Thursday, December 12, 2013

You Serve The Lord Christ

Until this moment, it had all seemed like a dream come true. Jana had longed for the day when she would finally see her beloved Savior face-to-face. Now, that day had come. Jesus! Here! He was more glorious than she could ever have imagined. Even the angels around him were eclipsed. It was the most thrilling day of Jana’s life, but now He was speaking to her. She could understand every word, but... it didn’t make sense. He was saying, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” His voice was rich, deep, and clear, like a mighty river. “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
A jolt of panic raced through Jana’s heart. This wasn’t right. She hadn’t done any of those things. This was the first time she had even seen Jesus, and she had definitely never given Him food or drink, or done any of the rest. When had He ever been sick, or in prison anyway? To contradict the King of Kings was unthinkable, but she had to understand. “When, Lord?” she asked. “When did I see you hungry, and feed you…?” He seemed to be expecting the question. There was a twinkle in His eye as He answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.

     Colossians 3:23-24 says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” You and I, in our natural state without Christ, serve only one person: ourselves. A newborn baby, although adorable and precious, is thoroughly selfish. That baby will cry when she’s hungry, with no thought at all as to whether it is inconvenient to the people around her. Of course babies grow up, but the selfishness persists. It is the easiest thing in the world to focus on my needs, my wants, and whatever floats my boat. Even when we do things that are good and benefit others, it is still often with a selfish motive, such as to avoid punishment, or gain social approval. Jesus turns this on its head. Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Two thousand years ago, when Christ died, we -- if you are in Christ -- died with Him. That “old man”, who sinned against God by living for self, is dead, nailed to the cross, alive no more. Romans 6 says it all. Now, to live is Christ. Christ’s pattern is the complete opposite. He came to serve, and to give His life as a ransom. He gave freely of all that He had, despite the cost to His time, comfort, and reputation. He humbly did everything His Father asked of Him, even dying. When we “put off the old man” and “put on the new man which was created according to God” (Ephesians 4:24), that is our new pattern. We start caring for others, and valuing their needs above our own. That is the core of kindness. It’s recognizing that we are all the same “kind”, and doing to others as you would have them do to you. But more than that, it’s realizing that if Jesus loves this person, then I will too, from the heart. I’m able to do that because I'm a new creation in Christ, with a new Spirit in me.

     Practically, that means that if we see a need, or an opportunity to bless, then we take it. There are millions of hungry people in the world, including some in your own home, I’m sure. Just think, when you pour your sister a glass of water, it’s like you’re doing it for Jesus himself! Would you like some ice with that? Kindness goes far beyond the basic physical needs. It might mean honoring your mom by cheerfully helping her with chores. Or by being a more generous giver -- you belong to God after all, and so does your money. Or by extending graciousness when someone inconveniences or offends you. Luke 6:27-38 is a good tutorial. For Corrie ten Boom, it meant hiding Jews in her house during World War II, at great danger to herself. For you, what will it mean today? Taking in strangers and visiting the imprisoned might be out of your comfort zone; I’ll confess it’s out of mine. But let’s not tell God what we will and won’t do. It’s not a question of “How little can I get away with?”, but rather, “How much can I do for God to demonstrate my love?” So, would you like some ice with that? 

Written for Pathways To Serenity, Vol. 1, Issue 7: "Kindness

Monday, December 9, 2013

Love Suffers Long...


     Rachel. Rachel. Rachel. Jacob could think of nothing else, no one else. Had any man been more in love than he? Rachel, the most beautiful woman on earth, his beloved, his soon-to-be bride. He had loved her from the beginning, from the first day he saw her at the well. She had been a young girl then, innocent and bright-eyed. Now, seven years later - seven years! - she was well past the common age to wed, but the years had only added to her beauty. To him she was the most womanly, the most desirable, the most perfect wife a man could ever want. There was no cost too great for such a treasure. No amount of gold or rubies could ever compare to her worth. Even - Jacob shuddered at the thought - even seven more years would be worth it. Everything leading up to this day: the lonely nights, the homesickness, the thankless years of sheep tending, the treachery of his Uncle Laban, the whole mix-up with poor Leah... all of that was worth it, for Rachel.

