The Most Beautiful Sight (AKA When Satan trembles!)

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

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This week at our Mom’s Morning, several of the young mothers shared about their mornings—how they got up early (while it was still dark!) and had their devotions. Each one shared the precious wonder of quietness as they drew near to God before little feet began to patter. That is one of the most frightening things on earth in the eyes of our Archenemy. In fact, I can only think of one other thing that would be more frightening to him—fathers having their devotions!

These young women gather regularly to study God’s Word as it is expertly applied to parenting by Paul Tripp. (14 Gospel Principles That Can Drastically Change Your Family). They share their struggles and openly express their failures and shortcomings… and Satan trembles.

Raising children has never been easy. Every era has its own set of challenges. We recently watched a movie as children were pulled from their parents and shipped to another location because Hitler’s army was coming. I can’t even begin to imagine the heart-wrenching horror of having to do such a thing. Sadly, in my home state of Pennsylvania, we read once again about the unspeakable abuse of children in the Catholic Church. How do you parent through something like that? Michael Pearl states that “for the first time in the history of the world, Satan has mainline, 24-hour-a-day, intravenous access to the hearts of children… into the brains and hearts of children” (No Greater Joy, March/April 2018 p. 25). With the enemy’s ability to encroach our homes, we must be doubly on guard to protect and nurture our little ones!

But… there are parents who are fighting back! They are building a wall of protection for their children, staying alert to the strategies of a most artful and expert foe! They fill their homes with the sounds of God’s music. They faithfully come to church with their little ones. They guard the eyes and ears of those precious little souls who are in their watch care. But most of all, they are looking inward and allowing God to change THEIR hearts to be more like the Master, and that, my friend, is Satan’s worst nightmare! When moms make the effort to rise before their children to spend time in the Word, Satan trembles. When they not only read the Bible but apply it to their hearts and lives, Satan shrieks. And when they allow the Holy Spirit to use what they have gained from the Word to change to be more like the Master, Satan fumes. They whisper those sweet words of Jesus into their hearts and then into the ears and hearts of their children, and Satan flees! What a beautiful sight!

Are these moms perfect? They would tell you, no! Do they have perfect children? No again, but they are determined to what it takes to mold their children into soldiers for Jesus Christ, ready to do battle against the Enemy when it is time for them to take up their swords.

As Satan’s time of total defeat draws nearer he is ratcheting up his attacks. We can see signs of that everywhere, but I am so thankful for this next generation who are determining to “hold the line.” It truly is a beautiful sight!

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

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. James 4:7,8

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Press, follow… persecute?

 

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How is your “press” going? Are you “pressing?” I’m not talking about removing a wrinkle in your shirt—I’m talking about checking for a possible wrinkle in your life.

The Greek word for press is more often translated as “persecute” (24 times–the only thing I can figure is, if you are going to persecute someone, it says something about your dedication to a cause!), but it is also translated as “follow” or “follow after” ten times. (I’ll list some of those verses at the end. I thought they were very helpful. Comparing scripture with scripture is one of the best ways to study the Bible and gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.)

Philippian 3: 14 is the only place which translates the word as “press,” and the illustration which Paul is alluding to is that of a runner pushing himself towards the finish line. I’m not a long distance runner (unless you consider running to the mailbox 50 feet away as a long distance!) but I would think that the most difficult part of the race is the middle where you cannot see any signs of the finish line, and isn’t that where we spend most of our time?

people doing marathon

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So, that makes me throw out another question: Can you see the prize? According to Paul, the prize is not just crossing the finish line but a “high calling” or the race itself. Winning the race is not just a single moment of completion but the culmination of hours of running and training!  Commentator Albert Barnes puts it this way:

 

God has called us to great and noble efforts; to a career of true honour and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. It is a calling which is “high,” or upward—that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven. Compare Proverbs 15:24 (The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath), He has been summoned by God, through the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to secure the crown. It is placed before and above him in heaven. It may be his, if he will not faint or tire, or look backward. It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the exertions which a mortal can make even in the longest life. (emphasis added)

We all need to be “pressing,” diligently seeking to finish well. I’m not sure how that translates for you today. It may mean not hurling angry words at a clerk or fellow driver or thinking the worst of someone who chooses not to do what you think they should. OUCH! Or perhaps for you, dear mommy, it means showing patience to those little gems who are driving you crazy!! (Showing them patience does not mean letting them have their way, but guiding them in the right way with a right heart.)

