So many good things

There are so many things I want to do in life, and so little time to do it all. There are many different career paths I’d like to take, hobbies and skills I want to learn, places I want to go, and things I want to see and experience. Each day my list of things I want to do is longer than what I can possibly get done.

Because there are so many “good things” that I could spend my time on, I have to be very cognizant of making time for the most important things.

Have you seen the illustration of the jar with pebbles and sand? Imagine that the jar is your life. The biggest rocks are the most important things in life, smaller pebbles are not as important but still very good and beneficial, and the sand is all the extra stuff that fills in the rest. If you pour the sand in first, then you will not have any room for the pebbles and rocks! But if you put the rocks and pebbles in first, then you can pour the sand in afterwards and it will fill in all the gaps.

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In other words, it is imperative that I make sure my big rocks are in the jar before I start filling in with sand. The biggest rocks for me are spending time with my family and teaching my children, spending time in God’s Word and prayer, and being part of a church fellowship. Smaller pebbles for me are exercising, cooking healthy meals, adequate sleep, having quiet time each day to reflect and ponder – still very needed in my life, but not as important as the big ones. Then the sand is all the other stuff – tv, facebook, gardening, traveling, reading, hobbies, and so on.

Notice here that the small pebbles and even all the sand particles are still beneficial, good things. I’m not advocating for making room in your life for any unfruitful endeavors or unhealthy leisure activities. Your rocks, pebbles and sand will be different than mine are, and that is fine and good, but all the things we are filling our jar with should be beneficial things.  And then out of those good things, we need to prioritize.

This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. Martha was busy busy busy with “good things”. She was rushing around trying to get some food together to serve Jesus. She had invited him in, so of course she wanted to serve him perhaps some tea and cookies, or maybe even a whole Thanksgiving dinner. It seems noble and good to serve Him some food. He is a guest in her home after all. But sadly, she missed out on the most important thing. Her day ended up being filled with small pebbles and sand, rather than a huge rock of the most important thing – sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Luke 10:38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I can relate to Martha in this story, because each day, there are so many activities clamoring for my attention. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness, and forget the most important things. It’s tempting to turn on my phone and check facebook “just for a few minutes” before reading my Bible (which just happened last week as you can read about right here). But if we spend time on our “sand” first, then what so often happens is that we end up filling up all of our time with sand and leave out the rocks and pebbles of the most important things. Facebook is not wrong to spend time on, but if it is taking the place of the more important things, then it’s got to get out of the jar until the rocks and pebbles are in place.

There are so many wonderful things we can spend our time on in this life. Good things, beautiful things, helpful things, fruitful things. But we must not fill our jar with so much sand that we miss out on the rocks and pebbles. Look at your life and consider your rocks, pebbles, and sand. Does your day reflect that? Are the most important things, the rocks, getting a prime spot in your day? Do you ensure the rocks and pebbles get time in your day, or is the sand filling up so much that you can’t squeeze the rock in?

Prioritize. List out your “to-do’s”. Make sure that the most important things get done before spending time on your not so important ones. Rocks before pebbles, pebbles before sand.

I will never have enough time on this earth to do all that I want to do. Too many places to go, things to do, ideas to explore. But I do have time for the most important things.

Mark 12:28-31: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Be fruitful, healthy, happy. And get those rocks in the jar first.

The hope of the future

We got some baby chicks and ducklings Thursday evening. They are just the cutest little things. Tiny, soft, curious, and cheeping continuously. Why is it that baby creatures of any sort seem to be so much cuter than the grown ones? It seems to hold true for all animals and even people too. There’s just something special about babies.

I think one of the things that draws us to little creatures and babies is the hope and eager anticipation for the future. When I look at a little chick, I can see the potential future – that this little chick will grow to be a hen who will peck around the yard and lay eggs for the family, or will maybe be a rooster who will greet each morning with a hearty “cock-a-doodle-doo”. That little duckling will grow up and fly off to a nearby pond to swim around and eat stale bread thrown by eager, excited little hands. IMG_6104

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It’s the same with our human babies – we see the potential of the future and wonder about who and what they’ll be. What color hair will she have? Will he like chocolate or vanilla ice cream better? Will she choose to be a teacher or an engineer? Will he enjoy basketball or woodworking? Who will she marry? How many children will he have?