     Did you know that there is another Biblical character who suffered much to gain his bride... even more than Jacob? He too was far from home. He worked long hours, and went without food and sleep at times. It wasn’t a smooth road. He was mocked and ridiculed, misunderstood, slandered, and betrayed. Like a shepherd, he gently cared for creatures who were terribly needy, yet hardly thankful. Many opposed him with fierce hatred. By their hand he was beaten, whipped, stripped and humiliated, falsely accused, and crucified. Yes, this man was Jesus, and He endured all this for His bride, the Church. Seven years doesn’t seem long at all when you consider the thousands of years He has been waiting. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jer. 31:3b)  In the beginning, in the garden, Adam and Eve walked with God in sweet fellowship. We were created to love Him! But we were unfaithful. We rebelled. Do you think that broke God’s heart? His people, His beloved, forsaking Him? Yes, and He was angry, too. But He didn’t instantly destroy us when we sinned. He could have, but He didn’t. “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy.” (Num. 14:18a) 

     Longsuffering. Not a word used very often nowadays, but the meaning is simple. Suffering + long. Undergoing pain for an extended period of time. For a holy, perfectly pure God to allow sin to remain in the world, was longsuffering. Justice must be served, but with God, mercy always precedes judgement. “The Lord... is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) He offers forgiveness! He didn’t just delay our punishment, He took it upon Himself at the cross! “Consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” (2 Pet. 3:15a) Can anyone deny that God is love?

     1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” Because I love Him, I yearn for the day that He returns. Maybe that is today, maybe in seven years, maybe - I shudder at the thought - maybe not for another thousand years. We know neither the day nor the hour. Neither did the apostles. But what did they do? They loved Him, so they lived for Him. They underwent immense suffering because of it. However, they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”. (Acts 5:41b) Do we have that attitude? You are not likely to be facing prison or flogging, but we all have opportunities to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2) Living for Jesus means loving those around you; putting their interests above your own. That’s not easy. Forgiving someone again is not easy. Being kind to someone who has just mistreated you is not easy. Being bold enough to obey God’s leading is not easy. But it’s all worth it... for Jesus.

Written for Pathways To Serenity, Vol. 1, Issue 6: "Patience" 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: From the Book


Every year, my mom gets out the traditional Thanksgiving photo album scrapbook. It's great fun to look back and see what family members wrote in previous years as to what they are thankful for. Family is a recurring theme. Here's my entry for this year:

In March, when Grandpa died, I realized how terrific a family I come from. I am thankful for each member. I'm also thankful for the gift of godly friends, the gift of a mandolin, and the gift of depending on Jesus daily. ~*~

Each year also features a different Bible verse or passage. Not coincidentally, this year's was the one I happened to be memorizing this morning:

Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise your glorious name.
But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.
For we are aliens and pilgrims before you,
As were all our fathers,
Our days on earth are as a shadow
And without hope.
(1 Chronicles 29:13-15)

Truly, I am thankful to be dependent on Jesus daily. Everything really does come from HIM. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Right-ness

True, today isn't Thursday, it's Friday. It was on Thursday, however, that I was meditating on Romans, chapters 9-11. In chapter 10, Paul talks about the difference between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. The Jews were pursuing the righteousness of the law. They had a list from God of what to do and not do - the law of Moses. If they did everything according to that law, they would be righteous, judged correct by the Holy God. “The man who does those things shall live by them.” (Rom. 10:5) If they stumbled in one point, however, they would be guilty of all. (James 2:10) Impossible! yet they tried. "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." (10:2)

God had a better way: Jesus Christ.   
"For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (10:3-4)

Christ was righteous in every point. 100.000% Righteous. So what does God do? He sends Jesus to die our death, so that we may receive His righteous life, by faith.

