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Button-pushing Cherub

Do you have one of these in your life—you know, the child that knows just what to say to get your blood boiling? I’ve been teaching children for forty years in various capacities: piano teacher, public and Christian school teacher, homeschool teacher, junior church and Sunday school teacher, Children’s Club and now Master Club teacher. I’ve always believed that God created me to teach. But last night, I was ready to quit.

We have three enemies: the world, our flesh, and the Devil. The world was telling me that I’m out of touch with this generation. My flesh was telling me that I’m too old. The Devil was on the sidelines hissing and nodding his agreement with the other two! And all of them were right!

I came home in tears and talked to God. When my husband came home, I could tell he was worried. My hero-fix-all-her-problems guy was sifting through his mind, looking for a way to solve this one. His solution was that a man should be in charge and I agree. But who?

After a time of relaxing, he read our devotions before turning in for the night. The devotional was just what I needed! POW! Right in the nose! God just pinned me to the wall about my heart and actions. Then, after a good night’s sleep, I did my usual start to the day: talk with my heavenly Father.  I’ve found that I MUST pray before my feet hit the floor or it doesn’t happen. I started praying for my little button-pushing-cherub, and God broke my heart.

You see, my question is, “Am I making any difference in these kids’ lives? Maybe it would be better to not allow those button-pushing-cherubs (BPCs) to come. Life would be so much easier! After all, I’m focusing on them and neglecting the good ones! They’re not listening anyway. (Typical BPC statement, and I quote: “I have an important question. When is game time?”)

Those may be true statements but they’re not from God. He put these little BPCs in my life for a reason. They are my mission! Perhaps God will use me to impact their lives!

Our theme for the year’s Master Club is “Run for God.” We’re singing “I’m Running” by Ron Hamilton and “Running for Jesus” by yours truly. As I sat in the dark talking to God, the words from these songs echoed in my brain.

I’m running, I’m running, but not for fame,

I’m running, I’m running, in Jesus’ name.

Keep running, keep running, to see His face.

Keep running, keep running the Christian race.

 

Though Satan will trip me, I’ll never give in.

I’ll never give up, or slow, or stop

I’ll run day by day.

And sing when I hear Him say, “Well Done!”

He led all the way.

Don’t give up, friend! Keep pressing on until you see His face! Don’t be mistaken, it’s a battle, but is there any other battle more worth fighting than for the souls of children? Stay in the battle until He changes the command!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14

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Don’t Question Your Call

musicchildren15I have to admit, there are times while I’m subbing for music teachers, that an old ache fills my heart.  I love teaching music, and I would have enjoyed making that my career.  I believe I would have been successful.

I just finished a very hectic day for an awesome teacher.  She’s great and has wonderful plans, visuals, and equipment.  It’s so fun to put it all together–adding a steady tempo on the Orff instruments to the accompanying omnichord (for you “oldies” that’s the electronic version of an autoharp!) while the students sing. I LOVE IT!  You may ask, “Then why aren’t you teaching music?”  Because God called me elsewhere.

Back in 1983, just a year and a half after we were married, I interviewed for what I would have called the perfect job: high school choir and elementary music.  I got the job, but that same week I was asked to teach kindergarten in our Christian school.  I chose the kindergarten class, having a desire to get into Christian education.  I still remember the first morning we had devotions together as teachers.  I nearly cried.  It was such a joy to my heart to be able to teach biblical truths straight from the Bible while teaching the standard curriculum.  In fact, after leaving Christian education and subbing in the public schools, I nearly started class with prayer several times! Wouldn’t that have raised a ruckus!

When God calls, don’t look back!  Yes, it would have been more lucrative; yes, there were lots of perks, but that wasn’t what God made me to do.  I’m supposed to be a pastor’s wife, and I’m supposed to teach about God and care for His people, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!

However, in some ways, it would have been easier to teach music:

  1. Your day has a start and finish.
  2. You can see when you are being successful: The concert is a success; the student progresses, etc.
  3. The year has a beginning and an end
  4. You have the summers off!
  5. You are guaranteed to have a crowd!

Do you see that the opposite is often true of the ministry?

  1. There is no clock.  A pastor and his family never clock out.
  2. At times, sometimes for years on end, you see no progress.  Lives do not change, truths are not applied or embraced, etc.
  3. Yes, there is a new start to every year, but it seems like there’s no beginning or ending.
  4. Summers mean VBS, summer camps, and often extra activities.
  5. We work with a volunteer army!  They may be here, but then again, they may not be!

