Saturday, March 31, 2012

From Candy to Christ

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6: 9

Well, I have a confession to make. I don’t enjoy working with kindergarten-age students very much. There, I said it! I have one at home, and let me tell you, homework time is always a bumpy ride. I don’t think I am mentally qualified or physically prepared to teach little kids, so I avoid it as much as I can. The Lord, however, has other plans. He has often positioned me in circumstances where I have been faced with the reality of having to lead His precious little ones’ first steps into His path.
Such has been the case at Kid Zone the last few months. When our wonderful Children’s Ministry Director needed someone to fill the Kindergarten position for the last half of our Wednesday-after-school program at church; I resisted. Resistance is futile, however. When the Lord nudges you in one direction; there is little that can be done to refuse Him. See Jonah if you don’t believe me.

At any rate, eventually, I volunteered and I began teaching the Kindergarten class every Wednesday afternoon aided by my wonderful friend Helen. I credit Helen for my survival – and that of the children – one of which was my very own Dylan.

During the second to last Wednesday of Kid Zone I decided to compile two lessons into one so we could talk about the whole Easter story in one day, rather than splitting the crucifixion from the resurrection, because I wanted the kids to leave with the “Good News,” that Jesus is alive rather than leave it at His death. So I began the lesson by asking them if they knew what Easter was all about.

After pondering for a few seconds; I began to hear them saying with great excitement things like “candy!” “Chocolate!” “Easter Bunny!” and such. They began recollecting sweet treats and trinkets they’ve all gotten in their Easter baskets in prior years. As I looked around the little table surrounded by little faces all lit up with the thought of Easter candy, Dylan approached me quietly and whispered in my ear, “it’s about God.” At the same time, another little boy sitting across the table from me said, “Jesus.” Those where the only two contributions that linked Easter to its real meaning and significance.
I didn’t dwell on the reality around me. I put it in the back of my head and moved on to tell them that Easter was all about Jesus. And I went from there and told them the story of the cross and the resurrection as best as I could. When the day was over, I went home wondering if they even heard anything I’d said. “I guess I’ll never know,” I thought as I walked away from the church that afternoon.

One week later, we gathered together one last time at Kid Zone to celebrate the end of the season with a gorgeous spring day, a parachute and pizza party, music, “shopping,” and a final lesson. In the classroom, I did not know what I was going to do. I was done with lessons, so I was going to have to wing it. I decided to review last week’s lesson, so I began asking the question, “do you remember what Easter is all about?” I could not believe the reply. To my delight, the children offered a polyphonic chorus in reply. I don’t exaggerate, what they responded truly sounded like angelic music to my ears. “Easter is about Jesus’ death,” shouted Ryan from across the table. Helen pointed at him and looked at me. I nodded in agreement. “It’s about, God!” “It’s about Jesus coming back to life!” The other kids added.

I said aloud, trying to speak above their young, excited voices, “Yes! You got it! Easter is about Jesus’ death on the cross and about Him coming back to life again!” I stood up and said, “Our God is not dead! He is alive!” And we all made a loud noise in praises that only our Lord could understand. In my heart I said, “He is alive, indeed! Hallelujah!”

I never thought I’d say this, but as I saw my kindergarteners leave the room at the end of the day, I felt really sad that Kid Zone was over. Dylan and I stayed behind for a few minutes gathering up the last remains of another season of Kid Zone that had come to a close. As I picked up crayons from the floor and papers from the little tables, I praised the Lord for the chance He’s given me, once again, to witness His power and glory. It is no wonder that He said that His Kingdom belongs to those who have the hearts of little children. In their innocence and purity, with the proper guidance, they assimilate the message of Jesus, the Good News of the Gospel smoothly and without question.

Once again, the Lord has shown Himself to me in the eyes of His beloved so I do not grow tired of doing His work. May I, and all who serve Him, always keep the words of 1 Corinthians 15:58 fresh in our hearts and minds: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He Will Heal Our Land

Lately, I have been feeling a little frustrated, afraid, confused, concerned and honestly, angry when I look around and see the state of our society and our nation as a whole.  I really don’t see how any Christian, regardless of point of view, perspective or affiliation might be satisfied with the way things are today.  I certainly am not.  The worst part for me is that I have not a clue how to contribute to start changing things around.

