Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hail to the Lord's Anointed


Poem by James Montgomery

Hail to the Lord's Anointed
Great David's greater Son:
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!

He comes with succour speedy,
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy,
And bid the weak be strong.

By such shall He be feared
While sun and moon endure,
Beloved, obeyed, revered,
For He shall judge the poor,

Through changing generations,
With justice, mercy, truth,
While stars maintain their stations
Or moons renew their youth.

He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth,
And love, hope, joy, like flowers,
Spring in his path to birth.

Before Him, on the mountains,
Shall peace, the herald, go;
And righteousness in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.

With offerings of devotion,
Ships from the Isles shall meet,
To pour the wealth of oceans
In tribute at his feet.

Kings shall fall down before Him,
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing;

For He shall have dominion
O'er river, sea, and shore,
Far as the eagle's pinion,
Or dove's light wing can soar.

For Him shall prayer unceasing,
And daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end;

The mountain dews shall nourish
A seed in weakness sown,
Whose fruit shall spread and flourish,
And shake like Lebanon.

The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand for ever,
That name to us is Love. 

A Child's Song of Christmas


Poem by Marjorie L.C. Pickthall

My counterpane is soft as silk,
My blankets white as creamy milk.
The hay was soft to Him, I know,
Our little Lord of long ago.
Above the roofs the pigeons fly
In silver wheels across the sky.
The stable-doves they cooed to them,
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.
Bright shines the sun across the drifts,
And bright upon my Christmas gifts.
They brought Him incense, myrrh, and gold,
Our little Lord who lived of old.
Oh, soft and clear our mother sings
Of Christmas joys and Christmas things.
God's holy angels sang to them,
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.
Our hearts they hold all Christmas dear,
And earth seems sweet and heaven seems near,
Oh, heaven was in His sight, I know,
That little Child of long ago.


Accepting the Will of God and Surrendering 

 "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." Luke 1:38


Like many women, Mary probably had plans for her future. She'd probably thought out what her life might look like and had her own dreams. She was already a God fearing young lady and she knew that her future involved serving God, until the angel came and changed how that would be done. She is told what probably seemed impossible to her---that she would bear a child, God's son. She doesn't argue or willfully tell God no. Being human, she probably felt fear, uncertainty and maybe anxiety. Yet she still said "be it to me according to thy word."

Mary had trust, faith, and she had strong belief. Yet with the courage to put those into action, to surrender herself fully and totally to God's plan, she fulfilled His will for her. So many times by trying to control things and make well laid, detailed plans with little room for God, we are not leaving Him room to do His work in our lives because we somehow think we know better. As Christians we have to ask ourselves if, like Mary, we have fully surrendered to God's plans for us.

This is hard in a society where planning out a life is viewed as the only way to live. We plan how many children we will have, what house we will live in, what career will occupy our time, where we will go to college and many other facets of life. Somehow we feel secure with this, there is a plan in place and we know how it's going to go, or so we think! The truth is, surrender is scary for the human heart and mind that is programmed to think that control is the only way. Yet surrender equals freedom because we are allowing for the One who died to give us freedom from bondage---even if that means bondage to our own faulty plans. We each have two choices: live a life governed only by our own plans, or live a life ruled by our Heavenly Father.

"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Luke 22:42

Surrender is allowing God to work His miracles, His plans and His word in our lives. His plans are always, always, better and wiser than ours. God's ways are not our ways. He does not need our control! He wants a surrendered and humbled heart.  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:17  We don't have anything to fear in our surrender. While society around us may look at us as strangers and pilgrims, God sees our surrender as a loving Father does, and He takes care of us.

Mary wasn't given a life of earthly luxury for following God. She must have questioned riding on a donkey while nine months pregnant, barely finding a place to give birth in the humblest of circumstances, and having to flee to keep Jesus safe. Somehow through all the circumstances she faced, she knew God was in control, that He had a plan. She knew the ultimate treasure was God's plan, not hers, and she lived out her surrender to God in her daily life. Mary didn't look for the ultimate reward here in this earthly life. She didn't expect to be given a mansion to birth Jesus in, or the most comfortable luxury hotel room. Mary looked to her reward in heaven, and to the birth of the only King who can save mankind.

She trusted and she had a 'hearty' faith. She endured, she loved, she had joy, she surrendered. How many these days have this kind of steadfast, enduring faith? This Christmas, may we see Mary's faith, her courage, her surrender to her God as something to aspire to. Not well laid plans, not control, not presents, not money.  Truly letting God take over our lives to do His miraculous work, to make us anew, to wash away our sins and to embrace us as children of God.