All this said, the greatest difference is eternity.  Sadly, I cannot say much in the public school concerning Jesus Christ or the Bible.  Yes, I can be a good example.  I canImage result for zipped lip “shine” for Jesus, but one of the most difficult things for me is to see this great mass of students and know I am not allowed to “preach” to them.  And I understand the reasoning–it’s just hard for this pastor’s wife to be silent!

What’s the point of this rambling?  Bloom where you a
re planted.  Do the job which God has called you to do.  Be faithful.  We are all in the Lord’s army, and God has given each of us a mandate to carry out His work.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.Matthew 10:42

And if you want to make your pastor, pastor’s wife, youth leader, Sunday school teacher, or any other church worker’s life easier–show up, volunteer, be an active part of your church–be faithful.   Your talents are invaluable, and what better way to use them than for our Lord and Savior? And besides all that, the benefits are out of this world!! 

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Ready, Set, Wait

Ready, Set, WIMG_7323ait!

Well, the last job is done for the winter—tilling the garden.  Dear old Tilly is out there now, purring away until the gas is gone.  A good wash and she gets to rest for the season.

The garden is ready, but for what?  It’s ready to rest; however, any seeds that are still in the ground are also ready to sprout as soon as the weather gets warmer.  Even while the snow is on the ground, that seed is ready—ready for the sun!

Luke eight begins by telling us that Jesus and His disciples went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Verses 2-4 tell of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from demons, the care given to Jesus and his disciples by new converts, and that a crowd had gathered to hear Him speak. It’s not by accident that the next few verses  in Luke eight are about soil. As though to encourage the sowers, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils: wayside, rocky, thorny and good. Our responsibility is to give the Word–spread the Seed.  There’s nothing wrong with the seed—the Word of God, and there may be nothing wrong with the sower—YOU!  Doing a heart-check is always good to be sure that the Spirit has free reign and our motives are correct, but the fruit of the hearer is not our responsibility.  I can no more make someone respond to the Word of God than I can make my tomato plants grow!  How comforting!

HOWEVER, when we ARE the soil, we are the receiver of the seed—how we respond IS our responsibility.  1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us some pointers:

Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,

forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Did Jesus see fruit for His labor? Absolutely; however, He also wept over Jerusalem because He knew the condition of many hearts and that His own people would soon demand His crucifixion. Jesus knows everything. He remained faithful to His calling to the very end of His earthly life.

Always abounding in the work of the Lord is the fruit of always bounding in the Word of the Lord! Be ready.  Even though you may be in a “winter” time of fruitfulness, know that God is always working in your heart, your children, your ministry. There’s something beautiful about a garden lying fallow. The summer work is done. The harvest has been gathered. Snow is on the way! Even so, as the ground rests, it waits for spring. As we ‘wait’ for the moving of the Spirit, may we realize that ‘spring’ may be just around the corner!

Be ready!  Be set! Be willing to wait!

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My Daughters, My Treasures

 

This past week, we visited our son and his wife AND our youngest grandson, Caleb—our Christmas baby! While there, I began working on a little booklet which is a compilation of Matthew Henry’s notes on Proverbs 31.

As I was reading and copying and pasting and organizing the information into a booklet, my daughter-in-law was busy sewing.  She has her own business (EverythingSewn91) and has been very successful. But that success did not just happen! She spent HOURS researching, preparing, and working diligently to put together a top notch website AND producing high-quality custom baby bedding, and the Lord has blessed her efforts. Did I say that she works hard? Her hands are never still! She cares for our grandson and her home and our son, and seems to do it effortlessly! She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Way out in South Dakota, on the lonely prairie plains (not really, but it sounded so poetical!) lives our son and my other daughter-in-law AND three more grandchildren. There is a blog post in me somewhere on the challenges that I’ve worked through I’m working through, dealing with family so far from home. She is caring for our three grandchildren, homeschooling their oldest, and working hard had just staying afloat with three very active sweethearts! Plus, she’s expecting our seventh grandchild!  Oh, yes, and our son is working crazy hours, which means she spends LONG days in a two bedroom apartment! I’m praying hard for them as they head into winter. A home is in the near future, but right now, they’re working hard to make that happen. She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Then there’s our daughter, which the Lord has graciously kept nearby all her seven years of married life! She is raising two precious towheads, active little boys, in my childhood home.  I love that place and marvel that God put them there, but that house is over a hundred years old and NOT the easiest place to keep clean! There’s a big yard, plenty of room, but plenty of care. She is my right-hand “man” at church, doing TOO much, but lovingly serving the Lord. She also has a photography business! She is a Proverbs 31 woman.

