Category Archives: challenge

Posts that step on our toes.

Wanna Buy a Truck?

downloadThere’s been a battle raging for some time in Christian circles about the drinking of alcohol—I should clarify and say among born-again believers. It’s quite fascinating to me because I grew up in a home that had no alcohol in it, even though we faithfully attended a church that used wine for communion. (I take that back. Dad kept a bottle of whiskey for the cows when they got sick!) On the other hand, my husband grew up within the same denomination in a family that was over-the-top faithful but his father enjoyed a drink fairly occasionally.  In fact, as a boy, it was Tom’s job to bring the beer up from the basement and put it in the fridge.

We were both born-again later in life and, after we married, we were soon involved in an independent Baptist church. The thought of having alcohol in our home never crossed our minds.

BUT, the kerfuffle about drinking alcohol is alive and well and probably always will be. Here’s a thought:

A friend wants to sell you his truck…

“You wanna buy my truck?”
“Well, maybe.” You’ve seen the truck.  It’s not in great shape but you really can’t afford much else. “Is it in good shape?” you ask.

“Well…” Your friend hesitates a little as you both walk over to the truck. “You can see that there’s some rust spots on it but I’ve patched most of those.” The truck looks like a spotted elephant and you’re not sure if the truck was originally gray or if that’s all Bondo. “The brakes stick sometime and give out occasionally, but it’s never happened to me going downhill. There’s a little gas leak and the transmission has a few bugs in it. The right rear lights are out but that’s not a big deal.” He stops and hesitates.

You look at him doubtfully. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Well, somethings wrong with the steering wheel.” He chuckles.  “To say it pulls to the right is an understatement.”

Are you going to buy his truck? If you have any sense you’ll run in the opposite direction!

After Solomon gives instruction about gluttony, greed, and dangerous women in Proverb 23, he teaches about alcohol.

Who has woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, wounds without cause, red eyes—“they who linger long at the wine…who go in search of mixed wine” (Proverbs 23:29,30).

Solomon’s warning? DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT! It will bite and sting.  You’ll see strange things and say even worse. You will be out of control and, worse of all, you’ll go back for more (Proverbs 23:31-35).

Does the Bible forbid the drinking of alcohol? Not that I can see—it just tells you how foolish it is to get entangled into its web of woes.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging:
and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1

So…wanna buy a truck?

Lessons from Brio

51Q5LV7ahpLMy mother-in-law was Swedish and she lived her roots in her baking, nick-knacks, Christmas and even color schemes. Blue and yellow were her favorite colors! Even her pens came from Sweden, but one of our children was blessed every Christmas and birthday with Brio, the Swedish made wooden train track.

As I played on the floor with my grandson, putting together the track (or I should say, embellishing my son’s creation!) I realized how many lessons are in these little wooden pieces!

  1. They’re made of wood and they don’t bend! How often am I like that track, forcing MY way instead of being mold-able in the Master’s hand?
  2. Some are bent, and if you put all bent pieces together, you get a circle that goes nowhere. That’s a great picture of my life when I’m going my own way.
  3. Some are straight, but without the bends, my track will not be complete. God wants to take me on HIS path. It may include twists in a direction I don’t want to go!
  4. Connecting the pieces is not always easy! I need to get from one track to the next but the pieces don’t always fit! God’s plan includes pieces or people of all shapes and sizes! We’re not all straight pieces! It’s often that unusually shaped piece that is necessary to complete the course!

  As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. Psalm 18:30

Brio will break if it is pressed or pushed upon too hard. Then the piece may become unusable. That is not God’s plan for our lives! What is He doing right now in your life which may hurt or be uncomfortable or make no sense? Maybe you need to sit back and let Him plan the direction He wants to take your “track.” Believe me, His plan will be perfect and so much better than any we could come up with! Only God sees the beginning AND the end!

The Pot’s Prayer

woman making clay pot
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Thank you, dear Potter, for choosing this lump of clay. Thank you for molding me into Your creation. Your design will be perfect, completely according to Your plan. Thank you for Your tender touch. I know the push and pressure of your gentle hands will make me better—more of what You envisioned for me.