As I stop and think, however, I realize that my hopelessness and helplessness flourish when I forget what God has promised us.  So I go back to His Word and He reminds me that if we, His people, whom He calls to Himself by the power of His name, will humble themselves and pray and seek [His] face and turn from their wicked ways, then will [He] hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

These words represent, therefore, the Lord’s instructions for those who belong to Him on what to do to bring healing to their land.  And as we examine them, we discover a full circle of intertwined steps for believers to follow in times of distress. 

First, we are to humble ourselves.  Biblically speaking, being humble does not mean being a wimp.  It means that we surrender to our Lord and that we realize that it is not by our own actions that things get done, plans become enacted or success is achieved.  It is only by the power of God according to His perfect will.  Our best example on how to do this is Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8). 

There is nothing wimpy about Jesus’ ultimate act of humility.  As fully man, He had to overcome any human emotion He might’ve experienced when taking the road to Calvary.  As a man, He put aside the desire to show His divinity and demonstrate His omnipotence to those who relentlessly and mercilessly mocked him and tortured him.  The self-restrained displayed by the Christ on behalf of the fulfillment of the eternal plan for the salvation of His chosen children shows the magnitude of Jesus’ strength rather than weakness.  Therefore, humility is the opposite of frailty.  A willingness of a heart to be humble and submit to God denotes the strength of character of those who follow His way.

Second we see how surrendering comes intertwined with prayer.  Prayer is communicating with God.  It is important to remember that such communication is two-fold.  We speak and we listen.  Therefore, it is also two-way.  Our Lord does speak to us.  Are we listening?  Do we know how to listen?  Do we want to listen?  Personally, sometimes I don’t really want to listen because I kind of know what He might say and I have a feeling it may not be what I want to hear.  But that’s just me.

Third, we understand that in prayerful surrender, we seek His face. Jesus is very clear on what we are to do. He tells us that rather than chasing after the things of this world which we desire for our comfort and ease, we are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6: 33) We are called to walk on the narrow path and seek a life of godliness which has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1Timothy 4:8)

Fourth, as a consequence of the previous steps, a change of hearts is inevitable. Eternity in our hearts becomes our way of life. With our eyes focused on Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us we turn from our wicked ways. It doesn’t matter how good we think we are when compared to others; the reality check is evident when we compare our lives to our only perfect model, Jesus Christ. We fall short every time. In humility we then acknowledge our total depravity and cry out to Him who hears us and rescues us.

So finally, the fifth and last step brings the circle to a close. As we humbly give ourselves to Him, prayerfully seek His face and turn from our wicked ways regardless of where we are, we cry out to Him. Even from the depths of our personal abyss where, the cords of death entangled [us]; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed [us] in our distress we call to the Lord, we cry to our God for help. And from His temple He hears our voice. (Psalm 18: 4-6) For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Psalm 22: 24)

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. (Psalm 86: 13)

He loves us, indeed, and He empowers us to act for His Kingdom. He empowers us to know that He is God and that even in the turbulence of the current times He is and forever will continue to be in control of all things.

Even when all seems lost He knows where to find it. Our God is not dead. Our Redeemer lives! Now, the trick is to remember it. I hope I remember this truth next time I feel overwhelmed by the signs of the times. I hope I remember this truth next time I feel hopeless and helpless. I hope I remember that God is not done with me yet. He is not done with our country either. We are still here; therefore, we still have hope. He is the source of our true hope, and only He can truly change us. He is the only one who can forgive our failures and He is the only one who can heal us.

Ecclesiastes 10:2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me;
your love, O Lord, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands. 

Psalm 138: 7-8

Monday, March 26, 2012


The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2: 18  

At about this time 18 years ago, I began to plan our wedding.  I only had 5 very short months to get it all done.  Back then, I was certain of a few things.  I knew that I loved Dan and that he was the man God had designed to be my husband.  I knew my parents loved Dan too, and were thrilled about the idea of a wedding. I knew that we didn’t have much time to take care of all the details.  I also knew that I definitively did not want to spend much money on this ordeal.  And I knew I wanted my flowers to be white.  However, as certain as I was of these things, I was clueless about what marriage truly meant.  

Immersed in the endless list of things to do, in between my gown’s fittings, the decisions about the menu, the guest list and picking a reception hall, I had not given much thought at all to the Biblical significance of marriage.  The idea that marriage is a God ordained sacrament with divine implications which foreshadows the relationship between our Lord Jesus Christ and His bride the church had not even crossed my mind on those busy days.  Neither had I thought about God’s command to wives to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ, or the fact that from the very beginning of all ages, God designed the woman to be the helper of the man.

