Lessons From Ancient History

The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city. During Perikles' Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architect...

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I’ve been enjoying reading through a devotional book called, Men & Women Of The Bible.  In this devotional, it takes the lives of men and women from Biblical times and applies lessons from their lives to our lives today.  This book has been so insightful!

In the following paragraphs are quotes from this book that give insightful applications to our lives today:

Jehoida

Jehoida, the priest, helped to save the life of Joash, the only survivor of an attempt to wipe out the male descendants of King David.  He then became the child-king’s mentor.

Jehoida and Joash led a significant renewal of the nation.  The temple of Baal was destroyed, and God’s temple in Jerusalem was gradually renovated. …Jehoida provided Joash with helpful counsel, but he couldn’t compensate for the king’s lack of internal stability.  Joash was usually swayed by the latest counselor who had his ear.  Even the best advice must be received and followed if it is to be effective.

Jehoram of Judah

The reign of King Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, marked a low point in the history of Judah.  His reign was filled with sin and cruelty … The people of Judah willingly followed Jehoram’s evil ways.  But by the time he died, they were sick of him … The people had chafed under the consequences of Jehoram’s sin, but they blamed their suffering on him rather than accept their own responsibility...  Are you tolerating sin by blaming its presence on someone else? 

Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat knew better than to make the mistakes he made.  His troubles began when he joined forces with evil King Ahab … he mustered the nerve to cry out to God, who miraculously saved him [in a battle].

Unfortunately, few believers remember Jehoshaphat’s brazen request for God’s mercy when they fall into sin.  Instead of running to God for forgiveness and restoration, their guilt persuades them to run from him — a lingering instinct from the days in the garden. … turning to God is always the best recourse.  No matter how greatly you have sinned, God wants you to call on him for help.

Jehoshaphat

When the challenges were obvious, Jehoshaphat turned to God for guidance and made the right choices … Jehoshaphat, however, was not so reliant on God in his day-to-day affairs.  …We repeat Jehoshaphat’s error when we fail to seek God’s counsel in routine decisions.  Because we lack the patience or trust to consult with him, we find ourselves making foolish choices that hurt ourselves or others.

Jehosheba

Jehosheba made an impulsive decision that changed the course of a nation.  Ruthless Queen Athaliah, Jehosehba’s mother was planning to murder every prince in the royal family … Jehosheba decided to rescue at least one of the children … This crucial moment in Jehosheba’s life demonstrates an important lesson: Even when evil has the upper hand, we are still called to do good where we can.  We may not be able to change everything, but we ought to do whatever we can.  It’s impossible to know how great an effect a single act will have.

Jehu

Jehu had the basic qualities that could have made him a great success … He came close to being God’s kind of king, but he recklessly went beyond God’s commands and failed to continue the obedient actions that began his reign.  Within sight of victory, he settled for mediocrity … One thing to make sure this doesn’t happen is to ask God to place you under His control.  With His presence in your life, your natural strengths and abilities will be used to their greatest potential for the greatest good.

Jehu

Jehu was a man with big ideas but little spiritual resolve.  His kingdom moved with excitement, but its destination was unclear … He did not follow God with all of his heart.  He had become God’s instrument for carrying out justice, but he had not become God’s committed servantTo obey with all your heart means to give yourself fully to God — first in devotion to Him and then to His service.

So many lessons to learn from the past — lessons that very much apply to our present.

May we each be resolved today to change where we need to, to obey completely, to rest in God’s promises, and to seek God’s counsel before anything else.

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The Message That Keeps Resonating With Me

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to ope...

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Surrender.

Submit.

Two words that keep resonating with me because this is a message that God has been impressing so soundly on my heart over the past few months.

Both words can sound offensive or frightening, depending on how they are interpreted or applied.

There have been so many misuses and abuses of the word “submit” that it can evoke a lot of unpleasant memories for some of us. 

How amazing it has been for me to relearn the true meanings and proper usages of these words and to find within them, not a place of weakness, inferiority, insecurity, or failure.  Instead, I have found these words (submit and surrender) to become synonymous for victory, strength, peace, protection, and guidance in my life.

In my Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God, I read the following quotes:

“What hinders me from hearing [God speak to my heart] is that I am taken up with other things.  It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place.  I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes, but I do not hear Him.  The child attitude is always, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth‘.” — Oswald Chambers

Most of us spend more time emphasizing our bodies and souls than our spirits.  We want to do what feels good, appeases our emotions, seems rational to our mind, and suits our will — with little thought to what the “control tower” is saying in us … How do we begin focusing on the control tower [His Spirit] within?  We begin our day surrendering ourselves to Him and asking Him to heighten our spiritual senses to see and hear Him throughout the day … You can cooperate with Him through obedience and spending intimate time with Him.

As you yield to and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, He conforms your soul to the image of Christ and uses your body as the instrument to carry out His purposes.

Paul didn’t say to experience victory in this area, you have to fight really hard.  He just said to present, yield, or surrender your body.  (Roma. 12:1-2.) Through Jesus, you have already been given victory as a gift (see I Cor. 15:57.)  You experience it by presenting your body to God as an instrument for Him to use.

