Monday, June 30, 2008

Am I Grown Yet?

Am I Grown Yet?

Peggy B.

Spurred on by Pastor Tim’s messages from Galatians, I have been doing a lot of thinking about God’s grace alone in my life. If you’ve not been following them, I highly encourage you to get the CDs and catch up.

What I’ve been thinking about, but haven’t even begun to get a hold of, is how EVERYTHING in my life is by God’s grace; my salvation, my growth, my day to day living. There is nothing I can do to make myself more “Christian” or more mature except walk in His grace.

These wandering thoughts led me to one of those “Ah Ha!” moments we all have in our lives. I tend to struggle with a form of legalism. You know, I have to have a quiet time 6 out of 7 days to be a mature Christian. In order for God to use me I have to….. (You fill in the blank) or “I’ll do _____ as soon as I am mature.”

That’s where the ah ha moment came about. One day God poked my brain to realize that I AM where I am. I don’t need to wait “until” for Him to use me. I don’t have to attain a certain level of Christ likeness to step out. His plan is for me now, exactly where I am. I will NEVER be where I “need” to be or even where I think I “should” be. And He’s never upset with me for where I am (or am not!) This is it! What God wants to use is me; now, in process, warts and all.

The deal is there is no end result this side of Heaven. I’m gonna be “in process” from here on out, and if I wait until, then I will have been useless my entire life. Wow! What a huge burden is lifted off of my shoulders! It is God’s responsibility to use me in the ways He has for me and all I have to do is be available. Woo hoo!!!!! I am free J.

Let’s all be about our Father’s business NOW, not in a year or two. It’s His plan!

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Perfect Peace

Perfect Peace

by Kate Hasson

Just the other day I felt a burden on my shoulders. I didn’t know exactly why, but can see now that it stemmed from a selfish and self-focused heart. I had earlier just received a note in the mail from our adoption agency that our wait for a child could possibly take up to another 12 months. That was hard to hear and discouraging and, among other things, helped put me in a funk.

But, Travis came home from work early! that evening and brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers! His lovely gesture of affection boosted my spirit easily. Such a sweet man...I am blessed!

But what really captured my heart was a verse on a pamphlet that floated out of my bible when I sat down to read before going to bed. It read:

Isaiah 26:3-4 “You will keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”


Wow! How perfect, just what I needed. God’s word gives life, and that evening it gave more life to my soul than the whole day’s worth of trying to suppress odd feelings and even receiving the kind gift from my husband. God and His bountiful word is all I need. Why do I so easily forget? That evening and ever since then I have been filled with His perfect peace. My mind has stayed on Him and He has fulfilled His promise of perfect peace by being my everlasting Rock in whom I can always trust. Hallelujah!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not by My Might

by Missy Grant

Have you experienced times in your life when you seem to be walking in His paths, but life just keeps tossing you off as if you were a cowgirl on a bucking bronco? I think you know what I mean - you are actively seeking His face through prayer and His word, you are looking to the needs of others ("mom, can you.....mom, will you.....mom, what's for dinner.....mom, I need to be at youth group by...."), you are responding to the needs of good friends, you are being a good employee with your time and talents....You are living life, but constant challenge seems to lurk around every corner. Let me share a story with you.

"Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep.

He said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it;

also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side."

Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?"

So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."

Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of Grace, grace to it!' " Zechariah 4:1-7

The above story is from the book of Zechariah. In a vision, the Lord is showing His mighty hand. The olive tree represents two offices. The kingly office of of Zerubabbel and the priestly office of Joshua. My Ryrie study bible explains it this way, "Zerubbabel, who is a civil leader, was encouraged by the vision. The temple would be finished by the power of the Holy Spirit' every mountain (obstacle) would be removed. When the top stone was put in place, the people would beseech God for GRACE upon the temple."

Did you catch verse 6 and 7? 'Not by might nor by power...' In other words, not by human effort alone. 'What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain...' The Lord is explaining all obstacles will be removed. The mountain represents obstacles and the plain is the smooth, straight path of the Lord. Is. 40:4 says, "Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain." Is. 42:16 says, "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

Life with the Lord will have Godly obstacles. It is part of the refining process - that process which removes the impurities in us. Remember, the Lord is making us more Christlike. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that the work will be completed and mountains made like plains. Where are you today? What obstacles are mountains in your path? Stay in His word, be active in prayer, beseech the Lord for grace.

Almighty God, we come to you right now with man made obstacles and some God ordained ones as well. May we seek you and you alone. May we recognize Your mighty hand. Encourage us today, Lord.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Strength in Weakness

Strength in weakness.

Being a mommy is so fun and such a blessing, but sometimes I feel like it is a day-by-day guessing game. So many little decisions to be made. So many big ones, too. If I am tired or stressed these feelings are magnified.

Being a mom has made me much more aware of my weaknesses and my pride. Before I had little ones, I was less aware of my selfishness. After our boys were born I quickly learned that parenting demands sacrifice and selflessness. Of course we sacrifice for our children, because we love them. But our main purpose in sacrificing is to honor the Lord. The beauty is, he gives us the strength to love our children well and covers our sins with grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Revelation Through Struggles

by Debbi Weeks

I’m coming off of a difficult week – physically and emotionally demanding. Mexico was uncomfortable to say the least. God chose to say “no” to most of my prayers for the trip – that tends to be discouraging for me. I’m left tired and weary. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself of what I know to be true. I have to preach the gospel to myself or I could stay here for a good long while. So what are the truths that I encourage myself with?