The big day came and went.  Everything was beautiful.  And as the wedding became history, reality began to hit.

I’ve always been very independent, controlling, impatient, selfish, harsh and strong-willed.  I had no clue those tendencies would need to be adjusted now that I had become a wife.  I had no clue my role in life had changed.  I had no clue of the seriousness of the role of wife.  I had no clue I could not live for my own self-interest anymore.  I had no clue that, though equal in the eyes of God, I had entered a God-designed partnership with God-ordained roles, in which the head was the husband and I was to be his helper. 

A helper; how was I to become a helper?  The thought alone made me feel like I had been demoted.  I had gone from being a self-sufficient, self-made, smart and independent young woman about to unleash the potential of a thousand warriors, to become a subordinated being that had to display obedience and submission to this man who, though perfect for me, was not perfect or flawless by any extend of the imagination.  I was supposed to go from being the ultimate boss of me to being a helper

I had never really paid attention to the Biblical definition of a wife.  I had no clue!  So, needless to say, the first few years of our marriage were a real treat!  I was in a constant state of rebellion.  I went through an intense period of identity crisis.  I did not know who I was.  My whole world had sort of collapsed and what was left was this unrecognizable mess that nobody could decipher or knew how to deal with.  And the root of it all was that I had not really and truly invited Christ to be part of our marriage.  I didn’t know I was supposed to do that! 

It wasn’t until years later that I realized I was trying to fulfill my divinely appointed mission of being a wife without asking for Divine intervention.  There was no way I could become the helper God had intended without enlisting the aid of the Divine Helper.  It is no wonder to me now, when I look back, why I was so clueless.  It is no wonder I was getting no where in my attempts to be a good wife.  It is no wonder why I had no idea how to do that. 

Years went by and as the Holy Spirit began to work in me and show me that if I were to become the helper I was supposed to be, I would need His help; I didn’t necessarily became better at it, but I found peace.  The feeling of inadequacy persisted, but I accepted that the bar to becoming a “wife of noble character” is set very high for a purpose.  God sets high standards so we realize we cannot do it alone.  Trying to adhere to Biblical roles can only be achieved by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and is our Helper.  I finally accepted that I not only needed help from the Divine Helper, but I needed Him to take over.  I needed to let go of my desire to be perfect, and let Him show His strength through my weakness. 

For women like me, the path to becoming a godly wife is a long and rocky one.  Today, as I look back on those few, precious months when I was captivated by the excitement of planning our wedding, I can see the hand of God in everything that happened.  Even my cluelessness was necessary for me to realize my need for a Savior and a Helper.  Today, I am still not the helper that God wants me to be, but I rely on my Heavenly Helper to guide me through this difficult road into a place where I can finally hear, well done, good and faithful “helper.” 

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2: 24

Friday, March 16, 2012

Soaring Home on Wings Like Eagles

Isaiah 40:31
“But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Every afternoon I have the privilege to see my boys get off the school bus and welcome them home. Everyday I rejoice watching how Dylan starts running toward the house as soon as his little feet touch the driveway. He runs with a big smile on his face. Sometimes I step outside and wait for them at the top of the driveway. On those days, Dylan runs with open arms, almost ready to take off the ground, to land in a tight embrace into mine. It sure is delightful to hug my little one and lift him up after a long day at school.

The scene reminds me of how I imagine the day I will finally come home and get to see Jesus for the first time. I picture Him at the end of the heavenly driveway with His arms extended toward me, motioning me to come near. Like the song says, “I can only imagine,” the joy I would feel on that moment. After a long “day” that lasted a lifetime, filled with hardship, disappointment, discouragement, and failures, the reward will await me with open arms. I imagine my strength being renewed and not feeling faint anymore. I imagine me running and more than that, soaring as if with wings like eagles to land in his arms at last. O glorious day!

