Apr 14, 2017

What will you do?

I have had a story in my head all week to write for today. However, in the car, on the way to take my daughter to school, something happened. I need to share it with you.

My kids and I watch this video every Good Friday together before school. It wrecks us. [I will share it at the end of this post].

After watching the video this morning, my daughter began to cry. Her little tears just streaming down her cheeks.

"Momma, what about the people that we know and love so much that do not know Jesus? I am overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of not seeing them in heaven. What can we do?"

I pulled the car over to talk to her.

Praying that God would give me the words, I told her we should pray.

We prayed for family members that do not know Jesus. We prayed for people across the country, across the world, that do not know Jesus.

She stopped me in the middle of the prayer, and said, "How will they know, Momma?"

My heart stopped for a minute...

"We have to tell them, sweetie. And most of all, we have to pray."

I remembered a scripture that I had just recently read in the book of Psalms...

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. Psalm 19:1-2

I told her that God continually makes Himself known to all. However, we have a choice to believe or to not believe.

"Presley, I believe that we are all given an opportunity. Every one of us. We have a choice. Let's pray that when presented with that choice, these family members and friends will choose to believe."

I reminded her of the man on the cross hanging next to Jesus. In the final hour of his life, this man chose to believe. [Luke 23:32-43]

Never give up hope. Never stop praying.

Just when the disciples had thought they had been duped...they had followed a man and not the Son of Man....they had given up three years of their lives for it to end like this....

Jesus arose from the dead three days after His crucifixion.

Never stop believing.

Never stop praying.

Never give up hope.

Today, as we ponder the Cross, let's pray for that lost family member. Or neighbor. Or co-worker.

Let's never stop lifting their name up to the Father.

This prayer is one I pray daily over my children and my husband....and now I will pray it over the ones I love dearly that do not yet know Jesus.

Will you pray this with me? Insert the name or names of those that need to know Jesus.

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:16-23


sunday is coming,

jill


**the video is here.  [grab a Kleenex]





Apr 11, 2017

Why, Lord?.....

One thing that I think about the most during this Holy week are the words of Jesus on the Cross.

 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)-Matthew 27:46

Those words used to confuse me greatly. I mean, this was Jesus. Why was HE asking God this question? Jesus is perfect. This question seems to show doubt. I don't get it.

Oh, but now I think I understand.

I think I finally get it.

Jesus was able to say those words because the crushing acts of our sins were bearing down on Him. Our sins were covering His aching tortured body. Piercing every organ. Every vessel. Every nerve ending.  

Sin separates us from God.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

When we doubt His Love, His Mercy, His Grace.....

His Plan....

We can become separated.

Oh, God is never far from us though..

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10

We can never escape God.

However, our sins can separate us from His Voice.

Sin is like putting cottonballs into my ears and expecting to hear.

I won't be able to hear a thing until I take them out.

So, when Jesus said those words....they were not really His Words...they were our words...our sins.

Recently, I found myself in a place. Saying similar words to God.

Why, God. Why? Do you not love me?

Frustrated, tired, and sick to death of praying the same  prayer...

I heard my doubt clear as a ringing bell.

It's not necessarily sinful to have doubts at times.

We will have questions for God. Sometimes a lot.

But, it can separate us from God when it replaces our faith.

When we choose to live in the doubt, it becomes unbelief.

Unbelief will take my eyes off of Him and put them on my circumstances.

Unbelief will tune out the Voice of God because we will only hear the voice of our own doubts and the enemy whispering lies.

When I find myself doubting,  I have to immediately stop what I am doing and go straight to my Bible. I have to remind myself that He Is Good. He Is Faithful. He will never forsake me.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

I have to remember that God has my best interest at heart...and the best interest of those around me.

And 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 have to ask God to give me spiritual eyes to see things from His perspective.

Jesus replied, "You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will." John 13:7

Or, at least to give me unwavering peace if He chooses not to answer.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

He will always bring the peace. He may not always bring the answer at the desired moment I ask, but peace He will bring.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Friend, whatever doubts you are having...

