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.

Mar 16, 2017

Remembering...


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Good morning, SHINE friends. Today I am re-posting something I wrote a few years ago. I pray it encourages you. I needed God to refresh my heart with His words on this subject again. It is good to go back and "remember" what the Lord has told us and done for us. Join me today as we focus on pigs and pearls. :) Oh, and happy Thursday!

 "Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear them to pieces." 

I have recited this verse to my children in the past. I have told  them that they are sacred and holy, and that they should guard their bodies and hearts. I told them that it would be like throwing something sacred into a trash can. Or, like throwing their favorite toy or game into a mud pit with pigs.

Their bodies are holy because the Lord resides inside. They must use discernment at all times. I am not sure if they truly get this concept yet, but my prayer is that they will. My prayer is that they will honor the body and heart the Lord is taking up residence in and not get them trampled by the world.

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself." 1 Corinthians 6:19

The Lord laid something fresh on my heart yesterday in regards to this verse. All day I prayed and pondered what He was showing me.

We are to not only guard are own bodies and hearts against anything or anyone that would trample it, but we are to guard other things. Things that are sacred in the eyes of the Lord.


  • Our marriages.
  • Our children.
  • Our eyes from what we see and what we read.
  • Our ears from what we choose to listen to.
  • Our hands in what we touch.
  • Our feet in where we walk.
  • Our minds in what we choose to believe or meditate on.
  • Our mouths in what we speak.


There is so much to say on this.

 I will start with the one most near and dear to my heart....marriage.

Are we guarding our marriages with a dead bolt? Are we aware of the dangers that are lurking in the places we go together, or not go together?

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Marriage is sacred in the eyes of the Lord.

We must treat it this way. We must guard it like a mama bear would guard her cub. With fierce and intense protection.

Do you know what the divorce rate is in the United States?

 40-50%!  I just googled it.

This proves that marriages are not guarded enough. It's extremely hard to break in a house with a security system and dead bolts. Right?

{Many spouses have guarded their marriages, and yet the other spouse did not. My heart breaks for this. I pray that if that was you who got trampled on even when you guarded that marriage faithfully, that the Lord will bring healing to your heart. Restoration and complete healing. In Jesus Name.}

Divorce is rampant on both sides of my family line. My parents are the only couple that have remained together among their many siblings.

This scares me. A lot.

I'm protective over Lem. He is the very first person I pray for each morning. I pray scriptures over him and I pray over every part of his body. Even his loins! {it's a fact}

I want to guard what we have. I cannot do this without the Lord's intervention. However, I must ask Him! I must lift Lem to Him regularly and tighten that dead bolt daily.

Not only do I pray for Lem, but I guard our conversations and the intimate details of our marriage. I don't want the enemy getting any kind of foothold into this marriage...especially by my own doing.

Another way the Lord has shown me how to guard our marriage, is to guard our time together. I try to make sure to sit with him on the couch {his favorite place} at the end of the day. I do not love sitting on the couch absorbing the latest sports game. BUT, I do this for him. I do this because he loves me right on that couch next to him.

Each time I put down whatever I am doing to just "sit" with him, I thank the Lord that I am the one that gets to sit with him and not some other girl!

I also know what makes Lem tick. I know what his love language is. His love language is VERY different from mine, but I try to love him in the way he desires to be loved. Some days are very hard to conjure up the love. If I'm being real.

However, on those days I turn to God and pray for strength to love him like he desires to be loved. I pray for God to remove anything in my heart preventing me from showing Lem the love I need to show him.

God shows up every single time.

Find out how your man desires to be loved. It may just be little things that don't mean much to you, but would mean the world to your man!

Love always returns dividends of love. Don't give up, even when you don't see those love dividends immediately. Keep going, keep loving.

We must guard our marriages, girls. The enemy wants your marriage. He wants my marriage. If the enemy can get into our marriage, he will do his best to destroy our entire family.

Let's tighten the locks, girls.

