I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.- Psalm 9:1

(My guy’s current project: a small barn)

It’s Thanksgiving eve and the house is asleep. We have a couple of young guests tonight. My friend had surgery today and so we got to hang out with her kiddos (two of them anyway). It’s been a good night.

My feet are swollen from standing for too long and I didn’t deal with a situation between my boys and my husband tonight, so I’m ready to put my feet up and call it a day but, as David said, my heart smote me.  Dealing with conflict between children and husband is hard, especially when you feel your husband is in the wrong.  There was a time when I would have said nothing and pouted.  But now I feel I’ve swung the other direction, I’m not afraid to speak up, but when I do, it doesn’t seem to be helping anything.  Conflict resolution is not my forte.  Praying for grace to do it better.

So the verse at the top.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.  What if I really took time to recount ALL of the Lord’s wonderful deeds?  I need to give it a go.  Last year I put plates full of construction paper pieces on the table along with a marker and large plate in the middle of the table so each person at the table could write a thing or two or three they were thankful for and put in the platter before we started eating the meal.  This year, I’m going to try to fill that plate with my Lord’s wonderful deeds.

He created the universe with his words. He holds the universe together by his words.  From the most remote star to the smallest organism in the bottom of the ocean, He thought it up and brought it into being.  He created human beings to be Imago Dei.  In His image.  Imagers of God.  Even me. He saw me in my fallen dead-to-him state and drew me to himself and made me alive to the beauty and wonder of God in the face of Christ.


There’s a start.

Happy Thanksgiving peoples.


The night before the night shift

Twas the night before my first night shift in postpartum in years and I’m trying not to think about it. As I was driving earlier today, trying to sort out my thoughts and the knot in my stomach and that queasy feeling, it hit me, “All those rules you need to remember, they hang on the law of Christ.” All the hospital rules, and policies and procedures and computer programs… when I think about them I feel nauseous and overwhelmed. But when I pause and breath in the truth: I have Christ. All that I need to do to will come as I love my neighbor as myself and bear one another’s burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Stress happens.  You can be the calmest, coolest, most collected person on the planet, but moving, living in a construction zone with a frustrated and tired handyman DIYing it, starting a new job, and facing the start of a new school year will take its toll on your body.  Or at least it will mine.  And its a trap to fall for the comfort foods, fast foods and other stuff you can eat that makes you feel better for a little bit.  Or at least its a trap for me.  Everyday for the past two weeks my hands have been swelling and this week I’ve been getting sharp shooting pains in my hands/knuckles/fingers when I grip something.  To the point I couldn’t even pick up a half gallon of milk or my purse.  It’s better today.  I can grip things normally, but my right hand throbs. My body does weird things with stress, sugar and flour.

There is a semblance of order in the house, this side of the staircase anyway.  If you walk around the corner you’d think you were in a different house.  So as long as I stay on this side, we’re good.

I’m fighting the dark cloud that looms over me right now.  It seems to come back when I’m sleep deprived, under a heavier than usual load of stress and eating an American-sized portion of sugar and flour.   I’m fighting with good, godly sisters holding up my arms, {Being genuine with one another.  I think in part that’s at least some of what it means to,  “…confess your sins one to another that you may be healed,” and “… bear one another’s burdens.”} casting my cares upon Him because He cares for me, and recalling out loud the promise that He is working all things together for good for me, to conform me to the image of His Son.

All things.  For good.  To make me more like the Son.

Worth it.  Totally worth it!


I’d be lying if…

…I only posted my “happy face” posts and didn’t let you know when I’m struggling. Actually, I feel like I struggle more than I’m “happy” which is probably a testament to my immaturity in Christ. Nevertheless I’m compelled to share what lifted my head amidst the tears today.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6

Did you catch that last part: God is a rewarder! He gives rewards to those who diligently seek Him! Do you believe this?

The test of whether I believe this is now. Now, while all I can seem to do is cry. Now, while the one I seek to win to Christ by the pouring out of my life is harder than ever to Him. Now, while my kids require so much constant attention and training and my body is exhausted. Now, while I’m desperate to be held and led in Christ. Do I believe that God is my rewarder?

My motivation is unveiled. If I can “recall the former days in which , after I was illuminated, I endured a great struggle with sufferings,” (Hebrews 10:32), the true motivation of all I do, of why I remain faithful, of why I keep reaching out, of why I keep speaking the truth to my kids, of why I keep going on alone comes to light. It’s because I seek God to reward me.