Each of us has a race to run, and every born-again believer’s race should include a local church. OUCH AGAIN! (I’d better stop all the toe-stomping or no one will read my posts!) Seriously though, there are shut-ins, doctors, and other occupations that just cannot be in church on a Sunday morning but too often, we make all kinds of excuses for missing out on the best part of the week! Here’s the last question:

Can you honestly say that you are running your Christian race well and not be involved (concerned, occupied, implicated, immersed, enmeshed, entangled, aboard, participating, on the team, with us, on our side—all synonyms!) in your church? A very famous preacher said this:

Today thousands of local churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. They sit on the sidelines as spectators, and the body suffers. God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. He created you for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for you to do (Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.). Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.

I can certainly “Amen” that statement! Do you need to follow the Nike motto and “Just Do It?”

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

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

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Philippians 3:13-15

Here are some of the verses that use theGreek διώκω (diōkō) translated as “follow after:”

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (This verse actually had the Greek word in it twice.  I’m not a Greek scholar, but it looked as though you would say, “Let us, followers, therefore follow…”)

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

Phl 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after,  that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Do I Love My Mother?

Lovely-Happy-Mother-Day-2016-Wallpapers-PicturesThis is really a challenge to mothers. I’m listening to Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the main character just confessed to a friend that she doesn’t like her mother, never did. The following is an excerpt from the book:

 

“Why,”—she [Valency] had a desperate desire that Barney should know the worst about her–“I didn’t even love my mother. Isn’t it awful that I don’t love my mother?”

“Rather awful–for her,” said Barney drily.

The statement made me stop and think. Why was it awful for her mother?

Children come into this world with no bias, no presuppositions, no prejudices. They will become what God plans for their lives, and we have the opportunity to mold them. As believers, we desperately want our children to love God and desire to keep His commandments, so we take them to Sunday School and church.  We read the Bible to them, and most importantly, we live godly lives before them.

My husband and I have three grown and married children. All of them have this mindset, and yet they worry that their children will not embrace their beliefs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tell them that THEIR HEART’S LOVE AND PASSION FOR THE LORD is making all the difference.  Are my grandchildren perfect? Of course. J No, they are all little sinners, but to hear them talk about God already at a young age, and see their faithfulness to church warms my heart and gives me hope. It’s a reflection of what is happening in the home!

Will a child hate a sweet, godly, submissive, gentle, kind, caring mother? Most likely, no. Even in the trials of teen years, the stage will have been set for a loving relationship: communication is normal, reasoning is biblical, decisions are made together with the parents. There is little room for hatred.

In the book, Blue Castle, the reader can clearly understand Valancy’s dislike. Moms, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror and see what our children are seeing? Better yet, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror of the Bible and see what God sees?

Wanda!  This is not very encouraging for Mother’s Day! Oh, my friend, but it is! You can’t do this apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, coupled with a desire to change! I know a mother’s heart. What is most pressing on a mother’s heart? Hopefully, it is to please her Lord and Savior, but the close second is to raise her children right! Will you be willing to change to become a better mom? It isn’t easy! It hurts! It can be a lonely place until we get serious about the issues that are making it difficult for our children to like us.  They will always love us, but do they like us? Oh, the blessings will abound when we are willing to become more Christ-like!

Little by little, inch by inch.

By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.

Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps.

Little by little, inch by inch.

~ Ron Hamilton

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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

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

Our Heavenly Home

62aaee287cc77d7b5b870b3d60becf15Dorothy really did get it right—there’s no place like home!

Last week, we returned home after traveling nearly 2,500 miles, through nine states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota (our point of GREAT interest—but that’s another post!), Missouri, and Kentucky. What a wonderful country I am privileged to call home, and we didn’t even see half of it!! As the hills turned into rolling farmland and we crossed the Mississippi, I was amazed at the farms AND the flatness. I suppose I’ll always be a Pennsylvanian, but it was good to see another part of the good ol’ USA.

Home—what makes a place become a home? Familiarity, family, ownership, personal items? These may all be true, but the greatest ingredient needed to turn a house into a home is time. If you’ve ever moved from a home where you resided for a long time, you have experienced the uncomfortableness of newness. Where’s my favorite mug, my slippers, my toothbrush?!

Home—surrounded by all those people and things you love. I love to travel, and we’ve rarely been gone for such an extended time, but when we walked into the house, I was surprised at the overwhelming joy that flooded my heart! I was home, and I was so glad!