Lord, help us to guard and protect our marriages. Just like the scripture in Matthew says, we must not throw our marriage to the enemy to trample and destroy. We must be alert and on guard against the schemes of the enemy. Father, help us to be diligent in guarding our sacred marriage union. Help us to be aware of any behavior or activity that will hinder our marriage being protected. Let us not be naive in this world, but be filled with discernment and wisdom. Let us be focused on being vigilant and prayerful for our marriage. If there is any obstacle in the way of our marriage being pure, nurtured, and cared for...I pray You will remove those obstacles and draw our hearts back to our spouses. In Jesus name, amen.



armoring up,

jill

Mar 13, 2017

Who is your master?

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

Recently, I was listening to a Christian podcast. Listening to sound and wise teaching is a good way to make the dishes, laundry, and house chores go by wayyyy faster, just FYI.

This particular teaching was about how we spend our time, and how we spend it determines what is most important to us. Hence, the scripture, Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What we spend the most time thinking about [and doing] becomes what masters us. So, in effect, we become students of those things.

The message that spoke loud to my listening heart was this: What am I a student of?

What do I spend most of my time thinking, dreaming, watching, hearing...etc.

I remember in high school, I was definitely a student of: boyfriends, popularity, desiring good hair and cute clothes, and fitting in with peers.

I wish I could say I was a student of: God. Good grades. Wise choices. Being set apart.

But, I cannot lie to you.

Over the years, looking back on my life, I have been the student of many things.

I remember being so proud of myself for knowing all of the celebrity gossip back in my early 20's. I was a walking encyclopedia for anything Hollywood.

*burying my head in my hands*

Can I tell you a story that I have never told anyone? Possible due to shame.

When my son was born, we found a precious girl to watch him 2-3 days a week so I could continue to work. It wasn't mandatory that I work, but I wanted to. I was a slave to shopping. Seriously, I was.

The thing is, I knew that God had been gently convicting me of spending. But, it was just so easy with an extra paycheck. I loved to shop. I loved new shoes. And I wanted to be able to get whatever I wanted. And, the independence was extremely enticing.

One day, I came home and the sweet girl that was watching my boy was going on and on about the things he was doing and learning.

Tears stung my eyes as I tried desperately to hold it together until she left.

I cried my eyes out as soon as she walked out that door.

She was more of a student of my son than I was. She knew him better than I did. Or so it seemed.

My life long heart's desire of being a stay at home momma had somehow gotten overshadowed because of my desire for MORE. More money. More stuff. More independence. More freedom. Gulp.

Lem and I had long talks and I soon quit my job and stayed home full time. It was a lesson. A big one.

God had revealed some deep dark sin in my heart that needed exposure to His Light and His Truth. It was not a fun lesson to learn. But, looking back, I am so thankful that I heeded that conviction and acted upon it.

Friends, we must be careful what takes first place in our hearts. We can easily become students of things that were never meant to become idols.

Over the years there have been many things that I have let master me, and each time God had to lift finger by finger of my grip from those things.

The only thing that should hold mastery over us is God. His Words. His commands. His Authority over our life.

When we are a student of God and His Word, all of those "good" things will never take control over us. They are just that..."good things", without becoming master over us. Our thoughts. Our actions.

We must also be students of prayer.

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

It says to pray on "all" occasions. I think that means, ALL. Which won't leave much time left for empty thinking and idolizing, right?

I made a list of some things that can master us if we are not careful. We can easily become students of these things if our minds are not set on God and His Word. We must be prayerful, in His Word, and alert to the power of the things of this world.

Here are a few:

Our health
Our body image
Food
Exercise
Talk shows/News shows
Sports
Celebrity news and magazines
Tv shows
Financial status
Popularity
Books [even Christian ones]
Gossip
Conformity to the world

And, even church. [when we care more about cozying up to the pastors, worship leaders and elders than knowing Jesus]

And, at the expense of you throwing rotten tomatoes at me...

We can even idolize Christian leaders. We can become students of these big names and big churches  over being students of Jesus.

We read their books. We read their blogs. We follow them  on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and wherever else we are able to get a snippet of them. We know them better than we know our Heavenly Father.

What are you a student of, sweet friend?

What consumes your thoughts, your time?

Oh, I pray that it is God and His Word.

If it's not, it can be.

Pray. Talk to Him. Read His Word. Get to know Him.

