Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping the Home When You are Chronically Ill

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Keeping the home is a basic role that is assigned to women listed in Titus 2. It would be good for us to study this book together one day. Perhaps we will. However, one thing I am to do as my role as wife to my husband is manage our home. This presents a bit of trouble when one is chronically ill. So how do we work this out?

I decided that I would list some tips because I know many people suffer with chronic illness. Many with invisible illness which makes this more difficult all together. I do hope you find these helpful. Also please know I do not have this all together. We do the best we can as we learn and grow in grace and humble submission to our Lord.

1-No Guilt-First do not beat yourself up. Adding pressure to yourself when you are already dealing with some sort of illness will not do anything for you or your family. It will make things worse. Only do what you can in the strength given to you. God knows your heart. Do communicate with your husband about it and come up with realistic goals.

2-Communicate-I listed this above but it will save your marriage, especially if your illness is invisible, COMMUNICATE! No one knows you are sick if you do not look it. It is hard for them to understand. Communicate what you can and cannot do.

3-Be Realistic-When you make your realistic goals stick with them the best you can. Be humble and accept help as needed. Also if no one offers do not be afraid to ask for it.

4-Delegate-Assign extra jobs to the children. If your house is like mine they do not have much to do in the first place. It will help them build responsibility. Plus it is only for a season in our household. It is good for them and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

5-Understand Priorities-Being a manager of your home means being keeper of it. It means keeping a watchful eye over it. During this time your house may not be the most clean and that is ok. Keep priorities in order. The most important thing is the people in your life not the cleanliness of your house. Don't use the only strength you have to clean when it leaves none left to cuddle with your children.

6-Expectations-Let go of your expectations of how you would like things done. When you release a task to someone else trust them to do it and do not criticize how they did it. Be thankful for their help.

7-Pray! Pray! Pray! The most powerful weapon anyone of us has in watching over our household is to pray for those members in it. Use your down time to pray faithfully and continually.

8-Simplify. Keep meals simple. Keep school simple. Keep everything simple. The more simple the easier things will be.

9-Boundaries-Do not be afraid to enforce strong boundaries. It is okay to say no to things that will take your strength away from what should be first. Only commit to what you know you can handle and stick to it.

I hope you will find these helpful. I know I have. I am learning and working on them. Grace is a very important thing to extend and accept during this time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review: 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher free of charge for the purpose of review.

First, I am not quite certain how they chose the 50 things they wrote about in this book but they were appropriate for the 7th-8th grade girl. It was written in a very easy to read manner with good easy to follow points that give pretty good advice on manners.

Second, this is published with a Christian publisher so I was under the impression it was a Christian book but is no where specifically a Christian book. There was nothing in it that I could say were Christian specific beliefs only good manners for society.

Overall it was an okay read. Does society need a restoration of manners? Yes we certainly do. So for that purpose it was instructive and informative however a Christian book on this topic should address the heart of the matter of the gospel.

James Week 4 - Walk It Out

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I just love this song about trusting God.

Our next section of study is from James 1:19-27. We will finish up the first chapter this week. This section is actual instructions about living. Really take some time to read the verses and let them sink in.

We start with verses 19-20 which state this, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

So let us break this down. We are told to be
1-Be quick to hear.
When you listen to people talk to you do you listen to hear them? I mean really hear their heart? Or are you more interested in planning your next statement to them? Being quick to hear is really hearing someone. This is more important because we need to be other centered not self centered.

2-Be slow to speak.
Do you evaluate your words before they come out of your mouth or do you just blurt them out? Words are powerful and should be considered before said. Be slow in speaking. Consider Ecclesiastes 5:2, "Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few." Also, "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak" (Matthew 12:36). If we considered these things we would be slower to share our thoughts.

3-Be slow to anger. 
Anger is not sin, the Bible tells us in our anger to not sin (Ephesians 4:26). Do you blow your top easily? If things do not go your way do you lose your temper? Would people define you as someone who is hot-headed? We are encouraged to be slow to anger. God is a great example of this all throughout the Bible.

