Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

The house is quiet. Not even the slow drip of the icemaker in the fridge interrupts the silence. There was a time when I longed for quiet, but not today. Today, I am alone with my thoughts and I do not feel as if I am among friends. My anxious glance evaluates the room and drops to the floor. I notice the carpet might benefit from a brief relationship with the vacuum cleaner. The crumbs will still be there tomorrow, convicting me of a wasted yesterday. I wonder sometimes if I have a purpose beyond the walls of this house. Today I wonder. I wonder if my life makes a difference at all.

Oh, sure, to my family and some friends I matter. But when the house is quiet and there is really nothing pressing to do, this suburban housewife does not seem to have purpose. Well, I should probably clarify. The cold hard truth is that beyond the temporal, purpose is fleeting for any human existence. I cannot create nor sustain my own existence. Every breath is predetermined by some elusive power of Whom even the most brilliant of beings cannot fathom. And, yet, I breathe . . . in and out . . . day after day.

These are not the ramblings of a depressed woman . . . maybe an introspective student . . .  or an invisible mother, perhaps.

It is Christmas. I imagine the day after Thanksgiving, there must be a grand director who announces from the ecumenical throne, “Lights, camera, action!” and myriads of trained players upon the world stage scramble to play their parts. I don’t feel like playing today. The house is decorated in fashion with the Biltmore with three full sized Christmas trees this year and three inflatable animatrons entertaining on the front lawn and competing with the neighbor’s. Yes, we’re doing Christmas Texas style this year . . . big and gaudy. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that there seems to be something missing . . . something important.

Twice in the gospel of Luke there is reference to a pondering mother of Jesus. However, Mary is not wondering about her own life, but of the life and purpose of her son.

Every mother has a colorful birth story to tell, but none involve visits from angels and shepherds as for this 15 year old new mom. Mary considers the grand entrance of God’s son into the world in Luke 2:13-20.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14    “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Then again as Jesus grows and his passion for truth and his devotion to God is revealed, Mary considers the gradual revelation of his purpose in Luke 2:41-52.

41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

I try to imagine myself as Mary, watching the Creator of life grow in wisdom and stature from human child to man. I imagine the heart wrenching cries of a mother witnessing the cruel crucifixion of her first born.

And then it hits me…

I know it is not the first time I acknowledged this truth, but I have renewed clarity…a purification of sorts. My purpose is tied to His. I have purpose because He gives me value. Every breath I breathe is for His glory, not mine. It is as if someone lifted a weighty burden from my heart and mind. I am free!

Do you know what it is to be free? Try this, imagine yourself at the foot of the cross at Calvary witnessing the death of the most significant person ever to walk this earth. All of the major traditions of man recognize His existence and significance. Imagine His blood falling in droplets on the hair upon your head. Imagine His loving glance and His voice above you pleading, “Father, forgive them.” Now, is it possible for you to walk away unchanged?

Even vacuuming the floor has value when it is done for the glory of God.

(I wrote this last year and for some reason never published it. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.)

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 I have been alone with my thoughts more than I care to be. This reminds me of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces where Lauren Bacall (playing Barbara Streisand’s mother) after a sleepless night comments to her middle aged daughter, “It’s awful to leave a woman my age alone with her thoughts.” The inference to age aside, I am realizing that when left alone I seem to default to fault-finding introspection.

I have more time on my hands recently since I am between Seminary courses right now. I love my classes, although I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of my peers now that we moved half-way across the country from my school…again. Southern Evangelical Seminary is my third college to attend because we have moved so much due to my husband’s career. I have 110 hours toward a business degree and am about 11 courses short of completing my Biblical Studies degree. Studying as an external student is isolating, almost as much, I remember, as being a stay-at-home mother of four preschoolers.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE learning! I have over 600 books on my computer (many are reference books), but I could read a book every day for 200 years and still never satisfy my insatiable appetite for knowledge. Makes me sound smart and perhaps in some circles I am, but the more I learn, the more pitifully inadequate I become.