The Holy Spirit is always busy making us like Jesus, but we must cooperate in this effort.  …every part of our body has been given to us not for our own gratification but as a “tool to do what is right for the glory of God” (Rom. 6:13).  Give your hands to Him for His work, your feet to walk His path, and your ears to hear Him speak.

Often the Spirit’s leading will contradict our logic and feelings; but when we submit, we will experience a deep-rooted peace about our decision.

The words, surrender and submit, have become precious to me now because I know how they apply in my relationship with the Lord.  Those two words are the key to walking in peace, righteousness, grace, obedience, joyfulness, and faith.  They are the answer to experiencing the peace and joy and life I’ve always wanted.

I have written numerous past blogs on this topic: of my Christian walk being so much of a struggle.  I know that I am not alone in these struggles.  I have heard so many Christians state or write almost the exact same thing.  Life for myself and for so many Christians is so much of a struggle to do God’s will.  God’s will often seems more synonymous with work, a struggle, difficulties.

Jesus though says:

Matthew 11:30

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Christian walk only becomes burdensome and a struggle when we attempt to do it in our own strength, in our own efforts.  If we sense a struggle, then we have a good indication that we are not resting or submitted to God’s will. 

The struggle is an indication that we are trusting in ourselves, in our own reasoning, our own faith, our own sense of timing or justice or whatever.

When we are submitted to God, we have surrendered ourselves — all of us — to God. 

Surrender means we are yielded to His purposes, to His timing, to His will.

The struggle indicates a battle.  It’s a battle between walking in our flesh, trusting in ourselves, and between trusting in God enough to submit and yield ourselves to Him.

If we are not fully submitted to God, I can guarantee you that there is a lack of trust.

The “root” to that lack of trust is a fear or lie you have believed that is keeping you back from being able to fully submit to God.

Submission to God is crucial in our walk with the Lord.  When I am at a place of complete surrender to God, I have found the greatest source of peace.  I cannot even begin to describe how amazingly beautiful this kind of serenity of soul is!

Being surrendered to God enables me to be fully “connected” to my Power Source, fully receptive to His leading, fully guided by His Spirit, fully at rest (peace) in Him, fully “engaged” to act as He directs, fully protected by being in the center of His will, fully filled with His Holy Spirit so His fruits are manifested in my life.

Surrender to God is where you find true and lasting victory.

Submission to God is where you find power to act decisively, guided by His Presence.

Are your actions, attitudes, words stemming from your own purposes and guidance, or do they come as a result of spending time with the Lord, waiting on Him, listening to Him, submitting to Him, resting and trusting in Who He is and in the infallibility of His good will?

Don’t Despair

Beth taking off from Barbury Castle

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I hear it… the voices of fear, despair…  I see them in the comments on Facebook, in news feeds.

There is a lot that we can focus on that could get us pretty discouraged.  That focus can cause us to merely go through the motions of living when all we are doing is despairing.

Our present circumstances are similar in many ways to what generations gone before us have experienced.  History has a way of repeating itself… probably because humanity, in general, tends to repeat itself in the choices that are made.

Specific challenges may be unique; yet, the heart of the issues we face today are still the same as generations faced in the past.

Not only is the nature of the challenges we face today still the same, but so is the answer. 

Just because our personal circumstances or even national or worldwide circumstances may appear more grim does not mean that God has been taken by surprise and doesn’t have an answer.

None of what we face today is shocking to God.  None of it has left God in despair.

Despair comes from one who is looking to things, people. laws, circumstances for hope. 

Despair comes from a root of fear.

While reading through my devotions today, I came across the following quotes.  They are simple but profound:

“Most people have felt like giving up at one time or another: in a relationship, during an overwhelming task at home, school or work; or during a persistent illness.  But like Jeremiah, we are called not to despair but to endure.  Instead of focusing your thoughts, prayers, and energy on getting out of a problem, you can draw on God’s resources to get through it.  God’s love enabled Jeremiah to bear the worst humiliation; it can see you through your problems too.  Make endurance your theme throughout your trials today.”  — taken from Men & Women of the Bible

Our hope comes from the Lord!  As situations around us become more discouraging, the opposite is also true: God’s Word and His promises and His truth become more promising and encouraging!

As circumstances around us look more frightening, the opposite is also true: our faith can become stronger.

As people disappoint us, the opposite is also true: God’s faithfulness and unfailing love support us.

As sin and error prevails, God’s truth triumphs still.

The end has not been written.

Friends of our family recently lost their house to a fire last week; yet, they rejoice that they are safe.  They rejoice that their “true treasures” are not in this world.

Two women in their 40’s that I know are fighting cancer; yet, they are able to persevere because they know that God is the One Who knows the story of their lives.  He writes the foreword/introductory, He writes the conclusion, and He writes the chapters in between.  God isn’t finished!

The story is finished when God finishes it.

The truth always trumps the lie.  Light always trumps darkness.  Love always trumps hate.  Righteousness always trumps sin.  Faith always trumps fear.

Don’t despair.  God is not clueless.  God is not perplexed.  God is not discouraged.  And neither should we be, if He is our God.

Lessons From Gardening

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Flowers are truly one of my favorites!  I love the variety of colors, textures, shapes, fragrances, and sizes in which they come.

My style of learning is visual so it’s no wonder that I love flowers.  I never tire of looking at the flowers in my garden.  In fact, I have been known to walk outside several times a day just to gaze upon the beauty of the flowers around my house.

