Friday, December 27, 2013

The Day After Christmas

The day after Christmas...

I awoke early this morning and tiptoed upstairs. The house is quiet. Serene. Snow is gently floating down from the sky in large flakes with that picturesque type of snowfall. Gifts opened the day before sit around the base of the Christmas tree, waiting to be redeemed by sending a thank-you note to the giver. Grandma, seemingly untouched by the schedule of the last few days, was awake and ready to rise at eight o'clock. But the rest of the house was silent. After all the hustle and hubbub of the last few days, I imagine the household is getting caught up on some much-needed rest. It's amazing isn't it. After getting grandma settled, I returned to my room to prepare for my day. My Bible beckoned to me from the bedside stand. Enjoying the quietness, I opened my Bible and met with God.

That is what Christmas is all about. Really, Christmas is just a day we have chosen  to celebrate the presence of God on earth, but He is here every day of the year. When I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior nine years ago, His Spirit came to dwell within to guide me and teach me His way. That day, Emmanuel, came to be with me. Christmas stands as a memorial of God reaching out and coming down in human flesh to prove His love for mankind. I once heard the "fear" of the Lord defined as "the constant awareness of the presence of God."

The intrigue of a particular phrase in Isaiah 33 caught my attention. "...the fear of the Lord is His treasure..." As I look forward to year 2014, I want to remember the truth of Christmas- that the presence of God is with me. Constantly. Always here. With me right now.

That ought to change my perspective, attitude, thoughts, and actions.

Lord, may you continually remind me of your dear presence, and may an awareness of your presence guide me to live righteously for you. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Choice to Love

There are many times that I don't feel like I love the people I'm with, or yes, certain members of my family. Yet, love is a choice, is it not?

The world has cheapened the word love by allowing it to represent a flimsy, shallow, whimsically changeable emotion that is more of a reaction to circumstances than a moving force. The love described in the Bible is active. Moving. Doing. Serving. Helping. Sacrificially pouring into another.

Love is a choice.

Yet it is also a reaction; not to another mortal's attempts at demonstrating affection, but rather to the unchanging character of God. People fail. It is their nature. Everyone else is just as selfish as I am; so why would I expect them to be or to give more than I myself could do? In the truest sense of the word love, it is quite impossible. Mankind is not really capable of love.
However, God designed love. More aptly described, God IS love. He first loved me; He gave sacrificially; He demonstrated His love to an ungrateful sinner. It is only through a close relationship with Jesus Christ that love is conceivable. As Christ loves me and overwhelms me with His love, His love flows over onto others. Therefore, it is only through Christ, His power, and His grace, that I can truly love another.

What an honor it would be to be a vessel fit for the Master's use, able to so bless others as He fills me with His love!

In essence, I don't have to "feel" like loving. Love is a choice that pulls its power from the blood of Jesus. It's a gift, really. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It Will Not Return Void

Junior church has grown from six to fifteen, take or leave a few. It's been neat to see our church grow and the classes fill up. And, it's a lot different preparing class for fifteen to twenty kids instead of four to six; simply coloring a picture takes a lot longer!

Several weeks ago, we learned about honoring God's name (i.e. command #3: thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain). One little boy got it so well, that later in the week, when he heard another little boy swear, he had to call his mom and tell her to discipline his brother. When she asked why, he said "He was very naughty. He made fun of God's name!" THEY DO GET IT!!! Sometimes I wonder. But, God keeps graciously reminding me that His Word does not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)

Lately, the kids have been learning about the ten commandments; and we just finished command #6: thou shalt not kill. They are always asking me where something is in the Bible, or to read it to them. So, as I told the story of Cain and Abel, the kids followed along in their Bibles, which is just awesome! The story of Cain and Abel is, in short, a story of siblings who fight a lot; and these kids were all ears. They could all totally relate. May God continue to water the seeds of truth in these precious children's hearts!

I'm going to miss this bunch!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Get a LIFE!

Sometimes it's hard to be a Christian. I've always been a bit of an odd duck, and then when I came to know Christ, it became harder. Other folks my age seem to think that I don't enjoy life because I don't party or drink.  I don't watch a lot of movies. I talk strange, dress strange, and act strange. Many times other young people will pull me aside to give me advice. "Come ON," they say, "get a life!"

But the life God desires for His children is so different from that of the world. He calls Believers to a life of hardship that forces us to call on Him. He calls us to be radically different from the world, but promises to never leave us or forsake us. He calls us to be holy as He is holy. He calls us to fellowship with Him.

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: 
in Thy presence is fullness of joy; 
at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." 
Psalm 16:11

The God of the universe desires fellowship with you. With me.

Isn't that incredible?

That, my friend, is what life is all about.

Is it an easy road? For sure not. In fact, Jesus told us it would be hard; that we would often be persecuted and friendless. However, following Christ is the most rewarding life in existence.