There is so much potential, and so much unknown about who they will be. There’s a sense of wonderment and anticipation.

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However, once the child is big and grown into adulthood, then, well, we know pretty well what they’re like. They’re already what they’re going to be for the most part. There’s not much element of anticipation anymore. We know who they are, what type of people they are, what they have chosen to do with their life. Sure, they may dye their hair, or take up a new hobby, but for the most part they are who they are. There’s no longer much sense of wonder or amazement when they’re 40, 60, 80 years old.

The beautiful thing for those of us in Christ though, is that we do still have something amazing to look forward to. By the time we reach midlife, our course in life is pretty steady and unchanging for the vast majority of us. But the wonderful thing is that we still have eternity, another world to look forward to. This is one reason why those of us in Christ can live life with such joy! This earthly life is not all there is. This life with bills, sicknesses, hardships, is not the end. One day, we will have glorified bodies and spend eternity in heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ! Hallelujah, Amen.

We can still live with hope and anticipation even when we’re 90, eagerly awaiting the new life that we will experience after death. I know this sounds too good to be true for those who don’t know the Lord, but this is where I have found my hope, my joy. I can’t imagine going through this life thinking that what we see is all there is. How hopeless, depressing and bleak life without a future inheritance would be! But I live with joy because I know my future…and it’s not just what you see right now.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

These little tiny chicks we bought are adorable. And I can’t wait to see what color they’ll be and how big they’ll get, and whether we ended up with a few roosters in the bunch or not. And I wonder if the two little ducks will stick with the flock of hens or maybe branch out on their own to start their own little flock. It will be neat to see their future unfold.

And as for my sweet little children, I can’t wait to see what they choose to do with their lives on earth. There is so much potential with their whole earthly lives still before them. But even when they’re grown, and I’m old and gray God willing, we can all continue to have an eager anticipation for the future, knowing that this life on earth is not all there is. We can know and trust that there is something much grander, much more beautiful than this current life.

And because of that hope, we remain joyful, eager, fruitful, happy.

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Praying for your Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Speaking of love, I think that one of the most loving things we can do for someone else is to pray for them.

I aim to pray for Wade every day. In fact, I consider it a large part of my ministry.  I fail at it sometimes when I get too busy, but I am designed to be his helpmeet, and one of the best ways I can do that is to pray faithfully for him. I have seen amazing things take place in the heart and mind of my dear husband and I imagine that it is at least in part due to my many prayers for him.

(Oftentimes I start to feel like I don’t have any “ministries” to be involved in – a common thought among homeschooling moms I think – , but this is just a lie – I am a wife and mother! These are ministry positions!).

As for resources, I love Stormie Omartian’s book “Power of a Praying Wife”. It’s a great book to help guide my prayers – to give me something specific to focus on in my prayer instead of just praying generally for him. And for an old-school, mind-blowing book on prayer in general, I highly recommend “With Christ in the School of Prayer” by Andrew Murray.

Finally, I came across this list a couple weeks ago in an email group I belong to and wanted to share with you. Print it out and commit to pray for your husband! It is worth your time and effort!

31 Days of Prayer for Our Husbands

1. That he might become a holy man, a man of prayer, mature in the Lord,
growing in his knowledge of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Colossians
4:12, Ephesians 1:18-19, 3:16-19, 6:18

2. That he might grow in all 11 descriptions of a man who will not be
shaken as listed in Psalms 15.

3. That he might be a man of contentment as seen in Proverbs 15:16,
Philemon 4:11, 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Hebrews 13:5

4. That he might learn to take every thought captive, to not be
conformed to the world’s thinking and to think scripturally.
Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5

5. That he might daily seek God with all his heart, walking in the
Spirit moment by moment, growing in his dependence on Him.
Psalms 119:1-2, Proverbs 3:5-6

