And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:41-42
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Emmanuel...God came near
23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. "-Matthew 1:18-24
I think in this modern age, we humans can plod along, and for awhile we convince ourselves that maybe humanity needed Jesus back when Nero saw Rome burn. Maybe they needed Him in the dark ages. Maybe they needed him before science and technology made him "obsolete". By George, we're PROGRESSING. We're improving as a human race . We don't need Jesus in this modern age surely.
But then I hear of the foster child--a baby, no less-- who was systematically tortured to near death. Or I see on the news about how they're doing forced abortions on women in China. I hear of the sex trafficking of women and children. I watch the news, and almost all of it involves wars, bloodshed, murder, and mayhem. All around me, I see the blatant disregard of God's laws, both far away and before my eyes. And I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that we sinners need Jesus as much in this century as we needed him when he came.
I say WE because I am one of those sinners. There was nothing good in me, and yet God came near. Why else would he choose the name Emmanuel, "God with us"? What an amazing and wonderful thing that the infinite, holy, perfect sinless creator of the universe planned from the beginning that he loved us enough to come near! I cannot fathom it, as many years as I've known HIM. It's as unimaginable to me as me getting in a pig sty and rolling around with a bunch of pigs to get to know them. To be sinless and perfect and yet willing to tolerate the nasty, ugly STENCH of the aroma of our sins all around him....not from far away but CLOSE UP.
I don't know about you, but I have trouble with that kind of thing. I have a hard time if I'm standing in a line beside someone at Walmart who has hygiene issues, to put it nicely. I can't handle bad smells. If you think our sin doesn't stink to God, you are deceived. Psalm 38:5 says, "My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness." The author describes the sin in his life as causing emotional, psychological wounds that STINK. That's how God sees our sins.
I think it's really easy in our culture to make light of the miracle of Christmas when we lose our sensitivity to the true desolation and depravity of sin. We watch commercials of barely clad women. We watch a sitcom where they joke about pornography and act as if it's natural that all men look at it. And pretty soon we think lust is no big deal.
We watch commercials that tell us our value and status come from what we own, not who God says we are. We allow the sins of greed and covetousness to build within our hearts, all the while justifying it as a polite "keeping us with the Joneses'."
But sin is NOT just unattractive. It's NOT just mildly repulsive. Sin is WICKED. It's vile and wretched and the reason that Jesus was nailed to a cross. It's why he was beaten beyond recognition. I don't believe you can truly know the forgiveness of the SAVIOUR unless you have come to a place of first recognizing the sin within your own heart for what is is and what it did to Him. How can anyone receive His forgiveness when deep down they don't think they really need it?
But for those of us who KNOW we need it, it is indeed a miracle. To recognize that I am the chief of sinners, and the one who could have been justified in destroying me instead cried out for my forgiveness--this love defines the meaning of love for me. It is a love which can't compare with anything else I have ever known or will ever know.
And in light of that, when I think of the Christmas story, it's much more difficult to think of it as just "commonplace". The miracle of who Jesus is is not some "story" for church. It's the spiritual truth that a lost and dying, wicked and depraved world in OUR GENERATION desperately needs to hear.
Because JESUS STILL SAVES. I know because He saved me. :)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Quote I like
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own.
~Adam Lindsay Gordon
I have no idea who this person is, but I really like this quote. So I'm posting it to my blog.
Friday, October 22, 2010
A Pretty Good Day....okay a half decent day. lol
I'll pause here for a minute just to say that the coolest thing to me about being a homeschooling mom is all the learning I get to do as a byproduct of educating my children. I am really digging the Greek myths right now and that whole time period. I also recently read the Percy Jackson series with my kids, which I think did a pretty good job of incorporating Greek myths into a modern context.
Anyways, we made caramel apples for dessert tonight, and watched a dvd on the haunted history of halloween, its roots in Druid Celtic culture and such.
Nobody died. The house did not catch fire. I fed the small multitude from a crockpot of beef stew and caramel apples. I delivered Kate to her ballet studio for workstudy on time. The dog only peed in the house once. So it was not a stellar day. But it was a decent day.
There's lots of things I would like to have fit in today that I did not, however. I did not read to the children today, not from any real books. (Textbooks don't count.) They did not play outside any today, which is a minus to the day in my book. I believe kids need lots of outside play time....and Kate works fairly independently studying Sonlight's American history core 100 this year, which is hard because I really want to be more hands on with her but how to do it with the little ones wanting attention is a challenge. Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time, borrow Charlotte Mason for a day, and let her follow me around and SHOW me how the heck she envisioned a mom like me doing this thing called homeschooling and life with five kids in such different ages and stages. I have faith it can be done...it's just all like breaking ground for me. I didn't grow up in a large family and I'm not a naturally chronologically organized person. Otherwise, I would not be blogging right now. I would have my butt in bed, where it probably should be. But now is the time the house is quiet. Now is the time I can think uninterrupted. So I'm awake and blogging.