The thought of that moment refuels my empty soul and sparks the energy that jumpstarts my engine again. This engine designed by My Maker, which keeps me functioning while still on this side of heaven despite the occasional stalling on cold days. The thoughts of the eternal keep me wanting to press on for I am not done yet. Like Paul tells us in Philippians 3: 13-14,
“…one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I’ll keep on pressing on as I wait to be home. Today, however, as the first signs of spring pop up all around, I think I will venture outside to wait for Dylan at the top of the driveway. Hopefully I will see him running happily into my arms, pretending to fly. I will receive him with joy in my heart and lift him off the ground, while I still can : )

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Last Sunday at Church we sang one of my old time favorite hymns. It is one of my favorites because it is one of the first hymns I ever learned. I didn’t grow up singing hymns, so at first, it was hard following the words and music of such classic pieces of worship; but “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” for some reason, resonated in me. Since I first heard it, I liked it and I learned enough of it to sing it to my boys as a lullaby when they were little. I stopped singing lullabies to them as soon as they got big enough to realize their mother can’t sing…but it is funny, they remember it. Grant, for example, immediately reacts with loving attention every time he hears the first notes of its melody. He calls it, “Mama’s song.” So on Sunday, we sang “Mama’s song” at church (well, I didn’t, really, I’m sick and congestion makes my already horrible singing even worse.)

Later in the evening, when the boys were getting ready for bed; I heard the glorious notes of the treasured melody bouncing off the walls of our house as Grant was singing it. Dan asked me if I had heard him singing. I just nodded, overcome by emotion and joy.

The next day, however, I hit kind of an emotional low. I felt insignificant and irrelevant. I felt incapable of effecting change. I felt helpless and a tad hopeless. It might have been the rain or perhaps the news. There is not much out there to celebrate about the state of the nation, the recent burglaries in our small community or the downfall of our society as a whole. Maybe it is the godlessness that surrounds us. Perhaps it was just because it was Monday. (All of the above could be a feasible reason too) I don’t know, but days like last Monday threaten my hope; and I don’t like feeling that way. After all: This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24

So I decided to focus my sight on a more eternal perspective. That’s how the Holy Spirit brought me back to Sunday’s service and the precious hymn. I looked up the lyrics online and I read it carefully. As I read it, the memories of Grant’s sweet voice filled my mind,

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

There is no room for discouragement and disappointment. Jesus IS our portion and He knows exactly what we need. We feel discouraged when we allow the enemy to manipulate us. The enemy cannot read our thoughts. Only God is omniscient. He sure can predict our reactions, though. The enemy knows our weak spots and hot buttons. And he does not hesitate to push them. It is no wonder that Peter warns us in his first letter, chapter 5:8: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Armed with the power of the Holy Spirit who does live within us, we can stand up to the enemy and rebuke him and his evil schemes. The Holy Spirit gives us clarity to see the truth and tools to change our focus.

We are worth more than the sparrows, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 10,

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
As such, He tells us in the hymn,

“Let not your heart be troubled,' His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Our God is sovereign. Nothing happens here on earth that catches Him by surprise. He is seated in His throne day and night. He is the God Who Sees. Even when we despair because of the state of decay we see ourselves surrounded by, His eye is on the sparrow. He watches us and He is in control over all the earth and its temporary rulers. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16: 9

Regardless of how unjust, unfair, un-free, ungodly, unconstitutional or un-American we think our society has become, we must remember that the ultimate power resides in Him, for,

He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him. Psalm 66: 7

Nothing escapes Him. Even if we think injustice goes unpunished,

His eyes are on the ways of mortals;
he sees their every step. Job 34: 21

And one day we will all go before the judgment seat in front of the Ancient of Days.

In the meantime, I wish to remember that,

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

In the meantime, I will pray that my focus doesn’t deviate from Him; and that the thought of the freedom I have in Him is enough to make me happy and make me sing. (Even if all around me have to cover their ears : )

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Attempting to Walk in His Perfect Will

Deuteronomy 32:4
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

I don’t really know anybody who deliberately chooses to go through hard times. Given the choice, I certainly would never, purposely choose difficulties over ease. However, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55: 8

Needless to say, then, the Lord has a plan that not always coincides with ours. His plan, however, is perfect and eternal. It has stood since the foundation of the world, when He first called us, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight Ephesians 1: 4. And it will stand despite the differing and despairing plans of mankind, for:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19: 21

And His purposes are always good, regardless of whether the circumstances are not of our own choosing.

I am in the midst of a season of worrying a lot about my sons. Some call this season, “motherhood.” I sure hope I learn how to strike the right balance of healthy concern where I don’t tilt the weights to either extreme. But I know I will never achieve peace on my own. I know it in my head, but I struggle to assimilate this truth in my heart. The peace that trusting God in everything provides still doesn’t run freely through my veins and arteries.

I’m still not on the other side of the issue. I’m still walking “through the valley.” And that makes complete trust hard to reach. And that is exactly why I am still wandering in the “valley of difficulties.” I am one of those with “little faith” still.

