Monday, March 24, 2014

Be Wise

Be very careful, the, how you live--not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

If you wrote a list detailing how you spend the majority of your day, what activities/responsibilities would it include?  Now if you wrote a list of your priorities, what /who would that list list include?  Lastly, if you took both lists, do they coincide?  Do you spend your time on your priorities?  If not, the Bible offers us encouragement.

The first truth we see in the above verses is a warning to be careful.  Time is a valuable God-given resource (This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24) that can never be recovered/replaced.  If we wasted time, it is gone--forever.  Unfortunately, we can take time for granted assuming it will always be there (James 4:14-15).  but it won't   One day each of us will step into eternity and the sum of our days here on earth will end.  Look up at you first list.  Are those activities of eternal value or are they the squandering of time?  Be careful how you live.  

The Bible tells us not live as the unwise.  How do they live?  The unwise squander time.  Having no concept of time, they waste their time and yours, if you let them.  They invest their time on temporal things.  Theirs is a constant chasing of the wind.  Their eyes roam to the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24).  They lack vision and purpose.  They have unrealistic expectations.  Because their minds are so earth minded (Colossians 3:2), they assume things will continue as it has since the beginning (2 Peter 3:3-4).

We are to be wise knowing that the day of the Lord will appear (2 Peter 3:10), therefore let us make the most of every opportunity.  How can we accomplish this?  Grab your second list, the one with your priorities.  Are they congruent to what God states should be your priorities (Matthew 6:33)?  If loving the Lord your God is your top and only priority, everything will flow from there because we need Him for everything.  He must be our everything or He will be our nothing.  Being a wife, mother, homeschooler, pastor, teacher, etc. are all important, but they can never and must never be above Jesus (Mark 12: 29-31).

His will is for us to know Him (John 17:3).  Therefore let us spend our time getting to know Him. Irregular and infrequent prayer and study of His Word won't do.  Eliminate everything on your first list that robs God's time for you to seek Him.  Turn off the gadgets and tune in to HIM-your Savior, Healer, Deliverer, your Life!

Once you have gone to Him first for rest, refreshment, and refinement, then all your other priorities will be done with His love, wisdom, and strength.  We won't have to depend on our strength which is really nonexistent.  We will use our time wisely enjoying fellowship with His Holy Spirit while speaking with our husbands, teaching our children, and serving the Lord.  We will be storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).  

No longer will we be exhausted at the end of the day with nothing to show for it other than a day wasted in fleshly pursuits.  We will be wise women building our homes and not foolish ones tearing them down (Proverbs 14:1).  We will watch over the affairs our household and not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).   Let us make the most of every opportunity to know Jesus and share Jesus knowing that the days are evil.

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.  Night is coming, when no one can work.  
John 9:4)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Discerning

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Ephesians 5:6,7

The Bible tells us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  Therefore, just as knowing the truth is paramount to freedom, deception is the key to slavery.

Can you recall someone telling you something about yourself that you now know to be a lie?  How did those words effect you?  Well, if you believed their lies, you became deceived and most likely began to view yourself through that lying lens.  Its affects in your life were probably hurtful and debilitating.  But by the grace of God, Jesus has set us free!

So now we no longer believe the lies right?  Well, unfortunately, sometimes we like to revisit the places we feel most comfortable.  Like those old slippers which are worn out but you refuse to throw out.  And why should you?  They have assimilated to your feet.  Buying new ones means breaking them in-a process that may be a little uncomfortable and time consuming.  Just like the slippers that are past due, so are the lies.  It's time to take both to the trash.

Many times we don't think we are falling under deception, but that's exactly the problem with deception.  It can be so subtle, it's hard to detect.  Maybe the lies are no longer blatant but they are there nevertheless.  The Bible warns us not be deceived by vain words.   Where could we possibly hear these vain words?  

We are constantly being bombarded with the world's vain words.  It has its own standard of how we should dress, what we should own, and what we deserve.  The world will seek to puff you up telling you how it is not vanity to buy that dress...I mean you are representing the King right?  But the Word challenges us to be concerned with clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).  The world will tell you to buy more and the latest.  I mean you have to keep yourself relevant to the times right?  But the Word says the world and its desires pass away,  but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).  The world tells us we deserve a break, a girl's night out to be refreshed whereas the Word says that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).  These are just to name a few.  

Buying a new outfit or having some quiet time are not "bad" in of themselves.  But if your motives are aligned to the world's standards, they are.

So how do I know if I am under a deception?  If we read a little further down in Ephesians 5:8-11, we get valuable insight.