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name." Luke 1:46-49

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us. ” -A.W. Tozer

“The greatness of the man's power is the measure of his surrender.” -William Booth

“No enthusiasm will ever stand the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His worker, only one thing will, and that is a personal relationship to Himself which has gone through the mill of His spring-cleaning until there is only one purpose left--I am here for God to send me where He will.”
-Oswald Chambers



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Children are God's Gifts---He sent a baby to save us! 

"Don't be frightened Mary," the angel told her, "for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus." Luke: 29-31


 He did not appear in the world as a rich, royal, dignified man. God in the flesh is born as a baby, going through childhood until he reaches the age to begin his ministry. God chose not to have His son skip over the baby days, childhood, or teenage years. He sent His son to save us and sent him as an innocent baby. Not only does this show us how much God loves us, but how much he values babies and new life. The angel told Mary "God has decided to bless you." God sees new life---His ultimate creation---as a blessing. The way God sees life and blessing is usually the opposite to how man sees life and blessing.

 Children are seen as burdens by a large portion of society. We want to limit them, control them, rid ourselves of them, and not have to give too much of ourselves away. We want more and more material things and we will gladly exchange human relationships and love for the things that will pass away and for temporary pleasure. We are afraid they will 'ruin our future', but this is not God's way. Jesus came and showed us what it truly means to live for others. There was nothing in life that Jesus collected to show His status, He didn't limit His surrender to God, He fully submitted himself to living for God's kingdom.

Jesus wasn't distracted, and the enemy wants to distract us. He wants to distract us with hobbies, the internet, tv shows, vanity, and anything that can take up so much time that it soon looks like 'the best' life has to offer and we are living for those things. Truly we are cheating ourselves and not giving God control, and perhaps do not understand what it really means to live God's way.

"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." Luke 17:2

Have we fully surrendered to God? For the most part, if we are hanging on to any form of control, we haven't. Surrendering to God means giving everything away to Him---our very life. Just as Jesus showed us. It's allowing God to teach us, guide us and direct us on His path. Most of the time this involves giving up that which does not serve our good, and which does not benefit our soul or our growth. The layers we clutter ourselves up with, stuff, screens, busyness and bad habits---we somehow see as freedom. Living the way of the world is slavery to the wrong master. Living God's way---following His commandments, living simply and learning to value what God values---is where true freedom is found.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives." John 12:24

Children are the very ones we are to raise, walk alongside, mentor, disciple and love. They bring us out of selfishness and childishness. If our heart is tender and open enough, we sense that God uses them to grow us up and push us along the path of holiness. Even if we do not have biological children, there are children everywhere who are being rejected and do not feel the value and love we should be showing them. To show a child God's love is one less child growing into adulthood with a hard and bitter heart. They have known love and they will show love.  Jesus knew love---His father's love---and He showed it to the world.

Psalm 113:9 says "God nests the once barren woman at home---now a joyful mother with children. Praise the Lord!" In God's perfect wisdom, he nests us at home with those we love. To live for them, to give up for them, and to love them and show them God. To God, being with children and spending time with them is His ultimate blessing. God made Mary a mother, to Jesus, and to other children. He gave her His blessings. He did not give her the "ultimate" career life with recognition and bonuses, He didn't bless her with a face that did not age or physical perfection, nor material things---He blessed her with children.

May we wrap our hearts and minds around God's true blessings this Christmas season and ignore the false and hopeless "blessings" of the world. 

"Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within your walls." Psalm 147:12-13

"The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing. But in our culture we apply for a curse and reject blessings. Something is wrong with this picture." -Doug Phillips

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats it's children." -Nelson Mandela

"The greatest legacy one can pass on to ones children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith." -Billy Graham

"To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths taught by the Savior Himself."  -James E Faust







Thursday, December 4, 2014

Changing the Heart

"He will turn the hearts the of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept Godly wisdom." Luke 1:17


 The Christmas season can be busy, sometimes even lived in a flurry of holiday activity.  It's easy to forget to stop, slow down, and live out Christian values during this time of year. Our hearts should be resting in Christ, the one born for us in a small, humble manger. A sweet baby, coming to bring peace to the hearts of God's children. Born to a world that was desperate for peace and forgiveness, hearts that needed to be softened and turned back to God. Isn't it a wonder that Christmas is turned into exhaustion, frenzy, shopping rushes and anything but peace? During this season, keeping our peace, our rest, not being harried, hurried, and being Christ-like is our witness to the peace He was born for.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:13-14

Before John was born, an angel appeared to Zechariah. The angel told him, "He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom." (Luke 1:17)  The truth is, we all need a heart change, a softening, a transplant. We need the gentle babe born in manger. The human heart can grow stony, sin hardens it, and we turn away from the path of gentleness and love. Notice that John was sent to "turn the hearts of the father's back to their children." Hearts can so easily be led astray from home, from the ones God wants us to love. During the Christmas season are our hearts turned to our children, to Jesus--- have they turned back from the way of sadness and bitterness to be changed and renewed into pure hearts? A business as usual attitude, a busyness, a forgetting what is truly important, a focus on material things does not reflect a change of heart.