You are not alone.

Jesus Himself, hanging on the cross, felt our doubts. Our fears. Our constant wavering.

Look to the Cross to steady your vision. Do not turn from the Cross until you feel His peace wash over you. Like a cool autumn wind, He will assure you of His ways. They are better. They are higher.

 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.." Isaiah 55:9


Instead of looking for an answer...

We discover that He IS the Answer.


eyes on the Cross,

jill




Apr 10, 2017

Her Story....

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40

This week is Holy Week. It is the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

As I ponder the meaning, the sacredness, and the absolute amazement of this week, I am struck with such joy.

I am also struck with a somber awareness of the many who do not know Jesus, or what He did for them. My heart saddens and cries out to God for Him to shake up my faith. Shake up my heart!

Some days I can go through an entire day without one thought of the lost faces that surround me at any given moment. I get sucked into my tiny world and forget that the person behind me at the grocery story may need to know at that very second the HOPE of Jesus Christ.

I was also recently awakened [again] by the need for us as a Church to show love, grace, compassion and mercy to our fellow believers. This awakening came after a dear friend, with crocodile tears pouring off her face, shared her story with me.

A story starting out with such happiness and acceptance within her new small group at her new church. But, the story ends with pain and exclusion, and so much heartbreak.

She shared with me how she thought that she and her family were "safe" within the walls of her church and her small group. But, because of a few people that chose to turn their backs on her family, she was left confused and saddened, and with no desire to walk into another church.

I will let her share her own words. The story is not over, however. God always brings beauty from ashes, and He will continue to weave His Redemption and Mercy into her story.

My friend has chosen to remain anonymous. She wants no harm for those that turned on her, and only desires any of you who may have experienced similar trauma to know that there is HOPE and REDEMPTION on the other side of the pain.

I hope after reading this, we are all awakened to the need to look around us. Make eye contact with those next to us, and share the Love that God has so graciously poured into us to be poured out.

We never know what someone has experienced. But, we can choose to notice those around us. Making a heart connection whenever we possibly can. Listening. Not judging or condemning. Being ever aware of the lavish Grace that God continues to pour over us.

May we share that same lavish Grace with others. No one is exempt from God's Grace.

We are God's Church. We must represent Him everywhere we go.

My Story:

I will start this off by saying that I don't want pity for my story. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for what has happened to my family and I. It is life. My family always said bad things can and will happen to good people.

This is just a very small portion of our story. First, I want to say that my husband and I have been so blessed in our life. We have been married for 20 years and have 3 amazing kids. We have not a want for anything.
 
We both were raised in church and felt very safe and comfortable there. We even sent our kids to the church preschool.
 
We moved a few years ago  and found ourselves each Sunday visiting church after church. Then one day my sweet neighbor offered to take my kids to her church. I agreed.
 
For several weeks she took them and they would go to church. My husband and I finally joined them. We attended this church for a while.  We were involved in everything! We did it all--VBS , small group Sunday school, and we served in various areas as well.
 
Then one day we were asked to join a couples study, so we did. My husband didn't really want to but he knew I felt it was important, so he went .
 
We would comment all the time that we seemed to have fought more over these few weeks than any before. I would say, "Yeah! Because the devil is mad! The devil is mad because we are diving into the Bible and how it relates to our marriage and he doesn't like that."
 
We trucked on and hung in the entire study.
 
 We started to feel safe in the environment and the group we were with. We hosted a dinner at our house at the end of the study. I remember cleaning the house so much because I was nervous about them coming to my inadequate home. "Would I fit in?" , I thought. My house is small. 

They came that evening and we ended up talking and  sharing things about our families. We ended up sharing the personal information that we had gotten pregnant before marriage. Honestly, I didn't think anything about it. Yes I had sinned, but I also brought life into this world. This was a part of our family story and we thought it was a safe place to share.
 
However, the couples in the small group did not look at it like that.  They were not accepting of our story. 
 