Over the last few days, I've glanced at other's blogs. And honestly, I wish I hadn't. It's rather intimidating. I'm not even sure how to put pictures on here, for one thing. And then I began to feel that others had so much more valuable things to say than I ever would. I just have to remind myself that it doesn't matter. At least I'm writing again. That is a small victory for me to savor. Even if the only people who read this are me, my mom, and a lady she cleans houses for....(Love you Mrs. Stout, if you're reading this. :)) Actually, I'm not sure my mom reads this. Okay, well, the two of us then. It's still a small victory.
I'm thirty five years old. I'm not one of those ladies who cringes at telling her age, to be honest. I like the wisdom that CAN come with getting older, though not automatically. I get frustrated too,though, because I feel like by 35, I should have something to give someone else. Some wisdom or ministry to offer. But when I look at my life, I don't see that. I looked outside my door today, and believe it or not, there were no young ladies knocking my door down wanting wisdom or sage advice. Not that I think of myself as some sort of oracle. I don't. It's just I see other women my age teaching and ministering, doing their thing, and I'm never quite sure what my "thing" is. Don't get me wrong. I"m not belittling motherhood. I do think it is the highest calling. I'm not opting out or wanting a different plan. I just feel like I have more to give sometimes, and I'm not sure what to do with it or if anyone even wants it. And that leaves me frustrated.
Well, enough wonderings for one night. I'm getting my charlotte mason behind in the bed....Winnie the Pooh is calling my name for tomorrow. :)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A Blessed Mess
Friday, October 8, 2010
Jonah's anger and the Lord's Compassion
5Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.c So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
-Jonah 4 (ESV)
As a teen and young adult, I must admit, I always thought Jonah was quite a doofus. I mean, really, run from God? Where does one run that God will not find you? The idea seems quite ludicrous. Then Jonah doesn't want to obey God and preach to Nineveh, but he whines and wants to die over a shade tree. What a pathetic loser. Definitely not the guy you would imagine being in God's faith hall of fame...now I'm wondering, is he listed in Hebrews in the faith hall of fame? I'm going to go check right now because I'm honestly not sure. Be right back. (cue elevator music.)
Okay I'm back. Nope, as far as I can tell, there's no mention of Jonah in Hebrews 11. Still, there had to be something about Jonah that God found noteworthy to make him a prophet and mouthpiece, right? To be honest, I'm still thinking on that one. My pride would very much like to believe that there is something special and worthy in me of the callings God has on my life and that Jonah would be evidence of that as a truth. But as far as I can tell, that just isn't the case. I'm not sure why God chooses some people to be his mouth piece and passes over others. Sometimes, like with Isaiah in Isaiah 6, we can see someone being chosen simply because they made themselves available. Not so with Jonah. Jonah is a prophet on the run from God. He recognizes who God is, as he says in Jonah 4:2, "for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." From this statement, we can see Jonah has more than a passing knowledge of who God is. There is some sort of intimacy there between God and Jonah. And yet still, Jonah is running from a merciful, slow to anger, gracious God. Why is that? I can not say for sure, but I have some ideas from my own experience.
The fact of the matter is that ANY man or woman God chooses to use, apart from the Lord Jesus, is a sinner. And I don't mean that philosophically speaking, but as a material fact of my existence. I am a sinner, saved by grace. It is indeed amazing. I think someone wrote a hymn about how amazing it is...seriously, people can look at me on the outside and sometimes I can put on a good show. Sometimes I can't. The desire of my renewed spirit man is to be like Christ, but the truth is I have to engage in a daily, minute by minute battle of crucifixion of my flesh to make that a reality. The Holy Spirit can supernaturally empower me to nail my flesh to a proverbial cross, but often I try to go off on my own and fight the battle all by myself. And everytime I do that, I fail. again. Unfortunately, I forget this truth. Alot. I'm ashamed to say that my flesh wins the battle alot more than I like to admit.
Knowing this, I know that Jonah was a sinner too. And that is how a sinner who KNOWS God can sin and run and hide from an omniscient, omnipresent, benevolent, MERCIFUL creator. Heck, sometimes, when we meditate on that part of his nature, maybe sometimes it's even easier to run from Him cause we know he'll forgive us....we just forget that's not all there is to Him. I doubt Jonah was pondering the scriptures about the God who " judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day." (Psalm 7:11) Obviously, God's anger is righteous and he is not out of control, but still the idea is presented that He will discipline his children, and deal with sin firmly and directly. He hates the sin, not the sinner. It's a little easier to obey sometimes after meditating on a scripture like that, just because you realize God is still God. He may want to be your best friend, but you are most definitely NOT on equal footing in a relationship with the creator of the entire Universe.