"This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ."
- Frank McKibben

When hearts are turned back again to our children,---to the people who truly matter--- we begin to learn more the way of Jesus. Focused on relationships, on people, rather than the hardness of the world that begins to grate and wear on us. God, in His mercy and perfect wisdom, sent a baby to be born to grow into a man and save us. He knew we needed this miracle. A sweet, innocent baby born to save us, a baby to warm cold hearts and make them new again. To change our disobedient minds to understand that God's wisdom is above ours, that His ways are always infinitely better. A heart turned outward to the world, trying to fit in and find peace and life becomes hard and calloused. A heart that is turned to God, looking upward towards His ways---one that is willing to look inside and see the need for change is a heart that is turning back again.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Believe it or not, it is difficult, but not impossible, to follow Jesus and His way of peace during Christmas. After all, this is what He came to give us. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." John 14:27     

Peace for this season takes making wise decisions, planning and deciding beforehand what this season will look like. It also involves saying no. No to frenzied shopping and hurry, no to things that don't contribute to peace, and saying yes to Jesus and His peace. Focusing on our hearts, examining them and praying that He will turn them back to Him, mold them, shape them and renew them again. We can all be like the hardened fathers, who need to turn our hearts back again. This season, may we have a surrendered heart, a healed heart, a softened heart to those He wants us to love and focus on. To focus on people, we rarely can be in a hurried frenzy. We must stop our harried hearts, focus on others hearts, and in doing so we grow closer to the humble One born in a manger.

"And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:18-20

The shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks at night, heard from the angels that a savior had been born.
"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2:15-16

The Lord has made known to us "this thing that has come to pass" but like the shepherds do we come with haste to Him? With pure hearts, believing hearts, they made haste to go see Jesus. It seems in our culture we "live in haste" for all the wrong reasons. The most important things that matter to make haste for, Jesus, peace, salvation---are often forgotten. So He came, born in a manger, so that like the shepherds and the wise men, we might hurry to Him.

 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

 "God's gifts
put man's best dreams
to shame."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

"How many observe
Christ's birthday!
How few, his precepts!
O!  'tis easier to keep
Holidays than

-Benjamin Franklin





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jesus Isn't A Cute Knick Knack to Add to Life


("The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" By Jennie A Brownscombe)

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray." Isaiah 35:8 (ESV)


A highway of holiness, a way of life. Jesus paved this way for us, leaving us His words, His sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit. A Christian life is one that reflects the holy way. It is a path that orders our steps and directs our whole way of life. Following Jesus isn't just something to 'add in' to busy schedules, faith is something that is a part of us and He cannot be separated from any part of life. After accepting Jesus as our Savior, the 'master' of our lives, our life should begin to be refined---changed. The way of holiness shall belong to those who walk in the way.

"Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21

Jesus won't leave us alone to purge out what is dishonorable in our lives. He will walk with us, guiding us and teaching us. Yet, we cannot expect that He won't cleanse us. Our former way of life is cast off, the world and it's sin, humanism, impurity and lies was the former master. Now God in the flesh is our Savior, so we must cast off the weight of the former life. Jesus wants to make us honorable and set apart for Him, ready for every good work.

"Holiness, as taught in the Scriptures, is not based upon knowledge on our part. Rather, it is based upon the resurrected Christ in-dwelling us and changing us into His likeness.”  A.W. Tozer

There is no 'readiness' for Christ's work and healing in our lives if we are unwilling to be cleansed and to rid our lives of impure things. Our whole way of life in fact can be 'impure.' Impurity is not just what we deem "the big stuff"---drugs, crime, abuse etc. Running around in chaos, a schedule so busy it will lead to our demise, taking in too much media, addiction to screens, a focus on self, idols in our life, not honoring God as we should, laziness and lack of spiritual discipline----all of these are impure things in our lives that do not lead us closer to God.

"For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness." 1 Thessalonians 4:7

Often we overlook impurity, take it as no big deal. Over time these things begin to build up and callous our hearts. Impurity in tv shows, songs, our speech, our habits, our schedules---they are a big deal, and they matter to God. They numb us to true holiness and love, and most of the time we do not realize it. Jesus, the ultimate representation of purity, calls us to His refining fire and His way of life for us. As these things are removed from life we can see Jesus anew and with clearer eyes. The eyes of the heart are renewed and can see the pure life we are called to live. 