 After everyone left our home,  we were never really spoken to again by these people.
 
 These people would not talk to us at church or anywhere in public. Nothing.
 
I went up to several of them and asked them if I had done anything wrong. I would get polite "no" and that was it. 
 
After a while my husband said that he was not going back to that church any longer. I continued  to go for a bit, but soon I stopped going too.
 
We stopped going to church for a long time.
 
I was that mom that still prayed everyday for my husband, kids, and my family. We did memory verses together.  You name it, we did it. As a family.
 
We would go about once a month to church with my mother or in laws. Otherwise, I fed our family in any which way I could. I know that sounds silly, but that is what I ended up doing for years. 
 
This past year my daughter was away at college and she told me her roomates invited her to church. She declined. She was then invited to a small group. 
 
In six months I saw this child of mine start going to small group. She also started talking about the study they were learning about. She would tell me to download  sermons on you tube and listen. She would text me to remind me to listen and she would call and we would talk about it .
 
Then, she  began to tell me she made sure she was always off on Wednesday so she could go to her study.
 
I was so thankful! I prayed that God would show her that Jesus was good and she didn't have to fear hurt from people.  
 
 I began to see her heart grow and things began to happen for her. 
 
Then in January,  I saw a post online about a small group bible study and asked if I could join.
 
I was so scared that I would be told no. The opposite happened. I was told please come.
 
 I did go, and I have been attending!  At first, I  sat in this room of women thinking, "they are not going to allow me in their group.They are going to be nice, but because I do not go to their church, I will not fit in."
 
Well, I feel like the complete opposite.  I have felt that everyone has been very accepting of me. I have met some nice women. I am so glad that I am in a small group learning about the Bible again. I did not know how much I truly missed it. 
 
Update by Jill: This is my friend's precious story. God is still working on the details to unveil a beautiful masterpiece of grace and redemption for her family. I am also thrilled to let all of you know that she and her family are planning on visiting a church this Easter Sunday! So, if you see someone new at your church...or if you see a face and feel the ping of the Holy Spirit to reach out to them, please do.
 
We must love those around us. We must show the Love of Christ, or we are not representing Christ. I am stirred by my friend's story. Stirred to love bigger. Reach out more. Invite more. And tell everyone I know the HOPE of Jesus Christ. I hope her story stirs your heart the same way.
 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
 
 
love one another,
 
jill 
 
 

Apr 5, 2017

Stop!....

I cannot get the images out of my head.

I was casually drinking down my coffee this morning, catching up on world news and I saw the footage.

Like a horrific accident, I could not turn away.

Syria being bombed by chemical warfare.

Sickened. I am sickened by what I saw.

Babies, children, teenagers...

All in the path of evil.

These are innocent children. Innocent people.

Being ravaged by evil.

In a horse whisper, my mouth began speaking these words to our Savior....

"Lord, come. Please come!"

I don't think we can take another day of this.

I see the kids faces...

And, all I see are the faces of the children under my roof.

These are our children.

 Our children.

God's children.

No matter what religion, race, color....

These are our children.

So, besides jumping on the nearest jet to Syria, what do we do?

How do we fight this evil from our warm and cozy homes?

We pray.

And pray.

And pray some more.

We must put away all distractions...

Our cell phones..

Our social media apps...

Our online games...

And open our eyes to a call of the greatest kind....

To pray.

We must hit our knees.

Today.

Tomorrow.

Every single day until Jesus returns.

We cannot pretend like this doesn't affect us.

It does.

And it will.

I am reminded of the story in Mark Chapter 9. Jesus heals a demon possessed boy. The disciples had tried to heal him to no avail. Jesus steps in....read the story.
 
14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk.

18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.] So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19 Jesus said to them,] “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
2
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil[ spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Two things stand out in the story.

My mind wants to ask Jesus, just like this father did..."If you can...please do something!!"

Then, I am reminded of Jesus' words to the father..."Anything is possible if a person believes."

