Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Testimony Tuesday

Praise the Lord for how He teaches us continually through His Word.

He is constantly reminding me how anything good that comes from me is because of Him! Last night I read in Ephesians these awesome words:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of words, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Not only is the grace from Him, even the faith to believe is "not of yourselves." Praise the Lord for His grace.

Then He doesn't stop! Any good things that come from us is not our own doings. I am not my own workmanship (thank you, Lord!); I am "His workmanship!"

As a Believer, He does not leave us to ourselves. He continually works on us to sanctify us.

Aren't you glad He is the "Worker?"

What about you? What is God teaching you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Have a Birthday Around Here!

Today is a big day at our house b/c it is Bigger Brother's birthday!!!

We were blessed 11 years ago today with our very first son, and he has kept us hoppin' ever since! He is one of the several joys in our life, which wouldn't be complete without him!

Bigger Brother blesses us in so many ways. He is smart as a whip and already works very independently on his schoolwork. He can put just about anything together and makes a fabulous handyman around this house!

He loves to fish . . . . . . .

He also loves to hunt and even put some meat in the freezer again this year. (I guess you guys dont' want to see a picture of that, though. . . . . .)

He has proven to be a great goalie for the soccer team!

Bigger Brother is a hard worker and when given a task, works at it diligently and thoroughly! He can hoe and plant a garden, shovel rock, help mix concrete, and still mop the floor better than me! :-)

What blesses us most, though, is to see how the Lord is working on his heart. He has always been sensitive to others' feelings and kind to others. But I am seeing a sensitivity to spiritual things that I am trusting is the work of the Holy Spirit. He has a strong mind for the Scriptures, and I see a boldness to share Christ that I wish I had!

Whether in Central America or the US, he doesn't mind passing out tracts and sharing the love of Christ. To God be the glory.
We are proud of Bigger Brother and look forward to what God has in store for him. We are blessed to be his parents and thankful to the Lord that He saw fit to place Bigger Brother in our family for these fleeting years of training and stewardship.
In the Heart of our Home,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Testimony Tuesday!!!

I am excited about something new I want to incorporate into this blog! I would like to take the opportunity each Tuesday to not only share with you something God has been teaching me but also to encourage you to share what the Lord has been teaching you!

With the Living Word, what the Lord can teach us is limitless! Often what He shows me is also re-emphasized through something occuring in my life, but we know that He will never teach us through experiences anything contradictory to His Word.

I was "stopped in my tracks," so to speak, a few weeks ago when reading through Galatians. It was just after my hubby's recent trip to Central America. Their team had served the Lord through evangelism, VBS in the barrios, a women's conference, pastors' conference, and revival services. In addition, a group of very hard working men had built a house for a lady and her children (whom we already knew through their stay at an orphanage).

After returning home, one of those men was sharing with a fellow church member about the house and the family and the amazing work the Lord did through them to build a block house in such a short amount of time (less than 4 days). Unfortunately, the fellow church member was less excited and did not share the same vision of serving the Lord in such a capacity. Perhaps just a member of the "cold water committee," nevertheless he began to communicate his idea that spending that kind of time and money on other people (especially in another country) during our country's time of economic slowdown was just too foolish. In his opinion, the money should have been used more wisely at home.

Of course, I was floored at such an attitude. How can professing Christians be so selfish? True, buildings fall down eventually, and the only lasting mission work is the spread of the Gospel. But this building in Central America is now a monument standing there to testify to the love of Christ. Was it a waste of time? Was it a waste of money?

Only a few days later, I read Galatians 2. Paul was relating to the Christians in Galatia his testimony of meeting the church leaders in Jerusalem:

"and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do" (Galatians 2:7-9).

How interesting that when James, John, and Peter gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, understanding that the latter were to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel, the one additional concern they expressed was for the POOR. "THEY DESIRED ONLY THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER THE POOR. . ."

How convicting! God began to reveal to me how important this was to Him and how little I consider the poor in my daily life.

"For the Lord hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners" (Psalm 69:33).

"Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflected and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82:3-4).

"I know the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor" (Psalm 140:12).

Let us not forget in our time of "economic slowdown" how rich we really are compared to the rest of the world, but let us look for ways to minister to the poor the way the Lord would have us!

What about you? What is the Father teaching you? Please leave a comment to encourage me and others and to give glory to the One who deserves it!

In the Heart of our Home,

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who's Training Whom? Part 2

Proper Biblical training cannot take place without the Bible. Would you agree? We need it to guide us in every aspect of our lives, including this crucial task of passing the torch of light and life to our children.

I'm sure many of you have read countless books and articles on raising and training children; perhaps you are already an expert in the areas of discipline, education, socialization, and maybe even the nutrition of our children. My only input would be that if it doesn't match up with the Word of God, ditch it.

An area in which I notice many families struggle concerning their children is the issue of authority. I often think, "Who's in charge here?" Have any of you noticed this problem?

For example, I was grabbing a few things at our local small town grocery store last week, and I observed an interaction between a small boy (maybe 6 years old), his mother, and his grandmother. I was in the dairy section, and they were discussing the cheese he wanted to buy for his next day's school lunch.

