  As that is not a biblical concept, I'm going to take the conversation where I think it belongs.

I've only watched the Duggar show a couple of times, but I've seen enough to know that Jim Bob and Michelle have been very intentional parents.  They have been careful to raise their children in an environment devoid of most threats of the culture in which we live.  And, yet, their children have still struggled.  One has struggled - and failed - famously.

And many have been left wondering how that happened.

You and I, no matter how diligent we are, could never create an environment more sheltered than Eden.  There was not yet sin in the environment in which Adam and Eve lived.  Not only was there no sin, there was physical and spiritual perfection.  God even came in person and walked with Adam in the garden.  And, yet...

Satan intruded on that perfect setting, he deceived God's creation, and he introduced sin into the world.

Satan isn't just in the world, and he isn't in the hearts of our young children.  Satan can infiltrate into even a haven created by God.

So, what is the answer, then?

I think the answer is also found in the garden story.  Sheltering will never be enough.  It wasn't enough in the perfect garden, and it will never be enough in our imperfect families living in a corrupt world.  God's response to sin and the necessary separation is causes between He and His children?  The Gospel.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."  (Genesis 3:15)

With this, God foretold the grand finale of the event that began in the garden - while Satan would bring about the death of the Son of Man - delivering a great wound, that Son of Man would bruise the old serpent's head - delivering a fatal wound.

On this I agree with the other blogger: the Gospel is the answer.

In fact, what I've discovered over the years is that the Gospel is always the answer to any big question.  No matter the question.

The Gospel is not the answer because God knitted evil little hearts in the womb; it's the answer because the prince of the power of darkness makes his home in this world. It's not the answer because God gives babies dead souls, but because, as John tells us, Satan is the murderer of human souls.

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."   (Matthew 18:2-6)


No matter what you do, your children will not walk this life perfectly, not because they're evil - but because Satan is.   And you can't keep him out of your home any more than he was kept out of Eden.  If Adam & Eve were not safe from the great deceiver in the garden, your children won't be in your home.

Does that mean you shouldn't bother sheltering them?  Not at all.  It does mean, though, that we should follow all of Scripture, not just the parts of it.  For instance, Deuteronomy 6 has become the homeschooling parent's mantra - but do we read it in it's entirety?

"Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."  (Verses 4-9)


 First and foremost we  - WE - are to love God with everything we have.  It is so easy to get caught up in programs, curriculum, and activities and think that we are loving God.  Those aren't the same thing.

Next, we're to teach our children to love God with all they have.  Not to love modesty...or Classical Conversations...or Leadership Training for Christ with everything they have - God.  There's a difference.

There's a huge difference.

Then, God's commands - all of them - are to be on OUR hearts. You cannot transfer to your children what you don't possess.  Is God first and foremost in your life - and is His Word on your heart?  Are you transferring these to your children throughout the day - in your words, but also in your actions?

If we are embracing all of God's Word, we are loving sinners even when we despise the sin.  We are recognizing our own failures and repenting of them.   We are loving and serving the people God created - and bringing the Gospel to them in relationship.  As we do this, we are teaching our children a number of things:

  • that Satan is ever present and looking to trip us up
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8)
  • not to become haughty and holier-than-thou - which is usually the first step in our undoing
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.  (Proverbs 16:18)
  • to be merciful - as God is merciful (Luke 6:36)
  • And to understand that we all fail - and praise God for redemption!

"But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith." (Romans 3:21-25a)

So, yes, shelter them in the ways God commands in His Word, but more than that, model for them loving God with all you have. In so doing you will equip them to resist Satan...and to turn to God. In their fabulous book, You and Me Forever, Francis and Lisa Chan write of a missionary couple who have sacrificed much in order to follow Jesus:
Brad and Beth raised four children in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.  These kids witnessed the hardships their parents endured.  Whether it was threats of violence (natives holding spears to their faces), severe sickness (once Brad was airlifted out in a coma), or just the day to day demands of ministry amongst an unreached people, they saw it all.
Brad tells me that one of the blessings of his life was sitting his kids down when they turned 18 and being able to say to them, 'You saw that there was nothing mom and dad were not willing to sacrifice for the gospel, not even our lives.  Now go and do the same.'  How many of us are living in such a way that we can say the same to our children?"