I seek refuge in Him and in His Word. And His Word tells me that I must walk confidently because He walks before me. I should walk confidently because of who He is. The knowledge of the nature of God is my walking stick. I lean on His staff, for He is God. And God is good; and God is faithful, and God is love, and He loves me.

God is good.

Nahum 1: 7
The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him…

God is faithful.
Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God is love.
1 John 4: 8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God loves me.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:37-39
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the middle of my struggle, I then trust that, if I just place it all at the feet of Christ as my living sacrifice, He will use it for good, for that is His nature, and He is unchangeable. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Regardless of how difficult, the Lord can and will use every circumstance for good if we surrender it to Him. Just like Joseph said to his brothers: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done… Genesis 50: 20 God can accomplish great things for His Kingdom through every situation, despite of how evil twisted it in the beginning.
The enemy manipulates and deceives us until we find ourselves immersed in situations beyond our control and deprived of joy; but if we turn around and tell our Lord, “Jesus, I know you can change this into something good. I trust you,” we’d have nothing left to do but to sit tight and wait for the miracle.

What the Lord works out would perhaps be very different from what we ever dreamed or planned on our own. But the end result would be perfect, because it will be in accordance with God’s perfect will. Even if we don’t get to see it,-the Bible is filled with examples of people who didn’t get to witnessed personally the end result of their lifetime dedication to God’s Kingdom-, in the end it will happen. God will work it out because, …we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

I had dreams that have not become true, and never will. Well, who doesn’t, right? But I have realities that extend far beyond what I could have ever possibly known to dream about. Still, it is not all what I would have chosen given the opportunity; but it is all perfect still.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Resting in the Hands of the Good Shepherd

I have had many jobs in my life, but I’ve never encounter a toughest one than being a parent. I had no clue what I was getting into when the Good Lord blessed me with two sons. Nothing has made me happier, more fulfilled, more worried, more terrified or anxious in my whole life. Nothing makes me more joyful than the laughter of my boys. Nothing troubles me more than their struggles and their tears.

The worst part is that many times, there is nothing I can do to make my children feel better. I can’t make the hurt go away, and that really pierces my heart.

Tonight I wanted to take Grant’s worries in my hands and throw them away; but I didn’t know how. I saw my young boy wrestle with fears and I feel helpless. I tried to comfort him as best as I could. I reminded him that he is immensely loved and that not just by his parents, but mainly and mostly by God Himself, who fearfully and wonderfully made him, but he could not relax. After I tucked him in bed, he still was not at ease, but I gave him some space. I sat down outside his room to watch some TV and I could hear him tossing and turning. It was getting late and he was still awake.

Later, I returned to his room and asked him if he wanted me to make him some company. He quietly nodded, and I climbed in bed next to him. I had quickly asked the Holy Spirit to lead me on what to say/do to help him feel a bit better. So I began my “talk.” (It’s funny how earlier I had told him, half jokingly that I felt sorry for him because he’s got two parents who loved the sound of their own voices : )

I told him that sometimes God puts us in difficult situations so we learn to trust Him. I told him that through these difficult things He wants us to realize that He is in charge, that He has a plan and that His plan is perfect. I told him how we memorize Scripture so His Word can come back to us when we need it. I told him about one of my favorite verses, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10) I talked to him about how I repeat that verse in my head every time I feel worried about anything, and how God is telling us to just calm down and trust Him.

At that moment, the words of Psalm 23 came to me. I recited verse 4, my favorite, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:… and before I could finish it, Grant finished it for me, “for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He was excited to tell me that he knew that psalm. He had learned it in Sunday School with Bobbi. That’s when I told him, “you know? In this psalm, the sheep are talking.” That caught his attention immediately. “What?” He said. “Yes, you know, King David wrote it and he was a shepherd. He knew what sheep were like, and he figured that the children of God are just like sheep, who need a Good Shepherd, and that Shepherd is God Himself…so he wrote the psalm from the point of view of the sheep.” 

I continued talking about Psalm 23 and the wonders of its wisdom. I told him about sheep and how helpless and defenseless they are. I told him about the sheep’s total dependence on the shepherd and how important it was to have a good shepherd.