For you were once darkness, but now your are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Are you living in light?  
Is there anything do, say, partake in, or even meditate on that is not consistent with bearing fruit of all goodness, righteousness, truth? 
Do you walk transparently before your Family in Christ?
How do you react when something you did/said comes into question?
Are you more interested in finding out what pleases the Lord in a situation rather than making decisions based on your desires?

If I find myself being deceived by the world's empty words, how do I get out from under this deception?

1.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness
Cut these influences from your life immediately.  Remember if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off (Mark 9:45).  Likewise cut off anything that is serving as a stumbling block in your walk with the Lord.

2.  Expose them
Confess the deception to a leader in your church.  Don't keep any secrets with the devil.  Not only with this leader help to hold you accountable but they will also help you pray for the situation.

The Bible tells us to test everything and hold on to the good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  What God says is good.  What He does is good.  He is good (Psalm 34:8).  So let's use the discernment He has given us to call what is evil, evil and not call good what is evil (Isaiah 5:20).  Then we will come out from any deception and remain under His truth.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Keeping It Simple

We have a homeschool space in the living room that works very well for us.  I try to keep it as minimal in order to be functional for us.  I recently started looking at the workboxes and thought what a great idea to incorporate even though the girls are older.  While I like the idea of separating subjects and thus keeping everything nice and tidy, I wasn't too keen on the idea of more furniture pieces.

Enter the magazine holders.  I have had these things for just about ten years:) and have used them through out our house for different purposes.  Now it was their turn to be used in our homeschool area.
They are corralled into a Tang cardboard box we picked up at Costco that Alicia covered it with contact paper.  

Everything we use for homeschool (Sara's work and my manuals) all fit nicely there for us to see.  We literally just turn around and reach for the books.  I have enjoyed this system tremendously and wouldn't think of changing a thing.  Now I just have to find a solution for keeping the inside of the desks a little more organized.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: John Knox

Simonetta Carr's John Knox tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today.

As a homeschooling mother, I enjoy reading aloud or hearing my children read books with educational as well as spiritual value.  This book fits both.  Not just a biography of Knox's life, it also included historical information.  The straight forward manner in which the material was presented made it suitable for children as well as parents.  The colorful map at the beginning alongside the illustrations and pictures throughout made this a wonderful resource to get a feel for the time period and places mentioned.  I appreciated the author's inclusion of a Timeline, Did You Know, and a portion of the Scots Confession of Faith as additional resources.  

This book is sure to spark the interest for further study and general discussion.  Overall, I think this book a wonderful addition to your library.  The book was well written, interesting read, and beautiful illustrations.

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Be An Example

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 KJV

At the ferocious speed at which the day races, it can be easy to overlook the many sets of eyes upon us.  But noticed or unnoticed, they are there.

The rapidity at which the glance is made can be ignored but not forgotten by the observer.  Looking at that gesture, hearing your tone, the onlooker has formed a judgement concerning you.  True or not, it's the view they have.  Is it of Christ?

This quick encounter produced an impression but did it make an impact?  Let the eyes of the lost at the supermarket, post office, or wherever we should go see an example of Christ in us.  Let our witness be not only in words but in the power of a consecrated life so that we may shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the world of life.

After our excursions have brought us home, do we display the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great value in the Lord's sight to our husband's?  Do our children's eyes see a passionate bride awaiting her Groom living in full submission to her husband?

Now we are on the road to church where numerous eyes will once again be upon us.  Is our service to Christ robotic or joyous?  Are our actions teaching the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God?

You see, whether known or unknown, eyes are upon us.  The question is can I say, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ?"

Reflection Questions
1.  Ask your husband/children to describe you in one word.  Are their answers how you want to be remembered?
2.  Looking at your family in Christ, what are the godly examples want to imitate?
3.  What are specific areas in your life you know you have not been a good example?  What are you going to do about it?

Father, I thank You for the example of Christ that we are commanded to follow and thank You for allowing us to be examples of Christ to the stranger, our families, and the body of believers.  Help us to be examples of You worthy to imitate.  Deliver us from being a stumbling block.  Forgive us for not being aware of our testimony.  Help us to be aware of Your presence and increase in us Your love for others so that we may reflect it to others in Jesus' Name.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Making a List

I don't do spring cleaning.  There I typed it:)!

For the most part, I attempt to keep the house clean through regular de-cluttering sessions instead of leaving it to a once a year event.

That said, I do like to re-evaluate the systems I have in place.