You don't need to live in a foreign country for your children to see you live out your faith in Jesus in a real way - but you do need to live it out in a real way for them to see it.  The challenge with this is that most of us don't even know what Biblical faith looks like.  So many of us believe it means to homeschool our children, have them excel academically, and enjoy wholesome recreation.  You know, I see hints of the former and the latter in Scripture, but what I see more than that is this:

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)

So, in the end, after raising three children to adulthood and nurturing three more in the nest, here's the only thing I know:  There are no tricks and gimmicks to grow children who never sin, only a great God who doesn't create sinners in the womb - but does redeem sinners when we have fallen!

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Five Things that Revolutionized My Walk with the Lord

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While I was raised with a belief in Jesus and baptized "into" a Baptist congregation as a teen, I didn't come to really know the Lord until my mid twenties.  And when I made that commitment, I made it whole-heartedly.  Everything that the modern American church says you're to be if you're a "good Christian"?  I was that.  I taught Sunday School, VBS, and LTC; my kids were in youth group and Sunday School; we never missed a service unless I was deathly ill; I set aside a significant portion of my income to give to the congregation weekly; and I most definitely held to the doctrines of my particular group of Christians...  I was a poster child for serious American Christianity.

Today, things are different.

I have no doubt that some of my friends who knew me back in the day question my faith today.  I'm not a fan of any extracurricular "church activities" - particularly if they are entertainment focused - and so we generally don't participate in any; I don't believe the bulk of my giving money should go to a local congregation to be used to keep up a building and programs; I loathe the idea of church buildings; I don't buy into the modern church structure and hierarchy; and I question all "church doctrines."

And I've never been closer to God in my life - or been more obedient to His Word.

Since I came to the Lord in 1992, I've been passionate about following Him - and I never questioned what I was taught that God wanted - I just did it.  I definitely felt like a "good Christian" - as far as any of us frail, prone-to-sin, humans can.

But, it's hard to be very "close" to anyone you've never seen - someone with whom you have a pretty abstract relationship and, while I was a "good Christian," I still longed to be closer to the Lord.

Because I so wish someone had shared this with me in my twenties, I thought I'd write about how the Lord took me from an "arm's-length" relationship and drew me nearer than I ever thought I'd get this side of Heaven...and how He draws me still nearer as I continue to come close to Him in these ways.


Five Things That Completely Renovated My Walk with God

1. My Husband and I Took a Leap of Faith.  When our 4th child was about a year old, my husband and I were discussing whether or not we should "try" for another child.  Our 4th was more than 11 years younger than the 3rd, and it made sense to me that he not be, essentially, an only child.  During this conversation, the hypocrisy of our "planning" a family that was supposedly "surrendered" to the Lord hit us in the face.  While we realized that planning our family size was, in effect, choosing to withhold that area of our lives from the Lord, it still took us a few days to actually let go of that control and offer it up to the Lord.  We have experienced blessing after blessing ever since.

Don't get hung up on the family planning issue; that's not the point.  The point is that my husband and I decided to turn something over to the Lord that, frankly, frightened us.  We decided to trust God with the consequences and walk in faith in this area.  That is the point.

It's easy to say we trust God - like it's easy to say I trust my husband's sharpshooting skills.  Sticking the target on the top of my head, however, not only causes me to really question what I mean by "trust," but it would also prove my trust - to him as much as to myself.

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Notice that in the "Roll Call of Faith" found in Hebrews 11, these "men of old gained approval" by their faith - and that faith was always faith in action...it was never merely mental assent:

"By faith Abel...offered.  By faith Noah...prepared an ark.  By faith Abraham....obeyed.  By faith Moses...refused...left Egypt...kept the Passover.