So if you've followed my ramblings so far, congratulations. I guess there are two reasons why I'm blogging about Jonah. First, our pastors at church have been preaching from Jonah. So he's been on my mind. But unlike other times when I've heard preachers preach from Jonah, I see myself in Jonah alot lately. And I'm not really digging it. As far as Bible Prophets I Most Admire and Wish To Identify With....well, Jonah is not on that list. I always liked Peter. Sure he denied Christ, but then he had that great comeback and led 3,ooo to Christ on Pentecost. Awesome. And Paul. Sure he stoned Stephen and all, but then he had that whole road to Damascus experience and ministered to all the Gentiles and wrote a whole bunch of the New Testament. Then there's Isaiah. God is on the lookout for a point man, and Isaiah cries out, "SEND ME LORD." How noble is that? But Jonah? yuck. Whiny, fish puked-on Jonah. Not making my top ten. And lately, he's who I identify with the most. And I'm hating every minute of it. But let me present Jonah's case to you.
First off, Nineveh was Israel's enemy. And these guys were Hitler, Nazi kind of bad guys. Probably Jonah spent most of his life wanting God to deliver His own people, Israel and destroy the bad guy Assyrians. And the Israelites were God's chosen people too. So it wasn't exactly a stupid request to make of the Lord. But who does God choose to deliver? Nineveh. That had to hurt. No wonder the poor dude ran. All of this I got from Ken and Adam's teaching at church. So these aren't my revelations. I'm just sharing them.
So we get to Jonah chapter 4, and Jonah gets all worked up about a shade plant. And this is where I really can identify with Jonah. Because that's how I've felt lately. I let myself get tied in knots over our house situation, over all kinds of material things, to the point that I'm like Jonah in ignoring the bigger, more important picture. The truth is, my whole life feels like that shade tree. And I'm tied in knots over it. And God is seeing the big picture and all these people around me who don't know Jesus who will die and go to hell without him and all I can worry about are shade trees. It's not my most glorious spiritual moment, folks, I admit.
Even this pregnancy has felt a little like that. I had ONE WEEK of knowing this baby was growing inside me, that GOD put there and GOD caused to grow, and GOD took away. I had so little to do with any of it, and yet I am so mad and hurt that he took it away from me. I'm not saying a baby is insignificant like a tree in the yard...that's not my point. My point is all of my children, my spouse, every loved one in my life is a GIFT from Him. They're not mine. They're on loan very temporarily. And they all belong to Him. For some unknown reason, He chose to save my life from death of an ectopic pregnancy. Supernaturally, he gave me a dream days before I KNEW I was pregnant that I was dying in my bathroom bleeding to death from an ectopic pregnancy. It was very disturbing, and so when I felt pain, I went to the doctor the next night, not because the pain was so bad, but because I could not shake the concern that dream provoked in me. When they removed the pregnancy, the doctor said I was probably within days of rupturing. I don't believe I would have seen a doctor in time if I had not had that dream. So I believe the Lord saved my life by warning me. I am thankful for this miracle.
At the same time, my heart aches because I wanted a different miracle. I wanted God to save the life growing inside me. I wanted to get to know this precious little one and hold it in my arms and watch him/her grow. It has been a strange thing that God has used me as an instrument to bless others praying with them for pregnancies, but in this for myself my prayers were of no avail. And for reasons I cannot fathom. And what really irks me is it was His right not to. He is Sovereign. I am not. And that is why I find myself feeling more like a Jonah than a Peter or a Paul or even an Isaiah. I know God. I know His nature. Though he slays me, I will hope in him. He is my friend. But he's not a friend like my other friends with whom I'm on equal footing. Friendship with God is about submission. It helps when you know he's loving and gracious and slow to anger, but that doesn't make it easy when He chooses to do things in your life you'd have rather He handled a different way.
I know others around me have suffered through much more painful circumstances than this. But right now, it doesn't seem to help. I'm like Jonah, under the wilting sun, crying out to God to please bring back my shade tree and make it all better, wondering if he would crush my spirit beyond the point of death, as it feels like in this moment.
The one redeeming thing in the whole Jonah story? Well, for all the time, that I've considered Jonah a major loser, God loves him and sticks by Him. So even when he's whining, God is right there listening and teaching and loving. And God calls hims a prophet, and still has a good plan for his life.
I don't get you, God. Even when I want to push you away like Jonah, you keep coming back for more. I don't understand, but I am thankful that you love me that much. I don't understand this pain I'm feeling right now, but I know there seems to be peace nowhere outside your arms, the same one who allowed the pain. It's a strange paradox.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these verses. They are so succint. It's like the Holy Spirit writing through Paul doesn't even want to waste our time as we read this. He's short, he's sweet, and to the point. He knows the way we spend our time is valuable, so instruction in the area of what we should be filling our time with is not just a luxury, but a necessity if we're to walk out this journey of faith. Time management is one of the biggest areas in my life that I struggle with. But I see in this verse a picture of a balanced Christian life. And while I am not living it at this moment, it's the goal before me in these verses. So what does a balanced Christian life look like? What does it mean to manage our time wisely? Here is what I see in these verses:
1. The Christian life should be lived with the end in sight. In other words, I should continually be asking myself if the things I am choosing to spend my time on are things that have eternal value and significance.