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)
The righteousness that comes by faith isn't inferior. It still passes God's impeccable eyesight. But it has a different testimony. (10:6-9) It doesn't say "Who's going to get Christ down from heaven?" or "Who's going to bring Christ up from the dead?" None of those actions are necessary.
 "But what does it [the righteousness of faith] say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (10:8-9) The word is near you... present tense! It's already here! And I can never read "word" without thinking John 1; "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1:14a) - Jesus!
We have some friends who are Mormon. Recently we visited their church when their 8-year-old daughter got baptized. Of course we were being really watchful to discern the substance of their doctrine. A lot of it is very similar to Christianity, so unless you know your Bible, it would be extremely easy to just go along with it. One of the things we noticed was how, although they recognize Jesus' death being an "atonement" for our sin, they emphasize the need to "do the best that you can" after you believe, as though we could repay God. Oh, thank you Jesus that your righteousness was sufficient, because I sure don't have any apart from you! And, you are in my heart. You haven't left me the same!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick quote

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. 
There is no such thing.

- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, November 15, 2013

You didn't see me take these pictures!

Trail of History 2013

For the first and last time, we stayed overnight at the Trail. The night was cold, but the morning was beautiful, and I pulled out my not-historically-authentic camera. I got teased a little by our Highlander neighbor, but then he admitted to taking some himself, including one with the tipi-framed moon.

 Our neighbors on the other side included an incredibly social and adorable three-year-old.
Laura and David made their own haversacks, with a little help.

Michael went barefoot all weekend.

We volunteered at the Children's Dress Up site during the day on Saturday and slept inside the tent that night. We brought in the straw bales for a mattress and despite the freezing temperatures, most of us stayed warm enough. We had enough blankets!

.:The trail Sunday morning:.

David walked to the top of the kame with me.
.:View of the Valley Floor from the kame:.


The French voyageurs. I never did get to watch them do their canoe launch.


My mom took some more pictures of us, so I may post a few of those in the near future. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Boredom is a Choice

I'm thankful for learning... learning domestic arts, learning mandolin, learning trigonometry, learning Advanced square dance calls, learning how to work with new situations, learning how good and faithful God is. The learning never stops, and I'm so glad!

And in keeping with the post title, here's proof that our home is never boring...

(learning how to make videos...)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Luv My Sweet Potato Lunch

Hello again!
Isn't November the perfect month to pull out Thankful Thursdays again?
This year I decided not to join my family at our homeschool co-op (though I did love teaching math), choosing instead to spend that day of the week on my own studies, chores, projects, and keeping an eye on our old dog. One perk to this arrangement is that I get to make personal lunches, healthy, filling, and yummy!

I have no intention of making this a food blog, but I am thankful for good food. The sweet potato I grew myself. The salad I did not, although my garden did include lettuce, peppers, and cukes. The kefir in the smoothie was homemade, and some of the fruit came from a neighbor's yard. The recipe came from Trim Healthy Mama, our go-to cookbook nowadays. (E meal, THM fans?) 

The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
 The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:14-16

Friday, May 10, 2013

A boy I'd like to know better

Kenton, my nephew. :)

His parents are divorced.

I still love them.

The story's not over yet.

I believe God will do the impossible.

Bring it on!

PS: Just for fun, here's a picture of baby Chris:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Belles of the Ball

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Wisconsin was the Civil War Ball, hosted by my wonderful friend Libby S. Besides waltzes, there were old-fashioned country dances, called by Mr. S., and some square dancing, called by Libby's brothers.

     ^ The Ladies ^

   ^ (some of) The Gentlemen ^   

Aleks and Amanda


Laura and I. I made Laura's dress. My dress was borrowed, but just right. Hoops were an interesting adventure.

Me and Libby :)

Anna and Shelby

Cutie-bug Shelby

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

And then there were four...