Here comes in two important tools:
1. notebook
2. inspiration

I divided this little notebook into five sections:
living room

I plan on going around the house and writing down anything I see that needs attention.  Once I have my notes together, I move on to step two.

I borrowed this lovely from the library.  I plan to look at my notes and look at the book for inspiration.  Then I will write down any corrections to our systems or items that have to be replaced.

This process will take a bit longer, but I don't want to rush out and buy things that won't work for our home.  There's really no rush, since my real first step will be de-cluttering:)


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Be Imitators

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1

When I first announced the Be Series, I mentioned the importance of looking to the Word of God to know who and how we are to be. And for the Christian, it needs to start and end in the Word of God. 

Who are we to be? Imitators of God is the answer. In speech, attitude, action, in everything, we should be imitating God.

Why? Because we are dearly loved children.

He has lavished His love on us--He redeemed us with His blood, forgiving our sins, making us alive in Christ! Therefore, our desire should be to love Him with everything-heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The Bible commands us not to have any other gods before (or besides) Him. When we look to the world for our identity, we are doing just that--having other gods before (or besides) Him.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyones loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

We were not created by the world or for the world. We were created by God for the praise of His glory. So let's not look to the world for ANYTHING.

Don't let the enemy deceive you or your flesh entice you to try to find yourself. You have been found by HIM.

Don't let the enemy lie to you and tell you that you are nothing. You are a dearly loved child of God created to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Don't try to keep this life, you will only end up loosing it (Luke 17:33). We can only serve one master and imitate him. Who will it be?

Reflection Questions

1. What do my daily choices of how I spend my time reflect who I am imitating?

2. What do my words, actions, and attitudes reflect who I am imitating?

3. What are specific areas I know that I have not been imitating God?

4. What circumstances make it the most difficult to imitate God?

Father, I thank you that in You there is no condemnation for those that are in You living according to the Spirit. Our desire is to walk daily imitating You. We want to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow You. Please help us overcome every temptation to conform to this world. Help us to fear You and hate evil. May the love of this world never take up residence in our hearts. We renounce all love of this world and the things of this world. We thank You for the victory in Jesus' Name.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

To His Glory

It was past five o'clock today and I knew that my to do list had not been completed.  There was the monthly cleaning list as well as the day's tasks to tackle.

But with vigor, I started upon my duties with genuine zeal.  I prepared to make this time one of communion and thanksgiving with God.  I asked my daughter to borrow her itouch so as to be thoroughly engrossed in my tasks.  I gathered my cleaning supplies and thought on the irony of the joy associated with cleaning.  I mused it must be taking something dirty and making it nice and clean that appealed so greatly to me.  That is my Savior's work.  He took a lost and dirty me and saved and cleaned me up.  Thank You Jesus!

I wrung my mop and smiled.  Never would I have thought it possible to delight in such work.  I thanked Him Who had given me a home, husband, and family to clean for.  I thought how welcoming the home would look to my husband upon his arrival after a week of work.  I once again thanked Him Who is my joy.  

Finding my cleaning spree contagious, my girls set about the home to work as well.  They worked diligently on their tasks.  It warmed my heart to think of a house filled with working hands.  Jesus is so good.  Of all the things He could have made me, a homemaker was not on my radar.  I thank Him for His plans now,  although I would have formerly cringed at the thought.

My husband does indeed arrive with gratitude on his lips for an inviting abode.  Dinner is quickly served and consumed.  He prepares to leave for the men's prayer service  but not before receiving an onslaught of kisses and hugs from us, his girls.

Alicia and I continue our unfinished conversation regarding marriage.  It is lathered with much laughter, as is usual for us, and yet not lacking in the wisdom He furnishes.  We end the night completely content  in His goodness at allowing us to pray, work, and laugh together.

And I take this moment to reflect.  To think of the task before me and upon me--to raise two homemakers, regardless of whether or not they marry.  Although having no training thereof during my formative years in the matter, the Lord has been so gracious to teach me Himself.  I do not state the matter to bring any accusation against my mother in the least.  She has been working since the age of 16 and continues to do so.  Whatever she has lacked in showing me of the domestic sphere has been well compensated in teachings on compassion, generosity, and kindness through her example.

So I have this task before me but am not overwhelmed in the least.  He Who gave it to me will see me through it.  I am actually encouraged and excited about the prospect, thinking of how much we will each learn.  

Society would have us think homemaking a demeaning role.  Certainly, you were created to do more than just cook, clean, and birth babies?  But the world is wrong.  We were created for the praise of His glory and not our own.  So whether it is cooking, or cleaning, or birthing and training children, I will do it to the glory of God!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17