I don’t know how any of them do what they do! They all have their challenges, but each of them is leaning heavily on the Lord, determined to have godly children, and make a difference in this world! I love them SO much and praise my heavenly Father for His goodness.

Proverbs 31—some may hate that chapter of the Bible.  It’s SO convicting, and Matthew Henry cuts us no slack in his words!  Plus, couch them in a fifteenth-century culture—no woman’s rights, no modernism—and they are quite convicting. HOWEVER, no matter the age or the challenges, we all have the same goal: Christlikeness, success in God’s eyes with our lives and the lives of our families. It takes work and dedication, but may I say once again:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4

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WARNING! Frost or hurricane!

Sunday morning, as I was checking our weather, I noticed the little red warning triangle. Strange? What could be coming our way? I had seen the sign while checking the weather at Myrtle Beach, obviously listing warnings about hurricane Matthew. But I live in Pennsylvania? Our warning was for a frost tomorrow morning, cautioning gardeners that tender plants may need some attention or they will die.

It seemed odd to me that a category 4 hurricane received the same symbol as a frost warning, and that thought, coupled with the morning’s reading from Oswald Chambers, triggered this post:

We preach to men as if they were conscious of being dying sinners, but they are not. They are having a good time, and all our talk about the need to be born again is from a domain they know nothing about; because some men try to drown unhappiness in worldly pleasures it does not follow all are like that. There is nothing attractive about the Gospel to the natural man; the only man who finds the Gospel attractive is the man who is convicted of sin.

Apart from a knowledge of Jesus Christ, and apart from being crumpled up by conviction of sin, men have a disposition which keeps them perfectly happy and peaceful. Conviction of sin is produced by the incoming of the Holy Spirit because conscience is promptly made to look at God’s demands. (YouVersion)

Sunday morning, I will be substitute taught the Teen Sunday School class, and we looked at our church’s doctrinal statement.  Now doesn’t that sound exciting!! It is! Look at what it says about salvation:

We believe that owing to this universal depravity and death in sin, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless born again (John 3:5-7) and that no degree of reformation, however great; no attainment in morality, however high, no culture, however attractive; no humanitarian and philanthropic schemes and societies, however useful, no baptism or other ordinances, however administered, can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven; (Gal. 5:1-5; Phil. 3:4-9) but a new nature imparted from above, a new life implanted by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7) through the Word, (James 1:18; I Peter 1:23) is absolutely essential to salvation and only those thus saved are children of God.(SVBC)

I admit that it’s not easy reading, but look at what it says:

Salvation is by grace alone:

  • No degree of reformation, however great;
  • no attainment in morality, however high,
  • no culture, however attractive;
  • no humanitarian and philanthropic schemes and societies, however useful,
  • no baptism or other ordinances, however administered,

can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven.

WARNING: Heaven cannot be earned. To put it simply, praising God cannot save your soul; giving an offering of finances or service cannot save your soul; a church cannot save your soul; successful business adventures in the name of Jesus Christ cannot save your soul; graduating from a Bible college cannot save your soul; being a pastor, missionary, deacon, Sunday school teacher, soul-winner cannot save your soul; tagging along with others that are saved cannot save your soul.

The same warning goes out to every human being, no matter how sinful or superior, rich or ragged, kind or caustic.  All need to trust Jesus, and Him alone!

Have you forsaken your sin and good deeds to trust Jesus for salvation?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12,13

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My superhero

55407d754bd0ca45bd8fc499d37f2aefHe may not leap from the tallest buildings or wear spandex and a cape, but he is MY superhero! He spends his days battling enemies on every front, from without and within, and never complains. At times, I believe if I could see them, I’d see a whole host of demonic beasties flapping and snarling at his heels.

But never mind, he faithfully studies the Word and serves a banquet of fresh, sweet manna every Sunday to the few who choose to take the time to come to God’s house. The crowd may wax and wane, but it never affects his dedication, because he is answering to the high calling of Jesus Christ.