2. The days are evil. This shouldn't be a revelation to any Christian, but how often do I feel shocked when the world seems to run backwards to all that is good and perfect and true? When we live in revelation of this truth, it should be freeing and empowering. Not to despair, but to accept the reality in which we live and expect that when we seek to live a life for God, we WILL ENCOUNTER RESISTANCE. Just like a soldier on a battlefield, I should never leave the weapons of my warfare at home, but keep them on at all times, ready to engage the enemy and shine His light into dark places. And our weapons are not carnal, earthly weapons. The word of God hidden within the human heart, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation...all of the weapons that we find listed in Ephesians 6- these are our weapons.
3.It takes some degree of seeking and wisdom to find the will of God for my life. It will not come automatically. At the same time, God wants to reveal His will to me. He knows my weaknesses and He has a plan that accounts for them. He is constantly working behind the scenes in my life to bring me to a greater knowledge of Him. He pursued me first. I was not the one who pursued him in my sinful state. Nevertheless, I have a part to play in this, and it is not a passive one. If wisdom came automatically, I would not have to seek to understand the will of God.
4. True joy and peace in my life will never be found in any addiction or physical high, but only in knowing my God more and more. In knowing Him and serving Him with a grateful heart, a wellspring of joy will flow out of me to give His life to others. Such a simple truth, but how many people try to find fulfillment and escape the pain of life through the path of addiction?
5. Submission is a key part of God's plan for EVERY believer's life. I know this is almost a dirty word in our culture today. We value independence and free thinking in America, not laying your will, your agenda down to serve another. However, God's kingdom does NOT work according to the same rules as the one we live in here on earth. To be great for God, you have to be willing to make yourself last --To love another person more than you love yourself.
That is what I see in these verses. I struggle so much in this area, often because I do NOT do one or more of these things. I have never struggled with drug addiction, but I believe I have struggled with filling my time with entertainment in order to avoid painful realities in my life. I definitely struggle with submission, not just to my husband, but also to my God. There are many times by my actions I show that my true belief is that I know better how to run my life than He does. Sometimes I am just plain lazy. I know the will of God is available to me if I seek it, but I grow weary in well doing. And it is easier to be passive and just "eat, drink, and be merry." But God is so patient with me.
Well my goal for next week is to get in bed by 10 pm each night and get up by 6 am. We'll see how it goes. Sometimes the things we know are the best things for us, though simple, are still the hardest things to discipline ourselves to do.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
What's the point?
my flesh also dwells secure.
10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.b]">
11You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Here are my thoughts tonight. I borrowed a book from the library that was in the children's section. It was talking about NDEs (near death experiences) and how many believe in a life after death. Then because it was a scientific book, it basically explained away all the ndes people have had as a biological reaction of the brain trying to preserve itself. Now whether or not people are getting a glimpse of the afterlife or they're just having a chemical reaction in their brain, I cannot say. But it got me thinking. Our culture is seeing the end result of evolutionary teaching in action, I think. If death has always been around, then it was not caused by sin in the Garden of Eden. If we are all just cosmic accidents and a result of all these evolutionary processes, then right and wrong become irrelevant. There is only my needs and feelings and making me happy. I think some people are totally happy with this as the state of the world. But to me, it is a depressing thought.
Either the Bible is true or it's all a big fairy tale lie. And while there is evidence presented to show evolution is true and evidence to show the Bible is true, either position as far as I can see takes some degree of faith. I am honest in saying that while my religious beliefs are based on logical analysis and reasoning, they are in the end, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It bothers me when I hear evolutionary scientists take some moral high ground that their theory of evolution (NOT natural selection, which is proven, but the idea that all life came from a single celled organism) is not a belief which requires some degree of faith. Because it does. No one alive today was there. There has yet to be a specimen presented as the "missing link". And yet we live in a world where the women of the View television show spewed hatred calling people like me a "child abuser" for teaching my children the views of creationism. Do my children know about evolution? Of course. But I have shared my faith with them. And part of that faith is in a loving Creator who sent His son to die for a totally depraved and wicked humanity. His noble purpose was to set a captive humanity free from the law of sin and death. I know that's not always been the reality the historic church has acted on. But is it really any wonder that a fallen mankind would even botch up God's best efforts in some ways if what he says about us in his word is in fact true?