I’m sorry when the bubbles of my own sin mar Your ideal. Forgive my pops of anger, frustration, selfishness. and self-will. I’m sorry that they make You work twice as hard to create Your masterpiece. And I’m sorry when this clay has a mind of its own, wanting its own way instead of Your perfect one. You know all.  You see all. You’ve been there from the beginning and have already seen the end, so help me to trust You as I spin on Your wheel, for all I see is a blur.

I’m sorry for those hard lumps that stubbornly push to the surface and rip blemishes into my image of Your formation. Thank you for applying the Water and working so diligently to smooth the rough places. Only You can make them disappear. I spin in wonder and awe at Your amazing patience and perfect skill.

Oh, dear Potter, press me, push me, stretch me beyond my limits to Your possibilities. And when Your task is complete and the fires forever set me as Your perfect pot, please use me for Your purpose. Fill me with Your cool Water that I may pour it out in serving others according to Your precious will. I am Your handiwork. You have fitted me for Your use. I have no other purpose than to please You! Help me to make it be so.

 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter:
so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah 18:4

 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay:
for shall the work say of him that made it,
He made me not?
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it,
He had no understanding? 
Isaiah 29:16

Six Hours—When Time Stood Still

selective photo of teal cross decor
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The world may rush on by today not remembering why they have the day off, but Christians know, or at least they should. Good Friday—the day the Son of God died—is truly good because it was on that day that Satan’s chains of death were broken. All eternity hinges on this day—the day our sin-debt was paid for on that Roman cross!

The world may try to obliterate any remembrance of God. They even change the name of time itself from B.C./A.D. (Before Christ/Anno Domini, or the year of our Lord) to B.C.E./C.E., but the date itself cannot deny the fact that something extraordinary happened over 2,000 years ago. But why can’t we get it exactly right? Why must the calendar be adjusted every four years by including one extra day during Leap Year? Aren’t we sophisticated enough count our minutes and days to match the exact rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun?

Perhaps someday we will have yet another calendar which will accomplish the elimination of Leap Years, but as I was thinking about this extra 24 hours every 4 years, I did the simple math: 24/4=6. Six hours every year lost somewhere, but where?

Could it be that our wonderful, awesome, omniscient, loving God had us “lose” that six hours every year to remind us once again of Christ’s suffering on the cross? For six hours, Jesus suffered the agony of the cross, satisfying the sin-debt of every human being that ever or will ever take a breath.

Six hours when time stood still.

Perhaps in eternity, we will understand all that happened that day, but while here on earth, with our limited finite minds, we can never comprehend the enormity of that day. God, the Father, sacrificed His own Son—His Only Son—for His image-bearers, even though the majority of mankind completely ignore His greatest gift. Instead, they choose this life over eternal life, sin and death over forgiveness and life, anxiety over peace, sorrow over joy. But at any moment, on any day, anyone can receive that change by simply trusting Jesus to be his Savior! Suddenly, it all becomes clear. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, the lost sinner realizes his weight of sin and comes to the cross for cleansing forgiveness. At the foot of the cross, the burden is lifted! Hallelujah! No wonder it’s a Good Friday!

So, take a moment to be still today and remember the six hours when time stood still.

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. Mark 15:25

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matthew 27:46

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

“God, forsaken of God”

agony-in-the-garden-1-1024x768When we read of Jesus’ agony and prayer in the garden—the start of his passion (as Dr. Pettit points out in his message)—and then read of all the agony, sheer torture, grief, mocking, pain and everything else He suffered, I realize that only a god THE GOD of all gods could carry such a burden for each and every human who has ever lived or will ever live! Hallelujah! What a Savior! Is there any other god who sacrificed himself for his followers? Is there any other book which was written by the finger of God? Why would anyone follow any false religion?

So, the next time someone asks you, “Why would a loving God let so much hurt happen in this world?” Your answer could be the question, “Why would a loving God sacrifice His OWN SON, turning His back on Him in the midst of His greatest suffering (something He will NEVER do to any of His people) for me and you?”