This is illustrated in the New Testament in the story of Mary and Martha. Remember? Martha was busy, busy, busy, serving the Master. Obviously, we are called to serve Christ, and someone has to make meals and keep house. However, Jesus commended Mary because she chose to put the other aside and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Does that mean that you and I should ignore our domestic responsibilities and instead embrace constant solitude "sitting at the feet of Jesus"? Of course not! It would not be long before the house would not be livable! What this means is that I need to live in a constant awareness of the presence of Jesus. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, God is there. With me.

I once heard a story about a woman who understood this principle so well that her grandchildren thought she was crazy. "She's so weird! It's like she has an invisible friend or something." Well, she did. Jesus is invisible, and He's the best friend a person could ever have. What a compliment it would be to be accused of talking of and to Jesus so much!

What is life? To know Jesus. His presence is more fulfilling than any other relationship you and I could have. His love is overwhelming, and His grace, empowering.

Do you know my Jesus?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Striving for Holiness

It amazes me how many times one can read the Word of God and still learn something "new." The Bible is truly the Living Word, and sharper than a sword.

Lately I've been reading through Paul's letters in the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians, I read:

"...For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness..."

The word holiness seemed to jump right off the page. Holiness. What exactly does that mean? My Bible cross-referenced Hebrews 12:14, so I flipped a few pages.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

Without a clear conscience and holiness, I can't see God. (Similar to Matthew 5:8) That brought more questions to mind. Is it possible for us to be holy, or is it a goal we ever strive for, but don't reach, until heaven? Daddy, mom and I discussed it over breakfast. Then it was time for that great big book, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, to come off the shelf.

Holy or Holiness comes from a couple of Greek and Hebrew words, but they all basically mean the same thing. Pure. Sacred. Blameless. Consecrated. The word carries the idea of "saint."

Is it possible?

My daddy says that you have "two dogs on your shoulder. One is the new man, and the other is the old. The one you feed is the one that will grow and get stronger." He explained that the new man is made holy by Christ living within. It's the old man that gives us trouble and must constantly be put in submission (purified, made sacred, consecrated) to the new man. So,

"As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." (1 Peter 1:15)

One clarification of what holy living looks like can be found in 1 Peter 2:9-12, but there are examples all over. Enoch (way back in Genesis) walked with God 365 years, and "was not, for God took him." Imagine walking with God and living a holy life, and God just whisking you away to his presence. Numerous passages such as Leviticus 19:2 and Ephesians 1:4 explain the importance of living holy.

However, as my daddy reminded me, holiness is not achieved by our own measures. 2 Timothy 1:9 alludes to this fact when it says

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus..."

Not by my works, my effort, my attempts at righteousness, but by HIS purpose and Grace.

Holiness.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Visiting the Falls

This weekend, I was able to visit Minnehaha falls with my mom, "Funny" grandma, and my aunt and uncle. We had a great time; I just wish it had stayed light just a little longer. :) Anyhow, here's a few of our memories:


"Funny" Grandma
Mom

At the top looking down
The river really wasn't that deep, but...

Wow!


Friday, August 23, 2013

a father like my Father

I realize I'm a little behind here, and I apologize. God has brought some new things into my life, and I'm learning to adjust and re-prioritize.

I know recently I've had a lot to say about honor, but it is SO important. Just because I'm an adult does not mean I need to disregard my parents' advice and teachings. God gave them to me to help me grow in Him, whether I agree with them or not, whether they are easy to please or not.

However, I will say:

When it comes to parents, I have the best. Has it always been easy? Oh no. I've yet to meet a perfect family, and ours isn't either. But my parents WORKED at it, and it's paid off.

They have taught me to love God's Word, to read it for myself, and to apply God's principles to every day life. They taught me that the inner person is so much more important than what's on the outside. They taught me what it means to be a servant leader, and how to show initiative in meeting others' needs. My parents were the example of tough love and living a life of sanctification for the Lord.


It is such a joy to please my parents. I love to see the smile creep on daddy's face as He watches God work in my life, or to hear mom say "that's my girl!" And when they say "I'm proud of you!" it makes the sacrifice and everything worthwhile.

How much more should I strive to please my Heavenly Father! My actions, attitudes, and thoughts ought to put a smile on His face. He delights in His children, and blesses those that follow His commands. -And oh! What a joy to hear my Father say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

"My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe My ways." 
Proverbs 23:26.

Friday, August 9, 2013

VBS 2013

This week I've been serving as an helper for VBS at my grandparents' church in Minnesota. It was neat to see God work this week, and it went very smoothly. At least two children came to know Christ as Savior, (one of which was my cousin!), and possibly more. The kids listened well, asked good questions, and obeyed pretty well. God kept ironing out the details and providing in even the smallest of ways that it just kept us in awe of His goodness.