His broad shoulders carry the burdens of others with compassion and prayer. Oh, the sweet, sweet sound of hearing him talk with his heavenly Father, weeping over his little flock—it brings tears to my eyes every time I tiptoe by his office door and hear that lovely sound!

But for me, the most wonderful attribute about my superhero, which makes him greater than the hulkiest of the bunch, is his humble, teachable heart. It’s what first drew me to him, and what continues to affect my life. His patience with me, as I try to become more like our Savior, challenges me to get the lead out and get busy hacking off those nasty, ungodly traits which shatter the precious, heavenly atmosphere of our home. He’s changing, and it makes me want to change too.  After all, who doesn’t want to be like her superhero?🙂

Last weekend, we watched two of our grandsons. I love them dearly, but I wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for my superhero. He played, and bathed, and walked, and talked with them (and flew a kite, which was captured for Facebook).  He made them laugh and was just plain silly, which is a wonderful, albeit unusual, trait for a superhero. He read to them, and while I was caring for them (I mostly just sat around eating bonbons) or was busy making a meal, he was quietly picking up or throwing in a load of laundry because that’s what he does!

My superhero.  Right now, (it’s four A.M.) he’s sleeping. His weary body, especially those broken parts which remind him that a storm is coming, is resting for another couple hours. Then he’ll rise once more, chipper and ready to face another day’s host of villains: the world, the flesh, and the devil! We’ll face them together, and then they won’t seem quite so impossible. Discouragement flees, but that one usually takes both of us to battle. Criticism is reflected off the shield of faith. Worries fly with a flick of the Sword. It’s really a wonderful life, living with a superhero! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14

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Do We Remember?

twin-towers“The iconic twin towers of downtown Manhattan’s World Trade Center were a triumph of human imagination and will. Completed in 1973, the towers stood at 110 stories each, accommodating 50,000 workers and 200,000 daily visitors in 10 million square feet of space. They were the hub of the bustling Financial District, a top tourist attraction and a symbol of New York City’s–and America’s–steadfast devotion to progress and the future. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center became the target of a massive terrorist attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. The disaster also radically altered the skyline of New York City, destroying the twin columns of glass and steel that over the years had come to embody the city itself.

“The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“The heroic efforts of the city’s fire and police departments and other emergency services helped 25,000 people escape from the site before the unthinkable occurred. September 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in history for New York City firefighters: 343 were killed. The damage done at each point of impact forced the physical weight of the towers to be redistributed, and the undamaged part below the hole had to support the floors above. At the same time, the fires raging in both buildings weakened the steel trusses holding up each floor. With damage to a greater number of floors lower down on the building, the south tower gave way first, crumbling to the ground at 9:59 a.m., only 56 minutes after being hit. The north tower collapsed less than a The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“Debris from the falling towers ignited fires in the remaining buildings of the trade center complex, including 7 World Trade, which burned for most of the day before collapsing at 5:20 p.m. Overwhelmed by horror, shock and grief, New Yorkers and people around the world trained their eyes on “Ground Zero,” where the fall of a treasured icon of American industry and ingenuity had left a gaping hole in the sky.”

http://www.history.com/topics/world-trade-center

Do we remember?  Will we forget?
Fifteen years; five thousand, four hundred seventy-nine days;
and yet it seems like yesterday.

We remember where we stood when we heard the unbelievable.
We remember the shock, the horror of watching those towers crash
over and over again.

We remember the utter helplessness and unbelief,
hearing it in the most seasoned news reporters’ voices.
“Our world will never be the same,” they said.
We didn’t understand it, but they were right.

And the message is ever the same. Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, and he said:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Their generation is done, their days passed in a moment,
but God alone is still our safe haven,
and with their passing, we remember that a thousand years in thy sight
are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
(4)

We spend our years as a tale that is told, (9)
and we realize that only God knows when the last chapter will be completed.
Oh, that we would live this life, remembering those whose lives were cut short!
Not in sorrow, but in reverence and thankfulness
for the lessons their tragedy can teach us.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off,
and we fly away.
(10)

So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
(12)
Number each one! Every hour, every moment—for them,
for all who are taken because a brother was cast out, and the other was blessed,
but most of all, for the One who was cast out and crucified!

We did not ask for this lesson,
but it was forced upon us.
It is our responsibility to stop and remember and learn.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls
. (Mt 11:29)

Lives are changed when they are touched by tragedy, and the greatest tragedy of all times is that the perfect Lamb of God died for my sin–tradedy turned to victory!