This isn’t earning my salvation. This isn’t what I speak of. I’m talking about my motivation. What is keeping me here. What is keeping me going forward. What is giving me hope. I already know I can do nothing to rescue myself from the destruction my flesh and all creation is heading for. Jesus did that for me. He took the heat for me. He is my answer to all that condemns me. But what keeps me desiring to obey His will when nothing seems to be going the way I thought it would when His will is obeyed? It’s Jesus saying undeservedly to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in the small things, now I give you greater things to enter into. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (my paraphrase version).

Oh how I thirst for His reward and that is why I know my life is pleasing to Him. Because that’s what faith is: believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder, not a punisher, not a criticizer, not a scrutinizer, a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

As I read through the messages spoken to me by the great witnesses in Hebrews 11, I’m most impacted by those who are un-named in verses 35-39:

“… out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise… -Hebrews 11: 34-39 NKJV

I have not seen some glorious, physical miracle worked through my life. My calling is not for abundance but for “trials of mockings”, wanderings, for “not accepting deliverance.” As Watchman Nee wrote, piercing me with conviction:

“So there is your problem. You feel that were you to follow in that other brother’s steps- were you, shall we say, to consecrate yourself enough for the blessing but not enough for the trouble, enough for the Lord to use you but not enough for him to shut you up- all would be perfectly all right. But would it? You know quite well that it would not.”

My testimony of faith, the road by which I come to God believing that His is and that He is my rewarder as I diligently seek Him is one of being consecrated for “the trouble” and for the Lord to “shut me up.”

Sometimes I fall for the lie that because the race God has called me to is one of trouble and quietness, that I am not being used by God and that He has rejected me. But the truth is my Lord has sent me a message through the great cloud of witnesses, that He calls some to a race of faith through which they see blessing, deliverance from lions, birth rather than barrenness, etc. and some He calls to a race of faith through which they see trial after trial, and rejection, loneliness, prison, and “shutting up.”

I’ve forgotten in my downcastness these past weeks that God is my rewarder. It may defy all logic. All reason. Nevertheless it’s true. He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Maybe you’re downcast today. Put your hope in God with me. Not in your situation. In God. Don’t look for rewards here. Look for them in God. Press on with me believing until He comes that He is going to reward us, though we know we don’t deserve it. He isn’t rewarding us because we’ve got it all figured out. He isn’t rewarding us because we did everything right. He’s rewarding us because we come to Him diligently and we simply believe He rewards that.

Oh God of heaven. Father of my Lord Jesus. You know me! You knew me before I ever tasted of who You are. Be the lifter of my head. Be the lifter of my sisters’ heads. Fix our eyes on Jesus. I cast down the lie in Jesus’ name that says that because things aren’t the way we thought they’d be that You are punishing us or rejecting us and that You are critical of us. You are the rewarder of those who diligently seek You. We must come to You believing that. Help us to be believing in Your mercy and grace, not unbelieving.

So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3

Confessions: Pet sin

***(I just have note that my friend, after originally writing this post helped me more accurately jog my memory as to when this event happened in the past… not 11 years ago but more like 8 or 9. I know it really doesn’t matter, but since it was brought to my attention and this post is being shared other places I just wanted to clear that up.)***

It’s 3am.

About 8 years ago I faced a night like tonight. Because I tend to rank sin on a scale of badness, what I did tonight almost slips past the cross of Christ in my mind like a pet. A pet sin. But tonight my broken Jesus, who was bruised for my transgressions was looking at me the whole time and I can no longer call my sin anything less than it is in light of the cross. It’s lust.

I think if I were to make known what I did tonight some, like me, might laugh or sigh, or poopoo what happened. Some might think, “Aw come on Sheila, you’re being too hard on yourself.” I understand. That’s what I did the entire time I indulged my flesh in the secret of the night tonight… I made excuses to the Holy Spirit. This is MY sin. This may not be sin to you, but it is to me and I’m tired of carrying it around like a pet. It’s not a pet, it’s chains!

Tonight I woke up to let my cat out. The first thing I thought of was the leftover chocolate cake sitting on the counter from my son’s party. I immediately cut myself a large slice and sat down at my table to devour it. I’d never do this in front of my husband or kids… I wouldn’t want to look like I was indulging myself. And if I did, I do it with a hard attitude, as though to say, “Geeze! Can’t I even have a piece of cake!?” And that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and argued with the Holy Spirit while I ate it saying, “Can’t I even have a piece of cake?!!” Problem is I was sitting in front of our little lamb, who is laying on a stream of red satin underneath a boquet of flowers with the banner, “Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed…” hanging over it.