Each day, I took a van load of neighborhood kids to VBS. One of them asked a lot of good questions, and I pray she comes to Christ soon. She asked for a Bible on Tuesday, and then what verses to read in it. When she asked about something later in the week and I referred to a Bible verse, she said, "I didn't realize ALL THAT was in the Bible. I guess I should read it every day!" Praise the Lord! That IS what it is all about. Pray that she will read it and see how Jesus can wash away her sin. She doesn't know much about God, as today, she asked me, "Did God go to school when you went to school?" So, I got the privilege of explaining who God is to this precious child. It is so sweet to share the gospel with children who don't know Jesus!

Here's some pictures from the week:

Hula hoop bumper cars

Prayer walk

Hanging out in between classes

And who wouldn't love a face like that????

Memorizing verses

Teachers- role models, stars, leaders, encouragers

The kids loved watching Pepsi explode in science class.

Friends

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Faith and Feelings

Do your feelings ever collide with your faith?

Mine do. Often.

But God keeps reminding me that I am to worship in spirit and truth, not feelings. Here's an article from the newsletter I send out to younger girls every week:

It has been a joy to spend a summer with Jesus! 

Hasn't it?


Time Alone with God
Sometimes it seems I'm going through the motions, reading my Bible, praying, memorizing, and meditating, yet something is wrong. It just doesn't FEEL right. I don't feel closer to God, or more spiritual, or even like I got a rhema from God today.

I wanted to grow in Christ this summer. I wanted to love Him more than before- be passionately all for Him. But instead, I feel like a failure as a Christian.

Have you ever felt like that? 

Fortunately for us, God doesn't base His love for us on feelings. 

"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."     Jeremiah 31:3

God keeps reminding me that I am a spirit, in a body, with a soul. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says I have three parts. They that worship God worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24) not necessarily with our soul (which is mind, will, and emotions). Perhaps this is why I must constantly renew my mind and give my soul to the Lord. (Psalm 51:10, 86:4)

Faith is not determined by feelings. It is determined by trust in an unseen object (Hebrews 11:1). Once I am saved, I am always saved. I can't do anything to lose it- even if I don't "feel" saved. 

Special times with Jesus!!!
So, what do I do when I don't feel devoted to God? Just keep obeying. Keep trusting. Keep reading, praying, and memorizing. Keep God first.  In fact, Jesus said "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15 And again,"He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to Him." John 14:21

The one that obeys is the one that loves, not the one that "feels" sincerely loving. And the benefit? He "will manifest" Himself to me! He blesses those who stay in His way. "Feeling" like God is close is definitely a benefit, but not a requirement to following God. 

Be encouraged! Jesus loves you!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Be Still


"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." 
Psalm 46:10

Monday, July 22, 2013

Report from Camp

This last week I had a blast serving as a counselor at Castle Rock Baptist Camp. There were some struggles, but that is what camp is all about; and it made it all worth it to have several kids come to Christ. (I'm not sure the official count. I know of at least 3.)

My cabin: the Union Girls Regiment (minus one camper),
with their Mrs. General.
The theme of the week was "A Battle for Freedom," in honor of Gettysburg's 150th birthday. The Johnny Rebs fought valiantly, but were overcome by the Billy Yanks. The kids learned a lot of history, and we had a lot of fun playing games while learning about the Lord.

Praise the Lord!
- I was able to help one girl come to understand the permanence of salvation.
- Two girls in my cabin received Christ as their Lord and Savior.
- Several kids learned the power of a good attitude in overcoming negativity.
- One boy, after getting saved the first night, made one of the girls his little "mission," praying for her and witnessing to her. She received Christ the last night!
- One girl learned the power of prayer.
- One of the counselors had to ride to the hospital in an ambulance, but she was okay. God protected her!

I apologize, I was not able to take a lot of pictures, but Melanie Musson did a fantastic job. You can see a slide show here.

Thank you all for praying!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Perceptual Salience

In my psychology studies lately, I have learned a new term. (Hey, you knew it would happen one of these days, right? I've got all this knowledge that just HAS to pop out somewhere!) 

You guessed it! 

Per-cep-tu-al sal-i-ence. 

Perception is a familiar word meaning the result of observation and the awareness of the surrounding environment, implying a quick, acute, intuitive cognition.  Then there's that funny looking word, which after I looked it up, I discovered it is very similar to the word prominence. Salient means standing out conspicuously, protruding from a line, notable, prominent. Put together, it means the "seeming importance of information that is the focus of people's attention." (excerpt from my textbook, Social Psychology).

Simply put, we pay attention to what we see.

What do you see?
Perhaps you have seen crime investigations on TV where the detective will ask an observer to close their eyes and think about what they saw, heard, and smelled. The detective understands that a witness probably noticed more than he realized was really going on. Our eyes can see so much more than the brain can process, so much of what goes on in our surroundings goes "unnoticed." We only process those things that we think have importance to us. So, we pay attention to what we see, and only see what we pay attention to.

Are you following?

About now, something clicked in my mind. 

We live in a two dimensional world: the physical, and the spiritual. Yet I often forget and live as if life is all about the material- what I can see, hear, touch, and so forth. I forget that there's another world out there. 

