Don’t Forget the Milk!


I have fed you with milk, and not with meat:

for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

1 Corinthians 3:2

Milk and meat—Paul uses these two food groups to describe different levels of Biblical learning: milk represents the baby steps and meat, the larger lessons which require bigger leaps of faith.

So, what are the milk steps of faith?  Well, obviously, the Christian life begins with the step of salvation, and although it is the first step, it is by no means a small one!  Salvation takes a giant leap away from the world and puts the believer into a whole new world—God’s world!  Yes, this is my Father’s world, but the world system is certainly the devil’s domain!  Salvation puts us on a lifelong path with our Savior, Jesus Christ. But what are the other baby milk steps?  So glad you asked!

Baptism is the next milk-step, and it isn’t for babies!  🙂 Baptism is a beautiful picture of salvation.  When a pastor meets a person of faith in the waters of baptism, that person stands before the congregation demonstrating what Christ did for him on the cross: Jesus died, was buried, and then arose from the dead, hence the need of water!

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

Does a person need to be baptized in order to go to heaven?  I hope not, or Jesus lied to the thief on the cross!  You don’t have to be baptized for salvation, just for obedience! …  it’s God’s way, and His way is always best.

Church membership—it’s not a man-made invention; it is God’s plan as well.  Today, the trend is to throw out traditional “organized religion,” and I can understand why as I listen to some of the stories of what goes on in some churches.  However, as the old saying goes: You don’t throw out the basket of apples because of a few rotten ones!  Why be a member of a local, Bible-preaching church? There are lots of reasons: commitment, fellowship, accountability, obedience, but most of all—the love of Jesus Christ.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;

but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Why would believers want to yoke up with God’s children?  Well, they aren’t perfect, but as another saying goes: If you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it or it won’t be perfect anymore! You don’t have to join a church … but it’s God’s way, and His way is always best.

“Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!”  Milk.  Reading God’s Word is milk.  Talking to God in prayer is milk. They are both basic building blocks to having a successful Christian walk.  So often we try EVERYTHING under the sun to get close to God or to get answers to our problems except the one thing that really works: READ your Bible!!! Get your two best friends—a pen and paper—and dig in to the Bible!  Oh, it’s good stuff!  It’s the stuff heroes are made of.  And talking to God should be as natural as breathing.  The other day, I was putting away dishes and I almost dropped a glass.  The first words from my mouth were, “Thank you, God.”  Does He guide my hands even when drying dishes?  Well, if He sees the sparrow fall, I’d say, “Yes,” and “Praise the Lord!”

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?

and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  Matthew 10:29

You don’t have to read your Bible or pray … but it’s God’s way of communicating with you, and His way is always best.

Don’t forget the milk.  Heaven forbid that a Christian be lactose intolerant!!! A baby Christian is never born that way, but week after week of neglecting the milk can create this horrific situation!  Obedience … you don’t have to be obedient, but it’s God’s way, and His way is always best!

  Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the LORD?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22

What’s Missing?

I always loved these drawings that have subtle differences, and your task is to find them!  It reminds me of these two verses in Joshua, except the differences aren’t too subtle!

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you,

  • to love the LORD your God,
  • and to walk in all his ways,
  • and to keep his commandments,
  • and to cleave unto him,
  • and to serve him

with all your heart and with all your soul.:

Joshua 22:5

And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God

  • will we serve,
  • and his voice will we obey.

Joshua 24: 24

Do you see what is missing and what is added?  In Joshua 23 and 24, Joshua is giving the Israelites his farewell speech. He’s old and he knows his time has ended.  We often quote Joshua 24:15 and hang on our walls:

…choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

The question is not ARE we choosing to serve God, but HOW are we serving Him.  We want to be successful in our walk with the Lord.  We want to please Him, but so often, it just isn’t the case.  The world comes crashing in around us demanding our attention.  Good activities and programs seem impossible to ignore, even though we cringe and hate the fact that perfect attendance is required and their meetings push into Sunday and Wednesday night.

How can we do it?  How can we know that we are doing the right thing?  Well, I’m sharing this because it’s been so heavy on my heart, and the Lord has really been pounding me on it!