After I hardened my heart to the Spirit over a piece of cake, Christ’s light was shining so much, I couldn’t hide. Where can I go from His Spirit? Why do I even try to go?! I was drawn to His Word like a baby sheep longing for milk! I opened to Psalm 23.

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want...” -Psalm 23:1

His holy life layed down for mine exposed the true nature of my sin. It wasn’t about cake. It wasn’t about food. It was about lust. And before the holiness of God I saw that what I did tonight was not different at all in the eyes of my Maker than what I did 11 years ago.

8 years ago I called a dear friend weeping. Overcome by the guilt of what I’d just done while I knew Jesus was there. It wasn’t cake that night. It was pornography.

I remember the excuses I made. But that night they were all broken because all I could see was my Jesus hanging on a tree. That night before the cross, Jesus broke my wicked bonds to sexual lust. Tonight, by His blood, He’s breaking my bonds to appetite lust.

As I sat before my slain Lamb I realized tonight was a turning point, just like it was for me 11 years ago, and I had to confess it. I had to bring it out in the open. Because I want to be healed. It’s not a pet for me, it’s a ravenous wolf that’s never satisfied.

I’ll never be the same. Tonight the blood of Jesus dripped on my cake. It dripped on my lips. It poured on my tongue. It soaked my stomach. I can never pick it up again without seen the Cross.

Oh my Lord! You are my Shepherd… I shall NOT want the fullfillment of my flesh’s lust in any area! I shall be satisfied in YOU! For YOU prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies! May the table of Your body broken for me, and the wine of Your blood poured out for me, forever satisfy me, even while the enemy who once claimed godhood over the appetites of my flesh is present.

This has been me in this area of lustful appetite even until tonight:

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. – Philippians 3:19 NIV

NO LONGER! NO LONGER LORD! JESUS you have come! You have conquered! You have exposed this sin in me! I run from it! I run exposed to YOU! I run to YOUR salvation! From tonight on my stomach shall never be a idolic “god” I hold in my hand while I try to enter Your promised land! NEVER AGAIN! Let YOUR blood mark this night! Let it mark my stomach! Let it mark my mind! For from tonight I set my blood stained hands that have clung to this idol of my stomach on this:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:19b-20 NIV

And this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 NIV

I write all this out here in the open because my Lord says:

When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?… Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. – Isaiah 58:7-8 NKJV

My Lord, who exposed Himself and covered me on the cross calls me to expose my own sin and not hide myself from my own fellow man. But rather to cover my exposed brother or sister with the mercy of the Cross when I see them. This is not what I tend to do. I tend to hide my self under the cover of sleeping hours, or behind closed doors, or while away on an errand, and expose others when I see their offensive sin. But that’s not my Lord’s way. He heals me when I call my friend and confess my sin, or willingly let my shame be exposed to you here, and cover my friend, or you, or my husband when I see nakedness. This is how He cleanses us from our sin. This is how we can walk in His righteousness.

I wonder if any of you would, with me tonight, be exposed before our Lord. I wonder if any would see Him looking at our hands like He looked at mine tonight saying, “You’re still holding that idol in your hand like a pet! Drop it! You can’t go any further in if You’re still holding that.” I wonder if any would look at the Cross with me tonight in our nakedness. I wonder if any would be broken by His love and ask Him to mark our hands and our appetites for whatever it is our flesh lusts for with His blood so that we may never again approach that idol as though it were a pet. May His love and His grace make us tremble. May it shake us so much that we are free from our chains but not destroyed.

Oh may we see our “pet” sins as chains! And may we not cuddle our chains, or play with them in secret, but expose them before His cross, and each other, and let His blood break them! I don’t want cake at 3am, or cookies in the middle of the day, or a KitKat on the way home from the store, to hold me back from further entering the life in the Spirit God leads me to through the cross! If He looks at me, exposing my “pet” as an idol, which is chaining me when He’s made me free… oh let me drop it like a poisonous snake!

I’m looking to You who knew no sin, and became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God tonight! I want YOU, not this!

Isaiah 51:3

Midnight confessions

So many things are coming together for me right now at midnight. And if I truly want to be vulnerable before you (whoever you are) with the hopes that you might trust Christ more, then I must share what’s going on with me here right now.

I was supposed to post what I’m learning today, but I guess God waited till the very last hour of today to really hit me with the lesson.