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23

 If we have accepted Christ's blood shed for us, that He has cleansed us to make us anew, and we are continuing on the same path as before with Jesus as an accessory like a nice handbag, we do not truly understand His way, or we are hesitant to alter our lives so drastically that they will look different from almost everyone. (even most Christians today) When we understand His way, we will slowly eliminate things from our lives, growing more like Him, and listening to the Holy Spirit direct our steps. He cares about everything in our lives, including how we live, that our life reflects Him.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

Now we are dead to sin, and alive to righteousness. Being truly alive in hearts, in the Holy Spirit, will begin to produce the fruit of change in our life, as we walk the Highway of Holiness.

The Pilgrims sailed in cramped quarters and risked disease, starvation and death. Why did they do this? They believed their worship of Jesus, their way of life---their 'way of Holiness' was so sacred to them, the way of life-giving salvation---that they were unwilling to give up this way of life. To them, it was THE only way. There weren't any other options, no compromise with truth. The Truth (Jesus) was so valuable to them that they were willing to start life over in a new land as "strangers and pilgrims."

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

Today, we don't want to accept that following Christ will change everything. We won't watch, listen to, or live the lifestyle that most have. Truly, following Jesus means a return to some of the old paths of life. These paths produce so much fruit---peace and holiness. Having peace in our life, healing in our hearts, carrying Jesus' true peace every day---this is priceless and worth more than any sacrifice of petty things. Our hearts and minds are no longer 'cluttered' with things that do not matter, things that make our hearts and minds feel heavy and chaotic. We are free in Christ to walk His way, not the world's. God's way and walking His path is the purest freedom. 

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21

“If you don’t delight in the fact that your Father is holy, holy, holy, then you are spiritually dead. You may be in a church. You may go to a Christian school. But if there is no delight in your soul for the holiness of God, you don’t know God. You don’t love God. You’re out of touch with God. You’re asleep to his character.” ~R.C. Sproul

“Why would we want fame, when God promises us glory? Why would we be seeking the wealth of the world when the wealth of heaven is ours? Why would we run for a crown that will perish with time, when we're called to win a crown that is imperishable?”  ~Paul Washer




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Living Loud, Do you always need to be "seen?"


"I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home." Psalm 101:2 (NLT)


For hundreds of years many families lived quiet, unseen lives in the family home. They enjoyed the 'simple' pleasures of life, being together and spending time as a family. Worshiping God together and seeking Him was the focus. There was less focus on self, and more focus on service to others and the family. The home and family were viewed as sacred, and home was a sanctuary. The virtues of life were learned in the family home---love, patience, service, orderliness and most importantly, loving God and having a heart to follow Him.

Before facebook, instagram and twitter, people led "quieter" lives. Life wasn't showcased and people went about their work in a quiet manner. There wasn't the addiction to needing to be 'seen'. Somehow social media tricks us into thinking that constantly spending time on it documenting our lives suddenly makes us more valuable, as if our worth "goes up" by how much we post and are seen, heard and admired. Many before us lived lives that were unseen by crowds of men; but seen by God. A mother who is placing her value on the work and service she does for her family and God is just as valuable as a "famous" woman whose work is seen and admired by the masses. God sees her, and in His eyes she is a faithful child.

Fame and the admiration of many are wanted more than ever today. Rarely do we meet anyone who does not advertise or brand themselves. The ability to showcase ourselves in all we do is at our fingertips. Everyone is somewhat seen and heard today, being 'loud' on the internet. While the brand we have made of ourselves can be used for good, sometimes that brand becomes an idol and forgotten is the value of living quietly for God.  The virtue of a quiet life is almost lost, the value of a meek and quiet spirit is often tossed aside.  Many lives were lived before us that weren't advertised. Even the apostles didn't advertise themselves for the purpose of fame; but for the glory of God and service to Jesus. They knew the value of their work was seen by God and their worth was found in Him.

"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 1 Peter 3:4
One of the most famous quiet lives of a mother is of Ma Ingalls. She probably never thought her work and love of her family would be publicized and beloved by readers. She never advertised herself or seemed to long for fame. She lived on the prairies caring for her family, loving them and teaching them. Many times it was her strength that kept her family going through the hard times. She was always faithful, gentle and loving. Many times in the "Little House" books she is described as opening her Bible for encouragement.  She truly lived simply. She had no gadgets, not even kitchen ones, and whipped up simple meals over a wood stove with cast iron pots. She was faithful in the smallest tasks and gave timeless advice.