Then we learn that the "anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Simply put, when we get angry we may think it is justified however we do not always know the whole picture. We cannot see everything like God does and our anger can never be unbiased. Our anger or our attempts for justice cannot produce the same thing as God's righteousness. In the end all things will be exposed to the light. Justice will fully be served. Now we just need to trust God to handle it the best way. We cannot see all that happens. We must trust Him with this. 
 
Next we are told to put away things that make us filthy (v.21) which would be anything that dishonors God. Also take off any remaining wickedness which means things that still remain from who we use to be prior to Christ. It may be that desire to break the rules or injure someone. Remember this letter was originally written to those who were driven away from their homes. There would have been a great temptation to get even and take things into their own hands. Handling it by revenge or hatred. That is not God's way of justice. We must get control of those fleshly thoughts and put them off.

Instead we are to realize that God chose us because He gave us His word. He planted it into our hearts. It saves us. Upon receiving it we become part of His family. We are completely His, completely forgiven, completely justified. Yet we are in a process of being made like Him.

So how do we receive His word? This next section tells us how. Verses 22-25.
When you hear God's word what do you do? Do you hear it and think that was nice and walk on later to just forget it? Or do you really think about it? Do you think how can I apply this to my life today? How can this change me? How can this make me more like Him? There is a blessing when you do that. Otherwise you cheat yourselves. You are like the man who built his house on the sand.

When you look into the mirror usually you are looking into it to do something otherwise it is a quick glance that is easily forgotten. Look into the word to do something.


vv.26-27
Now this part may hurt a bit. Essentially it says if you claim to be a God-fearer and you cannot control your tongue then your worship is worthless. Ouch! I want my worship to mean something to God. I do not want to be a hypocrite. It reminds me of James 3:8-10, " 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! " We will get into those verses in detail later but really that is true how can we fear God and curse man in the image He has made? What kind of worship is that?

Then this chapter ends like this, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."  Showing Him worship is through acts of love toward others. He cares for those who need help. Practically played out it is looking after those who are in distress specifically orphans and widows. It is difficult now to be an orphan or a widow but during that time period it was especially hard. They did not have a state system to provide for them. They had nothing unless someone stepped up to take care of them.

And finally it ends with refusing to let the world corrupt you. How can you be in the world but not of the world? There is a different you know. There are things you just must not do because they make you a friend of the world. Love people stay away from the sin. Don't judge people that is God's job. Don't participate in their sin to try to win them or befriend them. God opens people's eyes.  Be a light. Live it out.

How can we pray for one another this week in these practical ways?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

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I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

This was the best book on doctrine that I have ever read. It was written in a simple and straight forward way. I liked this the best about this book. Most books I read lack the ability to speak on the level where most people live. This book got it right. I would feel ok recommending or giving this to anyone questioning any doctrines I believed because it explained them so well.

I especially liked an illustration that was drawn in this book describing the flesh. It is a silly but helpful illustration drawn on a first grade level. I shared it with my daughter who has been struggling with the question of if I am a Christian why do I still struggle so much with sin? She was really helped by this. I was so thankful for that and it came at the exact time we needed it too. From now on I will use this image to describe the struggle.

The topics of discussion were basic Christian doctrine. The author also incorporates his own personal life experiences to explain how some of these were personally shaped in His life. There are some essential and nonessential doctrines and I liked how the author promoted love in the area of non essentials.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon by clicking on the book above.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chronic Illness as a Helper

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"Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him." ~Genesis 2:18

I love the roles that God gives us as husband and wife. However, there is a problem that presents itself when I go through a period of sickness. I don't feel like I am much of a help. In fact I am honestly more of a burden. Yet God knows. He has called us to be selfless toward one another in marriage.

There will be times when we will be unable to complete certain tasks. We need to be realistic. I struggle with this so much. I am by nature a type A personality, yet God has made it impossible for me to act it out. I am unable to be this when I want to be. I do think it is a good thing because I do not know when to stop. As God allows me now I go. Otherwise I would be like an energizer bunny and that is not healthy for anyone. Even as a helper it can become overbearing.