6. That he would ever be captivated by my love. Proverbs 5:18-19

7. That he would be a man of courage. Deuteronomy 31:6, 2 Chronicles
19:11

8. That the Lord may give him wisdom to lead his family physically,
emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Ephesians 1:17-19

9. May he always see the plank in his own eye before seeing the sawdust
in another’s. Matthew 7:3

10. That he might become a called man, not driven, with well thought
through and prayed through goals in life. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

11. That he might be a man of prayer, guarding his heart and mind,
putting into practice what he has heard, seen and learned. Philemon
4:4-9

12. That he might stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist
Satan in all circumstances.
Ephesians 6:10-18, James 4:7

13. That he might grow in spiritual maturity by putting away childish
things, cultivating, understanding, striving after the Christ ideal,
partaking of the deeper truths of the gospel, and overcoming temptation.
1 Corinthians 13:11, 14:20, Ephesians 4:13, Hebrews 5:14, 1 John 2:14

14. That he might make me holy, cleansing me by the washing with water
through the Word. Ephesians 5:26

15. That he would learn not to depend on his circumstances for happiness
but on God alone.
Habakuk 3:17-19

16. That he would be a man who enters into spiritual warfare. Ephesians
6:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:8

17. That he might have new strength in the midst of his busy schedule
and that the Lord would infuse him with his strength.
Isaiah 40:312, Ephesians 3:14-19

18. That he might have a bruden to see lost people come to know Jesus
Christ as Lord and Savior. Matthew 28:19-20

19. That he would be kept from strange women and evil men and that his
friends would be men and women who walk with God. Proverbs 13:20

20. That his self image might be a reflection on the Lord’s thoughts
toward him. Ephesians 1:17-19, Romans 12:3, Psalms 139

21. That he might be a man responsible for family spiritual growth.
Proverbs 4:1-14

22. That he might not be deceived into unbelief, sin or bitterness.
Matthew 13:8-10

23. That he might learn to love as God has commanded. 1 Corinthians
13:4-7, Romans 12:8-10, Ephesians 5:25

24. That the fruit of the SPirit might be exhibited more and more in his
life. Galatians 5:22-23

25. That he might grow in humility and being a shepherd. 1 Peter 5:2-6

26. That he might grow daily in character. 2 Peter 1:5-8

27. That he might keep a clear conscience. 1 Peter 3:16-18

28. That the Lord might protect him, guarding his course. Proverbs 2:8

29. That he might learn to manage his time well. Ephesians 5:15

30. That the Lord would put a song in his heart. Psalms 33:3, 40:3,
Job 35:10

31. That he may have a holy fear of the God. Psalms 34:11, 111:10,
Proverbs 9:10

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Catalogs and Coveting

Do you struggle with discontentment or coveting?  Maybe you don’t – and just maybe this post is  me preaching the truth to myself 😉

Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I find that in my life, I don’t have too much of a problem with coveting or discontentment  unless I open up a catalog or magazine or start browsing around on Pinterest.  When a clothing catalog comes with the new season’s clothes, I want a new outfit so much! “Just look at how awesomely cute that suede skirt is! And that denim blazer! With the ivory turtleneck sweater! Ooooh, and I could wear my brown riding boots with it. And I already have that turquoise necklace I could wear with it! I just have to have it!”

Ten minutes prior, I was perfectly content with my wardrobe. Now I suddenly need to spend “x” amount of dollars to be happy.

Maybe it is a Southern Living magazine with a beautiful living room, perfectly decorated. “ooh, those lamps would look perfect in our house!” Or those Pinterest photos of bathroom remodels. “those countertops! beautiful! And the custom rough lumber cabinets!”

To be blunt, it’s a sickness to the Christian soul. God does not want me to be discontent or to covet. He has blessed me with what I have. And He has given me what is best for me. And so when I sit around wishing I had something different….. well…. That’s pretty ugly. It’s saying to God “what you have given me is not enough”. That’s really ugly.

And so how do I combat this? For one thing, I avoid looking at things that will tempt me to covet. I throw away the catalogs when they come. I don’t open the emails notifying me of the weekly sale at a shopping website. I avoid browsing around on Pinterest.