The second thing is the absolute power and necessity of prayer.

We have no power without prayer.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Jesus told the disciples that there are some evil in this world and in the human mind and body that can ONLY be diminished by praying.

The disciples had no power, because they had no prayer.

"The measure of our prayer is the measure of our power." [Andrew Murray]

Yet, we become numb to the call to pray.

Our eyes dart and divert to things that grab our attention and pull us away from the ONE thing we need most.....

Prayer.

I am also reminded of the disciples with Jesus on the morning of His crucifixion...

 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”  Luke 22:39-46

I  can relate to the disciples, can't you? I get tired. Exhausted. Weary.

OR, I can get sucked into my phone. Texting. Emails. Instagram.

{I bet if the disciples would have had smart phones they would have had the same problem!}

Yet, we stay up for the things we want to do. If we want to watch our favorite t.v. show, or if we want to hang out late with our friends, or see what is happening on social media...

We will drink coffee and push through.

Let's have that same fervor about praying. Let's not get sleepy and tired, or distracted,  when it is time to hit our knees. Let's set our minds to pray and to keep on praying.

I bet if I took an honest poll of all of you readers, including myself,  we would discover that we are not praying enough. I bet it is the one thing lacking most in our lives.

Friends, let's stop.

Wherever we are.

And pray.

Let it become the first thing we do when our eyes open in the morning...

Let it be what we do when we are in the car, even with a car load of kids...

We can pray wherever we are.

But...we must pray.

Prayer releases the will of God down from Heaven unto Earth...

"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as in Heaven..." Matthew 6:10

May we all open our eyes and see the needs of those around us. The one thing they need more than anything we can offer them is our prayers.

Stop. Pray. Repeat.

jill
















Apr 3, 2017

Parenting with Joy...

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

I always hesitate to write posts on parenting. I am not an expert by any form or shape. However, I have learned some things along the way. Mostly from older women in my life who have been down this path and their lives and the lives of their children teach volumes. I am so thankful for these women in my life!

If you are an older mother, I encourage you to share your wisdom with those coming up behind you. We need you. We need your teaching. You may say, "Oh, I am not a teacher!". However, I believe we are all teachers in one way or another. Whether we intend to teach or not, we are teaching. And many are watching.

Something that the Lord is constantly having to remind me of is to have joy with my parenting.

Normally, I have a very joyful and sanguine personality. However, raising children can affect my joy if I am not constantly seeking the Lord for help in this area.

Mundane tasks, constant teaching and correcting, disciplining,  cooking, cleaning,  driving, and more driving....

Did I mention driving?

All of these things can weigh a momma down. There are times when my joy diminishes and my kids see a burnt out mother just going through the motions and checking things off her list.

We tend to think that kids don't notice these things. As long as we are "performing" and meeting their needs, the kids are good.

I don't believe this is true.

Kids sense when we are going through the motions. Doing things out of duty instead of joy. [Uh, husbands sense this too! Another post for another day...]

A joyful mom can stop in the middle of the daily grind and look her kid in the eyes and listen to their words. Laugh at their corny jokes. Be present when it would be so easy to be distracted.

 A joyful mom realizes that our kids much prefer us to be present over perfect.

Yes, we can spoon feed them scripture and lofty teachings telling them how to behave. However, I believe what sticks with them the most is how we respond to them. How do we respond when something doesn't go our way? Or when something turns out differently than we had planned.

Do we lose our joy and become bitter and hateful? Do we spew words of condemnation, hurt, anger, or sarcasm?

I know I sure have at times.

Joy is not dependent on our circumstances.

"The Joy of the Lord is your strength" Nehemiah 8:10

This scripture from Nehemiah was the first verse I memorized as an adult. It was soon after I had my first child. The Lord was reminding me to keep joy in my heart. In my home. Towards my children. In my marriage.

I wanted perfection.

A clean house. A good baby. A skinny body. A full bank account. A perfect husband who acted the way I wanted him to act. [ha!]