IT’S THE HEART! IT’S THE HEART! IT’S THE HEART!

Joshua is at the end of an incredible journey.  He knew slavery. He remembered the sting of the taskmaster’s whip! He SAW the Red Sea part and drank the sweetened waters of Marah.  He ate the manna and begged, cried, and wept when the other ten spies gave their evil report.  His heart ached for his leader as he watched him ascend Mt. Pisgah and gaze longingly into the Promised Land—a land he would never enter!

And now Joshua’s done.  Over and over, he urges the Israelites to do right, make right choices, have the right kind of heart.  And their response is this: We will serve. We will obey.  YIKES!  Something was missing!  Something very important: loving, walking, cleaving, and keeping!

Dear Christian, dear born-again believer, check your heart.  Without a whole-hearted love for God, service becomes drudgery and you may find yourself walking away from it.  Your walk becomes an uphill battle, and you don’t even understand cleaving.  Keeping the “law” becomes just that!  It turns into a bunch of “dos and don’ts” instead of a holy garment of praise.

Cleave – to cling closely, steadfastly, or faithfully to somebody or something.  If you have ever been a nursery worker, you understand cleaving, as you try to pry that child out of his mother’s arms!  He has a death grip on her clothing, and he’s not letting go—at least, not without a lot of kicking and crying!

How is my cleaving?  Am I holding on to God for dear life? It started with faith (Forsaking All I Trust Him). I may not have seen the yawning abyss at the edge of my cliff of pride or self-righteousness—the edge which dropped off into an eternal hell, but if I had, I would have clung or cleaved? or clove? or clave? to my precious Savior!

And am I still cleaving?  Is He so precious that I want Him more than anything else in this world?

Today, I offer you A Moment in Time for free.  What does that have to do with cleaving?  Well, I often shake my head in wonder and ask my daughter this question: Why did you and your brothers turn out?  Why do you love the Lord when so many pastors are losing their kids to the world?  She always says the same thing.  “Mom, you and Dad were genuine in your love for God and your service to Him.  It wasn’t just a show, but what Dad preached, you both lived at home.” Please know, it is not any credit to us, but all to the Lord!

The side-by-side drawings look so much alike, just like so many Christians.  They sit together in church, perhaps in the same class at the Christian school, but there’s something drastically different!  You may not be able to see the heart, but God does.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out A Moment in Time is all about “What’s Missing.” In it, you’ll find an all too realistic side-by-side-drawing:  One pastor’s daughter, Carrie Spangler, who looked the part, and another, Esther Fleming, who lived it.

Hidden Blessings

“Once I cut down the weeds, I found that the ground was red with wild strawberries.  I guess you’d call them a hidden blessing.”

As this dear man shared his testimony in Sunday school a few weeks back, my husband replied, “That will preach!”

Hidden blessings: How many blessings are hidden from our lives because of the weeds of sin that have crowded in and taken over the ground of our heart?  Jesus promises showers of blessings await the heart that is obedient:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;

and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6: 33

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents,

or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,

Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

Luke 18: 29, 30

And in the Old Testament, our heavenly Father also promises loads of blessings:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house,

and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven,

and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:10

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee,

if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 28:2

A faithful man shall abound with blessings:

but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Proverb 28:20

Does God hide or keep these blessing from us because He is mean?  Never. If you are a parent, you may understand this concept a little better.  You love to shower your child with blessings, but if there is disobedience in his heart and hands, the blessings stop–sometimes for correction, sometimes as instruction.  We don’t taunt our children saying, “I have this for you, but you are not good enough to have it.”  The blessings remain unseen until the problem is corrected; then comes the joy of pouring out the blessing!

God never dangles the reward before us like the proverbial carrot, bribing us to be good, because He knows the obedience will be for the reward and not for right.  Likewise, we would do well not to bribe our children for the same reason.

Hidden blessings.  It’s like a wonderful treasure hunt, seeking to do His will and searching our hearts for the weedy spots, so that we may please the Master.  I just finished weeding the garden…again!  It’s a lot of work!  I am always amazed at how quickly those nasty weeds show up!  If I don’t keep after it every week–what a mess!