Why is it that I find it so hard to witness? Why do I worry when things "go wrong." Why is it that I am often so selfish with my time and finances?

Could it be that I've forgotten about the richer, deeper spiritual world? Maybe I should check my perceptual salience. If I saw people as desperate souls, without hope, headed for hell, I would want to tell them of the Jesus who can redeem them and give them hope. If I remembered that God is always in control, that His Story is what is important, and that He is guiding every aspect of my life, I wouldn't worry when life went differently than planned. If I understood that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, that my ultimate accountability is to Him, and that He will provide my needs, I would be a better steward of my resources.

So, I learned an important psychology term; but also an essential life concept. Look past the obvious. It's not just about what I see, but also what is beyond that I can't see. 

It's about Jesus. Working in me. In you. In the world around us; that He might be glorified. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Building My House

At home, I walk the dogs in the evening. Here in the Twin Cities taking care of my grandma, I like to get away for half an hour to an hour or so in the afternoon to take a walk. Today, I explored a part of town I hadn't yet seen, a residential area to the west of here.

It was a pleasant walk, with lots of trees for shade, and the scenery was different for me. Houses. (Not the wide-open fields of home.) The houses were gorgeous. Well, most of them.

(school in Taiwan)
Some of the houses were rather regal looking with columns, porches, and a landscaped lawn. There were also town houses with neatly mowed yards.  A few houses looked like they were more addition than house, because they had been added on to so many times. Then there were a few houses that were very old and small, with a once-landscaped lawn overgrown with weeds. One house in particular stood out to me; for though it had recently been meticulously refurbished on the outside, a discerning eye could see the porch was uneven and the foundation was sinking.

I enjoyed looking at the houses... and, as any girl might, dreaming of what my house might look like some day. You know, after I grow up, get married, or something like that. :) How would I build it? What would it look like? What color would it be.... and so forth. That's when the Lord took my thinking a little deeper.

my sister- fixing the roof
1 Corinthians 3:9 says that I am God's building. In the spiritual sense, my body is God's temple, or in American English, house. (3:16) What kind of house am I, right now, for God?

According to 1 Corinthians 3, as a Believer, my foundation is Christ. After that, I need to decide what I'm going to build. Will I build with temporary pleasures, popularity, and pride, (i.e. wood, hay, and stubble (3:12)) or will I work out my salvation with fear and trembling, serving others, sharing the gospel, and seeking the face of Jesus? Am I attempting to hide sin and ease-over issues that should be brought to the Light of God's Word?  Am I loving the Lord with ALL my heart?

It may be a stretch, but I'm going to reference a parable of Jesus in Luke 14. Verse 28-30, Jesus uses the illustration of a builder who didn't count the cost and did not have enough supplies to finish building. Young people, friends, we only have ONE life. Serving God CANNOT wait until we are older, successful, and "big enough to make a difference." For then, we may find we are short time, energy, or health to finish the work God has for us. We must start now. Don't waste time on video games, music, facebook, or romance novels... wood, hay, and stubble all burns. Your house will burn to the ground, leaving a smell of smoke and smoldering ashes. A good, strong spiritual house must be built with everlasting material- things like honoring parents, helping the widows in the neighborhood, and teaching children about Jesus.

About now, if you're like me, you're beginning to panic. I can't do all that. How am I to know what to do? (Growing up can be a real pain sometimes.) Don't give up hope. God never calls us to something we can't do... and in fact, He gives us grace for what He calls us, His children, to do.

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:32

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6


Our house in Montana

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Call To Purity

This is session 5 of Amy Vest's online conference.

"God created you to live a life of transforming purity in Jesus that results in freedom, fulfillment, and fruitfulness.  It is a purity that is beautiful, satisfying, exciting, and that impacts not only your life, but the lives and world around you.
  

God has called us to this purity that transforms us and allows us to fulfill and experience the purpose for which we were created.

It is crucial that you understand - Your level of purity affects your relationship with God, your life, your relationship with others, and how mightily God is able to use you for His glory...  


"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."  (Matthew 5:8)  What does it say will happen if you are pure in heart?  You will see God.  That is the purpose that we are alive – to see, know, enjoy, and glorify God!  This alone is where we will be truly satisfied...  You want to be pure so that you can SEE GOD - then your life will be transformed!"  (Excerpt from "A Call to Transforming Purity" by Amy Vest)




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Honor Defined

This summer, I have had the privilege of caring for my great-grandmother while her usual caretaker goes on vacation. I am learning so much from her: family history, tidbits of wisdom, patience, but also honor. Grandma is almost 98 years of age, and care for her is full-time. (She thinks I'm a nurse, as she doesn't really remember who I am.) She is fun-loving and easy going, but a bit fretful and forgetful, which is to be expected at her age. There are times that I send a prayer to heaven as I try to (respectfully) argue with her over something she has to do. I have to watch my tone of voice, and constantly check my attitude. After all, forgetful or not, she is my grandmother, and deserves my respect.