I am not arguing for a state sanctioned religion. But the further mens' hearts drift from their creator, the blurrier the lines of right and wrong become. It is a sad state, and one I fear will lead our nation to ruin. What this country needs more than anything is true revival in the hearts and minds of its people, first and foremost the people who claim to be the followers of Christ. God is a god of reason and logic, though he resists the proud. He is a God of order. And in Him, " there is no shadow of turning." (James 1:17) He is well able when we humbly come to His word to teach us by His spirit and to help us see how order follows from right thinking, from renewing our minds to the truth we find in Him.
I suppose if this is not the truth, then what's the point of any of it? But if I am correct, then it's EVERYTHING. And we should live in a way that reflects that. You are either made in the image of God, or just another animal. Choose whom you will serve, but choose carefully.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Personal Mission Statement and Bucket List
The most important treasure in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. More than anything, I want to come to the end of my life and hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I want every area of my life to express love and obedience to His perfect will, serving Jesus joyfully with my time, talents, and resources. I want my relationships with my loved ones to be a clear, constant expression of God's love for them. To these ends, it is essential that I devote myself to time spent in His Holy Word, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and to prayer. I will treat my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and give it the proper nutrition, rest, and exercise it requires so that I may best be equipped to fulfill God's call on my life.
This is MY Bucket List also, in no particular order:
1.Take a vacation to Hawaii.
2. Take a family vacation to Europe.
3. Travel to the Bahamas.
4. Do a mission trip with each of our kids when they are teenagers.
5. Write a children's book.
6. Pay off the mortgage and be totally debt free and weird.
7. Own a little dog.
8. Learn to snorkel.
9. Learn to ski.
10. Visit Texas.
11. See Teddy Roosevelt's house in New York.
12. Read through the entire Bible in a year.
13. See a Broadway play.
14. Learn to tap dance.
15. Learn to play the violin.
16. Visit China.
17. Give my children a legacy of faithfulness to build their futures upon.
18. Visit Jerusalem and pray at the Wailing Wall.
19. Leave the world better than I found it.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Well, I'm praying right now about what God would have for me in the future, It is still in my heart to write a book, but I am not sure if this desire is from the Lord or if it's just a childish fantasy I still am holding on to. I'm never quite sure WHAT book I need to write. I'm leaning toward a children's fantasy novel, but I'm just not sure. So I continue to pray and ask him to show me His will and to put HIS desires in my heart as I delight myself in Him.
Been trying to come up with a cool name for our homeschool lately also....something to reflect our family's identity in Christ.
God is so good. Every day I sin in a million different ways, not on purpose, but mostly just because I'm so good at it. And every morning, I wake up. And Voila! Fresh grace and mercy and he's still my friend and on my side and actually LIKES me and wants to hang out with me. I can't quite get my head around it. But it's true.
Broken, dirty clay vessels, that's what we all are. And yet God will often take broken clay shards and somehow transform them by His spirit into vessels of honor. How crazy is that?
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Our life circumstances do not determine our joy; our God does.
Who is your god? Many people deny it, but everybody serves someone or something. Some people worship at the altar of self. Others serve money. Still others make a relationship with a significant other the center of their existence. If you can think of it, there's probably someone somewhere who worships it. What is worship? Well, one definition I found online seems to sum it up pretty well: "worship: to idolize: love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol; 'Many teenagers idolized the Beatles'". (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=worship)
Most people tend to think of a foreign god or some sort of wooden statue when they think of worship. But the Bible teaches that our hearts follow what we treasure. So if we say we treasure Christ, but in our lives we make no room for him or His word, then we are dishonest with ourselves. By the same turn, when HE is the center of our life, he gives us the strength to handle all things, be they joyful or sorrowful. He never promised he would make all of life's storms go away. But he does promise that He will never leave us in the midst of them. Paul wasn't saying his life was easy and smooth sailing...he was saying he knew the one who carried him through the storms.
I know my own heart is quite wicked at times, and I'm not nearly as centered on my Savior as Paul was. Often, I neglect spending time with Him and instead give my worship to other, less meaningful, sometimes even good, but still unworthy things. But my heart's desire is to be more like Paul, more like Jesus every day. Here a little, there a little.
I have been so sad this week. Oh how I hate the pain of a loved one's death. It seems so unfair that life carries on for the rest of us. How can that be? How do we carry on without them? It's like I had my life fixed on one True North, one reality. And then reality changed and they're gone. And I'm left flailing, wondering what is reality at all. Nothing feels certain anymore. We wonder what else we take for granted that could change in an instant. I felt that way after my daddy passed away as well. Flailing, empty, torn. And I do recognize it is normal, healthy feelings to hurt when a loved one is gone.
But in one way I feel, at least, I see my own need to anchor more deeply within the Savior's love. That His love and Him ONLY should be my True North. In all this life, Jesus is the one constant. Only His love and His presence never change. And that is how He means it to be. And THAT is the HOW we can do ALL things through Him who strengthens us. As we anchor more deeply in His love, he holds us and changes us to be more like him. Less doubleminded. More fixed. More rooted. More grounded. In Psalms 1:3-4 , it describes the righteous this way:
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away."