When those things didn't happen,  I fell apart.

I would lose my joy.

Depression, anxiety, fear, and sadness would set in.

The standards were set even higher when the second child was born. It was just too much to maintain all of these things that I thought made me a "good mom".

I would try so hard to do all the right things. Put a smile on my face in public. Keep up  the demands of being a mom with babies, a husband, two dogs AND a cat, and a house to take care of.

But, deep down, joy was nowhere to be found.

When the Lord opened my eyes to my need for His Joy instead of my "standards", it seemed almost too easy.

Have joy?

Really?

Too simple.

Surely, I would need to add 7.5 hours a day of prayer. Along with perfect church attendance. And attend two or three bible studies a week.

No, Jill. Just clothe yourself with my Joy. Let Me be your Joy. 

 I heard these words so clear in my heart.

I began to daily ask Him for Joy. I begged Him. I wrote it on my mirror with an expo marker. I taped scriptures about Joy all over my house. I set my mind every single day to be intentional about clothing myself in His Joy.

 Oh, y'all, I needed joy desperately.

Little did I know that Joy would change everything.

Joy comes  from the Lord.

Joy is not a feeling or emotion, it is a gift from the Lord.

Joy is the overwhelming contentment that floods our soul.

Joy is always coupled with gratitude.

Joyful people are thankful people.

 Instead of being bitter about our lot and season of life, let's be thankful. Let's be joyful! And heaven forbid even stopping to laugh once and a while! The bible even tells us that it is GOOD for us to laugh! [Proverbs 17:22]

And, hey, what if we really took the following verse to heart. Laughing, without fear of the future. Surely, our joy would be so evident to others. Especially our children!

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25


Let's ask ourselves these questions:

Do our children see themselves as our joy? Or as our burdens.

Would they define their momma as joyful? Or stern and unbending.

Are we overflowing with joy? Or just overbearing.

How do we respond when life doesn't go the way we planned?

Our children are watching. Taking notes. Looking for us to teach them about joy.

Will our children be drawn to our faith in Jesus because of our strict standards of living and no-nonsense attitudes?

I don't think so

I think they will be drawn to Jesus through our joy.

In gentle words. In kind responses. In loving gestures. In having a servant heart.

In JOY.

Even in very difficult situations and trying times, joy is possible.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-3

When doing the same tasks over and over each day, we can have joy. We just have to ask God for it, and set our minds on praise.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!  Psalm 92:4-5

I began years ago making it a habit to praise the Lord and pray over my kids as I fold their laundry and cook dinner. Praising God and praying over my people brings my heart JOY! It's like killing two birds with one stone. Multi-tasking at its finest.

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Our children will forget  a lot of the things that we said to them. But, they will never forget how we responded to them. How we loved them and listened to them. Looked them in the eyes and stopped for a few minutes to be present with them.

Will our children remember their mother being full of joy?

Oh, Lord, let it be so.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23


seeking joy,


jill




Apr 1, 2017

If only.....

Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure. Psalm 16:5


I have this scripture on a bright yellow note card over my kitchen sink, I need a daily reminder of this.

Many days,  I can get an overwhelming wave of discontent washing over me. It will come out of nowhere, and flood my heart and mind with wrong thoughts.

If only _________, I could really be happy.

If only my husband would ____________, my life would be complete.

If only my kids would ________________, I could finally be happy.

If our bank account had______________, I could finally be at peace.

If I could change ____________ about my body, I could be happy.

If God would just give me __________________, I would really trust Him and believe Him.


When this happens, I have a choice. I can give into these emotions that lie, or I can trust God's assignment over me and my life. I can trust and obey. Or, I can worry and doubt.

The world is constantly throwing things in our faces that tempt us to desire more. If only we had more, we could be truly happy.

Remember Jesus in the desert? Satan tempted Jesus over and over. The last temptation was this one:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:8-11

If we are not careful, if we do not defeat the enemy with Truth, we can fall right into his temptation trap.