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly:
and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:44

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm 22:16

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt 27:46

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53: 4-6

 

March 15

man riding boxer motorcycle on road
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—Matt.21:33-41 The Parable of the Vineyard

Characters in this parable:

  1. Householder/landowner—he planted the vineyard, put a wall around it, and dug a winepress and tower
  2. Husbandmen/vine-growers—the householder rented it to them
  3. Servants/slaves—householder sends HIS servants to the vineyard that THEY might receive the fruit
    1. Husbandmen took the servants and beat, killed, stoned them

(This action repeated several times)

  1. Son—sent by the householder

Spiritual application:

  1. Husbandmen kill him God is planting His Word into His people
  2. Pastors (Jewish culture: chief priests) are caring for His “vineyard”
  3. Pastors? As well?
  4. Jesus—sent by His Father in heaven.

Not sure who the husbandmen would parallel today. A church hierarchy where corruption is taking place or perhaps just a pastor and staff?

Jesus asks what the householder should do.

Their response: Householder should destroy the husbandmen and let out the vineyard to others which will pay the husband his due.

THEY KNEW THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THEM!!! And sought to seize him BUT feared the people!

It’s always helpful to look before and after a passage to gather more context. We just looked at the Parable of the Two Sons which basically teaches obedience to the Father. Tomorrow, we will look at Matthew 22, which opens with the parable of the king who is preparing a wedding banquet for his son. Friends, who were invited, make excuses why they couldn’t attend.

Does that shed any light on today’s parable? What is a parable anyway? Simply put, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus is constantly using physical examples to teach Gospel truths. So, today’s parable…

APPLICATION for me: Keep in the middle of the road.

I hear them angels calling loud:
Keep in the middle of the road,
They’s awaitin’ there in a great big crowd,
Keep in the middle of the road.
I see them stand ’round the big white gate,
We must travel along for we get too late,
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Right in the middle of the road

Refrain:

Then, children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right, don’t you look to the left!
But keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
(Keep in the middle of the road)
‘Cause the road am rough and it’s hard for to walk,
(Keep in the middle of the road)
I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair,
And I’ll keep on a-going till I get there
‘Cause my head am bound for the crown to wear
Keep in the middle of the road.

Come and join our weary band
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Cause we’re bound for home in the happy land
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Turn your back on this world of sin
Just knock at the door, and they’ll let you in
Cause you’ll never gonna get such a chance again
Keep in the middle of the road.

This world am full of sinful things,
Then keep in the middle of the road, oh yeah!
When your feet get tired, just put on them wings,
Keep in the middle of the road.

If you lay down in the road and die,
You can watch them angels in the sky,
You can put on wings and get up and fly,
Keep in the middle of the road.

` African Spiritual

 

Now, why would I say that? Well, the husbandmen lost sight of the goal: they were working for the King! They got greedy and wanted all the glory which was due the householder.

Ministry is not easy. Being a born-again believer who is sold out for God is not easy in any generation, and if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the right and get too caught up in some theological, denominational, or standard issue or more concerned about numbers or our reputation, which draws us away from the real goal—serving the King.  And if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the left and get all caught up in the trinkets and baubles that the world dangles in front of our noses at every turn and we’ll fall in that ditch and forget—we’re here to serve the King!

My husband and I have watched several TV shows lately that are centered around the White House. We often hear this statement: I serve at the pleasure of the President. I’m so glad I serve that the pleasure of the King of Kings! I’ll never fall in the ditch if I keep my eyes on Him!

The Most Important Parenting Verses in the Bible

bible book child christianity
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Deuteronomy 6:5-9

  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
  • “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
    • when you sit in your house,
    • when you walk by the way,
    • when you lie down,
    • and when you rise
  • “You shall bind them as a sign on YOUR HAND, and they shall be as frontlets between YOUR EYES.
  • “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Most biblically minded parents will be familiar with this verse.  It is a foundational truth which we have all studied, memorized, and heard taught and preached concerning parenting. It’s such a wonderful verse because it not only tells us what to do but how to do it.