As I talked, I sensed Grant slowly beginning to relax. I continued. Later I heard a faint yawn. Soon, between my words about the needs of the sheep and the loving and caring actions of the hand of the Good Shepherd, I heard Grant’s relaxed breathing indicating he had finally fallen asleep. I took one look at that face I love so much and my heart ached. My little boy is in the hands of the Good Shepherd. Only He knows where the green pastures and the still waters reside. Only He knows how to lead him there. He is the only one who can restore my boy’s soul and give him rest and make his “cup overflow.”

I left his room thinking I had spoken not only for Grant’s sake, but for my own. I needed the reassurance of the Word to remember that “The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want.” He is with me as well as He is with Grant, and I need as much affirmation of that truth as my 9-year old does. I need to renew my trust in Him. I surrender my life and the life of my loved ones to the Good Shepherd for I know He loves us, as He loves all of His children.

I rest on His promise that,

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Monday, March 5, 2012

...With Glasses...

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8: 18

A few days ago I took Dylan to the eye doctor for the first time ever.  He looked so big and matured sitting in that leather chair.  I was so proud.  He obeyed the instructions so well that the ophthalmologist was impressed.  “I can’t keep up with you, buddy!”  She said as Dylan was quickly responding to her promptings.  The difference was amazing.  At the beginning of the eye exam, while the Doctor was asking him to read the letters with the naked eye, Dylan struggled through every one of them.  He hesitated and missed many of them to the point that I began to think he’s forgotten his alphabet. 

After the Doctor put on the “funny glasses” on him, the change started to become evident.  With each lens she added, Dylan began to recognize the letters and symbols on the wall more easily.  At the end of the exam, the Doctor asked him to take off the “glasses” and try to see the letters.  Then she instructed him to put the “glasses” back on after which she asked him, “is it better with or without glasses?”  Dylan quickly replied, “With glasses.”  The exam was up and it was confirmed, Dylan needed glasses for he has a significant amount of astigmatism. 

When I was alone in the room with Dylan I asked him why he hadn’t ever mentioned that he couldn’t see well.  He said that he didn’t know.  That made me think, He didn’t know he couldn’t see well because that’s all he ever knew.  He didn’t know that there was a whole world of clear vision out there.  He didn’t know what he was missing.

That’s pretty much what life is like for those who don’t know Christ.  The eyes are there, but the vision is blurred.  We need the corrective glasses of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to really see.

“Mama, now we all have glasses in our family!”  Dylan said proudly.  I looked at him and smiled, thinking that the same way, Our Father in Heaven gives each of his adopted children the Holy Spirit to clear up the vision of our awareness and discernment. 

“Are we getting them now?”  Dylan asked with excitement.  I had a hard time explaining to him that he wasn’t getting them just yet.  He felt crushed, for once we’ve experience clear vision, we don’t want to go back to fuzzy.

“Dylan, now you have to remember that when you get them, you are going to have to be very careful with those glasses, OK?”  I said to him, thinking of my own carelessness.  I know, however, that now that he’s realized what true clarity really means, though he might occasionally misplace them, he won’t really lose his glasses.  The irresistible grace of seeing will always bring him back until he is found and he can see once again. 

May the Lord help us remember to put on our Holy Spirit glasses every time we need to discern the truth.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thoughts on Making a Stand as a Christian

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4: 12

There comes a point in time when it becomes inevitable to make a stand. We are surrounded by issues that call us to stake our position on either side of the debate. For many, however, the decision is daunting. Confused by the differences in the arguments and the opposing forces that try to pull us to their very side, many have a hard time articulating a firm stance. For Christians, however, deciding where we stand should not be that difficult.

Those who have been adopted into the royal family of the Most High God have a valuable tool that allows them to know where to stand on any issue that they might face. Christians have the Bible as the standard against which they judge the validity of any argument and debate.

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 1 Timothy 6: 3-5

Therefore, if the issue promotes an agenda that opposes the “sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teaching” I quickly move to the other side of it. I cannot support or spend my energy defending concepts that go against the truth. As a Christian who upholds the Bible as the inherent word of God I will not stand for teachings, positions, policies, statutes, mandates or believes that are contrary to Christ.

As someone sealed by the Holy Spirit, and with His guidance, I will do as I am commanded and
“not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4: 1

With the strength provided by Christ who lives in me, I will…

“See to it that no one takes me captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” 
Colossians 2: 8
I pray that the Lord grants all His children discernment and courage to stand on the truth. It is not an easy task and we cannot do it on our own. We need the Solid Rock to anchor us and support us for many will oppose us, but opposition is an honor if it is for the cause of Christ.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2: 14