When we moved to our current house of six months, the only greenery we could call our own was the grass in our back-yard, and just four shrubs in the front of our house.

This is our fourth house, and every time we have moved to a house, I have always enjoyed cleaning out old over-grown gardens of vines and weeds and then transforming them into something beautiful by adding flowers.

This house would be no exception.  Once I had the funds available, I set to work, adding a variety of beautiful and fragrant blooms to my gardens.  I mostly invested in perennials so I could enjoy their beauty for years to come, reserving my porch pots for a few cheaper annuals.

Then, my dear mother-in-law, who loves flowers as much as me brought quite a few potted flowers from her gardens.  Before she had departed that weekend, I had already added all the plants to my flower-beds, in spite of high heat indexes.

Not only do I love gazing at my flowers, but I enjoy taking care of them.  I water them regularly and am careful to prune, weed, and do all the many things plant-lovers do.

One recent day as I was snapping off the heads of the dead petunias, I couldn’t help but think of the many lessons we can learn from gardening.

I’ll try to keep it short and sweet this time, but here they are:

1. Some flowers require old growth to be removed so that energy isn’t wasted and new growth can occur.

How about us?  God wants to remove the old sin patterns and old wounds from our lives and pasts so that our energy isn’t wasted on what was but now shouldn’t be so that new life and growth can occur in our lives.  Sometimes, the process is painful and can seem unnecessary or tiresome.  Yet, all growth requires investment and change.

2. When seeking to help others to grow are we careful how we “remove” or point out old growth so that we don’t damage new, tender blooms in the process?

As I was snapping off the dead blooms from my Petunias, I managed to snap off one or two fresh blooms in the process.  I couldn’t help but think how sometimes we do this to fellow believers and to our own children.  We are so eager to point out the areas in which they need to grow, but sometimes in our eagerness or zealousness, we forget that gentleness is necessary in order to not bruise or harm the tender buds that are unfurling.

3. Consistent watering is required for most flowers to maintain a healthy life.

How about us?  Are we consistent in spending time in the Word of God, in prayer, and in fellowship with Him?  We need the consistency of His Holy Spirit, His presence, and His Word to give us direction, health in our spiritual lives, and to keep us refreshed spiritually.

4. Light is a necessary requirement for plants to live.

Light provides growth.  It protects against dangers to plants, such as molds.  It gives guidance to the little plants below the surface so they know in which direction to grow.  It encourages blooms to unfurl, and blooms instinctively know to open in the direction of the sun.  Light also reveals and gives definition.  I believe the best analogy to light is that of God’s Word and His Presence as revealed in His Word.

  • God’s Word protects against dangers.
  • God’s Word gives guidance and shows us how we are to grow.
  • God’s Word reveals truth.
  • God’s Word defines what our new natures and its attributes should look like as His children.
  • God’s Word encourages spiritual growth in our lives.
  • God’s Word encourages us to grow in the “direction” of our Heavenly Father, as revealed in His Word.

5. Weeding is another necessary but arduous task in the life of a gardener and for the protection of the plants.  Otherwise, flowers can be “choked out.”

Weeding is definitely my least favorite task when it comes to caring for my plants.  It is probably just as equally challenging to allow the “weeds” in my own life and in the lives of my children to be dealt with.  We all want to enjoy the blooms, but the weeding…?  It’s work, plain and simple work.  There isn’t an obvious, immediate reward for it, but it’s necessary for the plant’s survival.

  • When weeds are left to grow, unchecked, they very soon can block out the light of the sun from the plant.
  • Weeds can also distract others from the seeing the beauty of the flowers.
  • Weeds can also soak up the soil’s nutrients and water that is meant for the flower.

“Weeding” out the “weeds” in our own lives is necessary for the abundant life we were meant to live to continue.

6.  Weeds often look a lot like flowers.

Not necessary a deep statement, but oh, is it true.  How many times do we see weeds growing closely to a flower that has a similar leaf structure?  For those not as expert in their knowledge of the varieties of flowers and of their individual characteristics, it can be easy to be fooled.  Before long, the weeds have taken over the garden.  The lessons to be learned are:

  • The weeds or lies often closely resemble the truth or real flower — that’s why they are easily accepted.
  • Study to understand the characteristics of flowers so you can distinguish the difference between the real flower and the weed.  (Know what the truth is, what real spiritual fruit looks like so you can recognize the false counterpart.)

7.  Weed frequently because young weeds and a few weeds are easier to pull than an overgrowth.

Don’t overlook the little compromises in your life.  Those little sins can soon produce an entire harvest of shame and destruction in your own life and in the lives of others.  As the Bible says, “… the little foxes spoil the grapes.”

 

When Waiting Seems To Be The Only Action Occuring…

Pete's a German shepherd-chow mix.  I took him for a walk one morning.

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Those minutes that drag into hours…  Those days that drag into weeks… Months… Years…  Prayers that seem to go unanswered…  Pain that seems to never release its hold…  Regrets…  Old habits…  Difficult people…   Painful wounds from the past…  Loved ones who still remain enchained to themselves…  So many dreams that seem to be fading, dying…  when the waiting seems eternal… and hope is fading…

Perhaps that’s you today.