There is no age limit on when a child is told to quit honoring their parents, and the only time a girl is not required to obey her parents is when she gets married. Hence, as a single young woman, I am challenged by God's Word to continue to honor my parents (and in this case, grandparents).

"Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12

What is the meaning of honor? -And what is it's significance in the lives of young people today?

In Webster's dictionary, honor as a verb has several different definitions, to which the first one is attributed to this verse: "to revere; to respect; to treat with deference and submission, and perform relative duties to." That's quite the definition.
Reverence- esteem, venerate, fear mingled with affection and respect. -Check out that old English word "venerate;" it's a very cool word that explains honor. 
Respect- revere, esteem as worthy. 
Deference- yielding to the opinion of another. Willingly limiting my freedom so as not offend.   
Submission- yielding to power or authority, obeying, complying, surrendering, yielding one's will to another.
Honoring is so much more than merely obedience or compliance; that is only a part of the picture. Right or wrong, parents have a position, given by God, of authority over me. By giving them veneration, I give glory to God. It shows the relationship of the Heavenly Father with His children. HE is what honor is all about.

What does that mean, practically? For me, I think it means:
-never speaking ill of my parents.
-willingly submitting to my parents' standards when I am in their house.
-speaking in a humble spirit.
-asking advice of my parents.
-looking for ways that I can show others how much I appreciate my parents.
-give them "first dibs" of my time (after the Lord, of course).
-do things that please them and deflect praise back to them.

This is not a comprehensive list, but rather ideas that God has shown me as I've spent time here with grandma, and one that I think I will work on my entire life. Do you have some ideas?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Giving God My Lunch

Please tell me that I'm not the only one that hears a sermon sometimes and thinks "I don't get it." It's not that I didn't get anything, it's just that I think I missed the point of the message.

This time, that was not the case.

I GOT IT!

Recently, I heard a message that reminded me of another sermon by Jim Schettler from about a year ago.

It was a sermon about the little lad who gave Jesus his lunch, which then fed somewhere between 15 and 20,000 people. You know the story. Most of the time, it's called "The Feeding of the Five Thousand."

Brother Schettler spoke first about the Lord. How He IS what life is all about. When He asked, "Do we have bread?" The correct answer should have been, "Lord, YOU are the bread of life. You can feed these people." Jesus is everything.

Then Brother Schettler talked about the lunch. In reality, the lunch was a non-essential. God didn't need the lunch.  It did not matter what the lunch was. The size makes no difference. The whole point is that the lunch was GIVEN to God.

Lastly, he spoke about the lad. What was it like to sit at the feet of Jesus? -To have an opportunity to give his lunch to Christ? -To make a difference? I can imagine that his life was forever changed. Drastically.

When I heard this message about a year ago, I cried. I've never been one of those "talented" people, in any respect. I don't really have much to give to God. I don't even have a strong and able body to give God. -And that was the first time I realized, it's not about me. God wanted me to GIVE Him my self, my poor health, and my small talents.

That day, I gave my health to the Lord. I've always wondered what I could do for God without good health and formal talents. This was it. I gave my all to God. It's His.

------

Now, one year later, there aren't fireworks. I don't SEE a huge difference; or maybe I do. I'm more secure in Christ. My health has improved a little bit. I'm content. However, it's not a "road to Damascus" life changer. But I'm His, and I'm happy.

God is good. Every time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Treasures of Knowledge in Jesus

To God all praise and glory!  By God's grace, I graduated from Verity Institute in Indianapolis on Saturday with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.  He receives the credit for what I have learned, for He is the Author, Guide, and Helper.  It is exciting to be in the service of the King!

Here are a few pictures from grad week:

This little guy dressed in a suit  just for me.
Isn't he adorable!

Esther and I LOVED dressing up
for the various events.
Playing at the Senior Showcase


Mom and Dad
Parent Appreciation Banquet

Esther Staddon and I at
the gorgeous gardens of the Lilly house
At the Lilly house...

Throwing our hats~ my favorite part of the ceremony.
I am fourth from the right in the middle row.

I love you mom and dad!
With Dr. Gothard

The cake my grandpa got me for the Minnesota reception
You can view more pictures, and a video, here

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Your Identity in Christ

Session 4: Your Identity in Christ

This is session four of an online conference by my friend Amy Vest of Loving the Lord ministries.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Seeing with Long Term Vision

How good is your long-term vision?

I find it interesting that psychologist studies have found immediate rewards and long-term consequences are the best way to motivate people, and I wonder how the findings line up with the Bible. Though God does propose long-term consequences to wicked thoughts and deeds, He also mentions that they seem to prosper in the short-term. On the other hand, there appears (in the short studies I have done) to be more eternal and future-tense rewards than immediate rewards to good deeds.

Let's take a look at one example from our study of Proverbs 31. Most of the verses in this chapter have stood alone, but this set seems to be a single paragraph (albeit, still poetry in the Hebrew) speaking of the virtuous woman's reward.