Our hearts are even more susceptible to sin than my garden is to weeds.  Just as the roots of those weeds are hidden beneath the soil, the roots of sin run deeply in our hearts, part of our very nature.  All around us, the seeds of sinful thoughts blow, ready to take root at a moment’s notice!  No wonder we are told to “pray without ceasing,” and, like the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Ac 17:11

And then they come – the bountiful blessings from our God!  The blessings of the soul are much sweeter than fresh wild strawberries, and more beneficial than the freshest picked vegetable… “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10

Happy Mother’s Day

Okay, so I’m a little late!  Due to the Writing Process Tour obligation and our son’s college graduation, Mother’s day really got pushed to the back burner.

Usually, I would have all my kids home for dinner, but again, this year’s circumstances made that impossible as well; however, my cup was full of blessings on Sunday: Our oldest son preached on Hannah and did a wonderful job; All our children, including our children-by-choice (that sounds so much better than in-laws) sang with the choir; Our newly graduated son played the piano and sang a solo.  I was showered with gifts, cards and flowers from my children and grandchildren; and I laid my head on the pillow that night full of joy, offering words of praise to my gracious heavenly Father for giving me a quiver full of children who love Him and serve him!

How did it happen?  Why have my children “turned out right” and so many other have walked away from the spiritual teachings that they received from home?  People have written books on the subject of child rearing, so what do I know?  I hesitate to share anything!

As I read the note in my son’s card to me, a phrase seemed to rise to the surface like sweet cream atop fresh milk:  “I would often come out and see you reading your Bible or kneeling with Dad in prayer.  That was normal for me; but I realize that it’s not normal for most families.”

“…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)  I often think of a negative example when I read this verse, and certainly it contains a warning; however, the joy of this precious promise is true as well.  Is it possible that my actions concerning God’s Word have had an affect on my children?

If there is one word that stands out to me as a beacon on the high hill of recommended ingredients for parental success as Christians, it is obedience.  Perhaps you thought I would say “love,” and indeed, love is the oil that not only fuels the engine of mothering, but it also adds the patience and kindness needed to smooth out the rough places.  I suppose, for me, love is just assumed; however, when we love, we find obedience as natural as loving!

Obedience – do I obey the word of God?  Ah, you thought I was talking about your children’s obedience!  Children learn from our example, and nothing speaks louder than our own relationship with Jesus Christ.  If it is shallow or superficial, can we expect our children’s relationship to be any better?  And when they pass into those wonderful teenage years, the damage that is done by a superficial testimony is overwhelming!

Think about it: Your son grows up in the church.  He hears all the Bible lessons, knows the Bible heroes, and has been told to “read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!”  He comes home challenged to read his Bible, and you also encourage him to do so, but he never sees you reading your Bible.  What message are you sending?  As he gets older, more and more activities pull at him.  He has never developed that habit of devotions, you have never shared the blessing from your devotions with him, he sees no Biblical impact on your life, so he throws up his hands and says, “Whats the use?  This is nothing but a waste of time.”  And Satan is right there ready to catch him!

Ask yourself, “What needs to change in MY life to make me shine brighter?”  If you seek the Lord’s leading – coming to Him in honesty, ready to yield and obey – you will be amazed at what He shows you! The Christian life is a journey of constant change.  If we ever think that we have “arrived,” it will be a sad day!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4  AND, there is no greater disappointment than to see a child walk away from everything you hold dear! The greatest sacrifice you can make for your children is the sacrifice of obedience.

“That Still Small Voice” or “Lessons From a Trash Can”

One Friday, I was subbing as a secretary at our SMALL local  high school.  It was a bit of a hectic day which ended in a flurry of activity: One of the buses had broken down, which meant that we needed to keep the students an extra twenty minutes – on a FRIDAY!  However, “all’s well that ends well,” and by three-thirty, everyone was on their way home, except me:  I needed to stay until four.