Did he want the sliced cheese? No. And he didn't even want the convenient string cheese. Mom was trying to convince him (I know I am a little hard-nosed, but I am already seeing a problem.) that the cubed cheese would be better for his lunchbox. Unfortunately, the little boy had his heart set on shredded cheese.

I, too, would have thought, What? Do you know how much easier a slice of cheese would be in your school lunch than shredded cheese? Both Mom and Grandma could have taken 1 of 2 options (in my humble opinion). Either say right off the bat, "OK. I will buy the shredded cheese and you will learn the hard way. OR "No, I understand what is best for you and what is the most reasonable and sensible option (as the mother!). I am also the one paying for the cheese so I will choose what is the smartest use of my money. You get (whatever) cheese."

(If child would have whined or whatever at that point, I personally would then say, "OK. No cheese." But some of you are further down the sanctification road in the area of mercy and may not agree! ;-)

Nevertheless, my fellow shoppers did not take the "aisle" of training this day. Even after I had selected my purchases and was walking away, they were both still trying to persuade the little boy to choose another cheese besides the shredded. He was, as you might expect, behaving in a very spoiled way, whining and arguing with his mother and grandmother, insisting on his own way. Once I was in the next aisle, I could still hear it continue until the mother said, "Fine! Have your shredded cheese, but you will see!"

A great disservice occured that day. Mom forgot (or has never realized) that she is in charge. Her child should always know and be comforted in the fact that someone is in charge and it's not him! (A lesson our children should learn which will make it easier to understand that God is always in charge.) Somewhere in the past, she had delegated the authority to the little boy and seemed to be used to persuasion and arguing tactics herself. It seemed he was actually training her! He used whining, pouting, crying, and arguing to manipulate her. He was actually in charge, and he won the cheese battle! (and probably countless others. . .)

We all have seen it. We have seen situations when we want to say, "MOM! You are supposed to be in charge! It is your responsibility!"

I know I have fallen victim to it myself. When Big Brother was a little toddler, he was quite a handful for about 10 months or so. He was known to throw right down in the floor and demonstrate what a real temper tantrum looked like! At first, I was so naive I took him to the pediatrician b/c of the way he had begun to act! She checked him all over and then looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Mom, he is having temper tantrums." So humbling. . .

I remember one time eating with my parents and my brother and his family at a Cracker Barrell. Big Brother would not be quiet nor behaved, and I felt at my wit's end. My mother gently pointed out during the meal, "Rebekah, he's playing with your knife." I was so exhausted with trying to train this little wad of emotions that I answered, "I don't care, if it will just keep him quiet. . . ." (She reminded me of that for 8 years! :-)

(In his defense, he no longer throws temper tantrums. :-) He is quite the good-natured little man who brings great joy to our family!)

For that moment, you see, I had reliquished my role as the one in charge. I let him be in charge. It was only a table knife, but I should have been consistent with the obvious rule: Don't play with knives!

As parents, we are in charge, and it is our God-given responsibility. Last time we considered Proverbs 22:6, which specifically tells us to TRAIN our children.

When we allow the child to make the decisions and manipulate us, are we not, in effect, leaving them to themselves?

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, BUT A CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF BRINGS SHAME TO HIS MOTHER" (Proverbs 29:15).

In Ephesians 6, Paul gives similar instructions by telling the children to obey their parents and fathers to bring their children up "in the training and admonition of the Lord" (v. 4).

Yet, the Word offers hope for those who follow the Lord's plan in this area:

"Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul" (Proverbs 29:17).

Obviously, it is God's plan for the parents to do the training and not the other way around! It is hard work and requires diligence and consistence. (And some require an even more intense amount of hard work and diligence than others. . . .ask me how I know! ;-)

We can all do it, with the Lord's grace and guidance. Let's strive together to raise champions for Christ as we keep our eyes on the cross, our focus on His Word, and our knees on the floor!
In the Heart of our Home,

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who's Training Whom?

As I have mentioned several times before, we take very seriously our role to train our children, just like many of you. Of course, this is no easy task. We make mistakes. We get lazy. Sometimes it is just too easy to ignore training needs in the midst of busy days.

Mistakes we will make. But I have found that a lot of my "mistakes" are really sin on my part that require my repentance.

Most of us are familiar with the following Proverb:

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (22:6).

What does train mean? Does it mean occasionally tell them about Jesus? Does it mean be faithful to Sunday School? Does it mean read a Bible story every night, and don't forget to say the blessing? Does it mean give your whole life to sharing the Word with them, maybe memorizing it with them, and training them in spiritual applications through daily teachable experiences? Does it include teaching that little girl to not only be a little girl who loves Jesus but also preparing her to be a godly Biblical woman and teaching that little boy to not only be a little boy who loves Jesus but also preparing him to be a godly Biblical man?

To train someone is no casual thing. When a soldier begins his military service and begins with boot camp, he experiences training. Is his training casual? Is it sporadic and inconsistent? No, his training continues day after day from sun up to sun down.

Do our precious children deserve any less? And as Believers, aren't we preparing our children for an even more intense battle? (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Consider what the Lord commanded the Isrealites:

"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Does this sound like "raising" children in the casual sense we see all around us or diligent "training?"

Unfortunately, someone or something is training your children. Is it you? Do you like what you see?

More next time. . . . .

In the Heart of our Home,