Thoughts, Truth

What You Really Need

About thirteen years ago I was a 22 year-old single woman working in a back office department at a major bank in downtown Seattle. There were many things in life that I was believing for—a husband, a home, and children to name a few. Some people have dreams of a certain profession but for me, nothing I could imagine ever felt more satisfying than first and foremost being a wife and a mom. And I had seen in my mind’s eye how I thought that would happen.

I don’t know where this saying comes from or who said it but I have heard that “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” That is so true. I had my future all laid out. At the time I was good friends with a family that had a son my age. His family loved me and we got along well. I had made it up in my mind, not even really having romantic feelings for this young man, that this is what God had in store for me. He was a Christian, I was a Christian. I loved his sisters as my own. I could make this work.

At the time, I was living in Tacoma and commuted to Seattle. I had to catch my bus by 6:00am to make it to work by 8:00am. So I used those two hours for my devotions and prayer time. There was one particular day of devotions that I will never forget. The weekend before, I had spent some time at my friends’ house and the son and I were sitting at the table in the dining room talking. When the dad left the room he dimmed the lights on us. (Smooth, very smooth…)  I rationalized the situation. I settled it in my mind. But that day on the bus God took over. I was beginning to read in the book of Acts. When I got to Acts 3 it hit me like a lightning bolt. The passage begins with Peter and John going to the temple for prayer. As they walked they approached a man who had been lame since birth. As they passed him, he asked them for money. They didn’t have any to give him, instead they told him to “rise up and walk.” And he was healed from that very hour.

As I read that, God spoke to me so clearly. “Ask me for what you want, but don’t be surprised when I give you what you really need.” The lame man thought he knew what he needed—money. But God knew what he really needed—healing, provision. You can make all the plans you want for your life. But ultimately, God has the best plan for you. You can follow your own plan and it will probably be alright but it won’t be His best. I think about what I would have missed if I had followed my own will. I am so grateful I listened to His voice and followed His leading. He truly knows what we really need.

Feelings, Thoughts

Consider the Lilies

I dropped my in-laws off at the airport Monday after an awesome, week-long visit. We camped, we took part in the wonderful Washington State Fair, and we shopped until we dropped. They are such wonderful, down-to-earth, give you the shirt off their back kind of people and we always love when they visit. We hadn’t laid eyes on them in two years. (Except for FaceTime. Thanks Apple!) So when we heard they were coming we started making plans. September can be extremely beautiful in Washington State… Or it can be extremely wet and you never know which of those two extremes it will be until it’s upon you. Every plan we made took advantage of our gorgeous outdoors. Yeah, I took a chance. So when I checked the weather the week before they were set to arrive and saw rain… Rain… RAIN! All week! I will be honest. I panicked. And then I remembered my God. My God who cares about the little things. My God who set the stars in their place. My God who gave us ALL authority. And we had a little chat. I remembered who I was in Him and I stood. And would you believe we had gorgeous weather the entire time we were camping and the day we went to the Fair it was almost 80? That’s my King!

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27-40)

Truth

A Thief In The Night

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you brethren are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)

As Christians, we know the end of the story, we have read the end of the book. We know that Jesus has completed His work, defeating the devil and making a show of him openly. He defeated death, hell, and the grave. And through His death and resurrection He has made us conquerors. So much so that the Bible tells us that we are seated with Him in the heavenly places. Also that He has made us kings and priests. We are living in precarious times, however. Our time living in this world is swiftly coming to an end. The Bible has much to say about the times that are to come before the return of Christ. Through the Bible we as Christians have been informed of future events. We cannot be spiritually asleep. We must watch and be sober.

Mark 13:35-37 entreats us to “watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you all: Watch!” The Bible repeatedly tells us to watch—be vigilant. Why did the Holy Spirit emphasize that so much? Because He knew people would need the reminder. Matthew 24:12 tells us that “lawlessness will abound” and because of that “the love of many would grow cold. “

In Matthew 25, Jesus told the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. They all went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and came prepared but the five foolish did not bring enough oil. He was waylaid and when He finally arrived He found only half were ready to go. I heard a message recently where the minister posed this question — Is it possible that half the church will be unprepared and therefore left behind? A chilling thought.

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you before hand.” (Matthew 24:24-25) The elect. I interpret that as the people who should know better. It is important to bury ourselves in His word so that we are not drawn away. We must hold onto the truth of God’s word. Unrelenting. Unwavering. Immovable.

Feelings, Thoughts

Just Like Jesus

The kids and I had a talk this morning about why today is a day of remembrance. I showed them the videos of the bikers that are descending on D.C. (I tell you, I have never really wanted a motorcycle until today. I think being in that enormous mass of patriotism and honor would be absolutely unforgettable!) Grace and Owen asked me why they were riding.

I told them about the Twin Towers and the hatred that brought them down. We talked about the people who lost theirs lives — the passengers, the building occupants, and the first responders. I told them about the Pentagon. And I told them about the plane that crashed in the middle of a field in Pennsylvania.