What is the water we're rooted and grounded in? God's word. And as we're rooted and grounded in him, we yield fruit in the proper times. Our leaves don't wither, even when autumn comes. Only God can do something as supernatural as that. And that is how we know it's real. Not when things are smooth sailing and we're happy as lambs. No, unfortunately, when circumstances are painful beyond belief, and like Job, we still praise Him. That, my friend, is supernatural. I'm not there yet. But I want to be. No one seeks out pain, but when God allows it, we can trust Him to use it for our good and His glory. It's not usually the word from the Lord we want to hear, but it's sometimes one we need anyway. God is not the author of all our hurts, but he is the perfecter and finisher of our faith. And that is very reassuring to me right now.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Grieving in the Valley of the Shadow of Death
I am grieving tonight over the loss of my uncle, whose life was tragically cut short this week when he was gored by his own buffalo. It still just seems so unreal. I mean, just saying the words seems unreal. Who dies in that way--killed by a buffalo? It can't be real. My mom talked to him on the phone yesterday morning here in my kitchen. They were making plans to go on a cruise next year, him and my Aunt and my mom. He was so alive yesterday. How can he be just gone? But it is real.
Strange to me too, how one grief brings up fresh another. It seems my tears for my uncle are mixed with tears for my own dad who passed away two years ago. We all still miss him so terribly much. I wish even now I could call him and just hear his voice one more time. Visit with him again and let him see how much his grandbabies have grown.
And I so dread the funeral. I dread the pain I will see in my Aunt's eyes. They had a great marriage...something uncommon in this day and age, it seems. They loved each other so much. And my Aunt is a person's whose love and joy just bubbles out of her and can't help but affect those around her. But when I see her this time, there will be no bubbles of joy. Only sorrow. And that saddens me beyond belief. And I dread seeing the grief in my cousins' countenance, and those of their children. And I grieve for a baby boy who will not know the wonderful grandfather he had except through stories told. It just seems so unfair.
It feels weird that I typed the verse on my facebook page about it being better to attend funerals than parties. While I still believe it's true, the reality is, no one wants to. But I see it even more clearly now than I did when I typed it. My uncle lived a life of purpose. He lived his life serving Jesus and serving others, and now that he is gone and we look back, that is what marks his time here on earth. And there can be no regrets for a man who lives his life that way. My oldest son has been crying alot today, also. He told me tonight, "Mom, when I die, I hope people remember me the way they are remembering Uncle C....you know, all the good stuff he did, how he helped people. That's what I want people to say about me." And I couldn't agree more. I feel like right now I could scream at the masses, "What on earth are we making our lives about? YOU blind humans! You fight and hurt each other and waste your time on drivel that will burn up someday! Be like Uncle C! Care about the people around you! Love the sinners in your midst! Spend less time about making money and more time about loving others!"
The world would be a better place if there were more servants and less bosses.
So I will get myself and my husband and our five children in our suburban tomorrow. And we will drive for over 10 hours to sit with my aunt and cousins, just like Job's friends did. Because sometimes that is the most helpful thing we can do. In fact, the book of Job might have went differently if Job's friends had stopped at that act of comfort and kindness. Sometimes our presence and our prayers in the midst of pain are the best comfort we can offer to those we love. Just to be there. I get that. So that is what I will do. It's all I can offer them, and it's not much. But if it eases the pain off their shoulders even a microcosmic, infinitesimally small amount for me to sit beside them quietly in the sackcloth, then it is worth it.
And in the midst of this unimaginable pain, I will have faith. I will choose to believe that God is still good. That he is still in control and sovereign. That his grace is still sufficient. That Jesus understands our suffering because he suffered, and came in human form to know our weaknesses. He was a man of sorrows too. And he is still here. With me. With them. If we make our bed in hell, he is there. Sometimes, for reasons I can't fathom, he allows us to go through the valley of the shadow of death. But he is always there with us. And for those of us who know Christ, the good news is death is ONLY a shadow. "Death where is thy sting?" "For we do not grieve like those who have no hope...." Hallelujah! You know, this moment the pain is real to me. The hurt is not theoretical. But neither is the victory. Jesus's death on the cross was not THEORETICAL suffering. It was not a METAPHORICAL conquering of death. Uncle C is in heaven....a REAL place just like earth. He's there with my daddy and Granny and the others I've loved who went before, and someday we'll be reunited. And in these moments, it is that truth that comforts me most of all. I don't need a THEORETICAL savior in this moment. I need a real one. And so did they.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Who is fighting your battles?