“This earthly life is a battle,” said Ma. “If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures." (from "Little Town on the Prairie")

If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light,” Ma considered. “We didn’t lack for light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.”

 “That’s so,” said Pa. “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves- they’re good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ‘em.”

This sounds old fashioned now but maybe Ma and Pa had some wisdom. When we depend on fast, better and more--- always looking for things to constantly be improved to lead us in a life of ease, we forget many values of life. Often, the truly important things of life are neglected when the priority is to be loud, seen and heard. Ma probably couldn't have imagined a mother posting her life to facebook all day seeking recognition for herself, having "busy-itis" or spending all her time at the gym because she did not know the value of the work God had given her. She truly knew the value of the 'ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit.'

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

"And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

"We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. That is impossible and the attempt is a mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ's steps, and let the world say what it likes." JC Ryle





Saturday, November 1, 2014

Finding Freedom In Simplicity


"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."  

2 Corinthians 1:12


As Christians, walking with simplicity and sincerity in our daily lives a is part of our faithful witness. When we are deeply entangled, trapped by complexities we were not meant to bear, sometimes self imposed complexities, we are just as deceived and trapped by this world as non-believers. The simplicity of our lives and the way of refreshment---Christ---should seem like a cool, clean air breeze to others.

Called to freedom in Christ there is no obligation or burden to keep up with the Jones'. We don't have to have the busiest schedule on the block, or do things the way everyone else does them just to fit in, only to find ourselves burnt out, stressed out, and not living in the peaceful ways of God. God's ways are always opposite of the worlds. There is no time in a packed schedule to hear, see, learn and taste the ways of God.

“There are no 'if's' in God's kingdom. His timing is perfect. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety. His will is our hiding place. Let us pray that we may always know it. ‘Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will. Don't let me go mad by poking about outside it.’”
-Corrie ten Boom

If we are enslaved to tv's, smart phones, computers, activities we feel we must be a part of, our homes, our cars, our appliances, whom are we serving? All these things require time, effort, work, money---so we work harder and harder to pay for them and become enslaved to the lure of stuff. The lie of the 'good life.' The good life in God's eyes is a true life of abundance, not of possessions or monetary wealth, but of spiritual wealth and wisdom. The less we are serving things, the more we can serve God and get to know Him. He refreshes our spirit and shows us the way of life.

"You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him.
    Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags,  saying to them, “Good riddance!” Isaiah 30:20-22

God provided Eve with more than enough, but by not trusting God and instead following her desire to see if another way (her way) was better, she entangled herself in sin. Just as the serpent deceived Eve away from what God had provided, we are often fooled into wanting and running after more than God has called us to, thinking He is not enough, and we entangle ourselves back into slavery again. We pile our plate higher and higher with so many things, yet we would have found true freedom being satisfied with the first serving. If we are willing to listen to God, take Him at His word, and take the portion He has provided to us, He will not fail us.

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8

The real question and test of our faith is to ask ourselves: are we willing to live simply? Are we willing to reevaluate, hit the restart button and make real, lasting changes? We must be willing to untangle ourselves from all the ways of the world, and bind ourselves to God's way. This requires communing with God, listening and allowing Him to direct our steps. This will most likely lead us away from the crowd, rather than to it, but it will lead us to God.

"You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
-Psalm 32:7-8

If we want to be enslaved, stressed, unhealthy, harried and frenzied, then we will follow the path of the world, the popular and trendy path. If we want the life God truly has for us, we will follow His way no matter how it looks or how opposite it is to the world. He will gradually peel back the layers of untruth that are hiding our true life in Him. He will heal us and guide us on the simple path. God wants His people to live as He asks, because we are His children, "strangers and pilgrims"--- when we become too entangled with 'stuff' in this life, we are not as tied to the things of God and heaven as we should be. God wants our hearts and minds resting in Him, the only true refreshment.

"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." 
Luke 16:13

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21

"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and to a hundred or a thousand… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without." Henry David Thoreau

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter ... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring—these are some of the rewards of the simple life." John Burroughs 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Accepting Christ and Rejecting His Cross: A Modern Day Plague


"St Joseph with the infant Jesus" By Guido Reni (1620's)

"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philipians 2:8



 There's a plague going around. It's spreading fast, infecting people's precious hearts and minds. It's spreading in many churches, books, 'motivational' speakers and false teachings. Jesus is reduced to a mere "feel good" cartoon character, His death on the cross to a fairy tale. If we just accept Him, we will live happily ever after. We are free to pursue our 'bliss', our own happiness, and free to pursue ourselves. Jesus and the Christian walk are reduced to a nice feel good club. What is this plague that is so contagious? Accepting Christ while rejecting His cross.

