Christian Living

An Empty Swing Revisited

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in Christian Living | 3 comments

Today I am thinking and praying for my church group who leaves for their annual Winter Camp. I wrote this post last year after returning from camp and thought I’d repost it today. To all those serving from our church, and to those of you around the world who selflessly give of yourselves for others, thank you!

 

Last weekend Matt and I loaded up our car and headed to Giddings, Texas, with around 50 youth from our church to our annual winter camp. This is my sixth year to attend, and Lakeside Bible Church’s fifth year to use the facilities at Camp Tejas. I enjoy winter camp. It seems to come at a much needed time each spring when I’m ready to hear from God’s Word and simply spend a weekend away from normal life building relationships with youth.

This year, being both my fifth on staff and at this facility, I had many memories engulf my mind as I walked around the campus. I remember sitting on the swing pictured above as I listened to a young girl pour her heart out to me. I passed a bench where one young woman shed hundreds of tears expressing her desire to be right with God. There was a rickety, old bunk bed, where a girl and I both sat crying as I prayed and pleaded with both her and God for her heart to follow Christ, and she  continued to reject Him. The chapel brought even more memories where I’ve heard dozens of sermons preached, seen the conviction of the Holy Spirit in people’s faces, and laughed with and hugged more girls than I can name.

Where are these individuals now? A few are loving and serving Jesus. Some have rejected Him completely. Still more are trying to love both God and the world.

As names and faces of girls I’ve interacted with over the last five years flooded in and out of my mind this past weekend, I couldn’t help but praying for them. My mind also filled with questions: Why do so many of these girls walk away from God? Church? Their families? Is it really worth my time and effort to love and mentor them? Did I do all I could for these young women?

As the discouragement increased, I walked into my bunkhouse room. All alone, I laid down and continued to think and pray. Shortly, a few bubbly girls bounded into the room. We laughed and chatted. I made breakfast plans with one and listened to another tell me about the new “friend” in her life. Not long after, I had a heart to heart chat with another young woman.

God then reminded me of a story. Two years ago the youth staff stood in the back of the chapel room at winter camp as the speaker invited the students to come pray with us. A young man, with his head held low, shuffled back and grabbed my husband. Matt later told me that this fifteen year old had started praying for his unbelieving family members with huge tears pouring out of his eyes. Matt said they knelt, weeping together, and begging God to transform this young man’s family.

Last Saturday, I sat in my bunk house, chatting with a girl on fire for the Lord. She told me about her desire to be a witness for Christ. Her conversation was saturated with the name and a love for Jesus. This girl is the older sister of the boy in the story above. She’s now a child of God.

God then reminded me that He is in control of these students lives. He will be the one to draw them to Himself in His timing. Each of those individuals are responsible to respond to His calling. They will be held accountable for their actions.

My job, as a youth worker, as a mother, as a friend, and as a Christian is to remain faithful to Christ. He does hold me responsible for my actions and attitudes towards others, but I can not make any of these young ladies seek God. As my daughters grow, I will not be able tomake them become a Christian. My mission must be to glorify and stay faithful to the Lord, knowing that He is in control and will take care of these precious souls.

As I walked back by the empty swing, I thanked God for allowing Him to use me for even a small part of these young woman’s lives. Next year, there will be new girls around, and who knows how many lives will come and go within the next five. No matter what, may my life be used of God as I remain faithful, trusting Him for the results.

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Blogging: My Idol

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in Christian Living | 2 comments

NINETEEN DAYS! Yep, that’s how long it’s been since I last blogged. I would apologize, but I’m really not sorry! You see as the month of August progressed, I became more and more focused on my blog. Whether I was sitting in church, chatting with a friend, interacting with my family, cooking, cleaning, or playing with my girls, I was CONSTANTLY thinking about how to take what I was doing/learning/hearing/reading into a fantastic blog post. I felt pressure to post everyday. I craved for my ratings to grow and to increase my “likes” on Facebook. These desires consumed me!

