What Will Make the Difference?

ID-10068917Yesterday, we had a baby dedication at church for three new babies.  It’s always a beautiful service, full of meaning and commitment for the parents as well as the church family.

Today, we read in the news about a family of four in our dear state of Pennsylvania who were murdered: the daughter shot her mother, the son-in-law shot the brother, and the father shot the daughter and son-in-law.  So, all that remains is the father.  How could relationships go so wrong that something like this would happen?  In one moment, a man is watching TV with his wife and son; the next minute, an estranged daughter and her husband come to the door – and life is over for all but a father!

Two different scenarios, separated only by a few hours and one hundred miles, but oh how different the outcome!  Three sets of parents pledged the following:

1. In presenting your child(ren) for dedication to the Lord, do you confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Saviour?

2. In presenting your child(ren) for dedication do you acknowledge your duty to bring up this child in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

3. Will you present your child(ren) to the Lord by being faithful in personal and family devotions, the regularly and specially scheduled meetings of the church (in particular Sunday School) so that he/she will be exposed to the word of God that it might pierce his/her heart?

4. Will you dedicate yourselves with great concern to the presentation of the Gospel that your child(ren) may be wooed by the Holy Spirit at some point in his/her life to confess his/her sin and place his/her faith in Jesus Christ as his/her own personal Saviour?

5. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) to the Lord should He call this child into full time Christian service?

6. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) to the Lord should He call this child away from you to some foreign land for His service?

7. Will you willingly and unreservedly give your child(ren) back to the Lord should He call this child back to Himself in death as a child, teen, or young adult?

Will these seven commitments insure these parents that they will never have a child put a gun to their head? ONLY IF THEY PRACTICE THEM!  It’s easy to answer ‘yes’ to a list of questions; it’s another thing to put them into practice.  If there is one “most frustrating” aspect of the ministry, it is this: people want the results of God-loving, obedient, serving children, but they will not make the commitment necessary to accomplish the goal.

Why do I not lose weight – Because I do not make the necessary commitment to accomplish the goal.  For example, if I would count the calories and keep to the exercise program I WOULD lose weight.  How do I know?  Because I’ve done it before!

At times, we deceive ourselves in spiritual matters, convincing ourselves that they are different from physical matters.  How do we get God-loving, obedient, serving children – by leading them in our example.  “Just say yes!”  When God calls, just say yes, whatever the task, no matter how great or small.  It works!

My husband and I were thanking and praising God this morning for His hedge about our family.  There are times when I feel guilty for the blessing He has poured upon me; but may I say that GOD’S WORD WORKS!  The following is two quotes from a dear friend’s book, (Song for all Seasons – Wilma Sullivan pgs.37,39):

I’ve learned to say a little phrase that has helped me to turn over the control of things in my life to the Lord. It’s simply “It’s okay!”  “It’s okay, Lord, that that person doesn’t respond the way I want.”  “It’s okay, Lord, if I can’t buy that thing I think I need.”  “It’s okay, Lord that my plans for today must be cancelled.”  “It’s okay, Lord, whatever that group thinks of me.”  “It’s okay, Lord, that I can’t control these circumstances in my life.”  “You, Lord, are in control of all these things.  May Your will be done.” When I consciously and willingly respond in such a way, I deny my “self,” giving over my rights to God’s control.

 

God’s Holy Spirit does live in us, and by His power – not ours – we can habitually put to death the promptings of the flesh.  Our flesh cannot control our thoughts and actions unless we give in to it.  We must make the choice.  By letting Christ reign in our hearts, we can then claim the power of God to tell our old flesh to “drop dear” when it tempts us to sin. We can rest assured that, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9a)

Take the time to be holy – you will never regret it.  In fact, you will rejoice with your Savior and your children and children’s children throughout all eternity; and what’s seventy-odd years compared to that?!

Feeling Cheated?

 

59 ounces or 1.85 quarts – that is NOT a half gallon!  Argh!  First it’s the ice cream, now it’s the orange juice!  They are SO sneaky!  Just the other week, I thought I was getting a great deal on Breyer’s ice cream over the Wal-Mart brand because they were the same price only to discover that the Breyer’s was smaller!

Aren’t you thankful that…

The world may constantly change but He never changes.

Businesses may use “tricky” tactics to make more money,

     but Jesus continues to pay our whole sin debt.

Clothing styles may go out, but our God is timeless.

The eyelashes and cheese may be fake, but He is always uniquely real.

Time may seem to be going faster and faster, but He is eternal!

My strength fails, but then I rest in His Everlasting Arms.

Lies fill the air, but He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

So, next time you feel cheated when you notice that the sugar bag is only 4 pounds, look up into the face of your Immutable, Eternal, Everlasting, Priceless Savior and praise Him!

Yielding, Not Working

 

God does not tell us that we are workmen who are to use and manage instruments. Instead we are the instruments to be used and managed by the divine Master Workman who make us, and who alone, therefore, understands for what work we are best fitted and how we are best used.  The only thing the instrument can do is yield itself perfectly to the will of the Master Workman.  The Master surely knows how best to use His instruments, and it is plainly not the business of the tool to decide these questions for itself.  Neither must it try to help by its own efforts to do the work.