When waiting seems to be the only action occurring, let’s look at the apparent action.  What’s happening while we are waiting?

Corrie ten Boom said the following regarding waiting:

If you want to hear God’s voice clearly and you are uncertain, then remain in His presence until He changes this uncertainty.  Often much can happen during this waiting for the Lord.  Sometimes, He changes pride into humility; doubt into faith and peace; sometimes lust into purity.  The Lord can and will do it.

Anne Graham Lotz says the following in regards to waiting before acting:

I never make a major decision, especially one that will affect another person, before I receive direction from God.”

Priscilla Shirer said this about her friend Anne Graham Lotz, “…she is resolved to wait on Him for guidance before coming to a final decision on a matter.”

Two verses concerning waiting from God’s Word:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Psalm 27:14

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

We also see the word “endure” in God’s Word — another word that speaks of a steadfastness in waiting.  It speaks of carrying a “load” while waiting.  It speaks of not getting “bogged down” in the waiting but the waiting actually accomplishing something within us.

John 6:27

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

2 Thessalonians 1:4

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

2 Timothy 2:3

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:15

15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

These verses indicate that something is being accomplished while we wait.  In my previous blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/whose-leading, it speaks of how God was doing something that was so wonderful that it couldn’t even be imagined.

 

While we wait, we need to believe that God is working.  It might be a work that needs to be accomplished in us while we wait so we are prepared to receive the manifestation of God’s answer.

Sometimes, the purpose for our waiting is to prepare us for God’s answer. 

It may be that we are not ready for the immediate outcome of God’s answer; thus, we must wait so that He can change us so we are prepared to properly receive and respond submissively to His answer.

I love what Priscilla Shirer says in her Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God:

The process of waiting for a message from God can be just as important as the message itself.  In waiting, my faith and intimacy with the Lord grow.  Often something I learn while waiting prepares me for the message so that I am not as surprised by it as I might have been otherwise; thus, I am more willing to obey.

Discerning the Voice of God goes on to say:

The value we place on an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait on them … we should be willing to wait patiently and not move until we have received it [the answer or direction from God].

Did you get that powerful challenge?  The value of an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait. 

Whom are we waiting on?  God!  How important is He really in your life?  That will determine how long you are willing to endure and to wait patiently.  That will determine how patient your waiting is.  That will determine the outcome of your waiting.

Perhaps, the action that needs to occur is ours — yours and mine.  Perhaps, there’s something that needs to change in our own hearts in relationship to God. 

Do you trust God enough to wait on Him — no matter how long the process takes?  God is Almighty and all-knowing.  He knows the perfect timing for the completion of His will in you and in the events of your life.  Perhaps, the problem with your waiting is with your trust.

What lies are you believing about God that are holding you back from fully submitting your will to Him and from resting in the perfection of His will?

I love what Discerning the Voice of God says in the following quote:
Habakkuk purposed to remove himself from the depression and anxiety of his ground-level circumstances and get above them.  He took his eyes off his circumstances and watched only for God.
What about us?  Are you and I still wallowing in the immediate ground-level circumstances in which we find ourselves, or are we keeping our eyes fixed on the “Author and Finisher of our Faith”?

I love what the following verses say in regards to waiting:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

These verses remind us that God’s plan will be accomplished in due season — in His season.

We wait on God while our waiting serves a purpose. 

Our waiting teaches us to rest on Him, which requires humility, submission, and trust.

The timing of God’s answer is just as important as the answer itself.

Discerning the Voice of God says the following:

While the righteous man trusts God will fulfill His Word, the proud man (self-reliant) depends on himself to bring things to pass.  When we seek God in faith, He promises us great reward.

Our waiting reveals whom it is upon which we rely.  It is either ourselves or God.

Upon whom do you rely?

 

Who’s In Control?

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Two days ago, I went to the Christian bookstore and eagerly purchased three different Bible study books.  I couldn’t wait to begin a new chapter of growth in my relationship with the Lord and walk with Him!

My study yesterday led me to Habakkuk 1.  It drew my attention to verses 2-4:

Habakkuk 1:2-4

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Habakkuk assumes that God hears and will answer.  Yet, Habakkuk is questioning and doubtful as to when and why not now?

Sounds familiar!

How many times do we doubt if God is personally involved or cares about each minute detail of our lives?  How many times do we question whether God is speaking because we doubt our own ability to hear Him properly?

Sure, we all technically know that God cares, but we live as if He isn’t concerned with every detail.  We live as though we need to take charge of certain details, “just in case God doesn’t bother to communicate His will or give us His strength for the specific situation.”  So, we “charge ahead”, forcing our own will on ourselves and others.  Then, we wonder why things begin to turn rather “ugly” and why people are hurt or offended.

What if instead, we stopped.  We waited.  We rested.  We prayed.  We “fed” ourselves with “manna” from being in God’s presence?

Doubting our own ability to hear God correctly has some definite truth and wisdom.  The Bible warns about deception, and our souls are still affected by our sinful nature.  (Which nature, I might add, God is transforming.)  We can and are easily deceived.