I just shared at Exemplify today about something Jesus said that has been weighing heavy on me. He said,

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved
.” Matt.24:12-13

Just now, after sobbing my way through the movie Fireproof (which I have not seen before tonight) I realized my love has been growing cold for my husband. And it very well may be because “lawlessness” (the refusal to feed on or take as a prescription God’s word) abounds in him. Nevertheless I’m the one called to endure to the end LOVING whether the lawlessness abounds or not.

In the movie, Kirk Cameron’s screen dad gives him a 40 day Love Dare. After surrendering his life to Christ midway through the 40 days, and enduring the rejection of his wife through the 40 days, and even when it was past, Cameron was finally able to win his screen wife back.

When the movie was over I sobbed to my Lord, “My 40 day Love Dare has lasted 4 years!” My heart was so touched by Christ in that moment. The scripture that flashed on the screen as the movie ended was Romans 5:8,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That was the verse God used to fill me with His love for my husband when he was filing for a divorce 4 years ago and I was delivering our second son.

I remember a family member calling to tell me her “concerns” after having heard a rumor about what my husband was out doing while we were just beginning our separation. I was overflowing with something I’d never had for a person before… agape love. I remember defending my husband, who was OBVIOUSLY not very defendable at the time. I remember saying something like, “You know, Christ died for him! He died for all of us while we were still sinners! If He can forgive him, I’m not going to hold it against him!

My concerned loved one was angry with me and thought I’d lost it. She was right in a sense, I had lost it. I’d lost all my selfish grip and judgement and all I could see was the cross. I couldn’t get passed the cross. I couldn’t look at the cross and then look at my husband and hold his sin against him. Christ’s dare to love me was enabling me to dare to love my husband even while he was rejecting me.

But 4 years have come and gone since then. And because the “love dare” continues without the repsonse from my husband I was hoping for, I’ve been tempted to give up, or grow cold in my vulnerable love towards him.

After watching Fireproof tonight my heart was rekindled. I saw the cross again and I saw what He wills to do in and through me towards my husband.

I saw Him willing to wait.
I saw Him deserving of my on-fire love towards my husband whether I got a response or not.
I saw Him, arms outstretched wide, crying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” without any promise that we’d turn to Him.

If your tempted to let your love grow cold towards your spouse or towards anyone in your life, maybe like me you need to take a good look at the cross again.

Maybe like me tonight you need to confess that you’re growing skeptical and hard.

Maybe like me tonight you need to write your husband a note and leave it on the table.

Maybe like me, the Lord would bring to mind a time in the past when your husband as said something like mine said to me 4 years ago, “I just want to be appreciated Sheila!”

But even if he’s never said something like that. Even if he’s never done anything that shows you any kind of desire or openness towards your love, Christ HAS! He showed us He loved us by dying for us while we were still rejecting Him!

Oh Father help us! Help us as wives today! Please, give us tender hearts in exchange for the ones that have grown cold and hard. Show us, remind us, how much You’ve loved us so that we can stretch out our arms wide and be willing to endure to the end with a tender, warm, passionate, vulnerable, love- even if we get no response from our husbands! Help us to entrust our hearts to You! I know Father that the best hope I have of winning my husband is in letting Your sacrificial love be seen in me. Please let it be Lord! Take my life, take it and LOVE through me Love of God! Love through me!!

Redeeming the time

Learning in silence- A lesson from my haste

For whatever reason, it seems Christmastime (especially last year and this year) is a time when the Spirit really admonishes me- in every sense of the word.

I’ve been looking back, not in a longing way, not in a holding on to the past way, but as though I were an athlete looking at a previous game to learn from my mistakes that I might train myself to not perform them again.

I believe this is a godly sorrow that God is working in me. It’s not fun! It’s not condemning either though. It’s learning to despise my ways and love the Lords. And it’s clinging even more to His mercy and grace.

When I was a teenager I played basketball at my school. I wasn’t very much of a hustler. I was timid and scared of fouling anyone and therefore didn’t make much of an impact on the game for my team, other than rebounding. But in one game, the ball landed in my hands while my team was on offense. I was standing right under our hoop, but I was so excited about my destiny with the ball, convincing myself quickly that I could do this, that I made a terribly embarrassing error. I started dribbling down the court… THE WRONG WAY!!!! I heard all the screams and cheers and thought everyone was cheering for me, and then I made the shot. At that point, as I stood alone with a smile on my face under the opposing team’s basket I began looking around for my teammates to give them high fives. I suddenly realized what I had done when I saw my team hanging their shaking heads, my coach yelling my last name, and the opposing team cheering. I was mortified!!!! Utterly! I loathed myself and wanted to give up basketball forever. (That is a totally true story and one of the most embarrassing moments of my life by the way.)