I say all this to culminate with this confession; I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sounds juvenile and pathetic, I know. And I am quite embarrassed at the acknowledgment of said fact; however, this undeniable observation is the elephant in the warehouse of my thoughts. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years now, and, by God’s grace, I do not have to work. This I recognize as a beautiful blessing, as I am unhindered to fully invest in my family. But still, a small part of me wants to do more—to be more. And that small part is getting louder with every day that passes.

Is this the equivalent of my husband’s mid-life crises? I hope not, because we don’t have enough room for all of Jim’s accumulated toys in the garage for me to add to the stash. I do sense an emerging desire to DO something rather than HAVE something. Everywhere we have lived, God has placed successful Christian writers and speakers in my life and many have encouraged me to pursue the same occupation. I have considered this many times, but (and here is the darkest thought that keeps occupying my mind)… I am NOBODY. I fully believe that I have nothing of value that would be of any help to anyone.

But maybe that is not an ominous thought after all…

Maybe it is essential for a simple clay pot to realize it is a simple clay pot. Apart from Christ I am nobody and can do nothing of eternal value, and perhaps that is the most proficient knowledge of all. To be content as a clay pot is liberating, to be satisfied as a clay pot is condemning. So I shall feast my mind’s eye on this: Let every breath glorify my Savior even if my service never seems to reach beyond the four walls of our home.

I foolishly believed that enduring a plethora of humiliations at Walmart at the less than stellar behavior of my children, that I have emerged a humble woman. But, no, I could still be accused of secretly desiring glory for myself. While there may be some substance to that accusation, I really just want the approval of my Father. I just want to please Him and I think we all make the mistake of confusing the praises of the world as the praises of the Father.

God can be glorified whether I am scrubbing toilets, teaching a precept to my son at the dinner table, reigning on the Best Seller list, or speaking before an audience of thousands. Loving the Lord faithfully should consume my thoughts and my actions even when no one is watching. I may never enjoy the praises of the world, and I can be content with that. I would much prefer the praises of my Father.  My purpose is not to draw attention to myself, but to draw the attention of others to Christ. Perhaps one day something eternally exquisite will arise from the confines of this simple earthen vessel. When that day comes, to God be the glory!

  14     What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15     If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16     and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17     Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18     But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Jas 2:14-18.

One cannot have faith without works anymore than one can have love without mercy. Why do you get up in the morning?  Because the baby is crying? Because someone has to pay the bills?  Because you have a “to-do” list the length of your arm? When love motivates me, my whole attitude changes. The day is no longer about what I have to do, but what I get to do. I get to serve my family, I get to provide for my family, I get to breathe another day.  Faith and works, mercy and love all produced by grace bring glory to God. Make Lamentations 3:22-24 your prayer today and let Him be the reason you get up in the morning.

  22     The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23     They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24     “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” La 3:22-24.

This is a Call to Arms for mothers everywhere.  Satan’s time is short and he has declared war on your family.  He is successfully enticing Christian mothers all over the world to sin.  One thing is evident:  Godly mothers do ungodly things.  Oh, you already knew that?  Are you living evidence of that fact?  You bear the image of a Holy and Righteous God making you the target of an merciless and ferocious enemy, hell-bent on destroying you and all that you hold dear.  But Mom, it is you who are called to be the defender of your domain!  What hope do you have? What hope does your family have against this prowling lion? 

 

Feeling singled out? That is what the enemy would want you to believe, but you do not suffer alone.  1 Pet 5:9 says your sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same type of suffering.  There is a strange comfort in cooperative oppression.  Other moms struggle with anger, a vicious tongue, and secret sins that we do not dare utter.  You never speak of the sins committed in your most hideous and ugliest moments, keeping them secret even from the Lord–or so you convince yourself.  My dear sister, that silence holds you captive.