· God is a good God and He always has my best interests in mind. He gives good gifts. Mark 10:18; Matthew 7:11

· God has a plan and it is good. Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28

· God cares about me. I Peter 5:6-8

· I do not suffer needlessly, but God uses everything. Psalm 126:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:5; James 1:3

· God’s perspective is different than my perspective and because He sees the whole picture His view is far greater. Isaiah 55:8-9

I’m still processing through Mexico and trusting God to reveal to me what He would have me learn from the trip. I don’t want to waste this past week.

P.S. One of the families that we built for was changed at the last minute – that was the family my team built for. We built a home for Daniel (the husband and father), Miriam (the wife and mother) and Daniella (their 2 year old daughter). I’m sure I’ll be telling you more about them in the future. Please pray for their salvation as I’m pretty sure they don’t know Christ as their Savior.

Father God, I praise You that You know the beginning from the end. I praise You for omniscience in knowing all things.

I confess that I lack faith when things don’t turn out the way I think they should! And, I confess the arrogance of that!

Thank You for You have a good plan for my time in Mexico and for all the times when we suffer. Thank You that You will use all things for our good.

Lord, please give me eyes to see what You would have me learn from this trip.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Truths from a Tot

Peggy B.

Sometimes God teaches us lessons in unexpected ways! Sometimes those lessons are humbling. I was walking with a friend the other day and was reminded of this story from my life. I thought of you!

When our daughter Bethany was little (maybe 4-ish, she’s 19 now), I was snitching a piece of chocolate. (Why is everything about chocolate?!) It was close to dinner time, and I definitely didn’t want to spoil her dinner, so I snitched a piece when I thought she wasn’t looking! Of course, she wandered in with ‘what do you have in your mouth mommy?’’ Good mommy that I am, I told her something (which I have conveniently forgotten after these many years) but I DID NOT tell her it was chocolate.

When she walked up close to me, she could smell it on my breath and I was caught. You know what bothered her the most? She was bothered that I’d lied to her. Since I’d been caught, I had to confess and ask her forgiveness. Talk about feeling humbled…WOW.

Life went on and I completely forgot about the incident. It wasn’t too long before something came up to which I replied ‘’I would never lie to you!’’. You guessed it, she chimed up with, ‘’but you did before!’’ Ugh! What an unexpected chastisement. I remember feeling that ‘’I’M THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD’’ feeling. Of course I explained to her that we all sin and that I had asked God to forgive me after I asked her, and that I had promised Him that I wouldn’t do it again.

Over the years there were several times that I was blessed with the “but mom you did before” response, the last time she was in high school! Wow, sin has a long half-life doesn’t it? Even though I have not lied to her since, not only does she remember it, but I believe it shook her faith in me.

Retelling that story started me thinking again about integrity. God wants our words to be truth, our dealings with others to be upright and our thoughts to be pure. When we choose not to be obedient, there is a cost. We can’t know in advance what the cost will be or who it will affect, but sin always comes with a cost!

I was reminded of Psalm 19:14:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

I want to encourage you to consider the words of your mouth and the thoughts of your heart. Ask yourself “Do I live with integrity before everyone with whom I come in contact?” There’s no such thing as a white lie, or a partial truth. There is no such thing as being mostly honest. God asks for our best! I want to give Him that!

Lord, my desire is to live a life of integrity so that I can bring glory to you. Prompt my heart when I am tempted, for any reason, to lapse into sin. Please continue to use other people to challenge and encourage me in this area. Amen



Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm Not a Morning Person

by Sue Donaldson

I’m not a morning person . . .

Just ask my husband who borders on annoying with his chirpy, “So, what’s on the agenda today?!”

I’m not a morning person . . . but, I do love certain things about mornings. Once I’m up and relatively mobile, I love a strong cup of French Roast, my red Pottery Barn robe, and time alone in my window chair before the kids get up. (Mothers of young children, don’t despair, this too will be you someday – and when it happens, you may borrow my robe.)

Another great thing about mornings is breakfast with friends. Look what I got at Gwen’s at the Arbors garage sale last Saturday?! Yet another cookbook – but who could resist that title? (And what a garage sale morning! So many driveways, so little time!! Of course, it was 100 degrees by 8:30 am – even hard for me to keep tramping from bargain to bargain. You must come by my garage and see my real deals – can’t wait to show Mark – he will be so excited, I just know! Maybe I’ll wait til morning to show him.)

Mornings that include breakfast with friends must please God especially since He gets so tickled when we gather round with those we love (or, will love soon), and eat what’s good for soul and body. I’ll check out this lovely new cookbook – gently worn only – and let you know what I find. Or, call, and we’ll taste what I find.

In case you’ve been slow to wake yet today, here’s some great morning soul food--God must love mornings:

“The Lord’s compassions never fail; they are new every morning.” (Lamentations3:22,23)

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)

And, my personal favorite I prayed every morning in college: “Cause me to hear Thy loving kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust. Cause me to know wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto Thee.” (Psalm 143:8)

Choose one to pray all day. Morning person or not, we can “lift our souls” to the One Who made mornings. Enjoy your day~




Saturday, June 21, 2008

Repair - Restore - Renew

Repair - Restore - Renew

by Missy Grant

I heard an advertisement recently for an automotive company whose slogan was Repair – Restore – Renew. The phrase made me think more of the Lord than getting my car fixed. I had an experience with a car place a few weeks ago where they could not fix our car. Seriously. I thought when you took your car in it would come back fixed. (I do appreciate the honesty of the Garage owner, though. At least he didn’t pretend to fix it and charge us for repairs not completed).