As the amplified version states helper meet as suitable, adapted, and complementary for him. I can see these things in my own life and marriage to my husband. We do suit each other. It seems when I am sick, he is well and vice versa. Also, we have learned to adapt to one another. We also complement one another well because we are opposites and with this God allows us to be shaped and challenged. Marriage is an amazing tool that is used to refine us and make us more Christ like as we learn to live with one another selflessly as sinners.

The word for helper in the Hebrew is ezer. It literally means one who helps. Now when you are chronically ill how can you be this?
1-You can communicate with your husband and save your energy for those things that are really important to him. Whatever that may be. Especially intimacy.
2-You can faithfully use your down time to really cover him in devoted prayer.
3-Be honest about what you can and cannot do at this time. God will provide. He understands.
4-Be a good friend and listener. Be his cheerleader.
5-Do not be critical of things he must pick up and do that you usually do. When you can help.

I appreciate your prayers during this time. I am on day 8 of antibiotics. I have 22 days to go. I am very tired and fatigued already. It is limiting me at this time. I hope it does not get much worse but I am not hopeful. I do want it to be effective and kill aggressively any bacteria that still may be present in my body.

I love this verse, "And then the Lord your God will send terror to drive out the few survivors still hiding from you!" (Deuteronomy 7:20). May He do this! In context God sent this to drive out enemies. I think it can apply here too. Sickness in this little bug is still a great enemy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

God Provides When Man Won't - Trials With Lyme

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It is hard to think that a simple tick bite is the cause for an invisible illness (Chronic Lyme) that I will battle for the rest of my life, but it happens. Lyme disease is from a bacteria that is very tricky. It likes to mimic other illnesses and it will remain in your body for life. After the initial treatment flares will come with stressful life events. Wow! No wonder I keep getting flares. How do you navigate life without stressors!?

That is why it is so important to treat this tricky thing right away then it will not act like this. However, it took seven years for me to get a diagnosis and treatment. By that time the disease turned chronic and it was too late. If there was education I would be spared this. This is the frustrating and important part. Yet still after all I have experienced and been through and all the sick people I have met with this illness here in my area, there are still a limited amount of doctors that will even acknowledge it exists here. This is something that burns me up.

Sick people need advocates. They need people who will look out for them and have their best interest at heart. There is no reason there should be a huge controversy about this illness except for some type of corruption. One day I am confident that all things will be exposed to the light. All things will not remain hidden. People need help. This disease kills people and severely disables them. I was on that path until I found a good doctor in Missouri.

Now, though man will not advocate and help, God does. I will tell you how amazing He works things together. After talking to my Lyme doctor in Missouri about my immune system and cavities, among all the other issues I am having they told me I am probably having a flare up. For me to get treatment however the doctor would like to see me. That is fair. However the doctor is ten hours away. So sad when there are tons of doctors here.

However, in God's wisdom I was allowed by Him to have another flare of a skin infection that I caught on the mission field. The treatment for this flare is antibiotics, the same antibiotics that the Lyme doctor would use and for the same duration! Now it would be easy to look at this skin infection as an irritant because it is yet also it is an amazing blessing in disguise because with it I get the treatment I need without having to travel ten hours.

If we would keep our eyes open to God's faithfulness and how He truly does work things together for our good, if we would remain thankful in everything we would be mindful of these things God allows to help us. We must keep a perspective that focuses on Him and His ways. We must have a right view of Him. He is our great Healer and this is one of the ways He is using at this time. Don't you just love it! He is so good and so faithful. In due time all the things of darkness will be exposed. All sickness will be gone. Until then let us run this race with endurance and help one another.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

James Week 3 - Walk It Out

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This is a great video and song to go along with today's lesson. Watch it in preparation.