 

In Rev. 12:11 John says the Saints overcame Satan by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. That is good news and bad news for us. The good news is that Satan cannot do anything about the blood.  You are living post-resurrection.  You are a receiver of grace, no longer an object of wrath and judgment – signed and sealed by the Lamb of God.  Just as God demonstrated at the first Passover, the blood of the lamb has been painted on the doorposts of your soul and neither Satan nor his demons can enter in.  You are a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The bad news is that although our adversary cannot control you from within, but he can and does try to control you through your circumstances.  Since he is defeated by the blood, the only strategy he has left is to influence your word, your testimony.  So you lose your temper, you react; you lash out and punish the people you love for making you angry.  Sometimes there is not a hint of love on your tongue — only the poison of sin.  Is that your testimony? Dear one, this is not a testimony that overcomes.

 

When was the last time you were really honest with yourself about your life, your lifestyle. When was the last time you took a really hard look at yourself, a moral inventory if you will? Most of us avoid such an uncomforatble introspection, some tragically live with a lifelong avoidance of the truth. But you and I need to face the truth before our holy God if we want to render the enemy defenseless. Don’t hide, don’t deceive, but bare your soul before God.

 

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of sexual misconduct during the election for the Governor of CA, he did not take his queues from Clinton.  We can all picture the past president wagging his finger at the camera and adamantly stating, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  And the ramifications of his sin went far beyond Bill and Monica, casting our entire nation into a cesspool of international shame.  No, Arnold quickly called a press conference and in his Arnold way, confessed and apologized.  And the other party threw their clipboards and election war plans to the ground in disgust.  He left them with no ammunition. I am not defending Arnold or his alleged behavior.  The point is this: you need to confess to the One holding you accountable and leave your enemy standing speechless dropping his war plan in the dust.

 

The guilt and shame of your failures, of your humanness is a triumph of an enemy whose greatest prize is the fall of a godly mother.  You are the white tiger he wants hanging on his wall.  Why?  Because if he can get to you, who is left protecting your children?

 

Today spend 15 minutes alone in prayer.  Write a letter to God.  Tell him about your darkest secret sins, your hateful thoughts, your frustrations, your anger, and your cruel fantasies.  Be honest with God.  He can take it.  He has big shoulders. 

 

Father God, you know all and see all.  There is nothing in me that is hidden from you.  I confess my failures to you.  It is against you that I have sinned and it is to you I need to be restored.  I love you, Lord God.  I lay my list of hidden sins before you.  I am broken before you and I need your healing power.  I need your power to work in me.  Place a guard upon my lips that I may not sin against you.  Strengthen my faith. Help me with my unbelief!  I am a woman after your own heart and my deepest desire is to please you.  I praise you Father for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Because of your great mercy upon me, I can extend that same mercy to my husband and children.  Grant me an extra measure of patience and your holy discernment.  I believe you for the promises you have spoken to me.  I am your humble servant; use me according to your purpose.  Amen

 

 

Now tear up the letter into a million pieces and throw it away.  Did you hear that?  It is the enemy’s war plan dropping to the floor.

 

“as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Ps 103:12

 

Gunman Identified as University Student

By ADAM GELLER

BLACKSBURG, Va. (April 17)Virginia Tech  on Tuesday identified the gunman responsible for the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history as an undergraduate English major at Tech.

A news release identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, of Centreville, Va.

The bloodbath ended with the gunman’s suicide, bringing the death toll from two separate shootings — first at a dorm, then in a classroom building — to 33 and stamping the campus in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with unspeakable tragedy.

 

Online Child Porn More Brutal, Group Reports

By YUXING ZHENG

AP

LONDON (April 17) – Child pornography on the Internet is becoming more brutal and graphic, and the number of images depicting violent abuse has risen fourfold since 2003, according to an Internet watchdog report published Tuesday.


Of the 10,700 Web sites surveyed, more than three in five were hosted in the United States, while nearly a third were based in Russia.

The British-based Internet Watch Foundation said in its annual review that it received nearly 32,000 reports of potentially illegal content on its hot line last year, marking a 34 percent increase from the previous year.

 

About 80 percent of the children in the abusive images are female, and 91 percent appear to be children under the age of 12, it said.

Why must people suffer? Why doesn’t God just take out all the bad people?