Satan wants us to believe that "if only" we had certain things, we would be happy.

Jesus uses the Word of God to fight back the enemy's words by saying, "it is written...."

Then, the next line knocks my socks of.. "Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only...."

In essence Jesus is saying....the greatest treasure in the world is not found in earthly riches or desires....but in worshiping and serving God alone.

Whew.

So, when my marriage feels like it is falling apart...

Or, when my children are not acting and performing like I think they should...

Or, when my finances seem like they will never quite be enough....

I can trust in God's plan for my life.

I can worship Him in the mess, in the lack.....

and I can serve Him.

I can serve Him in my words.

I can serve Him in my actions.

I can serve Him by serving my family with a cheerful and joyful heart.

I can serve Him by trusting that everything in my life is filtered through His Hands...for my good.

And 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

Every assignment for my life is measured and controlled by God for my eternal good. Everything.

When I am caught up in the "if only's"....

I am not accepting the assignment and portion that He has given me for this day.

I am refusing to believe that He is enough for me.

One more time...I am refusing to believe that He is enough for me.

Tears rolling down my cheeks, I repent.

I repent in believing that somehow He is withholding good from me.

I repent in believing that He just isn't enough...

Oh, friends. When these thoughts rule our hearts, we are held captive in the trap of the enemy.

And, it's an empty and lifeless place to be.

It's dark, and gloomy, and hopeless.

You will not find the fruit of God's riches there. You will not find an ounce of joy. You will only find discontent heaped upon more discontent. Gloom upon gloom. Misery upon misery.

However, when we raise up our eyes and lock them into the One who made the heavens and the earth and everything in it....we will be set free.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

When we can grasp what David says to the Lord in his psalm, we can truly be freed from the "if only's"...

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

One thing, and one thing only, David asked for and sought after....

The Lord.

How would our contentment change if this were our daily, minute by minute focus? How would our attitudes change? Our marriages? Our children's lives? Our relationships?

Let's gladly accept God's will and plan for our lives. With open arms and open hearts....trusting that no matter what comes our way....it is for our good and His glory.



accepting my assignment,

jill

















Mar 27, 2017

Tell the Truth....

"Better is open rebuke, than hidden love." Proverbs 27:5

As I read these words this morning, something happened that often happens when we read God's Word. I was convicted. Not shamed. But, convicted.

Satan shames.

God convicts.

I thought back to a conversation I had months ago had with a friend. She was telling me a story about something that had happened. I listened. I could see both sides of the situation pretty clearly. She definitely was just as much to blame as the person she was talking about.

[ Isn't it so much easier to see others faults as opposed to our own? Eek. ]

God gave me words in that instant to share with her and to speak truth about her part in what had happened. Instead, I kept my mouth shut.

By doing this, I hid love by not speaking truth to her.

I showed compassion and even agreed with some of the things that she spoke about. [knowing full well that she was also in in the wrong]

I didn't want to speak truth to her about this because I wanted her to know I "understood", and I wanted her to know I was a "good shoulder to lean on and cry on." I wanted her to know that I "had her back", so to speak.

What I should have done was share the truth of what God was laying on my heart to share. She needed wisdom, but instead I didn't want to be the friend who always has a
"teaching moment" to share.

I was more concerned about showing compassion and pity regarding her sin in that situation, than I was to showing her love and speaking truth.

"Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but and enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:6

Truth can hurt sometimes.

The bible says in Hebrews 4:12: 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.

But, sometimes pain produces the best and sweetest fruit. Childbirth, anyone?

We tend to show too much pity on our friends and family, instead of showing them the way, the truth, and life.

Compassion has to be followed by truth.

Take this scripture for example.

Jesus tells us this in John 14:6, Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This can be a hard teaching for some of us to teach. Many want to believe that their good deeds, kind hearts, and loving ways will get them into Heaven. But, this just isn't true.

We want to water things down for others until the piercing of Truth is not felt. Which, leads to no repentance.

This is so dangerous.