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." (vs 28-31)

I am in frequent contact with school-age children, many of them in public schools, and I often get the privilege of discussing (their) ethics with them. A typical response in dealing with them is "why should I do right?" Today's world advocates financial gain at all costs, good grades, and pleasure. Doing right takes effort and is often criticized by their peers and even teachers.

God doesn't say doing right is instantly gratifying or that "the more you do it, the easier it becomes." Instead, He points to the end to ask which is better.

"But what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and loose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

The reward of a virtuous woman is praise from her own family as well as political leaders, a good life, satisfaction of a job well done, and pleasing the Lord. These do not come overnight express, but they are worth the work and wait! Many times the reward- the positive consequences for well doing- does not come until late in life, and some, I imagine, not until heaven. Question is, do you value earthly success or heavenly favor?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Inward Beauty

"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

We've all heard the verse; but what does it mean? Amy Vest shares practical insights on becoming beautiful to God from the inside out.  Here is session number three of the Beautiful to God conference. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Calling of a Homemaker

The feminist movement has reached its way into the belief systems of the church. It has taught us that being a mother and working outside the home (when it is not unavoidable through single parenthood) is admirable. Continuing in this thinking, many think that being a homemaker is a "lesser" task and an inferior career. However, this is not what the Bible teaches!

"She looketh well to the ways of her household, 
and eateth not the bread of idleness."
Proverbs 31:27

To borrow from my research paper on the difference between men and women:


In theory, feminism (the equality of the sexes) seems philosophically beneficial to a society entrenched in a quasi gender caste system. The power to do or to be anything carries an intoxicating scent of freedom to the undiscerning mind. However, the subtle danger in feminism is in the foundational idea of “equality.” What, or who, defines equality? Is it based on intelligence? Competence? Genetics? If a woman is essentially the same as a man, then a nuclear family (heterosexual marriage with children) would be neither necessary nor “normal.” Put simply, feminism un-defined womanhood, opening the door to gender confusion.
The feminist movement “empowered” women from perceived dungeons of the home, highlighting “gender role bias” instead of specialization of the sexes. Women are designed to be nurturing, sensitive, and communicating. They are meant to both be strong and to give strength to a provider. Somehow, women think that their role is insignificant or inferior to that of the men. Who said that being a mother is less influential than the president? William Ross Wallace noted in his poem, “…The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” The influence of a woman upon her husband and her children is unprecedented and powerful. Yet this nation has ignored women’s special gifts by treating them the same as man, devaluing women and disintegrating the foundation of the nation’s power, the family. 
The homemaker has a noble calling. Difficult? Yes. But noble all the same. A woman does not need a business, a government position, or some other kind of power to supplement her God given power of influence. Many people today know who Susannah Wesley is, and she was not a "leader of the feminist movement" or a governor, or even a big blogger. ;) She was a mother, a  homemaker, who reared her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When her sons grew, they rocked the world for Christ in what is now known as the Great Awakening.

Proverbs 31 tells that a virtuous woman keeps her home, her given jurisdiction, well. She is not idle, or lazy, but is always alert to squelch little fires before they become large ones. She is an emissary of God to her children and serves as to the Lord, and not as to man (or children, as the case may be). (Colossians 3:23)

my family worked to build this fence
before the sun went down
Lately, the Lord has had me on a Sword search of the word "all." For such a small word, it has a big meaning. God never endorses half-hearted work, and a grey area is not mentioned in the Bible. It is "all or nothing." And for that matter, nothing is not really a choice for the Believer, either. (John 15)

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Careers, businesses, money, power; all these must be left behind when death calls, but the souls of children are eternal. Invest in the hearts of your children. Treasure your husband and family. Look well to the ways of your home. For, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21) If you put time into your home, and pour yourself into it, God will give you a love for what you do, a fulfillment, that is unattainable any other way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Heart of Friendship

Session 2 of the Online Beautiful to God Conference.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Keep Your Tongue

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom, 
and in her tongue is the law of kindness." 
Proverbs 31:26

The virtuous woman is real. She understands that what is in your heart WILL come out. It is highly likely that your life will be heated- but what do you make of it? Does your cup spill tea or bitterade? God tells us that,

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." Luke 6:45

The virtuous woman speaks wisdom. What kind of wisdom? There are two types of wisdom. One is knowledge (i.e. know-it-all). The Bible says of this kind of wisdom:

"...Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." 1 Corinthians 8:1b-2
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom decendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." James 3:14-16

The Greek word tells us that the virtuous woman had the good kind of wisdom, but the latter part of the verse informs us as well. "In her tongue is the law of kindness."

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." James 3:17-18
"But let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6

I know my speech has a long way to go toward being consistently kind and wise. Too often, I succumb to the temptation of popular sarcasm, gossip, and frivolity. But there is hope! God offers heart surgery.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5
"My son, [or daughter] if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:1-6

How is your speech?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Womanhood God's Way

We've been studying the virtuous woman in Proverbs. God's divine plan for womanhood brings peace, joy, and fulfillment. However, today's culture has turned godly womanhood into an old fashioned cumbersome habit. We are so saturated with the world's ideals that it is hard to see God's way. Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassien discuss how a woman can get back on the high road.