One day I was scanning other’s blogs to find ideas and leave comments for people to find my blog when I came across this post titled “Has Your Blog Become an Idol?” My first time visiting this particular blog, and it stopped me COLD. (If you only have a few minutes, forget my post, and click here to read this one!)

The first few paragraphs are a list of questions. And I answered “Yes” to nearly every single one. Yes, I do rush through my times with Jesus to get to the computer. Sometimes I even spend an hour on there before even picking up my Bible! Yes, I do often tell my children to ‘go play’ so I can check my comments. Yes, I do look forward to the girls’ nap time, just so I can play online. Yes, my housework often suffers because I’m trying to write the most perfect post ever!

I stopped at that moment and confessed my sin to the Lord! I had broken the second commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” No, I didn’t build a gold statue and bow to it, but I was putting something (my blog) before God and the priorities He had given me! No, having and writing a blog is not a sin, but when I allow my thoughts, desires, and time to be obsessed with blogging, it DOES become a sin.

We may not even leave our house (as in, refrain from stepping outside the door), but modern inventions have made it possible for a women to stay at home and still not be a keeper at home. We can sit at home in body and be elsewhere in spirit, especially via the Internet. “Keeping the home,” means more than just staying at home; it means having a heart that is fixated there too.

How I long to be captivated more by Jesus than how many people look at this post. How I desire to be a Keeper in my home, and not just a woman who lives here.

What about you? Maybe you don’t have a blog, but are you distracted from God and His priorities in your life by something else? Facebook? Online games? Exercising? Eating? Television? Confess it to Jesus, then run to Him! Maybe you need to take a break from your idol for a while and replace that time with something more important (although, if it’s eating, don’t break for too long!!).

I decided to wait to blog until I felt my priorities were better. Yes, I will continue to post – but it won’t be every day. And if my little girls want to play with blocks or read a book, well, readers, you’re just going to have to be patient. My priorities are calling.

 







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The Answer to Finding Contentment

Posted by on Aug 31, 2011 in Christian Living | 6 comments


If you asked what my daily sin struggle was, being dissatisfied would be at the top of the list (tied with a few other things, but we’ll leave those nasty confessions for another day…). The opposite of being unhappy with my possessions, situations, relationships, etc. is to be content with what God has given me, where He has placed me, and who He has placed in my life.

Oh, contentment! How I’ve tried to master you! I’ve prayed for contentment. I’ve made lists of the “positive” things to certain situations. I’ve meditated on verses dealing with contentment. I’ve asked others to hold me accountable with this issue. I’ve read books on contentment, gleaned from the wisdom of others, sat at their feet, cherished their words and ideas, and yes, even preached sermons to myself!

Yes, all of those things are good – even wonderful things to do on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how each and every day this nasty, pesky sin creeps back into my heart.

It never fails that God ties “random” sermons, conversations, and readings together in my life to teach me lessons. If you follow this blog, you know this month I am reading Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. What a powerful book! Because of this, my mind has been thinking and focusing on Jesus much more than normal. Today, as I was spending time with my Savior, these verses from Hebrews 13 leaped off of the page and slapped my discontented face between the eyes:

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever… 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Jesus is the answer. We are commanded here to be content BECAUSE  we have Jesus!! (verses 5-6)

When I’m feeling discontent, – focus on Jesus. He will never leave me.

When I wish I had more “stuff” or lived in a different place – Jesus. He will never change.

When discouragement overwhelms me – Jesus. He deserves my praise.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

So simple – yet we make it so hard.

Yes, I’ll still pray, still meditate on verses, still ask others to hold me accountable and encourage me with their wisdom, still read books, and certainly still need to preach to myself. But, as I move through life seeking to be content, I pray my mind and heart will be focused on Jesus – the sweetest name I know!

Photo credit: here

 






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Prayer ~ The Voyage

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in Prayer | 0 comments

 

From The Valley of Vision…

O LORD OF THE OCEANS,

My little bark sails on a restless sea,    safely.

Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me course;

Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward ;

Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals

Bring me to harbor with flying pennants,

hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things.

I venture on thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defense.

The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitile but my helm is held steady,

thy Word secures safe passage,

thy grace wafts me onward,

my haven is guaranteed.

This day will bring me nearer home.

Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,

my peace flowing as a running tide,

my righteousness as every chasing wave.

Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert every care to prayer.

Halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity of temper;

let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;

may I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters.

May the world this day be happier and better because I live.

Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross,

and every oncoming wave the fountain of his side.

Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

 Amen

Image source: here
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Celebrating Sunday

Posted by on Aug 1, 2011 in Christian Living | 9 comments

Sunday – a day of rest.

When I was a child, I remember reading in the Little House on the Prairie books about Laura Ingalls having to sit perfectly still all day on Sunday. Their family would attend church, then sit at home reading the Bible for the remainder of the day. They weren’t even allowed to laugh! I remember thinking how awful that would be.

How completely different is our culture today! Stores are open, people work or play on golf courses and the lake – Sunday has become the second Saturday of the week. Even Christians are busy, busy! I don’t know about you, but at the end of a Sunday, I normally feel exhausted and ready for Monday. With rising early, rushing to get ready for church, fellowshipping with friends, then headed back to church for Bible study Sunday night, the day can leave our family slightly grumpy.

God obviously didn’t have exhaustion in mind when he gave the fourth commandment to Moses in Exodus 20:

8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Now that we are no longer living under the law, we are not required to keep this commandment in strict form the way the legalistic Jews attempted. Jesus, when on earth, angered the Pharisees by feeding His disciples and healing the sick on the Sabbath. By His teaching, we know that God looks, not only on our actions, but at our heart attitude when it comes to obeying Him.

What about Sunday? What about serving and attending church? What about resting and taking a day off? How can we glorify God on this day?

Rather then attempt to dissect every imaginable way to celebrate Sunday, I’ll share my personal ways. I once heard a pastor teach that Sunday should look different than any other day of the week in your life. If you normally work, Sunday should be your day off. If you usually are doing housework, take a break on Sunday. (Unfortunately, I can’t stop changing diapers for these 24 hours every week… hmmm…. maybe I need to find a way to make that happen!)

Here are a few ways I celebrate Sunday:

  • Attend Church

This should be an obvious statement, but our family attends a Bible believing, Bible teaching church. Each Sunday we are encouraged in the Lord as we hear his word taught and fellowship with other believers.

  • Enjoy Family

This looks different each week as I do my best to spend time with my girls and love on my husband. We may chat about the sermon, sit on the floor and play ball, or snuggle on the couch watching a movie.

  • Little Cooking

Meaning, I cook as little as possible. I will make a large batch of dinner Saturday night, or, more often, I prepare a meal for the crock-pot to cook while we’re at church. Coming into the house hungry with our lunch smelling yummy and waiting on us is fabulous! Breakfast consists of toast or muffins or something easy. For the evening meal, we usually snack on leftovers or have something simple like grilled cheese or popcorn and fruit.

  • Little (or no) Cleaning

A typical Sunday equals no extra housework. I usually just rinse the dishes and leave them in the sink; I don’t sweep or vacuum, and I barely pick up the house. Obviously, I do the things that must be done… changing diapers, putting food away so it doesn’t spoil, cleaning up spilled milk and taking out the sticky trash, etc. But if it can wait for tomorrow, I let it!

  • Take a nap

Ahhh! Sunday naps are THE BEST! As often as I can, I will snuggle under the covers to relax.

  • Spend time with extended family

This is not an every week ordeal. Occasionally, though, we will visit with friends or family during the afternoon or evening as a way to relax and enjoy our day.