I usually take along my thumb drive, so that if there is any extra time, I can get some of my paperwork done.  That day, I was very pleased with what I had accomplished, but I was looking forward to a quiet evening to finish proof-reading my next book.  What does that have to do with the trash can or a still small voice?

I am habitually forgetting something when I leave: my water bottle, my travel mug, etc. So, I was very careful to look around and gather all my things.  Five minutes before I was ready to leave, a call came in: This woman’s son didn’t get off the bus, but the neighbor children said that he was on the bus.  I’m not sure what she wanted me to do, but when the clock struck four, I was ready to be out the door!

I pushed in my chair and knocked over the trash can under the desk. Perhaps I am a bit too transparent – I really hate to admit this next part: I thought, the custodian will get it.  Nothing spilled out.  It’s not a big deal.  But, that still small voice quickly rebuked me, and as I reached under the desk to get the can, I noticed that my thumb drive was still in the computer!  Had I left it, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the work that I was dying to do when I got home.  (I have found that I could spend all day and night writing!!)

What a lesson!  What a rebuke!  What a time of rejoicing that my precious Lord was so piteous to me, a filthy rotten sinner!  It wasn’t that big of a deal – it was just a matter of doing what was right; and for that little act of obedience, God greatly rewarded me!

If we don’t listen to that still small voice in the little things, we will totally miss the two-by-four God is sending our way when we are bent on destroying our lives!  Never let Satan deceive you into thinking anything is too small to matter!  Others may laugh , but you will be blessed for your sensitive spirit!

 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:

but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverb 22:3

“That Still Small Voice” or “Lessons From a Trash Can”

On Friday, I was subbing as a secretary at our SMALL local  high school.  It was a bit of a hectic day which ended in a flurry of activity: One of the buses had broken down, which meant that we needed to keep the students an extra twenty minutes – on a FRIDAY!  However, ‘alls well that ends well,’ and by three-thirty, everyone was on their way home, except me:  I needed to stay until four.

I usually take along my thumb drive, so that if there is any extra time, I can get some of my paperwork done.  That day, I was very pleased with what I had accomplished, but I was looking forward to a quiet night to finish proof-reading my next book.  What does that have to do with the trash can or a still small voice?

I am habitually forgetting something when I leave: my water bottle, my travel mug, etc. So, I was very careful to look around and gather all my things.  Five minutes before I was ready to leave, a call came in: This woman’s son didn’t get off the bus, but the neighbor children said that he was on the bus.  I’m not sure what she wanted me to do, but when the clock struck four, I was ready to be out the door!

I pushed in my chair and knocked over the trash can under the desk.  Perhaps I am a bit too transparent – I really hate to admit this next part: I thought, the custodian will get it.  Nothing spilled out.  It’s not a big deal.  But, that still small voice quickly rebuked me, and as I reached under the desk to get the can, I noticed that my thumb drive was still in the computer!  Had I left it, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the work that I was dying to do when I got home.  (I have found that I could spend all day and night writing!!)

What a lesson!  What a rebuke!  What a time of rejoicing that my precious Lord was so piteous to me, a filthy rotten sinner!  It wasn’t that big of a deal – it was just a matter of doing what was right; and for that little act of obedience, God greatly rewarded me!

If we don’t listen to that still small voice in the little things, we will totally miss the two by four God is sending our way when we are bent to destroy our lives!  Never let Satan deceive you into thinking anything is too small to matter!  Others may laugh , but you will be blessed for your sensitive spirit!

 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:

but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverb 22:3

Meteor Showers of Blessings

What does it take for God to get your attention?  How hard must He urge you to listen to His call, and is there a direct correlation between our willingness to listen and a heart that is hard?  OUCH!

This week, my dear husband and I spent a lovely three days with our youngest son at a near-by state park – a favorite haunt of our family.  In fact, I’ve been going there for over forty years now!  (This age thing really creeps up on you!)

Hills Creek State Park is about forty-five minutes from Cherry Springs State Park which boast of having the darkest sky east of the Mississippi River; so, needless to say, we were really seeing some awesome sights.  Star-gazing is a family favorite, and Nathan and I really have had some wonderful times under the amazing starlit sky.  We got out the chase lounge and binoculars and just enjoyed the sight.