Let Him become your Teacher.

He's the greatest Teacher of all.

We can still enjoy good things, but our greatest Joy is Jesus.

Be a student of Him.


sharpening my pencil,

jill

















Mar 11, 2017

Serve well.....

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Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38

My children are growing up. Like humans tend to do.

My oldest, Joseph, will be a junior in high school next year. Gulp.

I can look at his changing face and still see the 4 year old little boy in the backseat of my car. He will always be that little boy in my eyes.

When you start to see the end in sight, you start to question if you are doing enough as a Momma.

Am I teaching him enough about life?

Am I giving him the tools to be a responsible adult?

How will he treat others when I am not around to guide him?

Does he know how to clean up after himself? *still working on this*

How will he handle his money?

And, to be quite honest, one of the biggest things that I lay awake at night and think about is...

How will he remember his home life?

What will he cherish most about his life here under our roof?

Did I serve him well?

When we can see the end in sight, we suddenly are struck with wanting to pour out more. Teach more. Listen more. Serve more.

For the past year, as soon as my eyes open, my prayer is this: Lord, help me to serve my family well today. Give me the desire to put their needs above my own and pour out everything I have to them while I still have the strength.

I want to pour out. Everything I have.

Because, that's what God created us to do.

Whether we are momma's, or aunt's, or grandmother's, or mentors....

We have a high calling.

God gives us gifts to be used up. Not to be kept inside.

When we pour out, God pours right back into us.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. Isaiah 44:3

We will never give out of what we have to pour out. If we are seeking Him to be filled, the well is never dry.

Each day we have the opportunity to serve. To give. To pour.

The seasons in life eventually change. They will end. A new season will begin.

Let's pour out all that God has put inside of us in each season. To anyone that God puts into our path.

I am so grateful for those in my life that are still pouring into me. The pouring never stops. There is no age limit. If we have a heart beat, we have a mission.

As a Mother, this mission never ceases. It changes, but never ceases.

We are called to serve.

Jesus was the greatest Servant of all. Imagine, the Son of God, washing the disciples feet.

The dirtiest job around was not beneath the Son of God.

We should have this same attitude.

"The greatest among you will be your servant." Matthew 23:11

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16

Without the love of Christ inside of us it is impossible to serve well. We will become bitter and demanding if we serve out of a prideful heart.

We must ask, daily, for God to give us the love of Christ in our hearts and a desire to serve.

Who are you called to serve today?

What an honor to be able to pour out.

May God continually fill your cup to be poured out into this hungry world.


going to get filled,


jill











Mar 10, 2017

Take a break....


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Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31

This is the third day I have been home with a sick child this week. My normally active self is so ready for some outside interactions.

 I went to Wal-Mart yesterday to get my sick little girl some popsicles and I may as well have been given a ticket to Hawaii. It felt so good to walk out the door and breathe in the fresh smell of sunshine, people, and even Wal-Mart.

The few minutes I had outside of the house gave me a little perspective on some things. As I lingered a little too long just soaking in being outside of my four walls, I watched the people around me. Hustling around. Grabbing their items, walking hurriedly, getting their stuff done.

Usually, that would be me. On the go, go, go, go, go. No time to pause. No time to stop. No time to look around me.

However, when illness strikes, we are forced to be still. To pause. To rest.

We think we have so little time in our day, until we are faced with a lot of sitting. A lot of resting.

Suddenly, we realize we have a whole lot of time.

My daughter must have asked me a million times yesterday, "What time is it?". The days are long when you are stuck at home. Oh so long. She even said the words I have never heard her utter, "I am sick of watching t.v. I need a break from it, Mom."

In times of stillness, we see the length and breadth of a day. It is a lot longer than we think it is.

This time at home has forced me to pause. To rest. To do more laundry than I ever knew was possible. And, you could eat off my floors. A rare occurrence.

It has also enabled me to write more. Which I love to do. However, my days are usually so full, I tell myself, "I will write when I have some down time." Ha.

We do actually have time to do the things we love to do. The things that make our hearts beat faster. The things that bring JOY to us and the life of others.

It is not time that we are short on, it is stillness that we lack.