This is sort of how I’ve felt this past week as the Spirit has “played the video” for me of previous “games” in my life where I’ve made grievous errors in judgement. I’m so glad God is more merciful than my 7th grade basketball coach. But I’m sad, because my sinful ways in life have caused a lot more damage than 2 points in the opposing teams basket.
I wanted to share with you (whoever you are out there in blogland) a sorrow I have from my past choices that has lead to a true turn around (repentance) in my life. I pray you will learn from my experience and not make the same error in your own “game”.

  • I sorrow that I did not learn in silence.

Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively.” 1
Timothy 2:11 NLT

The tendency, when I first hear that verse is to feel defensive and try to explain it away. But after having chosen to not learn in silence, being quick to start “teaching” others what I was so convinced I understood, I realize how shameful my choice was and how wise and right God’s word is.

When I first reunited with my husband I was so excited! For many reasons. One being I was convinced I was going to start some version of a Billy Graham crusade where women would see how much Christ loved and valued them and suddenly WANT to love their husbands in Christ-like, humble love. I had the basketball and I started running with it! Problem is, I was running the wrong way! I ended up sharing online, and with a neighbor friend, and even with a small group at church, what I was convinced was a sure “two-pointer” for our team, but it turned out to be a score for the opposing team.

It wasn’t that what I wanted was wrong. I wanted to score for “my team” (women in the body of Christ). I wanted to encourage other women with the same encouragement I’d received from the Lord. I wanted them to know what God was teaching me, but my running to the wrong hoop lied in the fact that I was still learning. And because I was still the “younger woman”, learning how to apply this revelation of Christ’s love for me in my own life, when I went around “teaching” others I delivered a mixed up message… I didn’t rightly divide the word of truth.

The result was even more humiliating and more damaging than scoring for the wrong team. I’ve had to go back and confess that I was wrong to the women I’ve talked with, and even one of their husband’s (with the wife present). I’ve grieved much over them because in my haste I misrepresented God’s word to them. I’ve given the enemy fuel for the accusing and have been stuck in a mire of pity and discouragement, and much more, all as a result of not learning in silence.

The call to the sidelines in the months which followed that first year or two of running to the wrong hoop (not learning in silence) was even harder than it was for me in 7th grade. God humbled me and I didn’t want to “play” anymore! But this past year He’s been teaching me the importance of having a godly sorrow that leads to turning around, not a worldly sorrow that leads to giving up (death). God doesn’t want me to stay sorrowful and stop running the race set before me (Hebrews 12:1). He wants me to receive with meekness what He teaches me in His word and let be implanted in me for true growth.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:21

So this week as I was reflecting on this bad play from my past I thought, “Your Word is so good Lord! There’s nothing at all to be despised about 1 Timothy 2:11. It’s a rule of Your game of faith that will save many women from running to the wrong basket.”

Oh, how I wish I had of been more like Mary in the days, weeks and years following the miraculous intervention of God in my life. I wish I had just treasured up all the things God was doing and speaking to me, pondering them in my heart… learning in silence.

There’s a time to learn in silence and there’s a time to teach good things. But I would be wise to be sure I’ve learned before I teach.

So how do I know if I’ve learned something so that I might go teach it to another woman as God would have me?

Here are some questions I’m asking myself now:

  • Am I still learning?
  • Do I still have questions?
  • Has this topic gone from “taking it in” to “fleshing it out” in my life or am I still just taking it in?
  • Is what I think I’ve learned clearly in the Word?
  • Do other godly women and accurate teachers of God’s Word I know confirm the things I’ve learned in their teaching of the Word?

It’s SOOOOO important to stick close to the Word!

When God says “learn in silence” He’s not saying, “Don’t talk to anyone.” He’s saying take time to learn, and while you’re learning, keep quiet about it. He also says, “Older women be teachers of good things,” and then He even goes on to list those good things very clearly.

God does want us to “teach” other women in our lives, for we are “older” than someone in the Lord, and we are “younger” than someone too. But if we stray from the simple power of God’s word and add in a lot of our own thoughts (which I have done), sin is not absent.