  1. We are to “love” God,
    1. But Moses goes on to pen God’s instructions on accomplishing that. We are to love him completely, with every fiber of our being: our heart, soul, and strength. How does that look in a practical every day setting?
    2. God is ingrained into our hearts at salvation. He enters our lives because of the Blood of Jesus, washes away our sins and we are never the same from that moment on! Think about it! It’s the difference between a sparkling clean glass and one that has laid in the yard after being filled with a sugary drink. The world’s critters have used it. The world’s slime has grown in it. The world’s natural bent is to reclaim it. But then the Master picks it up and washes it clean, making it sparkle and shine—ready for the Master’s use!
    3. Because of that cleansing power, we aim all our strength at filling our hearts and souls with His purpose, and that life, my friend, will certainly look a lot different than the world’s version of living.
  2. We are to “live” God.
    1. There is no way our lives can be the same after God’s cleansing! Every aspect of living is touched and changed, and this change should be most evident with our children.
    2. TEACH them DILIGENTLY and TALK about JESUS! That’s what this verse says, but it is so important that Moses goes even further and gives us specific details on HOW that happens:
      1. When you are sitting in your house:
        1. You’re playing with your children and reminding them of God’s promises and commands (to love one another, understand sin, and love Jesus through their actions with others.) You’re watching TV and you are careful to not let anything tear down our Savior. THAT’S a fulltime job right there!
      2. When you walk in the way:
        1. You’re making dinner and you praise God for the beautiful, colorful vegetables that are going into the salad. You’re at the grocery store and God graciously puts the peanut butter on sale which just happens to be on your list and you thank God with your children. You walk in His creation and point out all of God’s handiwork. You give a Gospel tract and show Jesus’ love for others with your children and talk to them about it.
  • When you lie down:
    1. The last words of the day with your children and in your heart are about this wonderful God who loves us and wants to be near us, so much so that He put these words in His Book, the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).
  1. When you rise up:
    1. Before your feet hit the floor, your mind is already focused on your God, your heavenly Father, your Lord and Savior, and your children see it, hear it, know it, and long to emulate it in their lives.

Simple? Yes and no.  It’s simple because of the next two verses. God’s Word is everywhere in your life! It is as much a part of you as breathing! How does that happen?

Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow!

The hard part is making it a priority. Nothing is more important to you, especially as a parent, than imprinting God’s image into your life so that you can be an example to your children. Why is it so important? Believe me, as a grandmother, there is no greater joy than watching your grandchildren walk in the ways of God and watching your children work at making it be so!

Why is it so important? Because the eternal destiny of their little souls and perhaps the souls of following generations depend upon it! What an important verse! None is so full of challenge and blessing! Deuteronomy 6 is not about knowing the Bible or even teaching the Bible–it’s about LIVING the Bible!

 

 

At the End of the Day

 

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue
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I see a lot of people throughout the week, especially A LOT of kids. Why do they act the way they do? There are SO many reasons! When I’m dealing with a student who is having a grumbly day, I wonder what he/she faced that morning before coming to school. By high school, character issues are pretty well formed. What can possibly change a sullen student, or an obnoxious student, or a pity-party student, or a trouble-making student? Only Jesus!

Are you a parent? Are your children a blessing to you? Have you given them security even in the midst of trying circumstances? As a family, we faced several rough spots on this journey called life, but something that my husband once said really made the difference.  When I was in the midst of falling apart and I began to notice that my kids were a bit insecure, he said, “Honey, if they see that we’re alright, they will be alright.” He was right!

So what do we do when we’re NOT alright? Dear believer, you run to Christ!

I run to Christ when chased by fear
And find a refuge sure.
“Believe in me,” His voice I hear;
His words and wounds secure.

I run to Christ when torn by grief
And find abundant peace.
“I too had tears,” He gently speaks;
Thus joy and sorrow meet.

I run to Christ when worn by life
And find my soul refreshed.
“Come unto Me,” He calls through strife;
Fatigue gives way to rest.

I run to Christ when vexed by hell
And find a mighty arm.
“The Devil flees,” the Scriptures tell;
He roars, but cannot harm.

I run to Christ when stalked by sin
And find a sure escape.
“Deliver me,” I cry to Him;
Temptation yields to grace.

I run to Christ when plagued by shame
And find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case—
My Advocate and Friend.

Words by Chris Anderson
Music by Greg Habeggar
Reprinted with permission

I could have highlighted the entire song, but I tried to highlight our problems and God’s wonderful solutions. Life is hard! Satan is real and so are temptations and sin! But Jesus is greater than any trial, any temptation, and difficult situation. When you find yourself thinking that you can’t, remember: GOD CAN! If there’s one fight that’s worth fighting, it’s the fight for our kids! Don’t just give them over to this world’s philosophy! You will regret it for the rest of your life! When we step away from God’s Word, God’s church, and God’s people, we step out from under the umbrella of His blessings, and God promises to rain judgment upon those who forget Him. OUCH!