More than a year ago, I posted here why I was thankful for each of my grandparents.
On Sunday, I lost one of them.
I thought it would be appropriate to re-post my little piece about him:

Grandpa (My dad's dad) - He introduced me to a love for playing piano. He was the first piano teacher I had, and the one who challenged me to take it up again when I was a teenager. Now I love playing on his grand piano, not the least because I think he enjoys hearing me! I also love his constant wisecracks and jokes, and the fact that he was a square dance caller!

Grandpa, I miss you. Thank you for the legacy you left in your family - it's a good one.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wonders of the West

Our recent road trip to California & Arizona was amazing, with so many highlights - one very special one was meeting Kenton for the first time! The video, however, is made up of the best of the nature photos. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be Still

Matthew clung to the mast, sick with fear. He was no sailor, but it was obvious even to his landlubber’s eye that this was no ordinary storm. The wind! It had swept in with furious force out of nowhere. The waves were no longer gentle ripples, but towering crests of seawater which tossed the little boat every which way, and filled it with crash after crash of water. Surely this was an attack by evil spirits! Surely the boat would sink and they would be drowned, every one of them! Oh, why had the Teacher ever said for them to cross the lake?! Where was the Teacher, anyway? Did he not care that they were perishing? Out of the corner of his eye, Matthew noticed Peter in the back of the boat, shaking someone lying on a pillow. Who could possibly be sleeping at a time like this? To his astonishment, Matthew realized it was the Teacher! Despite the pitching and rolling of the boat, the Teacher rose to his feet with effortless balance. Somehow, through the terrific noise of the storm, Matthew heard the Teacher call out, “Peace! Be still!” 

    In the blink of an eye, everything changed. The wind vanished. The sea went completely flat. The boat didn’t even rock. The only noise to be heard was the sound of the men’s ragged breathing. Every eye was riveted to the One who had just ordered the storm to stop. Finally, the silence was broken by the whispered words, “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him!”

           Who indeed? What the disciples were just discovering, we already know: their Teacher, and ours, is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. An ordinary man can’t order the weather around. Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth, can. An ordinary man trembles with fear in the face of impending disaster. Jesus fears nothing.

I don’t speak Greek, but I looked up the meaning of the Greek words Jesus used when He said, “Peace! Be still!” What I found out was extremely surprising to me. The first word, “Peace”, is the Greek siopao (see-o-pah-o). It means “hush, keep silent, don’t speak, hold your peace”. It is a completely different word than the one normally translated as peace (eirene), such as in the Fruits of the Spirit. The Greek word for “Be still”, is phimoo (fee-mo’-oo). It means - get this - “to muzzle”! I have a hunch that if we talked to our siblings this way, our parents would not approve! Jesus was rebuking, not soothing. “Hush - no more out of you! Put a muzzle on it!” With His word, the victory was won. The enemy, also known as the Prince of the Power of the Air (Eph. 2:2), is no match for the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).

So what storms are whirling around you? Is the little boat known as your life being battered by waves of confusion or ill tidings? Are you being capsized by out-of-control emotions or tipped over by circumstances? Remember who is in you! Jesus Christ Himself, your King and Teacher. He is confident, fearless, free from chaos, and immovable, and that is the life He wants to live in and through you! But so often, we don’t live that way. We cling to the mast, having more faith in the enemy to conquer us than in our Lord to rescue us.

There’s a line in a wonderful old hymn that reads, “Be still my soul! the waves and winds still know, His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below”. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word carries just as much authority today as it did in the days of old. When the waves and winds try to get us off course, we can tell them “Hush!” in Jesus’ name, and they must obey. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex. 14:14)
Is it not He who set our course? Jesus directed the disciples to cross the lake, fully aware of the storm to come. He knows that we, too, will experience storms. But storms are a stage that we may see Him for who He is, that we may know Him at a whole new level. 

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Ps. 46:10)