Modern Feminism and the Gender Blur part 1



Modern Feminism and the Gender Blur part 2

Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Clothes

I love new clothes! -And I think many of my girl friends out there do too. There's just something exciting about shopping for a new "perfect outfit" for any number of events. Then there are times that I find a cute shirt by accident, and just can't WAIT to wear it. Oh, I'm so excited now as I think about the "new" shirt my sister just gave me...

According to our studies here in Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman liked nice things as well. She made her clothing from purple, she made tapestry for the home, we saw that she spins her own yarn to clothe her family and then makes nice belts to supply the merchants. Verse 25 shows that she wore another type of clothing as well:

"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come."

Strength is a Hebrew word meaning strength, force (the Bible word often translated virtue), security, majesty, and praise. That's quite a quality! I like the word "security." It carries the idea that this woman trusted in her Heavenly Father, and therefore trusted her husband to care for her needs. She didn't nag or worry. She prayed and encouraged, lending strength to her husband.

Honour, used here, means magnificence, that is, ornament or splendour. This concept reminds me of 1 Peter 3:4 which says, "But let it [her adorning] be the hidden man of the heart... even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." The virtuous woman does not demand to be the queen of her castle, but instead, makes her man the king of the castle and arrives at queen-hood as a by-product.

© copyright 2008 Terry Juliano
This woman is clothed inside and out! Yes, she wears nice clothing, but she also acts as regal as her dress. This verse sounds really similar to another favorite of mine found in Isaiah 61:10.

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

What are you wearing? 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Supplying Merchants vs Being a Merchant

In the last 50 years (in our country), women have striven for "equality" in the world. What they really want, is dominance. This is not a new phenomenon; it began in the garden of Eden. Eve was deceived, and gave food to her husband. She used her "power" of guile to overtake her husband. Had she stayed under his authority (another word for protection) perhaps the world may have begun differently... Alas, God knew from the beginning that for a woman to be obedient to a man would be a struggle to her, but it is His perfect design.

Because of the big push for women to have careers just like men, to fight in wars just like men, and to be a leader just like men, the family unit, and therefore the nation, is crumbling. God's design is for a woman to be keeping the HOME, obedient to her own husband, and rearing her children in the fear of the Lord.

You wonder why I'm off on this tangent?

This next verse in Proverbs 31 shows a beautiful picture of God's design in a virtuous woman:

"She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; 
and delivereth girdles unto the merchant." (vs 24)

We've seen in verse 13, 19, 21 & 22, that our model woman not only makes clothing, but she finds the flax, spins it, and then makes clothing and other tapestry items for her home. Then we see here an extension: she supplies the merchants. She does not sacrifice her home in any way for  business, but, she IS creative in bringing in a little extra income- whether for herself, or her family.

This is significant, girls. The virtuous woman did not leave her home because she found that something she enjoyed would actually make money. Not at all! On the contrary, she stayed home, kept the home (vs. 27), and found ways to add support to the family income FROM HOME.

In Titus 2:5, God commands the woman to be obedient to their own husbands. (Obedience being another word for submission.) I once heard obedience defined as "freedom to be creative under the protection of a divinely appointed authority." Freedom! Protection! How beautiful God's design is! God didn't say the woman wasn't smart, or that she was incapable of doing the same things a man can do. But, He had a special plan for this woman. Her role is to make her man look good.

Ladies THAT is the only way to find true freedom and protection!

We women have been so indoctrinated by the world's ideals from the "feminist movement" that it is hard to separate truth from lies. Does a woman need a career to be happy, healthy, and successful? Not at all.

mom's soap- my favorites are lavender and plumeria
My mother is an excellent picture to me of this kind of submission in the home. She makes goat milk soap to sell in local shops. She SUPPLIES the merchant, but stays home. Don't think it's not a struggle... My mom is just as bright as my dad and would enjoy going into the workplace with a real steady job, but she CHOOSES to stay home. -And daddy is much happier when she is home, and she is much less stressed as an added benefit.

As a single lady, it would be too easy to dismiss this doctrine thinking that because I don't have a husband or my own home, I am "exempt" this ideal. However, God made it quite clear in the Old Testament that a daughter was under her father's authority until marriage. Now is the time to practice submission, whether you are 13 or 35.

Submission does not mean you can't get out of the home and work somewhere else, or even that you must stay in the confines of your parents' house and never leave. It is, rather, a beautiful picture of meekness: cheerfully and willingly putting one's strength under (the authority) of another. Talk with your dad. Ask him what he'd be most comfortable with you doing, and then be cheerful and willing to do whatever he suggests. Remember, success lies in obeying God's Word; for He is the only one worth pleasing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jesus as Your Best Friend

A lovely friend of mine speaks to women of all ages on various issues pertaining to loving the Lord and walking with Him. Recently, I attended this conference to serve and returned overwhelmingly blessed.  This is session one her conference on being "Beautiful to God."