And then I saturate myself with Scripture. And consider all the blessings He has given me.

And the truth of the matter? God has blessed me way beyond what I deserve. So I don’t need to be wasting my time wanting something “cute” to wear.

Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Shades of Grey

Unless your head has been in the sand lately, you’ve probably heard about the new movie (based on a bestselling novel) called Fifty Shades of Grey. I have not read it or watched the movie. And I definitely don’t recommend that you do either.

Basically it is an erotic story of an unmarried couple practicing explicit bondage, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. It’s not just about sex. It is certainly not about romance. It is about emotional abuse and sexual violence. And if my facebook newsfeed is any indication, it is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year.

Now I am not passing judgment on non-Christians. If you are reading this and you are not a Christian, I am not talking to you.

But, my sisters and brothers, if you claim to be a follower of Christ, I am talking to you.

I saw this headline today: “Bible Belt excited for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’” – the states in the Bible belt are hugely surpassing pre-sales from what was anticipated.  What a disgrace. This is just laughable, an invitation for mockery from the unbelieving world.

Sisters, brothers, here’s what I have to say on the matter: there is no shade of grey when it comes to sin. Look at this color shade chart.

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Imagine that the white side is 100% good. The black side is 100% evil. So does that mean the shades in between are okay to dabble in?  Does the Christian have any liberty to be prancing around in the grey areas?

Either something is 100% true, good, and pure OR it is evil. There is no continuum or shades of grey between evil and good. One tiny step towards the dark side is evil. If something is only 99.9% good, then it is sinful and evil. There is no room for compromise.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 – Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 – Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Ephesians 5:8 – For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Ephesians 5:11 – And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

I’m sure there are more verses. But you get the point. Don’t flirt with the dark side. Stay far from it. One step away from the pure white and you are into enemy territory. Do not step out of the safe zone. Don’t be enticed towards the lightest shade of grey.

Don’t play that game.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Natural living and the Christian life

Many times in the church world, people like myself who adhere to natural living, herbal medicine and so on, get wrongly accused of being “new-age” and some even liken it to witchcraft hocus-pocus.

Many of my Christian friends think its just a little bizarre that we eat no sugar and negligent that we don’t run the children to the doctor when they get sick. And a waste of time to use food, vitamins, and herbs to heal our bodies instead of getting a quick fix in the form of a pill.

But to us, healthy natural living is an integral part of the Christian life. Why?

One – God wants us to take care of our bodies because our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (God lives IN US!) 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says this:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

So by eating healthy nourishing foods, maintaining optimal vitamin levels, getting adequate rest and exercising, we are promoting health in our bodies. We will also be more effective in our service for him. It’s hard to be in service to the Lord if we’re not giving Him our best – if our brains are altered by sugar, we’re not giving Him our best.

Your Brain on Sugar: Research out of the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that sugar forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane and compromises nerve cells’ ability to communicate. This could have repercussions in how well we remember instructions, process ideas, and handle our moods.

If we’re eating typical American food, laden with additives and preservatives, we’re not going to be giving God our best. Read more about that here: 5 Common Food Additives That Are Toxic to Your Brain

Also, if our bodies are overweight and sluggish then we are not glorifying Him with our body. We can’t serve him well if we don’t have the energy to get out of bed! Exercising or active lifestyles will keep our bodies healthy, ready to serve. Getting adequate sleep will give us energy and clear, sharp minds. So our goal in healthy living isn’t merely to “be healthy”, but it is to more effectively serve the Lord and to glorify Him in our nutrition and lifestyle choices.

(I have seen others go too far and become “health nuts” – being healthy becomes an idol for them and is their main focus in life. This is obviously not what I’m advocating.)

Two- God has given us amazing immune systems – bodies that are self-healing. If we have healthy functioning body (see point one above), then the vast majority of the time, our bodies will heal themselves! Its true! But, if you are eating sugar, it probably won’t heal itself .

(From www.askdrsears.com) Excess sugar depresses immunity. Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body’s immune responses. Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria…..The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.