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his
lips is wise.
– Proverbs 10:19

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of
the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
– Psalm 19:7-11

As I look back on my own mistakes I wish I had of made a few “passes” instead of running down the court with the ball. In other words, I wish I had of gotten together with another Biblical “older” woman in my life and discussed the things I was learning and then just prayerfully waited for who I should share it with.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of
counselors there is safety.
-Proverbs 11:14

None of us in our “learning” ever fully arrive at attaining what we’ve learned. Even Paul said,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press
on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me
.” -Phil.3:12

And we know that the Lord wants us to teach others what He teaches us:

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. -Matthew 10:27

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
-Matthew 28:20

…the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not
slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– that they
admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. –
Titus 2:3-5

Yet there is clearly a time for quietly learning and waiting, receiving the implanted Word meekly, and letting it mature into seen fruitfulness in our own lives before we set out to teach it to others.

I am convinced, after my own sin in this, that there is a need to stop and truly spend time waiting on the Lord when He’s doing or has done something in our lives that we’re eager to share. I’m so quick to want to share with others what I’m learning, but there’s something to be said for just treasuring up what I’m learning, so that a day may come when I can effectively teach it to others.

Here I am, blogging about learning in silence. May seem to be a bit of a contradiction. And truly, the fact that I’ve set out to share my life and God’s Word on this blog should cause me to pause and check myself to be sure what I’m sharing is accurately God’s word. There’s a healthy tension God would have me press forward in. God does not want me to give up teaching good things- teaching the things He’s taught me, teaching His word accurately- but He wants me to restrain my teaching with silence while I’m learning. In this way I might go forward not like a wild horse, but like a trained and reigned in one.

To help me submit to those reigns gladly, yet move forward in the direction my Master would guide me, I’ve decided to embed these scriptures to the top of each of the posts I go to create. I want to be sure what I share here is clearly and accurately spoken by the Spirit in the scriptures and submitted to in my own life:

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become
teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness.
James 3:1 (NLT)

Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively.
1 Timothy 2:11 (NLT)

But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching… live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.
Titus 2:1, 3-5 (NLT)

Oh Father, You’ve been so patient with me. I’ve despised Your discipline and pouted for a long time. I haven’t received Your chastisements as a loving Father dealing with His wayward daughter. Thank You for being patient to let me see that it is good that You deal with me so. Please set a guard over my lips, and fingers (for typing), that I might be restrained with silence while I’m learning something You want to teach me. And let me press forward in sharing Your word accurately. I know it begins in my own heart. This is my prayer:

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:12-14

* Related: A Great Devotion from Elizabeth Elliot on Observation in Silence

Redeeming the time

I know I said goodbye for 2008 but…

I HAD to share this!

Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. -Proverbs 24:15-16

Feeling at the bottom of my seventh fall before 6am today, I turned to a steady source of truth and found this teaching that brought me trembling to my feet again. If you have time, please go here and click on the Recent Service, Sunday December 21st message in the sidebar. I’d rather you do that, than go on reading my ramble here. But if you’re still reading…

Maybe as 2008 is coming to a close, and your walk of faith with Christ has grown a year older, you find yourself even more accused than you were a year ago and see yourself as an even more wretched person than you were last year. Maybe not, but I do. It seems as this year has come to an end I’m overwhelmed by how many times I’ve fallen and how much damage has been caused to the reputation of the Lord in the eyes of those I love because of my sinful choices. It seems the wicked one (Satan) lays in wait against me daily… just waiting for me to fall, cause I will, so that He can spoil my resting place, the resting place of God’s mercy and grace.

This morning I saw a jaded attitude in me. I saw it coming out in the look on my face and the tone of my voice and I fell to my knees in the laundry room and prayed that the Lord would help me to know how to go forward because I was so overwhelmed at the destruction my life has caused. I faintly heard His Spirit stir my heart to let go; to not lean one bit on my performance in life, but wholly lean on Jesus’ redemption.

I’ve caused a lot of damage. I thought it was just consequential for me, not realizing that I was not only causing pain, offense and bitterness in others, but I was tearing down the reputation of our awesome God in their eyes. I hate it that I’ve done this!!! The very thing I’ve prayed, the very thing I’ve wanted- for the people in my life to know the Lord Jesus as their Redeemer and to worship Him- I’VE prevented by choices I’ve made. And oh how the enemy of my soul reminds me daily, especially as this year comes to a close, of the damage I’ve done. It hurts so much I nearly grow cold. But the Lord calls me to defy the enemy and rise up, standing solely on the mercy and grace shown in Christ at the cross.

He calls me to let all the weight I am still resting on my performance in life fall on Jesus. He calls me not only to rise up trusting that Christ’s righteousness is enough for me, but that it is also enough for those I love, and pray for, as I regret so deeply that I’ve left ruins in their path to knowing Christ through my witness.