The entire experience made me wonder how often do we take our needed heart repairs to the Lord and what is our expectation? Thanks to a husband who is mechanical, we are very diligent with the upkeep of our vehicles. He is constantly maintaining my van. Checking and replacing the breaks, changing the fluids, checking the fluid levels, air in the tires, belts, etc… I wonder how diligent we are with our needed heart maintenance with the Master Mechanic?

Are we carefully and constantly maintaining our relationship with Him? For something to last it takes perseverance and maintenance over time (that is a good picture of the Lord). In order to maintain our deep need of relationship with the Lord, we have to pay attention to Him. That requires regular face time with Him – in His word, in prayer. Our time with Him cannot be an after thought. If that happens, then you will break down and be vulnerable to the one who wants to stand between you and the Lord. That one is telling you it can’t be fixed, but the Lord says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Do you need a little Repair today? Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is where repair starts.

How about some Restoration? (did you notice the word REST in that word?) Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Are you resting in that verse today?

God promises to Renew. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Almighty God, we confess we are a little slow on the maintenance sometimes. We start to believe the lies of the evil one which says that we cannot be repaired, restored and renewed. Your word claims otherwise. Strengthen your word in us, Lord. That we might deepen in relationship with you for your glory. Amen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Family

Family
by Kate Hasson


Wow! It has been a crazy, crazy past week and a half. My youngest brother’s high school graduation brought out my pregnant sister and her husband from Kansas and my college brother from Arizona, and other dear extended relatives. My other sister has been home for a few weeks since graduating college so in total that means that all seven of us plus husbands and babies have been together once again after quite a time of being in our separate ways. What a reunion!!! We’ve been soaking up every moment possible thus my poor girls haven’t gotten a full night’s rest for quite sometime and our day nap and other schedules have been quite messed up. But despite it all it has been glorious and well cherished. Who knows when this will happen again?

My sister and her husband leave this morning, and my brother is already back at school. My other sister leaves in under 2 weeks to move to Minnesota and my next brother will be leaving after summer for his first year of college. It’s all going by so quickly. The moments of togetherness that I looked so eagerly forward to, are already halfway gone and I hate to think of how quickly the rest will go.

God created family. What a beautiful creation, an atmosphere in which to love and be loved unconditionally; just as He does for us. It’s amazing how much I love “this creation” and yet tend to forget to thank the Father, the Creator, for it. I love my family with all my heart, but do I love my Creator more for gifting me with them? He says, “Whoever loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

I must remember that this, my life and my joy, would all be not without His hand. He is the one to be most loved and treasured and cherished because oh, how He has given me a wonderful family. Thank you, God! I love You! To You be all glory and honor and praise for a fabulous past week with my dears, and even more for a whopping 26 years of joy with them all.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully

Sue Donaldson

Another word for old age is “overripe.” Now, you’ve smelled an overripe peach or apricot. Only the little gnats hanging around your fruit bowl really want to be with them.

My mom says there’s nothing fun about getting old. I think it’s because she’s lost her sight for the most part and can’t drive or shop. That would be hard for me, too. She still emails almost daily – I’m proud of her. It doesn’t matter what size font she has to use!

John Piper said, “Aging is just ripening for eternity.”

Do you know anyone who is ripening perfectly – ripening, with just the right scent of Jesus around her? I do. Stella, Lorraine, Annadale, Liz, Marian. I like being around them. These women make me want Jesus more. They remind me I don’t need to worry about my laugh lines or grin gouges. I just want more of Jesus as I age. That’s called aging gracefully – full of grace – that’s what I want to be. And I won’t get it at the Estee Lauder counter. There is no coupon. And, there are no short-cuts.

Aging hits all of us (in case you were wondering). We will all be older by . . . let’s say . . . lunch.

We all age, but we don’t all age gracefully. How can we? Ask God. Let me know what He says. Maybe there’s some forgiving that needs doing. Or, some baggage that needs unloading. Looking backward for too long slows down the “full of grace” process. The older we get, the more others should know we’re heading towards eternity.

David wrote: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27: 13)

Lord,

Since I will get older, may I age gracefully. Show me what isn’t gracious about me right now. And help me take care of it. I want to look forward to seeing you in the land of the living. Amen.

PS

I love it when I spend time with those graceful ladies I mentioned. I am hoping their grace will rub off on me. Liz came for coffee this morning. What a treat! Have one over soon. You might not want to say that you are inviting them because they are aging so nicely...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If You're Reading this....I Must be in Mexico

IF YOU’RE READING THIS . . .

I MUST BE IN MEXICO!

by Debbi Weeks

Yes, if you’re reading this devotional I must be in Mexico – not on some luxury vacation, but on Grace Youth’s annual mission trip, building homes with AMOR ministries. This is my fifth trip (I think). It is always amazing to see what God does in and through the students, and in and through me.

But, since I’m not really here, this is a different kind of devotional. This is a devotional that is soliciting your prayers for the families we are building for, for our team, and for me!

We are building four homes this week. Each of these homes will be 22’ x 22’ (that equals 484 sq. ft. if I did my math correctly! J) These homes do not have any electricity, insulation, drywall or plumbing in them, and yet they are a blessing to the families because they are a great improvement on their previous living conditions.