Stillness enables us to see our lives more clearly. When we are running around constantly, our lives are a dizzying array of movement. It's hard to see things clearly when we are constantly in motion.

I think about the life of Jesus. He had a busy ministry, yes. But, Jesus knew the importance of rest. He made a point to go away from the crowds and rest with His Father.

Or, how about the life of Paul. He wrote several of his most powerful letters that are in the New Testament as he was sitting in a Roman prison.

Perhaps we should follow their lead. Well, not the prison part.

Has it been a while since you took a pause? A rest?

Maybe it's time.

I promise life will go on as you rest. The world will not stop. And, you will come back refreshed and able to pour out more to your people.

taking a pause,


jill









Mar 9, 2017

The Silent Years...


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Psalm 62:5-6 My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

Something truly fascinates me about God's Word. Well, lots of things fascinate me, but one thing in particular gets me pondering the mysterious ways of our God.

There was a period of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament. 400 years of silence to be approximate.

400 years.

That is a very, very, very, long time. And I will throw in one last "very".

That's my lifetime, my children's lifetime, their children's life time, and then their children's life time, plus some more years.

Why was God silent during these years?

What were His people thinking?

Surely they were desperate.

Desperate is surely the understatement of the century.

However, if we study history during this time, God was certainly at work preparing for the arrival of His Son, Jesus. He may have been silent, but He certainly was busy working.

Wars were being fought. Kingdoms were established and abolished.

There was a lot of preparation going on behind the scenes to set the perfect landscape for Jesus' arrival.

The Greek language spread to many parts, which enabled the people to be bilingual. This made it easier to understand each other. [Easier to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus]

The Hebrew Old Testament was also translated into another language, Greek, for the very first time. [This would make it easier for people to understand and bridge Jesus to the Old Testament prophecies]

The Romans brought roads and highways  modernizing the area for faster travel and relations. [Sure came in handy on missionary journeys and spreading the Gospel]

With this new Grecian invasion came a culture influence. Many idols and gods were introduced. People were smothered and covered in idol worship and foreign gods.

Can you imagine?

Surely, the people were confused and obviously without Truth.

When we live too long in the darkness, our souls crave Light. The Light of the Father.

Whether they fully realized it or not, a deep and insatiable hunger was happening inside of their souls.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” [Matthew 4:4]

Which created the perfect storm for Jesus to arrive on the scene.

I don't like silence. At all.

I crave noise and people.

Loneliness creeps in if my house is quiet or if  I go more than 2 hours without conversation or face to face connection.

But, God uses silence as a source of preparation.

I have had seasons of silence. Deafening silence from the Lord.

He was always there.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Yet, it was hard for me to see Him.

Little did I know that the silent times are the times in our lives when God is actively preparing for the next scene.

We want to scream and shout and jump ahead of this time of silence. But, all the shouting in the world won't change His plans or His ways.

How could we possibly understand the Goodness of our God? How could we possibly understand that He is knitting together every detail for the overwhelming gifts He has prepared for us?

Why is it so hard to "be still and know that He is God" in times of waiting and silence? [Psalm 46:10]

There are certain prayers we pray, have prayed and still pray, that seem to be received in silence. Oh gosh, I know this one well.

There are certain events that take place in our lives that lead us to question Him and His ways, and yet, we are faced with His silence.

We cling to His Promises and we quote His Word over and over, yet, there are times, when we are faced with silence.

This can leave us frustrated and tired.

Oh so tired.

But, if we know the character of God....

We know that He is Good.

The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.[Psalm 145:9]

We know that He may be silent  at times, but He is ALWAYS working on our behalf. Equipping, preparing.....

His Glory cannot be silenced.

"The  Heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His Hands."[Psalm 19:21]

Are you in a season of silence? Maybe the silence has been long and painful.

Maybe you want to forge ahead and get ahead of His plan.

Maybe you want to give up and turn your back on Him.

I urge you....

From the depths of the deepest silent valley...

Be still.

And know that He is God.

Trust Him.

Believe Him.

Even when you don't see a shred of evidence....

Surely the Jewish people had given up on their Messiah coming to rescue them....