Sometime during the night, I needed to walk to the restroom.  We were in a little cottage which only had electricity and the restroom was about a hundred yards away, but I didn’t want to get up!  It was cold; there are wild animals out there (ferocious chipmunks!); and I was tired!

I tried to ignore the situation for about two hours and then decided I wasn’t ready for replacement bladder surgery!  As I got up, I heard Nathan call from the other room and together we headed out.  He had been out earlier and had hoped that I’d wake up.  “You should see the stars,” he whispered as we left the cottage.

After our bathroom trip, we decided to drive out to a less wooded area.  It was 4:30 AM and what a thrill we got!  We saw at least ten shooting stars, Venus and the Milky Way as bright as we’ve ever seen it!  I believe one little blur may have been the Andromeda Galaxy; whatever it was sure was a sight when we looked through the binoculars!  It will be a night that I will never forget.  (Of course, this mother’s heart is tucking all these treasured times away knowing very soon that this last chick is about to fly!  Boo hoo!)

So the point of all this?  God had a wonderful blessing planned for me, if only I would leave the warmth and comfort of my bed!  He nearly had to kill me to get me to move!!  Shame on me.  How often am I that way for the really important things – the spiritual blessings and experiences that He has planned for me: an extra hour in His word, a special meeting at church, an encounter with someone who needs to hear a word of testimony and I won’t even open my mouth!

We cannot see what God sees, so we walk by faith.  It’s a difficult thing at times.  The way just doesn’t seem to make sense.  All we see is disappointment and dead ends.  The way is dark and unpromising; but when God is pointing us in that direction we are fools not to follow!  Why can’t we trust the Creator of this universe to do what’s best in our little corner of it?

Two verses become the guiding lights that we need:  “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is so necessary in this very distracting world!  Take time to just listen!  And then remember James precious promise: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”(James 4:8)  The second part is necessary for a close walk with our God, but the first part is the precious promise.  If we are not close to God, it’s not God’s fault!  We’re often like the wife who complained to her husband that they didn’t sit close like they used to when in the car.  He looked over from behind the wheel and simply said, “I haven’t moved!”

So the rebuke for me is simply this: practice what you preach, Wanda.  We taught our children to obey “immediately, happily and exactly.”  I think the words of this old song say it best:

When the Canaanites hardened their hearts against God
And grieved Him because of their sin,
God sent along hornets to bring them to task,
And help His own people to win.

The hornets persuaded them that it was best,
To go quickly, and not to go slow;
God did not compel them to go ‘gainst their will,
But He just made them willing to go.

Chorus

He does not compel us to go, No! No!
He does not compel us to go.
He does not compel us to go ‘gainst our will
But He just makes us willing to go.

If a nest of live hornets were brought to this room
And the creatures allowed to go free,
You would not need urgings to make yourself scarce,
You’d want to get out, don’t you see.
They would not lay hold and by force of their strength
Throw you out of the window, Oh No,! 
They would not compel you’ to go ‘gainst your will,
But they’d just make you willing to go.

Chorus

When Jonah was sent to the work of the Lord,
The outlook was not very bright;
He never had done such a hard thing before,
So he backed and ran off from the fight.
But God sent a big fish to swallow him up,
The story I’m sure you all know;
He did not compel him to go ‘gainst his will,
But He just made him willing to go.

Chorus

When Moses was sent to lead Israel out,
To Canaan’s rich fruit-bearing land.
Resisting His Spirit they worshiped a calf,
But refused to obey God’s Command.
God did not compel them to go to the land,
Which with wine, milk, and honey did flow,
But fed them on manna for forty long years,
‘Till He got them all ready to go.

Chorus

When Balaam was sent to the Moabite king,
And wanted things run his own way,
His mule, ever faithful, spoke at the right time,
Made him willing God’s Will to obey.
God can use any man, since He used Balaam’s mule,
For He is Almighty you know;
He does not compel us to go ‘gainst our will
But He just makes us willing to go.