Faith acts - it acts in crazy ways that fly in the face of the wisdom of the culture.  And when we began to act on our faith - particularly in ways that were unpopular among the Christian people in our circle - the blessings were incredible.

So, it's not surprising that, while we challenged our faith, we also...

2.  Stepped Up our Obedience.  Once we committed to surrendering all to the Lord, it became apparent that we could no longer withhold anything from Him.  We determined that whatever command we saw in the New Testament Scriptures we would do.  We also determined that we would follow New Testament examples for church life and Christian living.

So....headcovering followed.  And changes to how we handled our giving money.  We wrestled with the format of the modern American church.  It was (and still is) an exciting time...and a challenging time.  All of a sudden we found ourselves making decisions - Biblical decisions - that were not always in line with those of people we had long respected in the church.  It was definitely a test of our commitment to the Word.

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Since we were stepping out in faith and radically obeying God's Word, it probably isn't surprising that we began to read it differently.

3.  We Read God's Word as it was Intended.  A life long student, I had been reading God's Word as a textbook more than anything else.  As I began to read God's Word as He intended it, His book became so much clearer - deeper and more meaningful - than I realized was possible.  It went from a good, but dead, book - to a life changing letter from the One who loves me more than any other.

The Old Testament contains books of history, poetry, law, and prophecy.  The New Testament contains the Gospels which are biographies of Jesus' life.  It also contains one book of history (Acts) and one of prophecy (Revelation).  All the rest are letters to individuals or congregations.  I think I experienced the greatest growth in my relationship with God when I began to read letters as they were intended.  When did you ever read a letter from a loved one a few paragraphs at a time - pausing for a day even in the middle of a thought?  Yet, that is precisely what many devotions do...and nearly all theologians parse Scripture without any respect for the book itself - and how it was intended to be used.  When I took God's Word for what it is (inspired encouragement and advice from faithful brethren who went before) the Bible completely changed for me - and it changed me, as God's Word should.

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Perhaps the hardest thing of all - something that my husband and I still struggle with - was tearing off the filters of man-made doctrine to see God's Word as it was intended.  For instance, what we saw in Scripture about headcovering was not what we had been taught all of our Christian lives and, yet, there it was in black and white.  Unfortunately, many of those we had worshiped with thought we were crazy for coming to this conclusion.  Some even thought less of us for not accepting the approved doctrine on the subject.   It became clear that this was where we would choose to please God, or to please man.

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In the end, we realized that what we needed to do:

4.  We Laid Our Worship on the Altar.  As the conflict between what we were seeing in Scripture and the practices and doctrines we had been taught grew, we knew we had to do something to resolve the tension.  So, we put it all on the altar: our doctrines, our beliefs, our preferences, our prejudices, our acts of service, our way of worship.  Everything.

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This is was the point where we essentially jumped ship from the American Church as we had known it.  Based on what we read in the New Testament, instead of "serving" in Sunday School and VBS, we began to serve our brethren in Christ - here and abroad.  Instead of giving to our local congregation for the electric bill and new curriculum, we cut our giving there and began giving to orphans and widows around the world.  We stopped elevating the beliefs of modern "church leaders" and became attuned to God's Spirit and followed Him instead.  We threw off the spiritual shackles of the modern church's fetish with human-ordained "clergy" and hierarchy and embraced our place among the royal priesthood.

Finally...

5. I Dug Deeper.  The writings of the earliest Christians - recorded in Scripture and outside of Scripture after the apostles died - definitely impacted my walk with the Lord in a crazy-beautiful way.  I was struck by how the earliest Christians held nothing dear except the Lord and His people.  I was amazed to realize that, unlike American Christians today, they expected Christ's return any moment - and lived accordingly.  I saw that they considered it an honor to be counted worthy to die for Christ - as opposed to our modern, soft, version of American Christianity.  Modern preachers and scholars cannot possibly understand Christianity better than the first Christians and, yet, we find ourselves following the wisdom of men who lived centuries after Jesus, rather than those who walked with Him - or those that were taught by those who walked with Him.