Yet, we have to be careful that our fear of our ability or inability to hear God is not based on our own abilities to hear Him.  This fear might indicate that we are relying on our own abilities to hear.  For example, we might think, “If I am such and such a way, I will ‘hear’ God or understand what He is saying.”  Again, there is some definite truth to this.  Yet, truth/God’s Word is not dependent upon our ability to perceive it. 

Don’t rely on your ability to hear Him.  Rely on His ability to speak truth and on His desire to speak it to you.

He speaks to us through His Word:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

He speaks to us through creation:

Luke 19:40

40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Romans 1:20

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Psalm 19:1-3

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

He speaks to us through His people:

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

2 Timothy 3:10

10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

1 Corinthians 10:11

11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

James 5:10

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

He speaks through His Holy Spirit dwelling within us:

1 Corinthians 2:13

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Ephesians 3:5

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

1 Corinthians 2:10

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Habakkuk questioned God, wondering and doubting when God was going to answer.  God answers Habakkuk with the following:

Habakkuk 1:5

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

God is saying to Habakkuk that God is doing a work so marvelous that Habakkuk wouldn’t even be able to believe it because it’s that marvelous.

God gives specific instructions to Habakkuk:

  • Look
  • Observe
  • Be astonished!
  • Wonder!

I love what Discerning The Voice Of God, by Priscilla Shirer says:

“While Habakkuk waited on God to answer, God was already answering!  God wanted to restore Habakkuk’s confidence by showing him that He was not idle and uninterested in the demise of Judah.  Even though the prophet wasn’t seeing God respond in the way and timing he expected, God was speaking and moving.  He always is — even in His silence.”

Notice the change in Habakkuk’s attitude, belief, and response after this word from God:

Habakkuk 1:12-13

12 Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

This prayer is a prayer of praise to the One Who is mighty.

This prayer is full of recognition of Who God truly is.

This prayer is full of eager expectation of what God will do.

This prayer is full of personal trust in the Lord.

“Could your level of expectancy be a factor in how clearly and frequently you hear God’s voice?” (Discerning the Voice of God)

Psalm 5:3

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Ecclesiastes 5:20

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Psalm 139:17

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

John 8:47

47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

John 10:27

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

How good are we at listening? 

Do we “listen” for what God wants to say to us, or are we too busy telling God what we think the passage means?

Are our prayer times more about us telling God what we want, what we think, or do we spend the time also listening to Him, quieting our hearts before Him and ready to receive what He wants to show us?

I believe one of the greatest “marks” of godliness in a believer is a heart “position” of complete “resting” in the Lord and surrender to Him.  It is an attitude of utter reliance upon God and expectant readiness to obey His promptings.

If we aren’t waiting on the Lord’s leading before proceeding ahead, the questions to be asked are: “Who is leading?  Who is in control of our lives?”

The answer really is our self.

God is certainly Sovereign, and He will bring His will to pass no matter what.  Yet, God gives free will.  Love always allows for a choice.  When we disobey God, this is not His will.  When we hold onto our unbelief, this is not His will.

Every day, we are given multiple opportunities to submit our wills to God — to choose His grace and power to walk in the new “life” He has given us as His children over our own old sin natures.

We though. must. make. the choice. to surrender.

Do you want your own fallible, mortal, limited self as the one to whom you “bow before” — the one you serve?

Or…

Will you acknowledge that there is a God who is good, loving, powerful, holy, and therefore utterly trustworthy?  He is doing a work that far surpasses your wildest imagination.

Oh, dear one, trust Him.  Wait on Him.  Look.  Observe. Be astonished!  He will bring it to pass, in the perfection of His will.

Life-Changing Focus

Remember <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._C._Escher" target="_blank">M.C.Escher</a>?

What you see is the celebration hall of the columbiadamm cemetery in Berlin, Germany. If you speak german, then you find ...

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“Knowing the love of God and who we are in Christ affects how we live our lives, as I John 3:1-3 reveals…  Knowing God is the most important part of our belief system.”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

“The cross was where the work was finished, dealing a death blow to sin and death.  The empty tomb was where the work was vindicated, assuring us of eternal life.  The presence of Jesus in heaven is where the work will be glorified…”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 When I look at my circumstances, I become stressed or falsely secure.  When I look at my possessions, I either become discontent or proud.  When I look at myself, I become discouraged or selfish.  When I look to others, I can be either insecure or judgmental.  When I look to the Lord, I am made full of His goodness, and everything else dims.

 Who is the Lord and what is He like?

Jehovah-jireh (The Lord will provide.) Gen. 22:14

El Shaddai (The One Who is mighty to shed forth and pour out sustenance and blessing) Gen. 17:1-2

Jehovah-Sabaoth (The Lord of the hosts of heaven) Ps. 24:10

Jehovah-rophe (The Lord our healer) Ex. 15:26

Jehovah-shalom (The Lord is peace) Judges 6:24

Jehovah-rohi (The Lord our Shepherd) Ps. 23:1

Jehovah-shammah (The Lord is there) Ezekiel 48:35

Jehovah-nissi (The Lord is my banner) Ex. 17:15

Jehovah-tsidkenu (The Lord our righteousness) Jer. 23:5-6

(Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 

It is so easy to get stuck looking back at the past, with all its failures, hurts, and wounds.  We need to bring those hurts and sins to the Lord, but then leave them with Him.