Let me begin by telling you what I know about our families:

· The first family is the Juaregi-Benites family. Theirs is the smallest family we’ll be building for this year, consisting of a father, mother and two daughters. Dad is a security guard and they have a weekly income of $170.00.

· The next family is the Guevara Vazquez family. They have six people living in their home – dad, mom, a young son and three grandchildren. The dad is a cook and they have a weekly income of $150.00.

· The next family is the Dias Rodas family. They also have six people living in their home – a father, a mother, two daughters, one son and a sister (to either the mother or father). The dad is a security guard and they have a weekly income of $130.00.

· The last family is the Manzo Gutierrez family. This family is the largest and the poorest with a weekly income of only $80.00. They have nine people living in their home – a dad (who works as a bricklayer), a mom, six sons and a daughter.

We do not know if any of our families know Jesus, but one of their present “homes” has a spray-painted sign on the side that says, “Jesucristo es el Senor” which translates, “Jesus Christ is the Lord.”

Please pray for our families that their new home will keep them safe and healthy, that it would be one step in relieving their poverty. Above all, please pray that the love of Christ would be evident to them through our service and in their new home.

Colossians 3:12-17 says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Please pray Colossians 3:12-17 for our students and staff!

One last thing, please pray for the weather – please pray that it would be cool. This is a personal prayer request (although I know others who are in agreement with this request J) – I just don’t do well in the heat! Thanks so much for your prayers.

And, if you’re reading next Wednesday . . . I must’ve made it back! J

Father God, Praise You for Your justice, that You are not a respecter of persons. Praise You for Your omniscience, that You know all and yet you want us to come to You in prayer.

Forgive me for when consider myself before others and neglect to serve them.

Thank You for this incredible opportunity to serve the poor in Mexico and thank You for allowing me to see good works displayed in the students and staff on the trip.

Please keep us safe and please help us live out Colossians 3:12-17. Your will be done, for Your glory.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fill My Cup, Part I

Fill My Cup, Part I

by Sue Donaldson

There’s an old gospel song from my college years:

Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord,

Come and quench the thirsting of my soul.

Bread of heaven, feed me til I want no more.

Fill my cup, fill it up, and make me whole.


I’ve been asking God to fill my cup. Not with blessings. Not with opportunities to minister. Not with peace and fruit. Not with assurances of answered prayer. Just Him.

Filled to the brim with Him.

I can’t say I feel any different (see Peggy’s post – that was a good one – “feelings are overrated!”). But since I’ve begun praying it, I can tell when I’m not praying it. Does that make sense?

I don’t ask for something to drink unless I’m thirsty. David said, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for You, O God.” (Psalm 42) David was thirsty. His cup was empty. He lifted it up and cried out: “Fill me up, Lord, I can’t live without You!”

Maybe we need to start there: “Lord, I don’t even think I’m thirsty for You. Make me thirst for the only thing that will quench my thirst.”

What’s in your cup? Is it ready to be filled? Maybe it needs some scrubbing out – oh, yeah, God will do that too. He’s an all- purpose filler.

My cup can be already full – of myself. That river of self is not particularly satisfying. Funny thing – I think it’s full and then it just starts this steady leak and I’m empty again.

Another thing--I don’t want God to be just the add-on – the half and half or whipped cream to make me look good. I want Him to fill the whole cup, whipped cream and all!

Fill my cup, Lord. Today, I lift it up. (and tomorrow and the next day. . .)

Time to go get your second cup of coffee—don’t forget the whipped cream. Filled to the brim with Him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Joshua 3:16

Joshua 3:16

Peggy B.

“the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.”

After the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the desert, God commanded Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. I can see it all now…the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, leading all of the rest of the nation. Joshua tells them that as soon as the priests carrying the ark set foot in the water, the water will be cut off. (v. 13) Verse 15 tells us that the Jordan is at flood stage! I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing that my response would have been “Yeah, right! You think I’m gonna put my foot into a flooding river BEFORE the water goes away????”

Israel, who wandered for 40 years because of their lack of faith, didn’t have much of a record of trusting God. Their “faith” memory was incredibly short. I confess that I am more like Israel than I would care to think…I trust God when it’s easy, but when it doesn’t seem to make sense, then I am prone to try to work things out my own way, forgetting about His faithfulness to me in the past.

But God (aren’t those the best 2 words?), once again proved Himself faithful. AS SOON as the priest’s feet touched the water’s edge (v.15) God piled up the water. Can you imagine the sight? A flooding river “rose up in one heap” on one side and was “completely cut off” on the other. I’ve often tried to imagine what that must have looked and sounded like. I imagine it must have been hard to believe as the people crossed. Not only crossing, but on DRY land! Wow!

For me, today, the reminder is that God extends His grace to me, even when my faith has faltered and I don’t easily remember what He has done for me in the past. He is waiting to work in my life in great and small ways. I have to be willing to put my toes in the water and walk forward when He shows me the path.

The other thing I want to do is be a faithful rememberer. (Is that a word?) What HAS God done for me in the past? He has blessed me over and over again in my life in so many ways. I want to remember and give Him the praise.

“Lord, I thank you for your faithfulness to me throughout my life. Open my eyes to see your work in my life, my heart to be thankful, my mind to remember and my mouth to be quick to praise your Name and encourage others. Amen”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is the Day the Lord has made

by Missy Grant

This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

This day belongs to the Lord! Let’s celebrate and be glad today.Contemporary English Version

This is the day the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it Amplified Bible

This is the very day God acted! Lets celebrate and be Festive The Message

This past year some of the ladies in our community studied the book of Daniel together. Every Thursday morning as we gathered, I would open our time together by saying,” This is the day the Lord hath made….(and they would complete the verse by replying) we will rejoice and be glad in it.” This was a reminder to us that although the journey is difficult, the Lord himself gave us the day. Our command is to rejoice….and then be glad in it. Why? Because he made it, he brought it about, it belongs to Him, He is alive and active. (notice the reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with us!)