Four planes destined for destruction and only three hit their targets. I asked the kids why they thought that was. And then I said, the people on that flight knew what had happened in New York and they knew that wherever their plane was headed people would get hurt. So they stood up to their attackers and fought back. They knew they would probably die in the process. They gave their lives and sacrificed themselves for other people. To which Grace said, “Mom, they were just like Jesus.” Yes Grace, in that moment. They were exactly like Jesus.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends […or perfect strangers.] John 15:13

Truth

If

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

“If” is a powerful word. My husband has been stuck on it for months. He even preached an entire message on those two tiny, little letters. “If” is found in a myriad of scriptures and is usually worded something like this… “If you do this, I will do this.” A great majority of God’s promises are written this way—they are conditional. Our family has found that if we hold up our end of the bargain God is always faithful to hold up His. In the above passage found in Deuteronomy 28 God tells us if we obey, His blessing will come upon us and overtake us. Do you know what it means to be overtaken? It means the thing that is chasing you down is going faster than you. The textbook definition of overtake is: to come over somebody suddenly, or catch somebody by surprise; to catch up with or pass a person. (Suddenly is another word I love…The “suddenlies” of God can be absolutely breathtaking!)

Another passage of scripture that beautifully exhibits our part in God’s blessing is Malachi 3:8-10. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour our for you such a blessing that their will not be room enough to receive it.” If—there’s that word again. If you tithe—If you obey. We have a huge part in all of it. God’s blessing is always there waiting. But if we do not activate them by doing our part, they do us no good.

I have heard it said that a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. I will take that even further. A man with an experience and the Word of God behind him is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.

My husband and I don’t get everything right, nobody does. But if you’re going to tell me that God doesn’t want to bless His people you have come too late. I have already experienced His blessing in too many ways to number. We have chosen to take God at His word.  Just this week my husband got surprised at work. His boss called and told him he wanted my husband to take over a job that another employee had been doing very poorly. In conversation his boss said he would pay him five dollars more than his base pay to finish out this job and clean up the mess plus forty dollars a day for food (which is ten dollars more than everyone else is getting.) Plus they are paying for his hotel and gas. If you are calculating, that is a nine dollar an hour bonus! Plus when this job is done and he is back home they raised his base pay by two dollars an hour. And get this—he didn’t even ask for any of it. His boss just called and piled it on. That, my friends, is being overtaken. So believe on Him. God is not a man that He should lie. He means what He says and He always keeps His Word!

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Truth

God is Love…Really

John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the entire Bible. It tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The passage goes on to say in verse 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God does not merely love—He is love. He is the embodiment of that gift.

When Adam fell, instead of cutting His losses and annihilating His creation, He made a way. He sent His only Son. His only. He did not have to, but He did. And when Jesus walked this earth He could have chosen not to die. But instead He chose to do the will of the Father that we might be reconciled to Him. There is no other way back to God except through Jesus Christ.

“For I am persuaded that neither death or life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV) People have twisted this verse to support an inclusive false doctrine. It does not mean that we cannot physically and spiritually be separated from God. It means what it says—that no matter what we do or where we go He will always love us.

Parents can understand this concept. A parent’s love for their child is all-encompassing—never ending. I love my children and because I do I guide, I correct, I discipline. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:6-11 NKJV) I just have to say that again—that we may be partakers of His holiness.

What people often forget amidst the love of God is—He is love; but He is also Holy, Righteous and Just. Nothing will EVER separate us from the love of God. He will always love us. Always. But He has given us the choice—free will. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Not only did He give us choice—He gave us the answer. Choose life! 

Thoughts

Why I Cry

I haven’t had a chance to write this week since Grace (2nd grade) and Owen (Kindergarten) started school on Monday. It is my first year of homeschooling both of them and it’s been an adjustment to say the least. On Wednesday Grace had a Social Studies lesson on “The Star Spangled Banner.” We studied the origins and the history behind the song—which actually started out as a poem written during the War of 1812. As we got to the middle of the lesson we deconstructed the different lines and explored the meaning. I didn’t even make it through half of the poem before I started to cry. Grace looked at me, “Mom, are you crying?” Seemingly horrified that a poem could elicit such a response from her mother. I nodded. Why? Well that’s a loaded question…

I cry because I am a patriot. I love my country. And reading the news lately I’m getting to the point where I don’t recognize her anymore. This country was founded on liberty—freedom. Our Declaration of Independence states, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” These freedoms were never intended to create a nation with no absolutes and no morality. Truth is not relative. Truth is an absolute. Unfortunately the minute prayer was taken out of schools and it became legal to murder our own children for the sake of convenience the fabric of our nation began to unravel.

I cry because the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But I can’t speak the truth of the Word of God without being a hate-monger. I cry because the God that gave His only Son to die as a ransom for men is reviled and mocked. He is reviled and mocked by a country that once dwelled in the shadow of His wings.

The last lines of our national anthem read, “O say does that star spangled banner yet wave? O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I cry because I don’t know how much longer we will be required to sacrifice our freedoms on the altar of political correctness. How long long will our flag fly over a land that is still free? That’s why I cry.