I’m pressing forward into 2009 as though I’m walking across the Grand Canyon on an invisible bridge. I can’t lean any of my weight on my ability to get across, I can’t lean any of my weight on my ability to get others across, I have to rest completely in the invisible promise of salvation for every step, because He who began a good work in me is able to complete it.

And I think even beyond walking on that invisible bridge of faith, God calls me to clear away the stumbling stones and clutter that I’VE CAUSED. I don’t know how. I have no idea how to undo the damage I’ve done. I’ll have to walk on Jesus’ ability to make me a reconciler, restorer and rebuilder for that calling too.

Go through, go through the gates;prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. – Isaiah

Oh my Invisible Hope! Please strengthen my heart to trust You! Give me courage to defy the accusations of the enemy by growing in Your grace even more! Hallow Your Name in me so that in the eyes of those who’ve watched my life may find a witness of You they can trust too!

Redeeming the time

At His Mercy

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” -James 4:8

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed, like tonight, with the impossibleness of the ones I love drawing near to God. Even my own faith is tested and I know, that if my faith wasn’t kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5) I would not draw near to Him either.

I mean, why would a person draw near to the God who by all means must and should reject you? So many doubts, so many unanswered questions, so much lack of understanding, so much love of darkness… why would anyone come to Him, even these that I love… even myself!?

I think all this, and I’m there, at the table the LORD prepares for me in the PRESENCE of my enemies (Psalm 23:5). Surround by enemies, He whispers this hope:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise
him up at the last day
.” -John 6:44

And then I cry, “Oh Father! Draw them! Draw me! Don’t stop! We’ll never come if You don’t draw us!

I find myself at His mercy, which though I tremble, is the best place for me to be. Though all odds are against me and the ones I love, and though the total otherness of Him who draws me threatens to send me running, I curl up at His feet, with my hands surrendered in the air saying,

Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.” -John 6:68

I come boldly to You King of kings. I think I might be feeling a bit like Esther right now as I run boldly to the throne of grace, that I may obtain mercy and find grace to help in this time of need! You have every reason to reject me, certainly unless You extend Your scepter of grace towards me I’m dead! And so it is for these that I love too! Unless Your grace is for us, we’re dead! But if I die, I die. For it is not hope in me or hope in them that sends me running to You, it’s hope in YOU!!! “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at Your right hand making intercession for us!” Oh those words are my hope!!! My hope, encourage my weak heart! The enemy surrounds me and these that I love, and I come to Your table where Your broken body is the feast on which my spirit can live! Let me just trust You! Save us Lord! Save these that I love, not just from hell for eternity, but from believing and helping hell now! Draw us to You and then we will draw near to You and You will draw near to us! My hope is in You Lord Jesus! My hope is in You!!!

Redeeming the time,

The honesty of Job

In my through the Bible in a year plan (which I’m about 6 months behind on) I’m in Job.

I haven’t wanted to read Job lately to be honest. I’ve been doing everything to stand and take my stand against the wiles of the devil which seek to make me doubt and be discouraged and depressed… and so, reading Job just hasn’t appealed to me.

But this morning as I heard the call to return to my daily readings through the scriptures I found myself being surprisingly refreshed by the sufferings and honest prayers of Job.

I posted over at my benediction blog today, blessing God for the honesty of Job and how I see that honesty of casting all my cares on God because He cares for me in my little children. I pray they never outgrow that! I also see that honesty increasing in me and am reminded of how easily I tend to be naturally like Job’s “friends”. I tend to have a religious haughtiness that is always trying to “teach” someone why or what they may have done. But as the Lord has touched my life with His grace and exposed the wickedness in me He has increased my capacity for talking with Him honestly and being transparent before others too… not always trying to figure out why or lay blame somewhere, but rather just crying out to God and standing with others while they cry out too.

Job also reveals this longing we have when we’re honest before God: that someone would plead for us before God because we know we have no ability to stand before Him.

Job prophecies when he says, “Oh, that one might plead for a man with God. As a man pleads for his neighbor!” Job 16:21

He prophecies of Jesus.

Job stands in the place of salvation right there. Right there where he knows he needs someone to plead for him… someone who can stand before God on his behalf.