Accepting Jesus without owning our own sin---without repentance and an open and willing heart that sees the personal need for His atoning cross---is not accepting Jesus. We're accepting part of Him and leaving out the inconvenient parts that require change, somberness, and a change of life. Accepting Jesus as our King means giving leadership to a new ruler over our entire heart and mind. Our whole self is given over to Him, not withholding the parts that we hang so tightly onto controlling. Jesus gave His whole self so that we might gain eternal life, yet we hold back out of stubbornness, fear, immaturity and an unwillingness to be different.

Many people are afraid to speak of the true message of Jesus, so it is watered down, changed to suit the times, the surrounding culture, or to tickle people's ears. When Jesus ministered to many different groups of people, personalities, diseases and stubborn hearts His message was the same to all. It was up to those listening to Him, witnessing His miracles whether they accepted Him or not. But He did not change. He did not say "if the people want more entertainment to draw them to me, let's give them more entertainment." "If you need to make me relevant to pop culture, and change me a little, then by all means do so." 

A sincere and repentant heart---a truly broken heart seeking a Savior, a heart committed to being faithful to the end, is not drawn in by shallow things. The heart is drawn by Jesus and His work on the cross. Knowing that we are sinners in need of a Savior or we have no hope of eternal life and recognizing our need to be made pure and spotless by Christ is essential.

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:6-8

Jesus shedding His blood for us means that every day we lay down our lives at the foot of the cross. Our life is His, we serve Him and live as humble servants to the King of Kings. Who we were before--- selfish, living in bondage to ourselves, past hurts, sins and abuses, we lay all of these down at the cross. Now we are a new creation, no longer serving ourselves. Most of modern Christianity leaves this type of unselfishness out of it's message. It says that we can accept Jesus as a feel good Savior, but leave out the part about taking up our own cross. 

 "Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

Self denial, losing our selfish life to live a life of service for God, forgetting self to be refined into a new person and worshiping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, following Christ's commandments, walking the old paths---these are all part of the Christian walk. It won't always be 'feel good', it will require sacrifice of ourselves and most of the time not being popular.  Christ was despised, rejected, whipped, slandered, not accepted but did it all for the joy that was set before Him. (Heb.12:2) He did it for us, that we may have eternal life, and that we will truly know what real life is, and who He is. He wants us to know Him and accept all of Him, not just partial truths that are convenient when needed.

"Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Don't just say "we're safe---we're the descendants of Abraham." That proves nothing. God can change even these stones into children of Abraham. Even now the ax of God's judgement is poised, ready to sever your roots. yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire." Luke 3:8-9

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

“And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?”
  -Frederick Buechner

“God Hold us to that which drew us first, when the Cross was the attraction, and we wanted nothing else.” -Amy Carmichael "God's Missionary"



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Simple Path Mothering


"And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart." Luke 2:51


 Mary and Joseph didn't know the full reality of what it meant to be the parents to God's son, but they treasured Him, loved Him and understood as best they could that He had a special purpose. When Jesus went "missing" and was later found in Jerusalem at the Temple, answering the religious teachers questions, Mary, being the holy, loving handmaiden of God, treasured all of these things about Jesus in her heart. She couldn't see the end yet, she didn't even fully understand Jesus, yet she trusted God enough to treasure Jesus and the purpose God had for Him.

There can be times in our culture that an 'idolizing' of motherhood takes place. It distracts from motherhood's real purpose. Pinterest perfect birthday parties, activities and making our children into mini celebrities, taking pictures of their every move to post on social media! Motherhood has become this sort of "show" for others. The pressure of activities, birthday parties and this entertainment driven life for our children can get heavy and expensive. Amidst all of this is there time to treasure these things in our hearts? The enemy seeks to devour and distract us, and He will use anything glittery, shiny and appealing to deter us from God's real purpose.

 What is God's purpose for mothers? To be Jesus' hands and feet to our children, to reflect Jesus to those we love, a ministry of sacrifice and laying down our lives---an offering to God. This is missed amongst all the glitter and temporary glory of raising children with all the 'trappings' of the world.  Raising our children to love God, serve Him, have a love for learning and growing, these seeds we sow are what matter! A cupcake baked with love, a simple celebration surrounded by those who love them, does an expensive birthday party filled with excessive materialism beat that? Playing outside, learning, creating and exploring---all while learning to connect with their Creator---no booked activities calendar trumps that. So many have bought into the lie of what childhood is and what motherhood is and we need to go back to the God path.