It is so easy to get stuck looking at our present, and we forget that there is a far greater and broader perspective that helps keep circumstances in proper focus.  It’s called the God of eternity.

It is so easy to worry about the future with its unknown possibilities, and we forget Who controls it.

“…our lives are changed as our minds are changed by the truth.”   (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 Who else is God?

He is…

Advocate (I John 2:1)

Alpha and Omega (Rev. 21:6)

Amen (Rev. 3:14)

Anointed One (Ps. 2:2)

Apostle of our confession (Heb. 3:1)

Author and perfector of faith (Heb. 12:2)

Beginning and end (Rev. 21:6)

Beloved (Eph. 1:6)

Branch (Zech. 3:8)

Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Bright morning star (Rev. 22:16)

Chief cornerstone (Mk. 12:10)

Chief shepherd (I Pet. 5:4)

Christ (Matt. 16:16-17)

Counselor (Is. 9:6)

Deliverer (Rom. 11:26)

Door (John 10:2)

Eternal Father (Is. 9:6)

Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)

First and last (Rev. 20:13)

God (John 1:1, 14)

Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Guardian of souls (I Pet. 2:25)

Head of the church (Col. 1:18)

Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)

High priest (Heb. 4:14)

Holy One (I John 2:20)

Horn of salvation (Luke 1:69)

I Am (John 8:58)

Immanuel (Matt. 1:23)

King of Israel (John 12:13)

King of kings (Rev. 17:14)

Lamb (Rev. 13:8)

Life (John 14:6)

Light of the world (John 8:12)

Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5)

Living Stone (I Pet. 2:4)

Lord (John 21:7)

Lord Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:3)

Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14)

Messiah (John 4:25-26)

Mighty God (Is. 9:6)

Our Passover Lamb (I Cor. 5:7)

Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)

Prophet (Deut. 18:15,18)

Redeemer (Is. 59:20)

Resurrection and life (John 11:25)

Righteous One (Is. 53:11)

Rock (I Cor. 10:4)

Root and offspring of David (Rev. 22:16)

Ruler (Matt. 2:6)

Savior (Luke 2:11)

Son of God (Rom. 1:4)

Son of Man (Matt. 24:30)

Teacher (John 13:13)

True vine (John 15:1)

Truth (John 14:6)

Way (John 14:6)

Wonderful (Is. 9:6)

Word of God (Rev. 19:13)   (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

“The main difference between ungodly meditation and Biblical meditation is the object of our meditation.”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

Do we focus on our past, our present circumstances, ourselves (our own faults, insecurities, fears, hurts), others, our possessions (health, looks, physical abilities, material possessions), or do we focus on the Lord?

The truth of God is the key to healing in all areas of our lives.  What truth about Him do we need to replace the lies in our minds and hearts that are hindering us from living the life God has given to us?

Jesus died to save us from our sins — its penalty but also from its debilitating presence in our lives.  Jesus came to give us life — His life that is abundant, grace-filled, peaceful (true kind), joyful (not reliant on our circumstances)!  If we are not living the “abundant” life He died to give us, then we must ask ourselves what the lies are we are believing, repent of them, and then ask the Lord to replace them with the truth.  The truth is found in Himself.

What truth about Him needs to replace some lies you might be living today?

 

Healing For Our Brokenness

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When it feels like the wounds from our past will never heal..  When we look in the mirror and see the haunted eyes of a victim staring back at us…  When each time we hear a news article that speaks of a similar situation to our own painful past feels like it has re-opened old wounds…  When we wonder if we will ever be anything other than wounded and hurting…

Today, I was just reading in my devotional, Men & Women Of The Bible, the story of the life of Jairus.

Luke 8:40-56

40 And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.

41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:

42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.

43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,

44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.

47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.

50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.

51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.

52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.

53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.

54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.

55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.

56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

The devotional summarized the story of Jairus with these words:

“The words Jesus spoke to Jairus — ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’ — ought to echo frequently in our hearts.  Fear can make for a hopeless outlook, but trust in God keeps hope alive.  Those who trust in God often find they get back what they thought they had lost.”

I love the summary that those who trust in God often find they get back what they thought they had lost.

I also love the part that tells another story within the story of Jairus.  It is the story of the woman who had suffered for 12 years from a disease.  This woman knew Jesus could heal her so she reached out and touched His garment.

I find it interesting that Jesus’ power to heal her acted it seems of its own volition.  That verse is curious to me.

The verse states that some of His “virtue” left Him to heal her.  She reached, and she received.

Jairus also had a “hopeless” situation.  While he was waiting for Jesus to finally get to his house, Jairus received news that his daughter had already died.

Then there’s the story of Lazarus in the Bible.

John 11 :1-44

11 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Doesn’t that sound like so many of us?  It appears like God is absent, late, or even worse present and uncaring.  In each of the above situations, people were suffering.  In all three cases, the end result was God did bring good to them.  He restored what had been lost to them. 

The shortest verse in the Bible is found in the story of Lazarus.  It is those two profound words, “Jesus wept.”  Two simple words that communicate so much.  Jesus wasn’t unfeeling.  He wasn’t ignoring the pain and the hurts.

Perhaps today, you are reading this with tears streaming down your eyes, asking Jesus, “Will this pain never end?”  Perhaps, you are reading this, angry, because it looks like another “feel-good” message that doesn’t seem to have any relevance to your life today.  Perhaps, you are questioning how this can change your past.

