Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Three Years Ago

Three years ago I got an awesome gift which I named Brady. This gift takes a lot of effort to take care of and maintain, but the rewards are worth it. Brady has a certain power over me...his smile and affection can cheer me up even on my worst days. His expressions and mannerisms are priceless, especially his dancing. He loves making people laugh.

So today I give thanks for my little boy who fills me with so much joy. May we have many more years together ~

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lessons From the Bus Line

Sending my kids to school is a wonderful thing, but also a bit scary. I've been warned about all the things they will pick up from other children...bad language, bad habits, and hearing information not intended for young ears. Sometimes I feel guilty for putting my kids in that environment, yet I'm pretty sure homeschooling is not for me.

So I was thrilled that the first thing Jacob learned "from the bus line" was on the other end of the spectrum. We were visiting Jeremy's grandpa and Jacob asked him to test his math skills in "times". He was asked, "What's 8x8?", and Jacob replied 64! Jeremy and I just looked at each other as if to say "Where did he learn that?!" I knew they were only doing simple addition and subtraction in first grade. After exploring Jacob's new skills we asked him where he learned to multiply.... "A 3rd grader taught me in the bus line." Needless to say he has one proud daddy :)

I know a day will come when peer pressure will have the opposite effect, but for now I'm encouraged that not everything our children learn from their peers will be a bad influence. I pray that God continues to surround my little boys with friends who will build them up and lead them in the right direction.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


When I took my last final exam in college I was relieved to be done with tests. No more stress wondering if I had studied the right things and if I could recall it at the right time. No more letter grades defining my success. And while I have never taken another test on paper, I have been learning that testing in life never ends.

"A test is usually given to find out what we know. From a biblical perspective, a test is given to find out what we believe. Tests in school are often stressful, and so it is in life. Trials, tests, and temptations are difficult but necessary tools in the hands of God to strengthen and prove our faith" - Cynthia Heald

Peter writes "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you...These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world" 1 Peter 4:12, 1:7

I still don't like tests, but my hope is the same as Job's - that "when he has tested me, I will come forth like gold."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Money Manager

After listening to Chip Ingrim podcasts for a few months, I am a huge fan. He recently told a story about money management that painted a really cool picture. Here is the abridged version:

When Chip was a young pastor, he was approached by a board member named John who had a heart for the poor and hurting. He told Chip "You have opportunity, and I have money. Here is a checkbook with $5000 in it. I want you to be my money manager. When you see someone with a need, use this money to take care of it. Then I'd like to have lunch with you 3-4 times a year and have you tell me what's been done." This relationship went on for 7 years. When they would meet for lunch, Chip would go through the entries and tell John how his money had been spent, to which John would reply "Praise the Lord!" Chip says that no matter how much he gave away, more money kept being put into the account. What were the results of this relationship? John and Chip became close friends. Chip was able to bring joy to John's heart and he was able to help people in ways he had only dreamed. Chip knew he would give an account for the money he spent, so he spent wisely...after all, it wasn't his money! Chip was simply John's steward.

My first thought was "I wish someone would give me a checkbook so I could bless more people!" But then I began to see the picture before me. I am God's steward. He has given me resources and has appointed me his money manager. When I use God's money wisely it can deepen our relationship, bring joy to God's heart, and give me the satisfaction of helping others. I should be careful how I spend my money, because it's not really mine to begin with and I will one day give an account of my decisions.

I knew this already, but I like having the picture to go along with it :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Power of the Pen

I have been trained well to take notes. I took notes in high school, in college, at a job, during ministry events, and when given directions or instructions I needed to remember. So why is it that I have never taken notes before during my devotions? I have kept a journal of milestones and such, but never a daily account of the things I was learning through God's word. I have been getting up daily to read it, but not taking notes because I assumed that would take too much time. I failed to recognize the power of the pen.