Have you ever wondered if the word rejoice is a way of re-gifting joy? The “re” part must mean something. Do you know the definition of re-gift? It is to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift. Profound….yes

What have you been given that you can re-gift to someone today? No, I don’t mean the chair in the living room or the old coffee maker in the cupboard. Lets try this verse on for size today, “…that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.” Is. 50:4. Or this one, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing 1 Thess. 5:11. How about this one, “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God.” 1 Samuel 23:16.

That is some mighty powerful re-gifting. His word. His encouragement. Discouragement is satan’s weapon of choice, ladies. You can not journey alone. The Lord is your strength, yet He will provide others to encourage you and for you to encourage. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. “ I believe God’s word calls us to two kinds of Titus 2 relationships. One where you are being mentored (encouraged, prayed over, loved deeply) and one where you are mentoring (encouraging, praying over someone, loving deeply).

Where and what are you re-gifting today?

Lord, This is the Day you have made. Let us choose to rejoice and be glad in it. The aches of our hearts can paralyze us. Let us take comfort in the gifting of your word, the gifting of relationships, the gift of salvation. I pray we are bold in your name. Lord, help us to see the Jonathan's in our lives. Those who encourage in You. Bless the many who are encouraging those around them. May Your name be Glorified today. Amen.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making Opportunities

Making Opportunities

by Kate Hasson

Getting to know my neighbors is so difficult. Why?! Before we moved into our new house, when we were still in the process of looking for a home we knew we wanted to live in a neighborhood. Even though we loved our place in the country with acres of land and with goats, horses, cows and chickens around us, we knew that being near other people was imperative. It was more important for us to be able to get to know others intimately, specifically those who didn’t know Christ so that we could bring them the gospel, than it was to have extra land and more beauty around us.

When we found our current home we were thrilled because now we would have the chance to live day in and day out among non-believers and hopefully be able to invest our lives into theirs. We prayed nearly every night that we would be a light, a witness and a good friend to those living on our street and we eagerly looked forward to the opportunities that would lie before us.

Now that we are here I find myself more easily inclined to stay in my home and “fix it up” instead of getting out and using these precious days that I have to be a light and friend to my neighbors. Not to mention that most of our neighbor kinda keep to themselves. People drive in and out of their homes closing their electric garage doors behind them. I rarely see any neighbors talking to each other. When I do get the chance to see someone, its just a quick wave and off they go to do some errand. I know that I’m guilty of the same, but I also know that this needs to change. There are 3 families we’ve gotten to know a bit and I need to invite them over.

A friend of mine encouraged me to not look at my cul-de-sac as a whole but as individual people and tackle just one at a time. Take cookies or flowers from our yard or vegetables from our garden to one person and talk for awhile. Then choose another home/family to visit the next day, and so on and so forth until all have been well met, not just a quick wave from the drivers side window on our way to Food 4 Less. My friend suggested that once I’ve gotten to meet them like this it will be much easier to go invite them to my home or a bar-be-que or church function and allow for more opportunities to spend time together.

This is what I’ll be focusing on for the next 2 or 3 weeks. How fun! I’ll try to keep you posted through this small journey. What are your ways of getting to know and reaching out to your neighbors?

Colossians 4:5-6 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Honors the Lord?

What Honors the Lord?
by Lisa Leonard

Husbands love your wives. Wives submit you to your husbands. (Ephesians)

These probably aren't the most popular verses in the bible. My college girls and I have been talking quite a bit about these verses and WHY should we submit ourselves? We aren't less important than our husbands!! Here are a few conclusions we have come to...

*Husbands love their wives and wives submit to their husbands, the two actually aren't that different! It's easy to submit to a man who loves his wife and puts her first.

*We still have to submit even if he isn't loving us well or putting us first. This honors the Lord.

*Christ was willing to submit to the Father. If he was willing, shouldn't we be?

*When picking a mate, choose wisely. This make the journey much easier.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and practical ideas for loving our husbands by submitting to them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Praise God for the Public Schools

I PRAISE GOD FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

by Debbi Weeks

Yes, I praise God for the public schools. Some of you are appalled right now, but I stand by my praise. We (my family) have learned so many God-lessons through the public schools that I can’t help but praise Him for them. I recognize that God may lead other families to another form of education, but I want to challenge and encourage those who God is leading in and to the public schools – and yes, God does lead to the public schools!

In John chapter 17 we learn the scripture principle of being in the world while not being of the world. John 17: 15-17 says, "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

I’m also reminded of Beth Moore’s words in her study of Daniel: “We have been assigned to this Babylon at this particular time.”

Through our family’s experience in the public schools we have learned first hand that while we are in the world that we are not of the world and we’ve learned that this is the Babylon that God has placed us in. It is up to us to influence or be influenced. It hasn’t always been easy, but I praise the Lord for those times too (some of the best God-lessons are hard ones!).