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Instead of just believing the wildly-varying doctrines of theologians, I embraced God's Word as it was written (unless there was good reason not to)...which just happens to coincide with what the earliest Christians believed.


It has been crazy to me to realize how far the modern church has fallen from what the apostles instituted - not just in doctrines and practices, but in relationship with Him.  I think that we are most often not taught how to draw near to God because our church leaders don't have that experience themselves.  And I don't even think they realize it.  How beautiful for the Cowboy and I to begin to experience it - and be able to pass the information on to our children.

What about you?  What has worked for you in drawing nearer to the Lord?



Recommended Resources:
Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up by David Bercot
Will the Theologians Please Sit Down by David Bercot
Common Sense by David Bercot
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Forgotten God by Francis Chan
Radical Restoration by F. LaGard Smith
Making Room by Christine Pohl

Recommended with some reservation:
Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch
Reimagining Church by Frank Viola
Pagan Christianity by Viola & Barna



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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why I'm Not Outraged by SCOTUS' Same Sex Marriage Ruling

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Unless you've been living under a rock, of course you know that the Supreme Court of this once-great country ruled that all states must recognize "same sex marriage."

And the response has been loud on both sides.

Since I am a Christian I am, of course, dismayed that this country has, to a large degree, embraced "same sex marriage," but I'm certainly not surprised by the ruling.

I'm not even outraged.

See, sisters, this battle wasn't lost in a courtroom last week.  This battle was lost decades ago in Christian homes across the nation.

It was lost in front of television screens and in movie theaters when we accepted ungodly behavior in the name of entertainment.

It was lost in ballot boxes, on editorial pages, and in the news.  When we chose ungodly men and women to lead this country, what direction did we think the national would travel?  When we refused to confront the media who calls evil good and good evil, didn't we realize how they would sway the country?

It was lost in classrooms, from kindergarten to graduate school, where we not only sent our children, but directed them to learn from ungodly men and women teaching curriculum that flouts God and His Word.

It was lost in our family discussions and in our church buildings when we turned a blind eye to sexual immorality and the corruption of marriage many years ago.

The battle was lost decades ago because we forgot how to blush - and eventually we no longer cared.

We have forgotten that the same God who calls homosexual intercourse sin also says the same about premarital sex (Galatians 5:19-21) and unscriptural remarriage (Matthew 5:32). The same God who defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, also defined it to be so for life (Matthew 19:8).

Even more than that, this same God who says that sexual immorality is a sin says the same about lying (Revelation 21:8) and jealousy (Galatians 5 again).  This God who we have looked to to define marriage gives us other definitions too.  According to Him, greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), and selfishness is the path to death (Luke 9:24).

To be outraged about the SCOTUS ruling is like being shocked when your doctor diagnoses you with cancer after a life spent smoking and eating garbage food.  This ruling is merely a confirmation of what Christians should have seen all along:  We are a nation morally adrift - a nation who has, for many years, eschewed God's Word - and for the most part, Christians have rolled with it.

However, all is not lost. There are things we can do to turn this nation around - but dire situations call for drastic action.  To change the culture in which we live, we will have to do crazy things.  Bold things.  Radical things.

We'll need to start actually living like Christians.

We'll need to read our Bibles - and obey what we find in them.  (Why is it that we expect unbelievers to obey God's commands when His own people don't?)

We'll need to honor all of God's Word - even the parts we don't like, or that we have ignored for decades.

We'll need to address sin in our families and in our churches.

We'll need to sacrifice our comfort to follow Christ.  (Back in the day that was called "denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Jesus".)

We'll need to elect Godly men and women.  Even if it hurts our pocketbooks.

We'll need to turn off the television more, and visit the box office less when what is seen there does not honor God.

We'll need to stop sacrificing our children on the altar of the government school system.


It starts with us:
Not too infrequently I see the latter part of the following Scripture offered as a comforting response to the sin around us.  Notice, however, who has to change for the land to be healed: it's not "them"; it's "us."
[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, and will forgiven their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

It's time to stop talking like we're outraged about the sin around us, and start living like Christians.