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In His Steps Fundraiser

How would Jesus respond? What would He do? I think many times I am pre-occupied with myself instead of obsessed with Him.... From the best-seller book "In His Steps" comes this incredible film. Check it out:
 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Loving the Lord

A dear friend of mine recently wrote about the Love of Jesus, and how to acquire a beautiful Relationship with Him. Check it out here:

Loving the Lord: The Relationship that Matters Most ~ by Amy Vest: Deep in each of our hearts there is a longing so deep that nothing on this earth can satisfy … Do you know what I am...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Woman's Influence

"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."

Proverbs 31 is a great challenge and encouragement. The more I read and study, the more convicted I am of my shortcomings. Reading about her husband seems almost a break, like, "hey, pick on HIM for a while." However, that is not the purpose of this verse.

We've seen already how industrious and helpful our woman of impeccable character is; this verse shows us how much of a difference a virtuous woman makes on her household.

my parents and examples
Proverbs 14:1 says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."

In Old Testament times, there was no such thing as a "City Courthouse." Instead, locals went to the gates of the city, where the wise men (the Bible word for elders here means Senators) listened to cases and judged righteously. The Virtuous woman has a very good, honorable husband. Perhaps too, he was so successful because of the woman in his life. It is said of Daniel Webster:


By age 31 he had become known as one of America's most effective speakers. One of  Webster's earlier biographers, Norman Hapgood, assigns much of the great orator's success to the quality of his marriage to a woman, Grace Fletcher, whom he married at the age of 26.  (Of her the writer says)She had the goal of keeping alert to those high principles which her husband held.  Her upright New England faith and sweet loyalty must have been one of the strongest barriers resisting the temptations which lay before the impressionable statesman.When Grace Fletcher Webster died, Daniel remarried a year later.  The biographer said of Carolyn Roy, his second wife:She brought him money and social position and nothing else that could be traced in his life.Two  years into that second marriage it was said of Webster:He steadily declined from a height at which his altering nature could no longer sustain itself.Daniel Webster began overeating and drinking.  His spending habits soared out of control, and his moral life disintegrated.  By the end of his political life, the man once known for his great integrity had become typed as a political compromiser.  Tragedy mounted upon tragedy, and when he died, he was a beaten and bitter man.High Call High Privilege by Gail MacDonald (pages 99-100)

It is incredible that the woman in his life is what seemed to make the difference.

What kind of woman are you?

Do you build up the people (like your dad and or brother figures) in your life? Are you encouraging or incorrigible? Are the men in your life your heros, and do you frequently positively remind them?

What you, as a woman, say to your husband, father, or brother can make him go beyond what he would generally aspire to, or cause him to discard all character and virtue for the easy life.

So go, and speak LIFE! Build up your house so that your man can be as positively influential as possible in his sphere.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Your Clothes Say It For You

Imagine being a page (or runner) for your Senator. Would you wear rip jeans and a t-shirt that says "Vote for Me," or would you wear a classy business suit? Which one would he/she be more apt to trust with an important errand?

Clothing, though only 1/21st of the Proverbs 31 description, is nevertheless a vital part of our testimony as a virtuous woman. For myself, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." ! (Isaiah 61:10) Because I am a born again, redeemed child of God, clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, I want my clothing to reflect my love and gratefulness to Him. I want my outer garments to accent my "inner garment" of righteousness.

What is your life message?

Do your clothes portray that message?

Think about these two questions as we delve further into Proverbs 31:22.
"She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple."

"Coverings of tapestry" refers to a bedspread, but also to the curtain surrounding her bed, as bedrooms were determined by material and not walls.  She took time to make sure she made up her bed, keeping it a clean, relaxing, stress-free zone.

Is your bed made?

Is your room clean? relaxing? stress free?

Secondly, "her clothing is silk and purple." Purple was the name of an expensive material in a specific dye. Usually, this material was reserved for God's temple, royalty, or a very wealthy person. Now, we know that the Virtuous woman was thrifty and careful with her dollar from other verses. Why then, would she wear the most expensive garment?

In studying several different commentaries, I have found a few explanatory guesses; but the main idea being, that, it's okay to have nice things. In fact, people tend to respect a person who is well dressed better than one who is careless about their looks, especially if one who is well dressed will also get "down and dirty" when duty requires it. (Remember our hypothetical situation at the beginning of this post?) Also, the word purple could be referring to a position in Christ, claiming royalty through Him.

Are you able both to dress nicely whenever possible, and to get "down and dirty" when the situation requires it?

Do you know your identity in Christ?

Do you realize your identity in Christ is reflected in the clothes you wear?

Don't take a passive stance on clothing, thinking: "So long as I'm covered, who cares?".  Quite the contrary. Understand, as the Virtuous woman so wisely did...

Your clothes say it for you.