Here are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned and that I (we) praise God for:

  • I praise God for teaching us that Christian public school teachers/administrators and staff can share the love of Christ and point people to Him without ever uttering His name.
  • I praise God for teaching me how to pray (REALLY PRAY) and watch for his faithful answers – (I’m still seeing answers to prayers that we prayed in a Moms in Touch group that I was in many years ago!)
  • I praise God for teaching us that it’s not all about us – but it might be about the student sitting next to us who needs to see Jesus.
  • I praise God for teaching us that an academic education is not the end all be all (although I believe my kids have received a fine education) – that there is more to life-learning than academics and that other people are by far the most important.
  • I praise God for teaching us that even when you think you’re in the worst possible class with the worst possible teacher that He has a far greater plan for you than you can envision and that it is always best.
  • I praise God for teaching us how to build friendships with non-believers and share the love of Christ with them.
  • I praise God for teaching us how to relate to different cultures, races, socio-economic groups, abilities, disabilities and belief systems through our relationships with students and teachers alike.
  • I praise God for teaching us to step out of our comfort zones to be bold.
  • I praise God for the opportunity to shine as bright lights in the darkness.

I’ve been saddened by the mass exodus of Christian families from the public schools effectively diluting our influence. They leave for many reasons: “better” education for their kids, fear, convenience, peer pressure, control, time constraints and flexibility to name a few. I suppose there’s a whole host of reasons. As I was praying about this recently, God reminded me of Gideon’s army (check out Judges 7) when He had Gideon “trim” the troops so that it would be unmistakable that it was God that won the battle. Just as He thinned Gideon’s Army, He can accomplish His purposes (and for His glory) in the public schools with very few, but I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to be in the “fight” on the “front lines” because that’s where you get to see God at work. And when you see God at work, your view of God is increased and when your view of God is increased, then your faith is built!

We’ve seen God work in and through us in the public schools and for that I am eternally grateful. We pray for fruit in the lives that we’ve had the opportunity to be involved in. We’ve only got one more year; I’m excited to see God at work in it! Yes, praise God for the public schools and God bless the public schools.

Father God, thank You that You are omnipresent and Your hand is at work in the most unlikely places.

I confess that I am frightened by being alone and lack faith that you will still accomplish your purposes when the tide looks like it is going a different direction.

Thank you for your faithfulness in letting us see You at work in the public schools and for your continued answers to prayer.

Lord, please give Christian families the courage to trust You with their precious children and the eyes to see Your mighty hand at work.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Words for Father's Day

Words for Father's Day

Sue Donaldson

Father’s Day is around the corner (this is your “heads up”). Here’s a photo of my dad and our eldest at a Grace Church picnic at Mitchell Park.


Debbi’s dad (77) writes “pomes” on a regular basis. She got this one last week – worthy of sharing because it’s so sweet and a good reminder.

No gifts for Dad on Father's Day,
He has the toys with which to play,
And sox and shirts, and other stuff,
All things of which he has enough.

But second thought does give me pause,
Can't turn you off complete because,
A GIFT of CARD would sure be swell,
In which your thoughts for me you tell.

Love, Daddy-o

(Lee Wagner, June 4, 2008 to his daughters, Tammi Briggs and Debbi Weeks)

Adorable, huh? He’s a treat!

Our “daddy-o’s” don’t need a lot at this stage in life – except words of appreciation. My dad worked hard while we were little, and deserves time reading his mysteries in that wicker rocker on the front porch. I need to get a card off.

Solomon had much to say about good words. Here are some to consider for Father’s Day:

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4)

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 17:6)

Dear Father,

Thank you for my dad. Help me show him how much I appreciate him. I am proud of him, and he needs to know. Because of You. Amen.

PS And he said he doesn’t need any more shirts


Monday, June 9, 2008

3:16

3:16

Peggy B.

A long time ago, I heard someone (my dh Wayne) teach lessons on the 3:16s of the Bible. It was fun and enlightening. So, I thought I’d take a few weeks and look at some together with you. (These are mine, not his!)

Today we’ll start with Exodus 3:16: (New Living)

"Now go and call together all the leaders of Israel. Tell them, 'The Lord, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—appeared to me in a burning bush. He said, "You can be sure that I am watching over you and have seen what is happening to you in Egypt.

There are days when I feel that I am alone in Egypt. (“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms!”) It seems like my bad situations last forever and everyone else’s life just goes on merrily for them. I always know God is there, but I can’t “feel” Him and there just doesn’t seem to be an end to my situation.

If you’ve ever felt that way, this is for you. God has given us a promise (not just here, but in many other places in scripture). I guess I’m sort of being a Moses to you. I’m telling you “God has appeared to me in His word. He said “You can be sure that I am watching over you and have seen what is happening to you”.

He doesn’t say “you can feel me watching you”. He simply says “I am watching”.

We women can place so much importance on feelings, but I have learned over the years that feelings are overrated! (Do any of you always feel like doing laundry, going to work, cooking dinner….? And yet you do them as an act of your will!) God is asking us to, as an act of our will, believe scripture and count on His presence during ALL of our situations.

Notice too, Moses was to call them all together to give them this news? Do you suppose God knew that they would need one another’s reminder and encouragement when the going got tough? I know I certainly need that from my friends when I’m having a struggle. Do you have a close friend or 2 that you can call on for prayer and encouragement? Look in your Sunday School class, your small group Bible Study group, or your Growth Group. I know that you will find them there! What an encouragement to know that God is watching and that others are in it with you!!

And remember, God didn’t leave Israel in Egypt forever…what a miraculous Exodus they had!

“Lord, your arms are big and my faith is small. Give me eyes of faith to see you in all of my life situations. I cannot do this life on my own, so I trust you to watch over me. Help me to leave things in your mighty hands. Amen”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

F.R.O.G.