Just think of stepping on the shore and find heaven,

 Of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

Of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

Of waking up in glory and finding it home.

~ L. E. Singer

In the swirl of confusion and difficulties which crowd into our lives, what joy and comfort to know that one day, we will be truly home! Peace and safety, joy and rejoicing, a place filled with Jesus Christ and all that He is! Will it feel like home? As a born-again believer, heaven becomes home in the same way that a place becomes home—by spending time there. But, you may ask, how can I spend time in heaven? Bring it down to earth! Clip off the rough edges of your person—the words and actions which sprout in the opposite direction of Christ-likeness—and heaven begins to bloom in your heart and life. Train up your children to walk in the goodness of the Lord. Spend time with God’s children. All these things prepare us for that place called our heavenly home!  And the less “world” that you bring into your home, the more heavenly it will be! If you need a few more ideas, check out the wonderful words to this hymn:

Take Time to Be Holy

William D. Longstaff,

 

1. Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
abide in him always,
and feed on his word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
forgetting in nothing
his blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on;
spend much time in secret
with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
like him thou shalt be;
thy friends in thy conduct
his likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy,
let him be thy guide,
and run not before him,
whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus,
still trust in his word.

4. Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive
beneath his control.
Thus led by his spirit
to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.

 

 

The Saddest Verse in the Bible or Who Goes to Hell?

ID-100170122 Matthew 7:23:

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 This is not only the saddest verse in the Bible, but it is also the most frightening verse as well. As a point of reference, this chapter is part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Many had gathered there beside the sea to hear the Master, and Jesus talks about a lot of things: The Beatitudes, This Little Light of Mine, how to do relationships, how to worship, how to pray.  Chapter seven begins with “judge not” and includes the lesson on the mote and beam, and ends with the Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock, but sandwiched in between these two familiar passages  are these two verses:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (22)

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(23)

  • Who is saying this? Jesus
  • Where? By the Sea of Galilee
  • To Whom? His disciples and many of his followers AND TO US!
  • How did they react:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.(28,29)

I have to admit, when I first read this passage, I was shocked for two reasons: One, because the message was so strong, and two, I had never heard it before in my church, even though I was a regular attender and really paid attention. Think about it: have you ever heard your pastor preach on this verse?  Has he ever read it as part of the weekly New Testament reading? If the answer is “yes,” then you are blessed to be in a church that preaches the whole council of God; however, if the answer is “no,” you may ask yourself or your pastor why.

And here’s the real question: Who goes to hell? According to this verse, a person can be a pastor (prophesied refers to preaching the Word), an exorcist, or a person who does really amazing things in Jesus’ name! Jesus is not talking about a C&E Christian—someone who only comes to church on Christmas and Easter. He’s talking about a person who is really plugged in to “religion.”

Does that frighten you? Does it make you wonder about your own spiritual state?  It should, and that’s probably why Jesus said it.  He was talking to many really religious people.  They would make the average twenty-first-century church attender look like a heathen.  They knew how to “do God,” but something was missing.  When Jesus says, “I never knew you,” He’s not saying that He doesn’t know this person. He knows everyone and is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”2(Peter 3:9) He’s saying that this person is not His intimate friend. It’s someone who is busy about God but misses the whole relationship idea.

This is a real “heart-check” passage.  Don’t look to the other guy who seems to fit the bill, in your estimation: he’s all show and no heart.  He may indeed fall into this eternally fatal category.  But what about you? You say you’re a Christian, but is there any fruit to prove it?  You say things like, “I’m good, me and God, we have an understanding.” Yikes! Are you sure? I hope the understanding falls under God’s requirements, and indeed, He has requirements!

I suppose the real question can only be answered by you and God. Are you real? Is your love for Christ unfeigned, or is He just tacked on at the end of the day, like the idol worshipper who just wants to add Jesus to his god shelf.  Jesus won’t do that. You must tear down the god shelf (which, in our day can take the form of success, wealth, pride, sports, career, houses and lands… all those things that place such harsh demands all our time and attention!).  Only Jesus.  Jesus first. Jesus is All the World to Me…

Do you know Him?  Does He know you? If you have trusted Him as your Savior, your life will show it.  Others will know, you will know, and Jesus will know!  What a wonderful, peaceful place to be!

BUT, if this post causes you to question, perhaps it is God’s Holy Spirit knocking on your door. Get the answers you need. Salvation is available to all who will speak the truth in their heart. (You may need to check out What is Salvation?)

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