  •  Saturday Prep

On Saturdays I spend time planning for the next day. This involves not only cooking (as mentioned above), but preparing our home and ourselves for a peaceful Sunday. I choose the clothes the girls and I will be wearing and lay them out to make sure we have each shoe, bow, and slip that we need – clean and in one place. I get our diaper bag ready, complete with diapers, sippy cups, and snacks. My Bible is laid next to my purse so I don’t forget it! I try to go to bed with a clean house Saturday night. This doesn’t always happen (just ask my husband about this weekend!!). But, it certainly helps Sunday to stay smooth when we can function in our home without doing unnecessary cleaning.

  •  Turn off the computer

On Saturday night, I normally turn my computer off and leave it off until Sunday night after our Bible study. I stay off of Facebook, my blog, email, etc. This is a way for me to “take a break” from the normal week. While I certainly don’t feel like it’s a sin to be on the computer on a Sunday (and I still do get on occasionally), I know that it’s beneficial for me to have this break once a week to focus on other, more eternal, things since I am prone to allow what’s online to consume me.

  • Keeping my heart on Jesus

Unfortunately, this is the hardest area for me! I would love to tell you that I get up early to have an extended quiet time on the Lord’s day or that I always pray on my way to church for open ears and an open heart. But, I don’t do those things each week.  My heart, however, is that each Sunday, and every other day for that matter, I will be seeking Christ more – that Sunday will be the spring board for a week of focusing on my Savior and who He is and what He is teaching me.

How about you? How do you celebrate Sundays in your home? I’d LOVE to hear your ideas!!

“Call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
Then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14

 

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Got a Reference For That?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2011 in Bible Memory | 3 comments

Finish this verse: “For all of sinned…” And this one: “Train up a child in the way he should go…” Or this one: “Your word have I hid in my heart….”

I could continue for quite a while giving you half verses that I am sure you could complete. Maybe you’ve grown up hearing these your entire life or perhaps have recently started recognizing the Scripture verses you hear. Either way, as a Christian, we frequently hear some of the same verses repeated in sermons, literature, and within our conversations.

God has placed numerous people in my life to encourage Scripture memory. Yes, I can rattle off tons of verses that I’ve “hidden in my heart.” However, I have recently realized my lack of knowing where these verses are found. A month ago, Matt and I took the college group from our church to the Resolved Conference in California. Steve Lawson, one of the speakers, peppered memorized Scriptures AND their references throughout his sermon. I wish I could remember where verses are found! I contemplated. And, like so many other thoughts, it slipped out of my mind….

Until a few weeks later when our pastor preached on parenting. He shared a story about his mother spanking him when he was young. Like any child, he hated spankings and told his mother, “You’re going to kill me!” As he laughingly recalled this story, he told us how his mother reached for her Bible and immediately opened it to the verse that states: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” As the congregation laughed, our pastor continued his sermon.

I couldn’t get this illustration out of my mind. Not because God was teaching me about the importance of discipline. No, I kept thinking of the dozens of times I know my children will need me to explain truth to them. As they grow and mature, they will ask me hundreds of questions and need me to give counsel and wisdom. I want to be able to respond in any situation like my pastor’s mother. I want to be able to grab my Bible and immediately open it to a verse that applies to this specific conversation. I don’t want to stumble through a concordance or run to the internet every time I need to find the reference to a verse God brings to my mind. I want my children to see, that although I may have some ok things to say, that God’s word is sufficient for all of their questions and problems. Certainly, I know that times will arise when I will have to search the Scriptures for answers (hopefully with my child). But, I don’t want the phrase, “Somewhere in the Bible it says…..” to leave my mouth. Rather, I long to say, “In Prov. 23:13 it says….”

I’ve decided to be certain to include the reference when I memorize verses in the future, knowing that a verse is not completely hidden in my heart unless I know where to find it. Also, as pastors mention verses I have already memorized, and as I read them in my Bible and other books, I am now taking the time to put the reference with the verse by relearning them together.

Lord willing, in the future, when my child needs council, I’ll be able to pull my Bible off of the shelf, open up God’s word, and share His Truth with my little one.

 

 

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