2 Chronicles 32:1-8
Sennacherib Invades Judah
32:1 After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. 2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, 3 he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. 4 A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” 5 He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it,  and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the Millo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. 6 And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, 7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
Another friend on FB shared this scripture, and it just seemed to scream at me from the page tonight. I felt that God wanted me to post it in the hopes of encouraging others. Hezekiah was in a pretty dire situation from a worldly perspective, but at a moment when he could have been discouraged and hopeless, he chose to trust in a greater reality than the one he could see before him with his physical eyes.
There are many times in life that God will desire no less of us today than Hezekiah. Perhaps you just got some bad news about a loved one. Or you are struggling with homeschooling or teaching a particular child in a school classroom. Maybe you just feel all alone or like no one really cares THAT much. I admit sometimes I have struggled with all of these thoughts and situations.
But when we get discouraged, it's often because we have allowed the truth we see with our eyes to cloud our spiritual eyes. Because the truth is, if you have Jesus on the inside of you, then you are not fighting alone. (little bitty you) + Our Strong and MIghty God = a Majority.
Hezekiah didn't sit around moping. He took action and did what he thought in the natural would help the situation. But in the end, he did not place His trust in his own actions. He put His faith in God. He knew that the same God who promised a barren Sarah and Abraham a son in their old age would not abandon His people to destruction if they sought to follow Him. Hezekiah had enough insight to get His math right.
Let it be the same for us today. When I seek to serve and follow El Shaddai, then Together with Him I am in the majority. And I can trust His plans will be for my good, because He loves me.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Not feeling well......
1. cool website with stuff about Australia:
2. cool site that lets you print off solar system coloring pages
3.website with recipes you can make ahead and freeze:
4. interesting article about kids' need to be outside:
5. crayola website with all kinds of crafts and coloring pages for free:
6. tons of bread machine recipes here:
7. this site has awesome children's toys for boys and girls:
Well, happy reading.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
A Love Song
Jesus you gave all for me,
Why should I not give all for you?
In love you bore the shameful cross
Paid all my ransom sin had due.
Your face so broken and so marred,
A crown of thorns surround thy head,
You suffered in such agony,
That we your church could now be wed.
Oh Hallelujah! Love's decree
It fills my heart with joyous psalms,
No guilt of sin, no snare of death,
Can ply me from your wounded arms!
Forevermore I'll sing to you
A love song of unending praise,
Each morning when the day begins,
A song of Your mercy and Your grace
And though I stumble, though I fail
To give right effort You are owed,
Though every effort be as frail,
Still I will praise you as I go.
No bit or part shall I hold back
My love I give as best I know
The gifts you give I return to you
An offering of love to show.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Walking in Forgiveness--Preaching at Myself
I have been a little stressed lately. For a long while, we have been praying about what to do with our housing situation. We live in a small 3 bedroom ranch house, and we have five children. While I am well aware that from a world perspective we are blessed beyond measure (we are not living in a dirt hut, we have no debt but our home, we take nice vacations, and I wouldn't trade the five kids for 100 palaces), we are feeling quite cramped sometimes. And we would like to have more children, but I would really like for us to be in a slightly larger place before that happens. Part of the stress, also, is the cultural idea that people with large families have no right to complain because they obviously brought it on themselves. If I didn't want to be stressed, I should not have had five kids. I should have done the sensible thing and got my tubes tied after "a girl for me, a boy for you, and praise the Lord I'm finally through!" Honestly, I don't expect the world to see me any differently than that. But when fellow Christians make crude statements and show that they see children as a curse instead of a blessing and that only idiots have more than two of them, it is hurtful. It'd be nice if our churches in America had an attitude of support toward families instead of ridiculing them. I have as much respect for the mother of an only child as I do for a mother of ten. Offhand, I can even think of a Christian lady who has no children of her own and is worthy of great honor for the way she conducts herself and the way she is encouraging to the parents around her. What I am condemning is the general attitude that Children are a CURSE. The truth is, parenting is HARD WORK no matter how many children you have. Parents, especially those of large broods, need the support of the church, not condemnation. But I digress.
Then Joe's truck wouldn't pass a state inspection this year, which means it is no longer legal to drive on base. Which means we are down to one vehicle between us- a 2000 suburban. Which I am very thankful for. This is also not the end of the world. Just makes things a LITTLE more stressful having to share the vehicle getting Joe to and from work while he or I run children to co-op, ballet, scouts, etc. We started out looking for a 12-15 passenger van, which we still plan to purchase in the future. After looking however, there were none in our price range....either too cheap and drove to bits or brand new. So for now, we decided to look for a comfortable car for Joe to drive to/from work which would also be useful when only part of us are going somewhere and would get better gas mileage than the suburban which I affectionately call "the tank". We have been diligently saving money, and have been prepared to offer cash in the hopes of getting a better deal. And we had thought we found one.