Due to a challenge from a book that I'm reading, these past few weeks I have taken a few minutes after my Bible reading to jot down a scripture that stood out to me and my thoughts on its meaning and application. Whatever God is impressing on my heart. It really only takes a few minutes, and the results are surprising me. By writing down my thoughts on paper I can remember them much better! And it makes it easy to review the things I've been learning.

Listen to this instruction given to new kings in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 "When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep a copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of this law." Someone could have just given the king a copy of the laws and let him concentrate on his other responsibilities. But God gave the instruction for the king to copy the laws himself, maybe because he knew that by writing the law by hand it would also be written on the kings heart. And what greater way for a king, and us, to have success than by knowing and following the word of God.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Haiti Update

In December I blogged about a ministry we support called A Voice in the Wilderness which served the children in Port au Prince, Haiti. Today was the first newsletter I had received from them since the earthquake. From what I gathered the pastor and staff all survived, but their homes were destroyed. The ministry now has to change its focus. They have no buildings or access to supplies in order to continue their programs for the children. But instead of being overcome with despair, the 15 Haitian staff have taken this as an opportunity to become missionaries to the hurting people. Their plans got changed drastically...yet they go on serving in whatever ways God allows. I think that's so inspiring. Here is a short excerpt from the March newsletter:

"I wish I could tell you the situation has improved but I cannot. If anything the situation deteriorates each day. A large majority of the dead have been buried, but there are many who still remain under the rubble of buildings. There are many who are sick and have no medical help, many who had medical help but now with no follow-up lie on a sheet on the street under the broiling sun of the day and the rains that are now coming during the night. There are many surviving on mud cakes because they have no money and no food. There are many who are still wearing the clothes they had on when the earthquake hit January 12, so the on-the-ground situation has not improved. BUT the incredible good news is Haitians by the thousands are accepting Jesus. And in the overall picture of life and death, that is the greatest news of all!"

Our circumstances in the United States are so much better than that of Haiti, yet their faith outshines ours by a mile. They must believe Jesus when he said "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 In the midst of the suffering happening all around them, they know where their hope lies...or shall I say, lives.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Believing God

I have been enjoying Beth Moore's book Believing God. Lots of good stuff. Do you not only believe IN God, but believe what He says? (Or maybe the question is, do you even know what He says?) One issue that I've spent a lot of time pondering this year is miracles, especially healings. Why don't we see the amount of healings that were recorded in biblical times? Does God still work that way? If my prayers aren't answered, does that mean I didn't have enough faith? Chapters 5 and 6 is this book do a great job exploring these questions. Here are a few quotes that were helpful to me...

"A believer will see miracles, all right. Sometimes the greater miracle may be abundant life, redemption, ministry, and the exceeding harvest after a NO we felt we wouldn't survive. If you dare to believe and don't get your miracle, God has a greater one planned. Stay tuned. If what you desperately need or deeply desire is founded in the Word of God, don't let anyone tell you that God can't...or that He undoubtedly won't."

"We must cease to accept the visible as the possible and start believing what God says over what man sees"

"Sometimes God may prioritize performing a miracle on our hearts and minds over a miracle concerning our circumstances."

"I'm freed from what scares me, and many of you, most about getting out there and believing God. We're scared half to death that He won't come through for us, dignify us with a yes, and prove faithful. Or that we'll prove to be failures at having enough belief for Him to bless with a miracle. If I'm convinced that God really loves me and has certain priorities for me that may take precedence at times, then I am "safe" to walk by faith. I am freed to know that my God is huge and my God is able and that if I don't get what I asked, if I'll cooperate, I'll get something bigger. I'm going to believe Him to do anything His Word says He can. Then if He chooses not to, I don't have to assume: He doesn't like me, He doesn't answer my prayers like He does others', He hardly knows I'm alive, He can't do it, He's never willing to do it, I didn't have enough faith, I wavered for a split second, I have that sin in my past, I'm a failure, I've made a fool of myself. Instead, I get to know that a greater YES is in progress, and I can count on the bigger miracle."

May our prayer be that of the prophet Habakkuk, "Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known." (3:2)