Monday, December 2, 2013

It's All About Him

It's All About Him

Every day. Every day.
It's all about Him

In the quiet of the morning hours
In the twilight of the day
At the noontime rush and hustle
And the minutes in between

It's all about Him

When we toil and we labor
When we rest and are at ease
Where there is laughter and rejoicing
Where there is mourning or countless tears

It's all about Him

When there is triumph
When we fail
When the future looks bright
Or when the way looks dim

It's all about Him

Every aspect of this life
Every failure or success
In our living
In our dying...

It's all about Him

Every day. Every day.
It's all about Him.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart!

I certainly am not the first to complain that, in our materialistic world, Christmas consumerism begins WAY too early!  I really am amazed that it happens earlier and earlier each year.  Even the Christmas music is on the radio early this year (that one I don't mind quite as much!)

One of the reasons the rush to Christmas saddens me is because the Thanksgiving season gets a mere nod.  Not only that, it is becoming known as the feast before the kick-off to Christmas shopping: Black Friday.  The stores are even opening on Thanksgiving Day now! I could write a couple of pages about that...but that is not what this post is about!

My family and I LOVE Thanksgiving, celebrate it the whole month of November, and try to practice it all year round.  There are so many scriptures about being thankful.  In the King James version, thanks appears 73 times and the word thanksgiving appears 28 times!  Here are just a few:

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.  I Chronicles 16:34

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  Psalm 100:4

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thess. 5:18

One way our family practices thankfulness is through a tradition that we start in the beginning of November.  A number of years ago, my mother in law gave me a beautiful fall Longaberger basket.

One year, we decided to write down every day one thing that we were thankful for.  At first, when we just had a few kids,  I felt crafty and used printed out cards with cornucopia on them.  After ten children we have resorted to strips of computer or school paper!  Each day we write on our slips of paper and put them in the basket.  Grandma and Grandpa and whoever else will be joining us for Thanksgiving that year do it at their house as well and bring them on Thanksgiving Day.  We put them all in the basket and mix them up.  The first years, we would pass the basket around the table and one by one we would pull out a slip and read the sentiments of thanks before we ate our meal.  As our family has grown, we have found that to read all the slips can take quite a while (figure 25-27 days times 10-12 people!  That's a lot of thanks!)  Now, we give thanks to the Lord before the meal, eat, and then have our traditional passing of the basket and reading of the thanks cards.  It is a great time for the whole family.  It is always a treasure to hear some of the things that are written on the papers.  Many are the obvious, but important:  parents, siblings, family, etc.  There are always thanks for salvation, grace, God's provision and protection.  But there are always a few very sentimental ones specific to how God has been working or a way He has shown Himself very personally in someones life. There are thanks for the big things and then the children always remind us to give thanks in even the little things as their papers are filled with thanks for the pizza last night or that they got to ride to the store with dad. There are also always some funny ones-that probably no one but our family would think is funny.  You'd have to be there kind of thing!  All in all, it is such a special time to see our family gathered around the table giving thanks to God in all things and reminding us of His faithfulness and goodness to us.

This is one of our most treasured family traditions and is such a great way to kick-off Advent, the true meaning of Christmas, and to remind us to be thankful all year long!

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Candles in the Dark

Anyone who knows me knows I love anything written by Amy Carmichael.  If you haven't read any of her books I highly recommend anything and everything written by her.  She was a missionary to India for 55 years and founded an orphanage in Dohnavur.  On top of that amazing work for the Lord, she wrote many books.  Many she wrote while she was serving as a missionary. The book titled If  is one of my all time favorites...but that is for another post!
Recently my husband came home from a Goodwill treasure hunt and surprised me with the book Candles in the Dark by Amy Carmichael.  I was so excited as this was on my wish list of books to read!  This book is quite a gem and is unique.  It is actually a compilation of letters that she wrote after an accident left her bedridden...and they were the last of her writings before she died in 1951 at the age of 83.  Amy's biography quotes her as saying,

"One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving."

Reading about her life, (I recommend A Chance to Die: The Amy Carmichael Story by Elizabeth Elliot) one can only see that she lived out the words she spoke.  Amy loved much and she gave much...all to and through the glory of God.  In Candles in the Dark there is letter after letter of encouragement and exhortation  to others that comes from a deep relationship with God and a rich knowledge of His Word.  Not in an intellectual way, but in a knowing that comes only from abiding in Him.  Here is  just one example:

Loneliness:  On this day many years ago I went away alone to a cave in a mountain called Arima, in Japan.  I felt many feelings of fear about the future.  That was why I went there. I wanted to be alone with God.  The devil kept on whispering, "It's all right now, but what about afterwards?  You are going to be very lonely."  And he painted pictures of loneliness,  I can see them still.  Then I turned to my God in a kind of desperation and said, "Lord, what can I do?  How can I go on to the end?"  And He said, "None of them that trust in Me shall be desolate."(Psalm 34:22)  That word has been with me ever since, and I give it to you now.  It has been fulfilled to me.  It will be fulfilled to you.  Only live for Him who redeemed you and trust Him to take care of you, and He will.  That day the words "not only but also" were given to me too.  There is not only joy but also sorry in every life, but in the end-O in the end we shall see His face and we shall serve Him together.