For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Romans 11:21

You may say, “But I don’t forget Him.” But are you honoring Him? Are you panting hard after Him, longing to know Him better? Do you regularly spend time with Him alone in the Word? Do you desire to be with His people? Or has this world pushed into Sunday AND Monday, and Tuesday…

Kids need to see an honest heart, no matter what the topic, but when it comes to our faith, Satan works overtime to steal our kids away through our less than honest ways.

LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.Psalm 15:1,2

At the end of the day—at the end of this life—I want to know that I did all that I could

  • To be right with God
  • To be right with my fellow man
  • To have done all that I could to draw my children and grandchildren and maybe someday great-grandchildren to walk close to their God
  • To have done my part in giving the Gospel

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?Ps 42:1,2

How about you? Any thoughts?

Lovely Childish Ways

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

sammy.jpgToday, I was once again reminded of this verse. We often think of its meaning for conversion, but perhaps we would do well to apply it to life! Become as a child—what does that mean or look like? Well, a little child…

  • Is completely dependent on his Father
  • Does not pay the bills
  • Does not plan the future
  • Does not buy the groceries
  • Is blissfully ignorant of all life’s trials. Mom may be secretly shedding tears of grief and anguish as a child chatters on about all that is important to her. (I wonder if my heavenly Father sometimes feels like this! 😦 )
  • Does not worry about problems
  • Smiles a lot
  • Enjoys simple pleasures
  • Does not expect great things
  • Simply trusts

That’s where I need to be. I’m not talking about shirking responsibilities or having my head in the sand, but there are so many disappointments that I cannot change, especially in the ministry.  I cannot make folks come to church, read their Bibles, make right choices, be unselfish, think of others or a whole host of other things that will help them to shine as they draw closer to God. All I can do is live it before them, pray for them, and perhaps give a word in season to them. How freeing is that!!! Sigh! Oh, how nice to be God’s child!

Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

~ Jean Sophia Pigott

Pornography—the Roaring Lion

Why would a fifty-nine-year-old pastor’s wife write about pornography? Well, it certainly isn’t a desirable topic, and certainly not one which I would choose to write about. But for the past two days, I’ve been dealing with messages sent to my blog which were links to porn sites. Did I look at them? Sadly, I was deceived by the first one, so yes, for one horrible moment I was there.

I remember a pastor preaching about temptation and saying that the first temptation is not sin.  It becomes sin when you return to the temptation the second time. When the second message came from another source, it looked very much like the first one. I debated whether I should look at it, and here’s the really frightening thing:  For one split second, I was curious. Me! How much temptation it must be for a young man! I was horrified that I was even tempted.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

This is not child’s play, my friend!

  • We need to be sober, or serious about this. The accessibility of porn is frightening!
  • We need to be vigilant—ever watching and on guard. Be sure there are safeguards on your electronic devices AND on those of your children! An innocent mind could be destroyed by one accidental click!
  • We have a dangerous, conniving, powerful, never-stopping adversary. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s commentary tells us that the word ‘adversary’ literally means “opponent in a court of justice.” Satan is constantly accusing us and building a case against us. He’s a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). This tempter counteracts and counterattacks the Gospel and everyone who proclaims it. If you are a born-again believer, you have a target on your back and so do your children!
  • He is a roaring lion. He is violent and has an insatiable thirst for the blood of his prey.
  • He walks about, roaming the earth with his minions.
  • He does not just want to chew on us, he wants to devour us! How? By entangling us in the many worldly cares and snares that we face every day!

Praise God for the next verse in 1 Peter 5: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (9).

There will always be an image in my mind of a photo that a boy thrust in my face as a junior high student on the bus on my way to school.  I was horrified that day as well. I never knew such things existed. Beware! The eye-gate is the place where Satan does most of his dirty work. Guard it carefully and protect your children and teens as well! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be enslaved to that sort of thing. Truly there is only one way of escape! Jesus Christ our dear Savior! Only through Him and His amazing grace and the power of His Holy Spirit can we steadfastly resist!

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. I Peter 5:10