How can we ever turn from sin unless we see and feel its looming destruction?

Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Are we really being a good friend if we are not speaking truth and leading them to what God says about the situation?

I think we want to be liked. We want to be called again. We want to be more "relevant" with our words. So we tend to avoid the truth altogether when responding to our friends situation,  or we water it down so much that its value is diminished.

Again, so very dangerous.

Sometimes I think to myself, I am going to look crazy if I share truth with this person. I don't want to be shunned or for them to think I am being "judge-y".

However, listen to what 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 says: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
 
 
So, if this person that I need to speak truth to is a believer, the words of God's Truth are the Power of God. The words can,  if heeded, bring healing and remedy, even if the person doesn't want to accept it at the time.
 
God tells us to have compassion for people, but we must not ever have compassion for sin itself. Sin leads to death, in one form or another. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
 
Maybe the sin is not  physical death, but it can be the death of a relationship, and the death of our spiritual growth in Christ.
 
The bible says in Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
 
Sharpening requires a little pain. A little cutting away of the fat of the flesh.
 
When we are iron to each other, we do just that. We sharpen each other. Even when it is painful.
 
Of course, this sharpening is always for the betterment of each other. It is never for us to be condemning, or throw guilt, or for us to have a prideful heart as we shed light on their sin.
 
Oswald Chambers says this: God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.
 
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
 
We are to cover each other in love. We are not to expose each others sins  in the form of gossip or betrayal. I picture us literally laying over our friends and protecting them from the gossip of others. Not covering up their sin, but to love them enough to speak truth to them and guard what they shared with us.
 
One more thing about truth...
 
Real Truth only comes from God's Word.
 
Our opinion on a matter is not truth. Period.
 
Our opinion will not bring healing.
 
Only God's Word can save and bring healing.
 
We are to clothe ourselves with compassion [Col. 3:12], showing it to each other, not the sin itself.
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
 
How would our relationships change if we really, truly, began to speak God's Truth in love to each other instead of being agreeable to sin?
 
working on this,
 
 
jill
 







Mar 22, 2017

Parenting from the waist down....

Today's post is by a lady that I greatly admire. She is a true Titus 2 woman, living out her calling to teach, encourage, and minister to those around her.

I have had the pleasure of meeting her over coffee, and she is even more wise [if that is even possible] in person. I want to be like her when I grow up. And, you will too. [please visit her website to get to know her better. you can thank me later] :)

Be blessed by her wisdom in parenting. Oh, and if you are not a parent, you will still be blessed. There are always other young ladies watching you, observing you, and looking for authentic women in their faith. Be that woman for them.

Parenting from the waist down
by: Suzanne Chambers


Today's title might make you think this is the sex talk!  Well, it's not :)  That's a scary one, for sure. But today's post is actually even scarier.

If you've been around me (or this blog) much at all, you've probably heard me say that the scariest verse in all of the Bible is Luke 6:40. It's not about the hell we deserve (although that is plenty scary) nor the depravity of all of us (that is quite scary). Nope, it's even scarier than that. At least to me.
Luke 6:40 says "A student is not above his teacher, but a student, when fully trained, will be like his teacher."

Gulp.

That scares me.

Not just as a homeschool teacher (which means their college readiness rests on my inept shoulders - yikes!). But mostly as a parent.

Parents are the primary teachers for their children. We train them to sleep through the night (I quickly learned that sooner is better than later), to stop depending on diapers, and to exhibit socially acceptable table manners. We teach them how to tie their shoes, how to drive a car, and how to write a thank you note. We model for them how to treat their spouse, all authority, and aging parents. We teach from the moment they are placed in our arms until they place us in the grave.

And, although they definitely learn things from other people (can I get an "AMEN"?) and are surely accountable to God for their own behavior, a boatload of what they learn, they get from home.
Probably none of us would feel bold enough to say with the Apostle Paul "I exhort you, therefore, be imitators of me."  I Corinthians 4:16  My hands are sweating, even as I type this. I am not presumptuous enough to think I can say this even to my own children but especially not to any other parent.