Yes, this book is full of short little letters like that.  Words that come from one who has walked with God on the mountains and in the valleys.  Words that encourage us to seek His face and then go out and be candles in the dark.  Get this book! 

Amy's last word

As Amy's life drew to a close, writing of any kind became impossible.  Her last letter, undated, was written in pencil in large, sprawling letters which straggled across the page:

Precious Child,

         If so dear to me, what to Him?

                                         Amma (the children she cared for called
                                                      her Amma which means mother
                                                      in the Tamil language)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Best Day of My Life

I'm not really a morning person.  Okay, I am not at all a morning person.  It takes me a little while to get to the point where I can have a real conversation with anyone.  Amid my, "mmhmmm" and dazed in they eye looks, are my up with the sun 6 year old twins and their 8 year old brother.  The love to talk in the mornings and, for some reason, love to talk about all of the deep things of life early.  Very early.

This morning was no exception.  While I am stumbling in the kitchen half awake, my 8 year old asks me, "Mom, was your wedding day the best day of your life?"  I manage to mumble in response, "Mmhmmmm.  And the days each of you kids were born." He looks at me deep in thought and walks away. Waking up. Mind processing... "No, wait.  Actually those weren't the best days of my life!"  "They weren't?" he says.  Thankfully, I woke up enough to then explain to him that the best day of my life was the day God drew me to Himself and showed me that I needed a Savior.   We continued to talk about it with the twins listening in as I worked on breakfast.  God has been working so much in the hearts of these three little ones and I know He is drawing them to Himself as well.  I wondered later how many opportunities like this I may have missed in the past?  How many of their deep life questions too early in the morning could have lead to another opportunity for the gospel.  What an eye-opener and a reminder for me to always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15) in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).  These little ones are my flock for this time in our lives and God used this simple question this morning as an opportunity to share my testimony with some sweet and tender hearts.

Not only that, but God has used that question in my life all day.  I have been able to reflect on that "best day" and rejoice in how He called me, how He regenerated me, and how He is sanctifying me.  That day was the best day of my life because it was the day it ceased to be my life and became His.  The day I realized all He has done for me through Christ.  Redeemed me, bought me out of the marketplace of sin, and adopted me as His own.  No other day compares!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spiritually sore and the story of Job

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you" Job 42:5

The Lord has been teaching me so much lately-and in different ways than He ever has before.  Like the deep soreness of my muscles after a long overdue workout, I feel the pain of growth on my soul.  It's a good pain.  A reminder that God has been working on a spiritual muscle of mine that I didn't even know I had.  Much like Job.

Confession:  I hate reading Job!  For many reasons.  First, because he had 10 kids that were taken away from him.  That hits way too close to home.  Second, because I cringe as I read the response of his friends...chapter after chapter after chapter.  I always want to just skip to the part where God finally speaks and resolves this whole sad matter.  But, God has given me a new love lately for Job and this great book in His Word.  You see, it is all necessary to set the stage for God's great work in Job's life and in ours.  Much like the labor of reading chapter after chapter of God's requirements for sacrifices in the days of the Israelites in the desert compared with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we need to see the contrast in order to see the Glory of God!

After Job has wept, mourned and worshipped God in his trial, his wife has told him to curse God and die, and his friends have all tried to find the answers to the why's- God speaks!  Verse after verse God reminds Job of who He is, of His character and His sovereignty over all things.  It is through the divine words of God that Job's eyes are opened and he begins to feel the pain of spiritual growth.  After he confesses and repents, he says, "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you" (42:5 ESV).  Through a sermon by my husband on the Majesty and Character of God, the LORD moved in my heart and gave me a great love for Job and his story.   At the beginning of the book of Job we see that he was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil."  He knew of God, he loved God and he lived an upright life in fear of God.  God, in His divine sovereignty, allowed the enemy to test Job.  Here came Job's spiritual workout...growth.  Because of this testing Job was given new spiritual muscles that he never knew he could have.  Now, not only had he heard of God, he now could "see" Him.

How many times have I "seen" God in a new way due to a trial or difficulty?  How many times have I fallen on my knees and cried out to God in a situation that was hopeless, only to rise with new spiritual eyes and a strength that can only come by being weak and helpless before the Almighty?  Yes, God is present in our plenty and in our joy, but it is through trial that we gain deep spiritual strength. And it is the next morning-when we feel the soreness of that spiritual exercise-that we truly "see" God.

Thank you, Lord, for the example of Job.  May I be found blameless and upright before You.  May I endure divine trial and hardship with your strength.  May others "see" you because of it.