(I pulled this off of a post I had put recently on my own blog...I liked the reminder today...thought you might as well.)

F.R.O.G.
Missy Grant

I received an email during my work hours today that had a sign off that said, F.R.O.G. and then this after it read...Fully Rely On God. Now, I'm going to apologize right now if this is a copyright of anyone. It wasn't marked that way and I am not claiming it, but I did enjoy it. Fully Rely on God. It reminded me of lots of things, but the frog analogy was compelling. Do you know the story of the two frogs...it goes like this:

Two frogs fell into a can of cream
Or so I've heard it told
The sides of the can were shiny and steep
The cream was deep and cold.
"O, what the use?" said No. 1
"Tis fate-no help around!
Good-bye, my friend!
Good-bye, said world!"
And weep still, he drowned.
But No. 2 of sterner stuff,
Dog paddled in surprise,
The while he wiped his creamy face
And dried his creamy eyes.
"I'll swim awhile, at least," he said
Or so it has been said...
It wouldn't really help the world
If one more frog was dead."
An hour or two he kicked and swam
Not once, he stopped to mutter,
But kicked and swam and swam and kicked, then hopped out,
via butter.

In my bible study group today we looked back on a year of study together. We realized that while our prayers went up our circumstances did not necessarily change - but our hearts did. God is always faithful. The frog analogy above is a good reminder that we can mutter and give up or we can Fully Rely on God, pursue His face within our circumstances and have unexpected blessing when God takes our creamy circumstances and turns them into butter.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
Psalm 34:8

Friday, June 6, 2008

In a Twinkling of an Eye

In a twinkling of an eye...
Kate Hasson

my girls have turned from babies into toddlers and as many mothers have warned me, it’ll just keep getting faster.
Last night I packed away Charlotte’s old clothes that don’t fit any longer to save for our next baby (someday soon, please!?) and brought out Suzannah’s old clothes to pass on to Charlotte. I got super emotional with this small transition. As I looked at Travis through tears, all I could say was, “It’s going too quickly...” Yes, the hard days are no fun and I usually look forward to putting the girls to bed at night and having my own time. But honestly, it truly, really only feels like last year that Suzannah was born. Can I really be the mother of two, with hopefully another on the way!? Time is passing and it scares me. I came to the realization that of all the things I hold most dear to me, I can’t really hold on to my two most “prized possessions”. I love my girls more than life itself and I can’t even keep them. They are growing into little girls and then someday will be a boy’s girlfriend, and then a man’s wife, and then a child’s mother, and then...and then I may be gone. And it will be all over. Oh, that I will take time to love them, not be busy with life.
As I grew shaky from sorrow and knowing that I have no grip on life itself I was comforted by God’s promise of Himself. Although I love Suzannah and Charlotte, my love for God runs so much more deep. I know that He will never leave me or forsake me. He holds me in His righteous right hand. He is steady and secure. He will never change. I can always put my faith in Him and will never be let down. He never sleeps nor slumbers but watches me both night and day. He is the Rock of Ages that I can hide in. He is outside of time! He has known me before I was even in my mother’s womb. I am thankful to be able to rest my short life in His strong arms.Suzannah at only a couple weeks old in her Aunt Jenny’s arms (who is expecting her own first daughter in just a few months!)


Charlotte, just 3 days old with her beamingly proud older sister.


My two big girls at Yosemite just a few days ago.

A song chorus that came to my mind while writing out my thoughts was
My life is in Your hands
And though I may not see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing
Cause your love does amazing things
Lord, I know, my life is in Your hands.
I trust You, Lord,
My life is in Your hands.”
My Life is in Your Hands by Kathy Trocolli

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Comfort of His Word

Comfort of His Word
Lisa Leonard


Psalm 139:13 & 14
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

These verses (actually the entire chapter) brought me so much comfort when David was born. I had planned and dreamed of a healthy baby. To be honest, I was devastated that we had a child with so many needs and felt my entire world crumble around me. Although it was such a difficult time when David was born, God has wonderful things planned for him and for us.

The Lord continues to show me his grace and beauty. This boy has brought more joy into our lives than we could have imagined. His body, although broken by human standards, was created by a loving God who doesn't make mistakes. I hadn't planned for this child, but the Lord planned for him. And he is wonderfully made.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Living and Active

LIVING AND ACTIVE

by Debbi Weeks

I’m reading a fascinating book called, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, by Mark Batterson. I think I’d recommend it, but since I’m not done with it yet, I’m not exactly sure! J The title is from a verse in 2 Samuel 23:20. Now, I’ve read through the Bible on several occasions, but I don’t remember ever reading anything about a man named Beneniah who jumped in a pit with a lion on a snowy day.

Then, in the second chapter of the book, he refers to a story in 2 Kings 6 about an axe head that floats. Again, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that someone snuck the story of a floating axe head in as an interesting addendum to God’s Word! I don’t remember reading about this gravitational anomaly before.

I guess what excites me about these verses is that although I must have read them before they were as new to me as my babies were when they were placed in my arms for the very first time. I went to my Bible in both instances to make sure these verses were really in there – I wasn’t about to trust this stranger, especially when I couldn’t remember it being in there myself! It amazes me that there is so much to God’s Word that it is always fresh, teaching me about who God is and who I am to Him.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And 2 Timothy 3:17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I don’t have much to write today, I’m just awed by the amazing mysterious ways of God to make His Word new and fresh to me again and again. This truth encourages me to keep reading to see what He has for me today. What’s new to you?