I do not claim to hold all the answers for you.  In fact, it would be arrogant for me to presume upon God’s role as comforter in your life.  What I do know is this…

I know that God is a loving God and that He personally loves you.

I know that God is a healing God, and that He can heal you from even the deepest hurts and wounds.

I know that God brings beauty out of ashes.

I know that God can take a victim and make you a victorious overcomer.

I know that your past doesn’t need to define your present.

I know that He can restore what was taken from you with something far better.

Dear sister or brother in Christ, will you take all of those hurts and all of those wounds and will you hand them to Him?  Are you willing to reach out to Him?  His very nature is such that when you reach out for His healing, His healing power immediately responds.

Reach out and receive.

You can be a new and “present work” of His grace and power living out in your life.

PLUMB LYRICS

“Restored”

All the fear
All the bitter
Has disappeared
It’s just a vapor now
All the shame
All the broken
That should be here
Has all left me now
I have been made wholeMy heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter whatAll the dark
All the distance
Has disappeared
It’s just a vapor now
All the hurt
All the hatred
That should be here
Has all left me now
I have been made whole

My heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter what

Oh hallelujah
I’ve been made whole
What once was fractured
Has been restored
Oh hallelujah
I’ve been made whole
What once was fractured
Has been restored

My heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter what

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Grace

From the island of Koh Samui

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Grace… Just to type the word grace or say its name is somehow calming and comforting.

What is grace exactly?

For a lot of people, grace means kindness.

For many, a God of grace is preferred over a God of justice.  In fact, there are many churches that preach either grace or justice to the exclusion of the other. 

For some churches, God’s righteousness and justice are so maximized that His love and grace are minimized.

For other churches, God’s love and grace are emphasized to the extent that God’s righteousness and justice are ignored.

While driving today, the truth struck me that grace can only be understood in the context of justice.

What is grace, except in the context of justice?

From Dictionary.com, it says this about the noun form of grace:

noun

1.

elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:

We watched her skate with effortless grace across the ice.

2.

a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment:

He lacked the manly graces.

3.

favor or goodwill.

4.

a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:

It was only through the dean’s grace that I wasn’t expelled from school.

5.

mercy; clemency; pardon:

He was saved by an act of grace from the governor.
Synonyms: lenity, leniency, reprieve.
Antonyms: harshness.

6.

favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.

7.

an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied:

The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days’ grace before the policy lapses.
Comparegrace period.

Grace in the context of its verb form means:

From Dictionary.com:
verb (used with object), graced, gracing.

14.

to lend or add grace to; adorn:

Many fine paintings graced the rooms of the house.

15.

to favor or honor:

to grace an occasion with one’s presence.
Synonyms: glorify, elevate, exalt.
Antonyms: disrespect, dishonor.
And this is what Dictionary.com also says about justice:

justice

noun

the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness:

to uphold the justice of a cause.

2.

rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason:

to complain with justice.

3.

the moral principle determining just conduct.

4.

conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.

5.

the administering of deserved punishment or reward.

6.

the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings:

a court of justice.

7.

judgment of persons or causes by judicial process:

to administer justice in a community.
For people to preach grace without justice is like selling a hair-brush to someone who doesn’t have hair.  It’s worthless in that it doesn’t have any functionality nor serves any purpose to its recipient.

The very definition of grace implies that justice was deserved, but that the opposite was offered. 

Grace implies a kindness and favor from an Outside Source — from Someone who had the right to administer justice and chose instead to offer benevolence.  It also implies that the one being granted the grace was lacking grace in the first place.

What grace tells us about ourselves is that we were lacking grace in our natural state.  In fact, we were deserving of justice. 

When God grants us the noun form of grace, He is saying that He took the place that we justly deserved and the emptiness of lives, devoid of grace.  He is offering to us instead His kindness, forgiveness, immunity, righteousness, and restoring to us a life now full of grace.

Not only are we granted the noun form of grace, but we are granted the verb form of it as well.  The verb form of grace is what compels us and gives us the ability to walk the new life God has granted us through our salvation.

The beautiful truth about grace is that as Men & Women of the Bible says,

“The Christian life is often an awkward dance of two steps forward and three steps back; the key is that God honors our efforts in spite of our errors.  As you pray, put into words your desire to be available to God.  You will discover that His willingness to use you is greater than your desire to be used.

That is grace! 

God wills and desires to use us!  I love the word desire because it speaks of emotion and longing.  It speaks of His love for each of us personally — for you and for me.

John 1:16

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Romans 3:24

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 5:2

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:15

15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Romans 5:21

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Grace is the Gospel’s saving and transforming message for our lives. 

Grace is what saves us into eternal life, and grace is what gives us the ability to live out our salvation. 

May the grace being offered to you today hold the full richness of what it really means for you and for me.  I, for one, can’t think of anything for which I am more grateful!

To My Four Sons

I really like how the green turned out. I think the trick is using a less contrasting final highlight than I have been using on my other knights. I think it looks more natural. Also this is the first time I got enough courage to paint all four of...