Now this next section is important. Speaking of the trials we have been talking about, they can come in many forms even trials through temptation. However, trials through temptations do not come from God. This is important to know. Remember in the context too that this letter was originally written for believers who have been dispersed. Being dispersed is a situation where many trials would surface. Also, temptation would be an issue too. Doubting God's love for you, His ability to provide, or a variety of other things come up. This section looks at temptation and sin. So let's dig right in.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 
James 1:13-18 

"It is crucial for us to remember always that God tests people for good; he does not tempt people for evil. Even during temptation we can see God's sovereignty in permitting Satan to tempt us in order to refine our faith and help us grow in our dependence on Christ." ~Life Application Commentary


If you truly believe God is sovereign then it is important for you to know that Satan cannot do anything without God's permission. All things that come into our lives are to refine us and make us more like Christ, however Satan's purpose is to destroy. We show God great glory when we praise God anyway and persevere.

God however does give us a freewill to make choices. When Adam and Eve were in the perfect garden they had the perfect life and relationship with one another, creation, and with God. Because they let temptation give birth they made a choice that would forever change history. Sin is rampant on this earth. After this choice immediately they started to try to blame others for their own sinful choices. We see by these verses that "each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed."



As much as we would like to blame God or Satan. The biggest struggle we have with sin is within our own selves. We must own up to this. When we do we can finally see our desperate need for a Savior. Until we see how utterly sinful we are we will resist the need for a Savior. It is in us and our hearts that sin comes forth. We are sinful creatures. We are selfish by nature. Yet God had a plan in place in the beginning. He knew we were dust. He knew we would be in this desperate state. Because He is holy He could not be with us in that state yet He loved us so He wanted to make a way. Jesus is the way, the only way to make us right with God. We were so sinful and desperate but so deeply loved a sacrifice came. In Christ we are made right with God. I love that. God extends His invitation but many do not except it for they cannot see their own need.

Temptation is very interesting in how it works. Basically as the verse lays out that a temptation is when someone is drawn out by bait because of his or her own desire or craving for something that is forbidden. Again it is our own desires we must own up to and take responsibility for. In Christ we have the ability to resist these temptations that come because they will come.

This is another important thing to remember...The first part is not yet sin. A temptation is the bait like a fish coming to the lure. It is not sin until it is caught then it goes forth to its death. Sin is like that. The initial temptation can be stopped from its conception. Let's look at some other Scriptures.

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1). This verse is so interesting to me because look at who lead Jesus into the wilderness--The Holy Spirit. Again see that God has to allow this. It is part of the refining process. Look at who did the tempting, Satan. Jesus was without sin. Temptation is not bad it is when it is conceived that it is sin.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we are tempted we must remember that God is faithful, temptations are of the same varieties that all men experience, God will not let you be tempted beyond your ability to endure, and He always provides a way of escape. We must find the escape and take it.


The process from temptation to sin goes like this, "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). When the evil desire takes us prisoner or is conceived it brings forth sin. When we give into it it is sin. Then this sin if not confessed and allowed to become mature or habitual results in death. Living in continual sinfulness brings separation from God. When we chose sin we reject God. Again it is our choice. We must own up to it.

So practically played out in a simple example, if you have a bad thought about someone this is the moment of decision. It is the time to find that door out of it. It is not yet sin. If you start entertaining that thought and pondering the wickedness of it then it becomes sin. We may even start to say bad things about this person. As we do this this it opens the door for the thought to keep coming back again and again so we keep repeating this sin pattern. Then eventually it brings forth addiction and death.  Now this is just an elementary example but you can see the process.

The way to respond to temptation is to recognize it then take control of it. As in this thought mentioned above, we need to take it captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Say no to the thought and replace it with a good one from Philippians 4:8. Nothing that is of God is evil.

Then the remainder of the passage goes on to state, "Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created" (James 1:16-18).


In contrast to the evil, every good thing comes from God. Do we recognize this? He is the creator of all things even the stars and sun. He gives us good things. He is good. He is constant and does not change like a shadow. We never have to question His goodness. He will always remain true to His promises. In His amazing goodness and love He extended the invitation for us to be His children. His word is life giving and He gives us birth as His children. Upon acceptance we become part of His royal family. Let us live on display of this to the dying world.