One absolutely necessary characteristic of a tool is its pliableness.  The moment resistance is felt in any tool, the moment it refuses to move just as the master wants, that moment it becomes unfit for use.  If I am writing with a fine gold pen and it begins to catch and sputter and move with difficulty, I will soon lay it aside and use gladly in its place even a stub end of a lead pencil if only it will move easily in obedience to my will.

 The strength of an instrument lies in its helplessness.

Because it is helpless to do anything of itself, the master can use it as he pleases.

                                  “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay,                                        and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” 

Isaiah 64:8

-taken from God is Enough by Hannah Whitall Smith

A Living Legacy

Photo credit: beinggreenDo you know the names of all your grandparents?  Could you name all your great-grandparents?  (Our daughter is named after two of her great-great grandmothers; however, after we settled on her name, we found out that my great-grandmother Jenny Zeafle’s real name was Sarah!)

I was asked these questions several years ago during a sermon, and the point was that most of us could not do the latter. That we don’t even know the names of people that are intimately involved in our being here really puts life into prospective!

I am frequently told that I look just like my mother.  What their actually saying is that we both look like Weebles – you remember those cute little short ROUND characters and their slogan: “Weebles wobble but they won’t fall down.”  (Unfortunately, the falling down part isn’t true, right Mom? :))

I often heard my mom talk about her grandmother and what a sweet lady she was.  I can believe it, because her daughter, my grandmother was a sweet lady and I can say the same thing about her daughter!  We all have characteristics that we have inherited: some good, some bad; some liked, and some unliked!  But this blog is especially dedicated to another legacy – a spiritual legacy.

Dr. Don Smith passed away this week, and for most of you, that name means nothing.  He was our pastor for six years – six very important years.  We were just beginning a new path and had lots of questions!  Pastor Smith shepherded us through those searching times, feeding us on the pure Word of God.  It was under his influence that my husband felt the call to the ministry. In a very real sense, we are part of his living legacy, as are so many others.  His life reflected what he preached from the pulpit.

If I could share just one sweet memory…  I was due any day with our first son, and it must have been that spurt of energy they often mention that happens right before delivery; because, that Saturday afternoon, I made a lemon meringue pie – Pastor Smith’s favorite!  I had planned to bring it to church the following day, but God had other plans!  Labor started about five o’clock that morning, so we dropped the pie off on our way to my sister’s house (who lived much closer to the hospital).  Why did I do that, because this man was much more than just a pastor!  People who live for God have such an effect on our lives!  They shine so brightly that we are drawn to their light, just the way a moth is drawn to physical light.

What is your living legacy?  Dear young mother, those precious little gems will be your living legacy.  Don’t be afraid to “cut” out the good in order that they will reflect the “True Light” with God’s best.  And they will also need to be “buffed” once and a while! Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Set them in a beautiful setting: surround them with godly influences (mostly your own!), and one day they will “rise up, and call [you] blessed.” (Prov. 31:28)

It’s not a hard task; you don’t need to be great or do great things – you just have to shine!

(photo credit: beinggreen)

Can You Shine in Spite of Heartache?

Is it possible to quantify what causes the greatest heartache?  Probably the first thing that comes to mind is the loss of a loved one in death.  They’re gone from us; and though we have the promise of seeing them again if they were truly blood-washed saints, it hurts not to be able to see them now and hear their voice.

Perhaps a close second is the heartache of rejection.  Whenever we give of ourselves, it is a dangerous occupation!  We serve, we love, we share a piece of our heart, and often the love that we give is returned to us.  Other times, it is not, or it is for a time, but then something happens – a disagreement, or a seed of discord is sown and then it’s gone. We spend countless hours giving of our selves only to be rejected.  It shouldn’t surprise us – isn’t that what our Master did for us?  But it still aches – to be rejected is one of the most difficult things of the ministry; and if you are not careful, your heart will harden and little by little, you will pull away – stop serving, and loving, and sharing.  How sad that is, because some innocent person misses out because of someone else’s selfishness.

And the greatest loss is the closeness that you feel when serving “in Jesus’ name.”  He knows, and that’s all that matters.  Just writing this has been such a help.  We can choose to dwell on the pain others have caused, knowingly or unknowingly, or we can focus on the incredible love of God!  He STILL deserves my best no matter the outcome!

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Refrain

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

There is a battle.  Just the other day I listened to a news clip on FOX news about Christianity dying influence in America.  The young pastor made several excellent points; but the one that really spoke to my heart was that as Christians, we are to be involved in other people’s lives.  It’s great to blog and interact socially on the internet, but there is nothing more effective than touching another life one on one.  A. W. Tozer made the same point in a message that I recently listened to on sermonaudio.com. Jesus was WITH people ALL the time!

And there’s the battle!  Do we need to be with people blinding them with the Gospel light?  No, this LITTLE light of mine – I’m gonna let it shine.  It’s a word in season: weaving our conversations with the Word.

Acts 4:20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” – This literally means they were “bubbling over” – like a boiling pot!  Oh to have that kind of walk with our Lord, that we couldn’t HELP but speak of Him and His mighty acts!  THAT would make a difference in America!