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Dear Sons,

Bear with me as I meander down “memory lane”…  I wanted to share a few thoughts for you as I think of the type of men I pray and eagerly await that you will become.  Today, you are boys, but in just a few more “tomorrows,” you will be men.

It seems like just a decade or so ago (more like three), I was the girl with the paper dolls, the piles of books stacked on top of my summer hammock, and the dreams of meeting and marrying her Prince Charming and having lots of his charming mini-mes to raise.

I grew up mostly with sisters and one younger brother.  I knew a lot about the feminine world, but the masculine world enchanted me.

Seeing these magnificent “creatures” of such broad shoulders, strong arms, tall forms, deep voices was captivating.  I was fascinated with the world of men: so much physical strength and leadership.

My dad was such a great example of the willingness to physically labor for his family.  He came from hardy German-stock and knew what it meant to work hard.  Monday through Friday, he worked at his job, and on Saturdays, he worked all day on household projects.

Those same hands though that could wield an ax and split logs, wider than my hips, also knew how to gently cradle my face and tell me that I was special.

It’s a beautiful thing to see that such strength can also yield such gentleness. 

As a girl, my daddy’s hands symbolized his protection and provision but also his benevolence.

Even when I wasn’t aware of it, as a woman, I “looked” for a husband who knew how to lead like a shepherd: with kind leadership that protects and provides.

I remember the first time I noticed your own daddy’s hands.  It was the weekend he came to meet my parents for the first time.  Your daddy and I were sitting at the table talking, and I looked down and noticed those hands of his.  They were lean, long, clean, and strong.  I could tell they were capable of demonstrating both strength and gentleness.  They were hands that were capable of wrestling the rotor-tiller and also of tenderly cradling a newborn babe.

I’ll never forget your daddy’s vows on our wedding day.  In part of his vows, he said, “…A knight must also both lead and follow.  I promise to be head of our marriage relationship as we both follow our Lord’s will…  Unclear leading is fruitless.  I will engage in daily prayer, seeking the Lord’s will for our lives. …My sword will slay many foes out in the world, but I will lay it down on our doorstep, reserving only gentleness and tenderness for you.  A knight fights first for his king.  Likewise, as high as I esteem you, I will place our king and Lord first in my life.  Secondly, but with equal vigor, a knight protects his princess, his wife…”

Your daddy has lived out his vows faithfully to you kids and I.  He hasn’t been perfect, but your daddy has with heart-felt conviction, lived out the sweaty, messy, soul-aching commitment to the promises he made to me those 13 years ago.  He has sought to lead us with humility, gentleness, and conviction.  This weight of responsibility can either drive you to despair or drive you to your knees in prayer.  Your daddy has been resolutely steadfast in looking to his Heavenly Father in prayer for an example on how to lead.

Sons, we live in a world of such conflicting opinions.  On one side, men are exhibited with primal grunts of raw, brute strength.  On the other side, men are portrayed as weak, imbeciles, insensitive, and inferior to women.  Neither is correct.

It is a fact that God has made men to be strong, but what does true strength look like?

Strength is learning how to yield your physical muscles to serve your family and to protect your family against harm.  Sometimes, protection means using physical attributes, but it should always involve spiritual strength and wisdom to guide around or guide through the dangers. 

Strength is also learning how to restrain your “fleshly” reactions and desires.  It means sometimes you do that which is inconvenient and uncomfortable in order to listen and meet the needs of the hearts of your family.

Sons, we live in a big world, full of many pit-falls, but we also have a Big and Good and Loving God who will guide you around those snares, if you yield to Him.

Your daddy got it so right when he said that a “knight must also both lead and follow.”

Sons, perhaps the biggest challenge you have to conquer is not enemies or temptations “out there” but the “enemy” within.  You see, Sons, if you can learn to yield to your Heavenly Father and in Him to conquer your own pride, anger, lust, greed, fears, etc…, you will have fought the greatest battles. 

Learn to conquer your own selfish desires, and you will know how to cherish the princesses God has in store for you.

Learn to control the unbridled “passions of your youth”, as the Bible calls them, and you will know how to treat others and yourself with respect and kindness.

See yourself as God sees you, and you will be able to view others as God sees them.

Replace the lies with truth, and you will be able to stand courageously for that which is good and right.

Sons, be men of honor who do the right thing — rather than the popular thing.

Be leaders who guide, rather than brutes who dominate.

Sons, never objectify women.  See them as beloved and created by God for His unique and special purposes.  Treat them with respect.  They are your complement, and they are to add balance to your life with their own contributions.

Sons, guard your hearts, your eyes, your tongues, your emotions, your bodies.

You are loved by God, created by Him for a uniquely, special purpose.  God has made you in His image.  Don’t let anything or anyone cause you to believe otherwise.

Stand firm in the Lord, in the power of His might.  Fight His battles — not your own.

Sons, know that no matter how many times you fall, and sadly enough, you will fall at times, there is a God who stands waiting and longing to forgive you and to enable you to live the victorious life He created for you!  Don’t ever give up. Get back up.  Stand.

Sons, above all else, know that I love you and even more so, God loves you.  If you don’t feel it or recognize it, cry out to Him.  He loves you with “an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  You are His beloved, forgiven and created to bring glory to His name — the name of the One who died to save you.

Much love,

From the woman who will always be your Mom/Momma