It's a nice car. We went, met seller, Joe test drove. We prayed, made an offer, and the seller said they were firm on the price. Cool, no problem. We told the seller to keep us in mind if he changed his mind. So then in a couple days, he emails back and makes a counter offer. We accept, he agrees and says we will meet when his "loan goes through" which should be "any minute now." A couple days pass with Joe emailing him, and the whole time he keeps saying his loan is being held up. Then tonight Joe notices the guy has listed his car TODAY on Craigslist. For a 1000 dollars over what he agreed to sell it to us. What a jerk. Does integrity mean nothing in our culture anymore? So we know now he's been stringing us along, hoping to keep us on the hook in case a better offer doesn't come along. And my mom and sister are flying in tomorrow. And we have wasted time and have no vehicle to hold us all. I am quite upset.
What I want is to pray fire down from heaven on this guy. I want God to show this guy who he's messing with....but that is not what Jesus modeled.
Or King David. Listen to King David:
" 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever." (Psalm 23)
God never promised to do away with my enemies here on earth....only that he would bless me in spite of them. And how do goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life? Only if the Lord really is my shepherd. That means that He is my source. HE is my refuge and fortress...not some guy with a car. Even a nice car. If I am ever going to believe that God is enough, then it has to be right now. This moment, Marcy Cherry. Do or die: Who is your source? God the economy? God or even your husband? Maybe Barack Obama or Ron Paul?
I choose God. He is the only one I can put my trust in. This car deal is just a reminder of that. And I must forgive that man. Because I am no better. No I have never cheated anyone on a car deal. But my sins were what nailed Jesus to the cross. How many times in my heart have I sinned against people closer to me than some name on Craigslist, which is all we are to that guy? I will need God's grace tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And if I am to receive it, I must first extend it.
"You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy."
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44).
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14)."Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21).
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails "(1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Help me tonight Lord. To walk in forgiveness like you. To love this person enough to let go of vengeance and seek in my heart to love him as you love us. I trust you. YOu are our source, Lord. You meet our needs according to your riches in glory. I shall not want, because you satisfy me with grace, mercy, and lovingkindness. I have the better portion, help me not to covet a lesser one. Let not sin of bitterness or unforgiveness keep me from your presence. Guard our hearts Lord, for out of it flow the issues of life. I am angry, but help me to trust you and not to sin in my anger but to release my "rights" to you in exchange for your grace and mercy. Allow that I would view ALL sin and offenses in light of the cross.
I love you Lord,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Investing in Forever in the Temporal...
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. -Isaiah 40:8I was pondering this verse, and thought I would share my musings. So often, it seems my life is running on fast forward and my thoughts are consumed by things of the moment...what we'll have for dinner, school lessons, running the kids to ballet and scouts, what errands need to be run....the list goes on and on. These are the things that scream at me for attention day by day, and they are the stuff of life. But in the end, they are often just stuff. And in the end, much of it will burn away someday.
Such a dilemma I face as a Christian: how do I live in the here and now with a vision for the eternal? It's so easy for the eternal to get lost in the shuffle of the temporal. I suppose the only way it can be done is intentionally. I can't "let it slide" while I deal with the here and now, or pretty soon the here and now will appear to be all that there is. If that were to truly be the case, what a sad state we would all live in. To imagine this fallen world and all the suffering within it as the final answer in itself would be quite disturbing to me indeed.
But that is not what I believe. I believe the Bible is God's word to humanity, and we can put our hope in the wisdom it offers to us. This verse in Isaiah is a gentle, loving reminder to "keep the main things the main things." It should season every relationship I have with grace and love.
Will I view my spouse and children the same way if I view them through an eternal lens?
I think the view of the eternal changes things. It reminds us that so often, the things we allow to steal our joy or make us angry are foolish and wasteful, that we would choose otherwise if we knew that today was the last day we had with our loved ones. We would choose forgiveness over hatred. We would choose laughter over pouting (yes as an adult I know how to pout, unfortunately). We would choose grace over legalism....keeping score of every wrong committed against us and using it to heap judgement on those around us.
I am so thankful when I view the cross, not for the pain it caused my saviour, but because of the love I see so openly displayed there. If every day I could filter all of my life through the cross, I think my life would be one that honors my Lord and ministers to those around me. This is the highest purpose I can attain in my walk with Christ--to live my life in constant light of the Cross.
It's not that my life has been void of contribution. I fill my days with the energy and purpose of discipling young minds and making my home a place that is welcoming and peaceful. I often fail miserably, but each day, it's such a comfort to me that I get a do-over. That every morning God's mercies are new and the slate is clean. Even as a mother of five, I feel that most days I'm still figuring alot of things out. I don't think God gives us children because of how smart or gifted we are, but to reveal to us our weaknesses and flaws so that we might turn to Him and be changed, be molded into someone a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more forgiving. Maybe the fact that I have five means I need a lot more teaching and molding than most.
I have to stop posting now, because it's read aloud time at the Cherry house. We are reading a book called "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry.
It's a wonderful book set during WW II in Denmark. I highly recommend it.