1-Give an example of a sin that wanted to have you but then how you resisted that temptation. It is good testimony because in Christ we can resist. This will not make sense to those not in Christ.

2-What is your favorite promise of God's goodness to you?

3-How would you explain this sin process to a child?

4-Can you see your desperate need for God? Have you started to own up to your own sin? Sin has consequences but we have a great Savior who took that sin making us clean. Do you regularly confess your sin? There is no better time than now. Take it to Him. He cleanses us from all righteousness when we confess our sins to Him.

5-Do you have an experience like Jesus being lead into the wilderness for the purpose of refining? What were the biggest temptations? Did you overcome then and if yes how?






Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Grow the Delicate Parsley Child and Your Own

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Over at Dee's blog we are studying how God takes our heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh. We are discussing the process of that. It is an amazing study and I am seeing my heart changing. If you are looking for a great gospel centered study then go on over it is still never too late to check it out.

So upon our discussions of the secret seed God plants in us that is allowed to grow I just looked up how to grow the garden variety of Parsley and found some interesting things.

This is good advice about growing the plant however it is applicable to growing my little Parsley girls as well.
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1 -As with most herbs, parsley does best in a sunny area which receives direct light for 6-8 hours a day, although it can tolerate some light shade.

Keep them exposed to the Light! Do not tolerate walking in darkness

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.~1 John 1:5-7

2-Although germination is notoriously slow…. To help hasten the process, soak the seeds in warm water for up to twenty-four hours prior to planting.

God directs growth rate and it is slower in children perhaps, Interesting note is to speed up the process they rec. soaking in water this can relate to washing in the water of His word through reading it, talking about it and praying it.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. ~Ephesians 5:25b-26

 3-Do not allow the plants to dry out completely between waterings in the garden. Water deeply at least once a week to insure the roots are receiving enough moisture during the growing season.

Don’t let your children dry up by neglecting the washing of the Word, keep watering them in faith that it will produce a harvest remember His word will not return void but will go forth and produce the harvest. They must be firmly rooted to survive.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  ~Isaiah 55:10-11

Copied the growing garden parsley info from http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1221.html
This is part of the process of growing that secret seed in making their heart of stone a heart of flesh! It is for all of you and all of us Parsleys. :)



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Chronic Health Struggle and God's Grace

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I mentioned that I have been battling migraines like crazy these several months. It has been a horrible thing. Some so devastating they are taking out my speech center and causing scary numbness in my body. They are simply stroke like which is a common thing with migraines that are of the more complex form. Oh how frustrating this can be.

Also, out of no where that skin infection I caught serving on the mission field over a year ago has popped up again! Not a fun irritant to deal with.

Then it was the dental visit I had that surprised me with the news that I had six cavities that needed to be filled. I am declining again. It is not fun I tell you to get old especially when you have a body that seems to age sooner than your peers.

However, I can tell you I am so excited about Heaven and really if I was not able to suffer in this way I am certain I would not give Heaven a second thought. I know my heart and my proneness to wander. I need continually humbling. This is just one avenue that God allows to benefit me in this way.

However, I do see that what I put in my body is very important to this process of health. I have started again to do the no dairy (which I continued since last time), no gluten, and no sugar. At least I am going to limit those things significantly. I am hoping this will make a big difference in building my immune system. We are coming into the cold and flu season soon and I am hoping to be strong. I will keep an update on how this is all going as I proceed. I am thankful for God's grace in this because it has not been as challenging this time for me as it was the last time.