Time to nurture, teach, train, allowing adequate time to grow and explore doesn't happen on a rushed schedule. Living life saying 'hurry' constantly does not allow time for us to instill the treasures of virtue and Jesus into a young heart. Children also treasure their mother's in their hearts, and the time we take to show they are important is a reflection of God.

Return to the old paths of mothering--- nurturing, simple fun, growing, teaching, loving, serving with a God fearing heart and we turn again to God's way. Years from now the expensive birthday parties and entertainment filled life won't be the focus of our children's memories. The simple memories and love that was shown to them will be the legacy, and they will pass it on to their children. Like Mary, we must focus on God's way and that He holds the future, and point our children towards Him. We must trust God and remember what is important to Him in our parenting.  Mary's way---the way of treasuring, the way of God, her example is one for all mother's. From Jesus birth, to His teaching at the Temple, to His death on the cross, Mary was treasuring the things of God and trusting Him.

"All those who heard the shepherds story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often." Luke 2:18-19

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.  How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,  and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him." Luke 1:46-50



Thursday, October 2, 2014



Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
    a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
    Whoever believes need never be shaken." Isaiah 28:16 (NLT)


Every day each of us must have an awareness that we are building something with the rising and setting of the sun. We are building a family, a home, a job, possessions---our life. Working hard to get a promotion, the next car, the kids in the best schools. Always looking to 'the next phase' to "better" ourselves. How do we view the most important things, eternal things----are we building those? How often we forget that the 'next phase' is really our eternal life. I don't want my earthly things to be in order, organized and looking "perfect" while my relationship with God and my eternal life are on flimsy ground.

 So many people are focused on building things that do not last because of a lack of trust in our firm and tested stone---Jesus. Our eyes are on our own fears and failures and anxieties and our hearts are not built on our firm foundation, Jesus. Fear and lack of trust in God's absolute sovereignty and provision for us makes us look to everything but Him. So we build, day by day, and we pour into the things that we think will bring security. Suddenly a life was poured into school, jobs, hobbies, fun and entertainment, and in the blink of an eye life is over. We have then built upon fleeting and passing things, and suddenly faced with the reality of eternal life, we have built upon things that have rotted and rusted.

A life built upon Jesus, a firm and tested cornerstone, can never be pulled out from under us. We will come to the end of life knowing that in spite of ourselves and our sins, our hearts and eyes were fixed on Jesus, and not on earth. Our life was not poured out for that which was a false idol, but for Jesus, whom we can trust with our very life. If we each examine what our time is poured our for, we will most likely find a few things that we are putting too much emphasis on building.

In this culture, we tend to build children's lives around activities---preschool, classes, and sports galore. None of these are wrong in and of themselves. The overriding message and emphasis is on building up their accomplishments and 'self esteem.' At the end of a month with all of these activities more time was spent on those than on discipling and teaching children about God. Teaching them that their true value, and the true meaning of their life is wrapped up in God and His love for them. These children become adults who will then wonder if the meaning of life is in activities and accomplishment, and the cycle will continue. When we "break the cycle" by letting them know what is truly important and valuable, they have the ability to view their activities, talents and hobbies in the right perspective. 

Careers are another huge time suck for our 'building' time. Hard work is poured into many careers to the sacrifice of the spiritual life and health. Promotions, achievements, recognition, bonuses, all will pass away. They do not go with us to our permanent home. Lives are spent building careers with the wrong motives----self esteem, self glorification and making money to make ourselves feel worthy. We can build a career for ourselves or a career to bring God glory.

Mothers can sometimes build our daily mothering around the kids activities, a designer house, our looks, achieving the perfect kids birthday party or striving for some sort of unattainable perfection. It's easy to pour effort into the external things that seem to matter but in the end aren't the truly important things. Pouring into our children's hearts and our homes with eternity in mind, as an offering to God that will last---this is what matters. 

What will others see we built from our lives? A home, a huge bank account, fine cars, jewelry and the finest things earth had to offer? Or will they see a heart that was willing to serve, a faith that stood through the wind and waves, a life poured into children and family, a life of perseverance and trust in the One who promised to never leave us or forsake us?

Building on Jesus comes at a cost---a temporary one. We no longer are in control of our time, finances, or career. Our choices are now in control of the King of Kings. We can trust Him! We must know and 'count the cost.' Building on Jesus means an awareness that our life choices, our  entire lifestyle will not be the same as others and every building decision will be taken to Jesus and guided by Him. Every day we are each builders. Whom we are building for---the world or Jesus----is up to us to decide.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?  Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Luke 14:28-30 (NLT)

“To have faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Go Where He Is


"The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegrooms friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." 