Yet, there it is in Scripture. Paul, by the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says just that. Watch me. Follow me. Do what I do.

Whether we are brave enough to invite the imitation or not, the principle is true and it is happening in every home. Kids are imitating parents. For good or for bad. They are imitating us. I'll bet every one of you could share stories that support this truth. Little boys crossing their legs, just like their Daddy, and intently watching ESPN. A tone of voice with a sibling that sounds just like a parent. Little girls kissing their baby doll's booboo, just like Mommy does for her. A word of encouragement to a lonely friend, just like they've observed at home.

So, I write with quite of bit of trepidation. I am far from an expert (are there really any???) and I know I am not done yet. But some cool and very teachable gals that I have gotten to hang out with have asked for some parenting tips. Some advice. Some things I can share that seemed to "work".

Gulp.

I shall try.

As I pondered this, I realized three things that have borne good fruit in the lives of my children. Maybe these will encourage you to find God's lavish grace in the same way.

Parenting from the waist down. Not so much what I know or what I say - the things from my head - but what happens further down. My seat, my knees, my feet.

Where I sit.
That I kneel.
And how I walk.

Where I sit.  By this, I mean, what gets my time. Where do I "seat" myself? Where I "sit" sends the message of what I consider important. And kids observe that more than they hear what we say. Do children see us spend alot of time watching TV? Or travel ball? Or shopping? Or whatever? Paul and  I have been very blessed in that church is very important to us. (I know, I know, going to church doesn't make you a Christian. Not anymore than being in a garage makes you a car. BUT if you ARE a car, you need to go to the car place for a tuneup!) So we spend a lot of our time (and resources and abilities) in things church related. Our schedule prioritizes church. And church people. I do not recall ever sitting the kids down and telling them "we think church is very important so you should go". We just did. Without question. We forfeited ideas that would sacrifice our commitment to church. No big deal - it is simply what is important.

We did, however, sit them down and explain that not all churches are equal! We shared the importance of placing ourselves under Truth, not error, and asking God to help us discern between the two.

And the lesson must've taken. As our older kids have gone off to college, and then begun families of their own, church membership/commitment/service is a priority. We didn't tell them to do it - they just seemed to think it's the normal thing to do. (No pressure, #4....but the other 3 have set quite a standard for you...)

Where I sit. What takes up my time certainly sends a message of importance.

That I kneel.  By this I mean, prayer. I don't do it for show (Matthew 6, remember???) but my children know I pray. For them. And about everything. We pray together, we share prayer requests (hooray for family group texts!), and they have often walked down the stairs and seen  me in the piano room, praying. I tell them frequently things I am praying about for them.And they respond with personally praying for my needs as well as asking me to pray for the needs of their friends. They know I pray. And that I trust God to answer.
They see it, they expect it, they participate in the fact that I kneel.

How I walk. The way I live my life. Not perfectly, by any stretch of anyone's imagination. My kids see that imperfection up close and personal. (And, by the way, they have complete freedom to call me out on it, too. That's how we roll around here. Maybe not at age 4, but early on, Paul  and I allowed our kids to point out our sin. We drew the line at angry disrespect but healthy accountability is encouraged at our house. Sometimes it's uncomfortable - OK painful - for me but it's important to my own walk that someone keeps my blind spots in check. And, the added bonus, hopefully, is a modeling of everyone's need for the same). But how I walk is a powerful tool in discipling my children. Do they see me respect authority? (Not excluding their father and police officers writing speeding tickets...) Do they observe kindness towards those who cannot repay me? And compassion for those who hurt? Do they hear grace towards others expressed or a critical spirit more often?  Do they witness an attitude of forbearance (patience when I am wronged) or instead do they see anger and pride? And in those times when what they is what I do not want them to imitate, do they see an example of personal accountability and repentance?

How  I walk.  These kids of ours, yours and mine, they learn an awful lot about how to live by watching how we walk.