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Saturday, June 6, 2015

If You're Missing the Great Testimony of the Josh Duggar Scandal, You're Missing the Gospel

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I joked to a friend the other day that the Josh Duggar scandal nearly brought me out of bloggy retirement.

I guess I was wrong on that one.

One thing I don't think I'm wrong about, though, is the beautiful testimony of the Josh Duggar scandal.

That's right; beautiful.

What Mr. Duggar did was certainly awful.  I don't think that anyone, even Josh himself, has said that he wasn't in the wrong.  He was absolutely wrong.

Like every other human being of a level of accountability has been.


Gospel Truth
You know one of the craziest testimonies in the Bible from my perspective?  How in the world could the adulterous, murdering, David be called a man after God's own heart?  You can't get a whole lot more off track than David was in his dealings with Bathsheba and, yet, of this vile sinner who had already known the beauty of God's grace, God says, "I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Walking Away or Walking Toward?

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Today, the stars aligned and The Cowboy was able to slip away from work at the same time our oldest boy could watch the kids - which happened to be at the same time I realized that I really needed a few minutes alone with my husband.  

Just like every day for the past few weeks, I was overwhelmed with God's goodness - and the consequences of that goodness.

It hit me, over my Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich, that I needed more than a few minutes alone with my husband to properly handle all of the goodness (sometimes it comes in disguise too, you know) that the Lord was sending our way.

I keep thinking I'm going to blog about all of the wonderful, busy, crazy, awesome things God is doing in our lives right now - but when I have the time, I don't have the words.

Today some of the words spilled out at lunch:


There is so much going on right now - so much God is doing in our lives that I need to focus on, I think I need to let go of the blog.

The Cowboy thinks I should ratchet back my blogging time rather than quitting altogether.  

I don't know.  I'll take time to breathe deep, snuggle in close to the Lord's side, and pray, pray, pray...

The Cowboy and I have prayed for years that the Lord would use us - really use us.  We've wondered if this is really all the Lord would have for us to do: live normal lives and share Jesus where we're planted.

I think so.  I think the answer might be "yes, this is 'all' there is."  I want to believe that He wants me to minister to the poor in a foreign field, but maybe He really wants me to learn and grow while I weed corn and raise babies.  I want to believe that we're to give it all up and move to a third world country and pour out Jesus on those who don't know Him.  Maybe I really am supposed to vacuum my dining room more often, and pour more tea for those God is using differently than He is using us.

I don't know what God is doing, but I know that lately The Cowboy and I have been praying earnestly (and together) that He would order our days.  That He would bring people into our lives and use us to pour His love out on them.  That He would be the director of our days and nights.

And our crazy God took those request seriously.

I realize that we have prayed these prayers in the past, but it was as if we held on tightly to the reins - to make sure that God didn't get too crazy - to make sure we didn't find ourselves on a runaway.  Finally, we let go of the reins, grabbed on to God and said, "alright; we're in - just help us stay aboard, Lord!"

Every day I am slacked jawed as I see God at work all around us - and in us.  I think, when we began to pray earnestly a couple of weeks ago He must have thought, "well, finally!  I've been waiting for this!

And it seems to me that to continue to spend the time on my blog that I do is taking away from the work He has blessed us with.  


Every "yes" means saying "no" somewhere else.


Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I'm not being called to let go of the blog.  For now, though, this passage comes to mind:


15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5)

 So, while I don't know my future, much less the future of this blog, for now I'm going to let go and throw myself into the work God has called us to.

May God bless you, my friend - and may none of us shrink back from the work the Lord has for us on this earth!

(As a completely unrelated aside, the amazing Mussers need your prayers.)


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

What God Has Joined Together: Changing How We Think About Adoption

Source:

I hear it not infrequently.  And it always makes me cringe.

The latest version went like this:
God is molding a baby in another mother's womb to be the perfect fit for our family.

I don't know whether to cry or to scream.


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