Salvation is not found in doing what you think is right in the sight of God- where you think you are saved, like Job’s friends thought, because they were wise and didn’t practice wickedness. Salvation is found in having a broken and contrite heart… a heart that like Job cries, “My spirit is broken…” (Job 17:1) That’s the place where Jesus stands pleading our cases before God as a man pleads for his neighbor, and He is salvation.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a
contrite spirit. -Psalm 34:18

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–
These, O God, You will not despise. -Psalm 51:17

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen,
who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
-Romans 8:34

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. -Hebrews 7:25

Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. -Romans 8:27

No magic wand tranformation Christianity

Ever wish progressive sanctification (being conformed into the image of the Son… from glory to glory) involved some version of a magic wand, pixy dust, or a beauty sleep induced from heaven to which you wake up changed!?

I have a dear friend who has said to me before something like, “I wish God would just knock me out, so I’d be sound asleep and then I’d wake up and not have this problem anymore. I wish I’d just wake up and be changed.”

I think she speaks something that we Christians often feel secretly. We have the Spirit of God in us. We see ourselves as the wretches we are. We hate our lives in the since that Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26) And we wish God would just zap us and make us like Christ with the wave of His hand. What’s hard to accept is that God does this conforming of our lives to the image of His Son little by little AND with our cooperation.

In that section of scripture in Luke 14, where Jesus says if you don’t hate your own life you cannot be His disciple, He goes on to say, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” I like how Luke records it, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) It’s a DAILY dying! It’s a daily process.

The sojourning life. The life of walking by faith through this life is a life of being transformed, day by day, into the image of God’s Son, and it’s a process by which we cannot change apart from Christ yet it is also a process by which God will not change us apart from our willingness partner with Him by obedience in being changed. We cannot transform ourselves into Christ’s image, but Christ will not impose His will upon us without our willing submission. He’s patient. He’s perfect. He disciplines. He chastises. He teaches. He encourages. He wills and acts in us even, but it must be worked out by us. We must willingly obey.

This is the hard thing about living the Christian life that we often wish was different. It would be so much easier wouldn’t it if God would just zap us and walla, we’d be Christ-like in ever area of our lives. But God doesn’t want robots or unwilling lovers. He wants willing vessels. Even willing vessels who say, “I don’t want to God, but nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done in my life, as it already is in heaven, in Christ, finished and done!”

I finished reading this morning and in the bathroom and in brief readings between folds of laundry today a very challenging and equipping book by Lou Priolo, Teach Them Diligently. In it he writes of the fallacy of the Zap Theology: The kiss and make up with God syndrome. Priolo says:

Have you ever struggled to overcome a bad habit in your life? Sure you
have! We all have. Many Christians, however, when they “struggle”
with sin don’t really struggle at all. Rather, they simply confess their
sin to God, pray that He will help them change, and promptly get off their knees
expecting that God has somehow infused (“zapped”) them with a special
measure of grace which will enable them to never commit the same sin again,
without any (or very little) further effort on their part. This is what is
sometimes referred to as “the kiss and make up syndrome with God.” (a quote from Jay Adams). Progressive sanctification is, of course, an act of God, but
it is also a process which requires our cooperation. It is not enough
merely to pray that God will change us. We must also do what the Bible
says is necessary to “put off” the sin and “put on” Christ.

It’s hard to accept, and although I personally have and also know of others who’ve experienced miraculous deliverance from God in a certain area of their lives (such as with addictions), even in those instances God requires obedience on our end to further grow in faith and in Christ-likeness.

God must be speaking to me about this. Because after finishing Teach Them Diligently, at naptime today, I opened up Beth Moore’s Breaking Free (my first read of a Beth Moore book- I know. Where have i been?! Ask my kids!), which I had to put down because I realized this book is a Bible study which I need to devote some open notebook, pen, Bible and prayer time to. But before I put it down I read this:

As we begin our study, I need to challenge you. We
will consider biblical keys to liberty, but don’t expect to find a magic
potion. Real freedom requires real work. A key part of the work
involves God’s Word. We hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we might not
sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

I’m listening God! I’m frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated with my kids. I guess I’ve really been wanting a magic potion too! Oh forgive me Father for my laziness! You deserve my daily, moment by moment, dying to myself. My kids aren’t transformed into mature Christians who are passionately in love with Jesus in an instant and neither am I. Yet we can rest in Your finished work! Help me and the boys to show that we do rest in Your finished work by willingly obeying You no matter if nothing seems to be changing or not. I thought today Lord, that if You had had no faith, you too would have thought at the end of Your life, after all You had done, standing before Pilate, that nothing was changing, in fact, everything seemed to be getting worse. But You authored the faith You lead me in. You didn’t look at the seeming failure of Your poured out life when they nailed You to the cross, You looked to the joy set before You, even the joy of seeing me with You in glory. Oh Lord! You will complete that which You started in me and in my children. I will trust in YOU!