But, the day finally came.

And, oh what a day it was.

"when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son..." Galatians 4:4

There will be a fullness of time for you.

You can lay your sweet head on that Promise.

My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2


embracing the silence,


jill

























Mar 7, 2017

He wants you....

Some friends and I have been doing an amazing bible study together for the past 7 weeks. It's "Seamless" by Angie Smith.

Basically, it weaves together the Old Testament and the New Testament into one "seamless" story of God's plan.  We have read Genesis through Revelation in 7 weeks. We are officially bible scholars.

No, not really. We really didn't read all of those chapters and we are definitely not bible scholars. But, it was fun to say that.

As we studied the very broad outline of our bibles, something has not been able to escape my attention. And, my attention span is not long.

What was I saying?

Oh, yes, the bible study.

The thing that has been standing out the most in my heart is the people God chose to be a part of His Story.

These people were very flawed. Like, think murderers and such. Yeah, flawed.

Beginning with Adam and Eve.

They didn't pass the faith test. [remember the whole apple on the tree thing?]
Yet, God chose them to be the first human creations, and to procreate and populate the rest of the whole blessed earth.

Then, there was Moses.

Not the most likely fella.

He had a great beginning. But, in his later years he was a little dried up and done.

Or, at least he thought he was. God had other plans for ol' Mos.

When Moses was 80, yes 80, God called Moses to do some amazing things. Like, freeing the Israelites from Egypt. Not a small task.

Moses had a stuttering issue. And, lacked confidence. And, well, he was a little long in the tooth.

But, God used him. Mightily. [just take a peak at Exodus]

Or, how about David? [1 &2 Samuel]

Not the likely choice. At all. He was not the cutest in the bunch. His brothers were much more tall and handsome. But, God chose David to be the next King.

Oh, and there was that tiny little incident with Bathsheba. David had an affair with her, they were both married, and she got pregnant. David freaked out and arranged for her hubby, Uriah, to be killed at war.

So, let's see....adulterer, murderer,..check, check.

Then, there was Peter. One of Jesus' 12 disciples. Yes, one of the 12.

Peter had a pride problem. A faith problem. And a mouth that would not shut-up. *I can't relate* [KIDDING]

Yet, God had big plans for Peter. Including writing 2 letters of the New Testament. [1 & 2 Peter]

We cannot forget about Paul.

Oh, Paul. Paul, Paul, Paul.

He was a tough one.

His younger years consisted of killing Christians. Yes.  He was a dirty scoundrel.

Yet, God opened his eyes from darkness [literally], and Paul became one of the greatest disciples of all time. Spreading the gospel into Asia Minor, Europe, and many other places. His bold teaching style, seriously bold, was not a welcome message to Jews living under the letter of the law. They did not like to hear about grace, faith, and especially not Jesus Christ.

God took the knowledge that Paul had from being a devout, yet persecuting Jew, and converted him into one of the greatest preachers the world has ever known.

One last person I forgot to mention [memory issues], Rahab. She was a prostitute, you read that right, who helped the Israelites in capturing a city of the Promised Land, Jericho.

Oh, and she was in the lineage of Jesus Christ Himself. Yep. A prostitute in the family line of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Only God could write a story like this.

Here's what I need you to know...

If God can use these people....

God can and will use YOU.

You are without excuse. WE are without excuse.

There is not one of you who's story is so stained with sin and bad decisions that God cannot use you .

And, obviously there is no age requirement either.

You have a purpose. A calling. A story to tell.

If you are reading this with your eyes and breathing in the fresh smell of computers and/or IPhone screens, then your story is still being written.

Hear me on that? Your story is still being written.

God used these people....not because of their perfection, but because of their flaws.

Without flaws, we would be a big ol' pile of smelly pride.

Our flaws make us humble. Our flaws carry the scars of pain, hurt, and the need for dependence on God alone.

Our flaws draw us to the One who is perfect.

His Power is made perfect in our weakness. [2 Corinthians 12:9]

But, we have to let Him. We must submit to His Authority and surrender ourselves to His plan. Not ours.

Your story is still being written. Will you give God the pen once and for all?

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26


flawed,


jill