John 3:29-30

We are Jesus beloved, His bride. Are we fully willing to go where He is? Do we say "Lord, Lord" and then hesitate? Calling Jesus "Lord," accepting His sacrifice for us, so that we may have life, means commitment on our part. The message of Christ's love without the cross is not the full message of Christ. The cross, bearing our sin, pain, disease, anxieties, the punishment we should have borne! This is all taken so lightly. "Oh, thank you sweet Jesus for dying for me! I'm going to go continue on in my previous ways and just be grateful I am going to heaven."

We are now calling the King of Kings some watered down name. The name of Jesus---who heals diseases, makes whole, FORGIVES all of our sins, who bore pain for us, is treated as an accessory to our lives. Pressing into Jesus, going where the bridegroom is, takes diligence and hard work, self sacrifice---a reordering of our entire lives. He made the greatest sacrifice for us, and yet we are so unwilling to sacrifice for Him. Him whose example we are to emulate, yet we think there will be no "sacrifices" on our part!

Following where Jesus leads us means complete obedience. Our lives our ordered by Him, not us. We no longer follow our ways, but the way of the Master. Our lives are to be transformed. (Romans 12:2) Made anew in holiness and not conformed to this world. We follow where He leads, we let go of what we are asked to let go of in our lives. Sometimes we think this means only "the big stuff." Where we live, what job we have, what we do with our money. To be transformed and not conformed means looking at life through the lens of faith. We transform our life by removing that which is not pleasing to God, following His ways and commands, and listening to Jesus as Lord of our life.

This means being led in the small details of life. Just as the food we put in our bodies should be nutritious and not full of preservatives, what we put in our minds and hearts should be pure---not full of murder, lies, materialism or ideas/themes that are not of God's way! We make choices about what is put in our minds and hearts on a daily basis, not realizing that slowly it is building up a layer of sin on our hearts.  Wrong ideas and thought processes are slowly and stealthily absorbed into the mind and heart. Just as "junk food" would eventually cause disease and decay in our bodies, what we put into our minds and hearts can cause disease and decay.

Just because a tv show, movie, book, speaker, or even church bears the name 'Christian' does not mean it/him/her is telling the truth of Jesus. There are many 'alternate' gospels and interpretations making their way into many popular, mainstream Christian offerings today. We are called to holiness. To be holy means to be set apart, our lives slowly being transformed to be like Jesus. Our walking in holiness means a willingness to give up that which bears no fruit, corrupts and is not in line with our faith. It means being willing to go where He is, no matter the cost to us, or how different it will make us look.

Following Jesus means taking risks, something most of us aren't too comfortable with. It means critical thinking and examining all aspects of life. When Jesus calls, He means for us to follow. We aren't to stop to consult with 'experts', think it over for a few weeks, during which we come up with every 'logical' excuse not to follow what He has asked! Then we are not becoming, as John says, "less and less." We are then making "more and more" of ourselves by not following and making a 'god' out of our human reasoning and logic, which is almost always faulty.

Noah, when asked to build the ark, did not consult with 'experts.' God gave Him instructions as to how to build the ark exactly. David, before confronting Goliath, did not take a survey of who thought he could defeat the giant. Moses was directed by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He didn't stop along the way to consult others to see if he would find the strength to do it. Would any of these great men have done the work of God had they stopped to consult with humans? Jonah, who did hesitate (disobey) was swallowed by a whale, only to be spit out three days later, upon which he realized the only way was to follow God without hesitation!

Finally, Mary, who had just been told quite shocking news, who probably felt a lot of fear that she was to bear the Son of God said: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 

What if Mary had hesitated, argued, dilly dallied? Consulted experts of the day? She probably would have been told she was crazy, not to follow God and to simply continue on in her life as it was. She would have led a life without risk, a life of false comfort, and while God would have loved her just as much, she would have disobeyed and not experienced God's best.

May we be willing, like Mary and other great people of the Bible to truly go where God is, where He guides and follow only His voice, not mans, and not our own. This is truly the way to a life of holy success. When He speaks---in a whisper---may we say "Yes, Lord."

Prayer: "Lord, give me the courage to answer you when you call. Show me truth, your truth, in a world that blurs and discolors it. Show me how to live holy and set apart for you, to go where you are, not allowing any sin to harden me to your ways. Amen."

Things to examine on a path to following ONLY Jesus as Lord. Examine all things in light of scripture, and the truth the Holy Spirit sheds. The things we let in our lives matter, decisions we make shape and affect us, as well as discreetly begin to cover up the Truth.
~Tv shows/movies/music
~Books/Speakers listened to
~Ways of handling money and material possessions
~Examining if we are living God's call for our life, and things He might have us change
~Are we reflecting the world (look exactly like it) or are we being transformed in Christ's image?

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2