Father God, Praise You for your living and active, always new and fresh, inspired Word.

Forgive me for taking it for granted and thinking I know what you have to say.

Thank you for giving me the right word at the right time.

Please help me to see your Word for what it is - your love letter to me.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Marriage Marathon

Marriage Marathon

Sue Donaldson

June is Wedding Month. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it goes along with Graduation Month – smart kids wait until they are finished with college before embarking on the next adventure – the adventure of a lifetime, here’s hoping and praying.

My folks didn’t wait until after dad was finished with college. He had a job and $200.00 and in 1939, that was enough. So, on this last May 6, they celebrated their 69th Anniversary (no, that is not a typo.) Aren’t they cute in this vintage photo?

They met four years earlier – in church. Mom, at 16, was at the Sunday School registration table, and took note of the handsome older man (18). She and her girlfriend made a bet as to who he would ask out first. Mom won.

They courted for four years. Mom said she was hesitant because she wasn’t sure Dad really knew the Lord, as Savior – “I was afraid he was just a pew-warmer because his folks had raised him in church.” When she was finally convinced, she said “yes,” and the rest is history – a long history – including Dad returning to college, they having 5 kids, now 18 grandchildren – our Mary Grace is the last – and a zillion great-grandchildren. Dad has a list – in his front pocket, so he can keep track and brag to the world.

I tell my children that this marriage commitment is a modern miracle. We have unusual roots. My folks tell us it’s all God’s grace, and they are right. They were faithful to God and to each other, and it took grace.

Psalm 128 reads: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. . .may the Lord bless you, and may you live to see your children’s children.”

At 91 and 89, Dad and Mom are blessed – they’ve seen their grands and greats – two more are due this year. What’s their secret? They would say it’s hanging in there over the long haul. Marriage is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not the speed of the race, it’s enduring til the finish line. They are still in the race, in spite of themselves. And we are blessed.

Dear God,

Sometimes we want to get out of the race. It’s too hard. We can no longer see the finish line. We might not even care about the finish line. Besides, we’re too sweaty and we hurt and life has sidelined us and-- who is this person I sleep with, anyway???

Please help. We need an energy bar from your Spirit. We need to want to be faithful. We need You, period.

And, thanks for helping Mom and Dad all these years. It’s kind of funny that they still bicker – comforting, in a strange way. May I see my children’s children, in spite of myself.

Love, Sue

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Parable of the Calloused Toe

The Parable of the Calloused Toe

Peggy B.

One Thursday morning, after Women’s Bible Study, my friend Cyndie invited me to go for a walk with her downtown. Of course I wasn’t wearing my good old Adidas sneakers which I walk in, but the shoes I had on were pretty comfy, so off we went.

We had walked quite a way when I noticed that my pinkie toe on my left foot was beginning to hurt. I ignored it. Soon it was beyond ignoring, so I just begin to try to shift it around each time I stepped, hoping it would alleviate the problem. By the time I realized that I was having a real problem, we had turned around to head back to our cars. Of course, we had to walk as far to get back as we had to get out. (I’ve always been good with deductive reasoning!)

When I finally got to my car, the poor little dear was hot and throbbing unhappily! I figured that the best thing I could do was to take it home and pamper it for a while, because in less than a week we were headed to Yosemite. Now I don’t know about you, but when we’re in Yosemite, we walk, hike and ride our bike, so you can see the writing on the wall, hm?

The blister that had formed on my toe was not helped by all the pampering. It just kept rubbing on my shoes and hurting no matter what I did.

We left for Yosemite and I found that my sandals and my Adidas both hurt my toe, but the Hiking Boots hardly bothered it!! I began wearing them exclusively and after a few days, I realized that my toe wasn’t hurting at all anymore. At that point I forgot all about it.

Several weeks later I was taking a shower. (Don’t worry Sue; I had already taken many showers before that ;-) When I washed my foot, I noticed that there was a HUGE callus on my sweet little toe. Now I’m not usually one who sees spiritual applications in everyday situations, but this one hit me like a ton of bricks!

It seems to me that sin in my life can kind of be like that. At first, it gets uncomfortable, but I just keep ignoring it and “shift around” my thinking so that it doesn’t really bother me too much.

After a while, it may hurt very much. I wonder what I can do to make it feel better. I try changing shoes…maybe if I go to church, or even talk to a friend about it I can get relief from my guilt. Finally I just stuff it back down in my comfortable hiking boots. You know, way in the back of my mind where it is under PILES of my normal activities where I can just not think about it.

What has happened by then? My sensitive conscience has been rubbed so much that it forms a callus, just like my poor pinkie toe. I no longer think about the sin, and I certainly don’t feel guilty about it. It just becomes a part of my regular life. I don’t notice that critical spirit, the nagging/gossiping tongue, the laziness or (you fill in the blank) that has crept into my life.

The only way that I could deal with the callus on my toe was to rub it down with an abrasive callus remover. Otherwise the constant rubbing of my shoe would have kept it there for a long time.

The callus remover for my heart, of course, is the word of God. As I spend time in His love letter to me, my heart is softened by the love, grace and compassion of my Heavenly Father. Then, I am able to see more quickly when I am walking with the “wrong shoes” on…when the sin in my heart needs to be dealt with quickly before the calluses can form.

Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep under his care. Oh, that you would listen to his voice today! 8 The LORD says, "Don't harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.”