 

Rom. 9:14-23

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”f

16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”g 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”h 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 

 

From this verse what can you see of God? Who is God in this verse? What are His attributes?

What riches do you see gained from tragedies such as these?

 

Persecution of the Early Church

Peter and John had just returned from meeting with the Jewish leaders after healing a blind man. They had captured them and threw them in jail, but when they were allowed to speak many were saved. Although the leaders did not like what they said they were allowed to go warned not to preach the gospel anymore. We are joining them just as Peter and John join their church family after their frightening ordeal as the believers join in prayer.

 

Acts 4:24-31

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“ ‘Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

26     The kings of the earth take their stand

and the rulers gather together

against the Lord

and against his Anointed One.a’b

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the peoplec of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 

What do we learn of God’s character in this selection?

What does “sovereign” mean? What do you think God’s sovereignty meant to Peter and John?

What are the attributes of a believer verses the lost highlighted in this verse?

Is it possible that, depending on your perspective or where you stand (objects of justice verses an object of mercy), we see God as the cause of pain rather than the source of healing?

In the face of severe persecution for nothing other than professing faith in Jesus, what was the attitude of the church?

How does the condition of your heart alter your perception of world events?

What have you learned about the opposition of the power of darkness from the course of events in your life?

 

There was an interview on the morning show at Va. Tech between a reporter and a psychologist. The reporter wanted to know how can we be sure our children are safe and the psychologist said, “well, parents need to realize that this is very rare, 1 in a million chance of this happening.” She was asking for answers, but he had no hope to offer.

 

1 Peter 3:10-17 (NIV)

10 For,

“Whoever would love life

and see good days

must keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from deceitful speech.

11     He must turn from evil and do good;

he must seek peace and pursue it.

12     For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”a

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fearb; do not be frightened.”c 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [1]

 

 

Imagine your next door neighbor’s daughter was murdered in this school shooting. You know the parents are not saved. The mother met with psychologists and friends, but for some reason she turned to you for answers knowing you believe in God. “How can you worship a God who would allow this to happen?” she demands from you.

 

What do you say? What is the reason for the hope you have within you?

 

If God asked you to allow your child to go on a journey that promises tribulation, pain, suffering, who among us would say yes?  What if He added, “On this journey your child will experience tribulation, pain and suffering. But I will never leave his side. I will promise to pick him up when he falls. I will carry him when he no longer has the strength for another step. I will comfort him in his sorrow and rescue him from the evil one. And as a result your son will know Me as Father and Friend. He will trust Me in all his ways. He will recognize My voice. And he will cause many to seek My face. Now will you allow him to go with Me?”

 

John 12:23-29 (NIV)

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

[2]

 

In order for one seed to bear much fruit, it must die. We are the harvest of the many seeds that have died before us.

What does it take to die everyday and live for Christ? Why would that lifestyle be one that would draw your grieving neighbor?

 

Jesus was clothed in the flesh, he saw his circumstances and knew full well it was within his power to escape it. And yet he stayed on the cross. He stayed when the “objects of wrath” taunted him to come down. He stayed to redeem those the Father had given Him. He stayed on that cross for me.

 

When have you asked to be released from your circumstances only later to say “Father, glorify thy name!”

 

 

Prayer

Father, redeem our pain and loss. Give us a fresh faith. A bold faith in the face of the opposition of this world. God we mourn sin and the consequences of sin, the pain and suffering it causes. Lord, when I entertain a thought or action that would grieve you, I pray that I would feel physically ill immediately and reject it. Take captive the thought and toss it away. Help us to resist Satan so that he will flee from us. We trust you with our husbands, children, friends and family. You hear our pleas for mercy and see our hearts breaking over the acceleration of end times. While we rejoice that you are coming soon, God we ask for your protection from the evil one.

 

 


f Exodus 33:19

g Exodus 9:16

h Isaiah 29:16; 45:9

a That is, Christ or Messiah

b Psalm 2:1, 2

c The Greek is plural.

a  Psalm 34:12-16

 

b  Or not fear their threats

 

c  Isaiah 8:12

 

[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984