If you are chowing down on junk food and the typical American diet instead of nourishing, real foods, then no, your body probably won’t self-heal.

“What we eat and drink and how we live are key factors in keeping our immune system running at optimal capacity. Recent research on the immune system has demonstrated the importance of vitamins A, C, and E and the minerals zinc and selenium. Vitamins A, C and E are important for the formation of white blood cells. Selenium stimulates formation of antibodies to combat viruses and bacteria. Zinc stimulates the “killer” cells that search out and destroy harmful viruses and bacteria.

We make choices every day that affect our immune system and our health—the foods we eat, the exercise we get (or don’t get), the nutritional supplements we take….Bad choices weaken our bodies and our immune systems while good choices strengthen our bodies and our immune systems. (www.naturalhealthschool.com)”

Three: Being healthy saves oodles of money that can then be spent on spreading the gospel and feeding the hungry. Americans spend 3.8 Trillion on healthcare according to Forbes. 3.8 Trillion in a year! Folks, there’s just something disgustingly sick about that. Imagine the good that could be done with all that money! Our money is not our own to do what we’d like – it is God’s money and we are merely His managers. Are you spending your money in a God-honoring way? Are you spending His money on food that promotes your health, or wasting it on junk that makes you sick that leads you on a road to doctors and prescription drugs?

Now we’re not against doctors and prescription drugs when needed  – there are situations where there is just no other alternative. But this should be the rare exception, not the norm.

Four: He gave healing, medicinal plants. There are so many herbs available that can help heal your body, but don’t leave us with the unfavorable side effects of the drug industry. And they just grow! Here on the earth! No chemist involved with the production of them. And they are much cheaper than prescription drugs. So why should we jump so quickly into using man-made drugs when God has provided herbs to heal our bodies? Instead, take some time to learn more about using herbs for healing. Now, you have to understand though, herbs probably aren’t going to help you much if you aren’t adhering to points one and two above. So, yes, it does seem “easier” to just take a pill and carry on with your sugar highs and pizza pockets. But consider the following.

The pharmaceutial industry is a huge money-making industry. Is their goal to make you healthy? I hope you’re not that naive. They would love for everyone to be on daily maintenance medication. And then you’ll need a second medication to counter-act the unpleasant physical side effect of the first medication. And maybe even a third medication to counter-act the emotional/mental side effect of the first drug. And now there are side-effects to drug 2 and 3 to deal with too.

Need more to convince you to stay away from pharma? The Greek word “pharmakia” is where we get our English word “pharmacy” from. It literally means “drugs”, and is translated into our English Bible as either “witchcraft” or “sorceries”. It appears five times in the New Testament: in Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15.

Now, I realize that some of you have serious health issues where you really need your prescription drugs in order to live. But are you also building up your immune system and promoting a healthy lifestyle in hopes of coming off the pharma? Are you doing everything you can to help heal your body? Or have you just accepted the pharma as an easy fix to your ailments? There are MANY examples of people who were on daily maintenance medications who were able to come off of them once they started eating healthy and exercising.

 

So, in conclusion, are natural living, herbal healing, and real food diets just a new-age fad? We don’t think so. To us, we see it as a way to bring glory to God and to be more effective in our service to Him.

Working for the Lord

Do you sometimes feel like your job is not important? I think many Christians feel like they are just putting in hours at the office, while the pastors and missionaries are doing the actual “important” work. All they are doing is answering phones as a receptionist, or taking orders at a fast food restaurant, or plugging numbers in the computer.

Or maybe, like me, you are at home all day long tending the house and children, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, washing clothes. All while other people get to go out into the world, interacting with the world, sharing the gospel and doing the work of Christ.

But this is faulty thinking to assume that one position is more important than the other. As long as we are working for the Lord Jesus and following Him in obedience, then whatever we are doing, we can know that our work is important to Him.

Here’s a great quote from Martin Luther that sums it up:

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.”

So tomorrow when you wake up, have a new perspective. You are on assignment from the Lord. You are working for Him. And your work, whatever it is, is just as important to Him as anything else.

Colossians 3:23-24 : And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.