Chronic Lyme disease has devastating effects on your body. I know it stays in your system for life. Sometimes with no symptoms. I often ponder if some of these health issues are related? Lyme is the big imitator of many other diseases. I need wisdom as to how to proceed and treat all of it. Prayers are appreciated.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Walk It Out - James, Week 2 Part 2

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Jesus is remarkable. His ministry turned the world upside down. His teachings and concepts were so different from world concepts. We will see an example of this from this section of Scripture. I love how radically different Jesus was. The people were looking for someone who would come and free them from Roman rule. That is what they understood the Messiah to do. However they had it all wrong. Jesus came to save the world alright from oppression but His way of salvation was not what they expected. Down is the way up in God's kingdom. Jesus death and resurrection were what changed the world and made us right with God through faith in Him. This was not what was expected. His death looked weak and like defeat yet it was actually the opposite. It is what rocked the world as they knew it. Nothing would ever be the same. His teachings fit this same unpredictable mold. 

In this section we will look at James 1:8-12. Remember we just got finished talking about our need for wisdom and how it comes from God. He desires to give it to us when we ask in faith. If someone doubts they are double minded. They love the world yet love God and these two cannot mix. Verse 8 picks up in describing this person, "Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."

I know I do not want to be unstable in what I do. I want to be like the man who built His house on the rock. I want to stand when storms hit. As we walk out our faith we learn that we can trust God fully. He shows us this over and over. In the parable of the house on the rock it tells us how to stand strong. It says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." (Matthew 7:24). Do you get that? We must not only hear God's word and receive it as knowledge but we must apply it to our lives. We must put it into practice.

So here is the upside down part of this section of Scripture.
 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Talk about an opposite philosophy from the world! If you are poor or in humble conditions in status, depressive state, or with grief you should rejoice. This position places you in a high station or rank in God's kingdom. Yet in contrast the person who is abundantly supplied is considered in a lower estate in God's kingdom. This is a concept that the world cannot understand. It is of the same language of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached. 

Essentially it is saying that no matter our circumstances our faith and identity should rest in God. Worldly riches fade as quickly as wildflowers. Though riches are not bad in and of themselves they are not to be trusted for security. This life is temporary. Everything will pass away except our relationship with Jesus. That is all that will matter in the end. Whether we have had plenty or not. It all fades away. God is in control of all things and we must trust Him in all this. We must continue to run the race put before us to the finish. At that time we will receive that precious crown of life and hear the words Well done my good and faithful servant. God wants us to be complete in maturity. Our stations in life are part of what makes us into what we are meant to be. How we live determines what kind of treasure we store up for eternity.

In this letter James was addressing those dispersed from their homes. In an instance they had to leave all they had. These unexpected things can happen at any moment. They needed to be reminded that true security is only found in Christ. Nothing in this world is secure. A message that is good for us to hear and be reminded of as well.

So let us run together encouraging one another on so that we will all finish well. This is a team race not an individual competition. How can we pray for you at this stage in life? Where are you in this race? Don't give up keep going and finish well. We are in this together.

God allows trials to mature us, He gives us wisdom, and He rewards a race well run. Isn't it great to know God understands completely and wants us full and complete in Christ? So let it encourage you to walk it out.

1-How have you been in a humble state? How can you count it as a blessed situation?
2-How have you been in a rich state?  How do you keep free of the temptation of depending on it?
3-Where are you storing your treasures? The Bible says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). What is your heart most focused or devoted?
4-Are you running alongside others? Are you tempted to be a lone ranger?
5-What steps do you have in place to be sure you finish well?

Friday, October 14, 2011

James Week Two - Walk it Out

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I like this group Indelible Grace. Hope you enjoy them too. Listen to prepare your heart for God's Word.

Last week as we learned about considering our trials a joy because of the opportunity they bring in building endurance in us and testing our faith, we must consider what happens when we find ourselves in the midst of a trial. We often have questions. Questions are not bad. God knows how He made us. He knew we would have questions. Immediately after the verses we discussed on the trials we find this;

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do"  (James 1:5-8.) 

If you need wisdom it is simple, ask God. I wanted to explore further what wisdom really is. As I have pondered this I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller that defined wisdom like this,

"Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies- I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!" (1 Kings 3:9-12.)

God gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart. Solomon asked with faith and God gave it. Now contextually to be fair I must say that Solomon asked this to God because God appeared to Him and said, "Ask what I should give you" (1 Kings 3:5). That makes it easier to ask by faith. However, we have God's word and His word is His promises to us. So we need to  believe that when God says in James, "if you need wisdom, ask Me. I give abundantly without finding fault" (James 1:5, ,my paraphrase) that He will do it.

Can you trust God to give you what He promises to give? Is that a silly question? I ask it because what follows is God's condition, we must ask believing and not doubting. If we doubt we are tossed like a wave back and forth. It makes me picture killer whales. They like to toss back and forth their prey, playing with them until finally they get devoured. This is the same if we are double minded. Double mindedness never ends well. If we doubt we cannot expect to receive anything.

Practically played out it looks like this.
God has promised to give you wisdom if you ask. His wisdom can be found in His word to us that we have and can open freely and read. We are privileged because we do not have to worry about persecution for doing this in America. You have all of this however you are double minded if you,
  • Are looking for signs instead of His word as enough.
  • Are seeking help from random people like fortune tellers or horoscopes.
  • Are asking people until you hear what you want to hear.
  • Are looking for an easy way out and not trusting as you endure.
  • Listen to the advice of the world instead of the trust of His word on suffering and trials.
So today where do you need wisdom? Ask God He is pleased to give it to you. Will you trust Him?
As we pondered the areas we are struggling to trust Him in, just take time now to ask Him how to proceed. Go to His word. It will help guide you through. Do you trust Him? If you are struggling I am reminded of this prayer,  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Making Peace with Autism/Aspergers

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When you find out the news that you are pregnant, automatically you start dreaming dreams of what your child will be like. You imagine so many good things. Then when he or she arrives you get to hold them and dream some more. So many hopes for their future spin around in your head. There too however are worries that may come up. You may wonder if your child is "normal?" Are they developing at the same pace as their friends? Are they learning things like they should? Are they able to share?

If you are a parent like me you notice things. I started to notice things were not "normal" early on. I even remember praying, "God please do not let my child have autism." I see this as grace. God was preparing my heart early on. If His answer was no to this prayer it must be for good reasons. Reasons I can trust though I cannot fully understand. He is still God in control of all things and He is still good.

As the years progressed more and more evidence started to show up. However it was a bit tricky. Aspergers in girls looks much different than in boys. And no two kids with this are the same. It is not a text book diagnosis. It takes time in observation to recognize and pinpoint.

Today is the official day we can say yes our daughter has asperger's syndrome. Wow, typing it is even hard. It is something we have been suspecting and talking about but because of her age there was still a small hope that perhaps she would grow out of it. The thought was perhaps it is just developmental delay of some sort. But she is eight and is not growing out of things that she should while not growing into things that most her age do.

Asperger's is a journey that can be exhausting at times. You have to imagine moving yourself into a foreign planet. The entire culture does not make sense to you. Things are often too loud or bright. Things smell or taste funny. People's facial expressions do not make sense to you. You cannot understand their body language it seems more like a secret code. Sometimes the people say things that make no sense what so ever. It can be a tough world to navigate and you are just a kid. This is what it is like to live with aspergers.

Fortunately these skills can be taught but it takes a lot of time, effort and practice. Social skills are just something that are hard for those with aspergers. However, my daughter is a great mimicker. She can wear a mask for short periods of time that mask these issues. It is a coping skill, pretending as she watches and learns. So as you see her you will probably not even realize how difficult social situations are for her. I learn new things about this everyday. She has an amazing ability to express her difficulties to me. I am thankful for that.

We trust through it all God is in control. In this we find comfort and peace. It is His gospel of grace that keeps us on course and where we place our hope. One day we will be in Heaven where autism and other conditions will no longer exist. We will trust while here these challenges will grow us and make us more like Him. We are in desperate need for Him.

"Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up".~ Hebrews 12:1b-3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chronic Illness and Marriage

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When you stand at the altar and say those words, "in sickness and health, I DO." In most cases you do not realize that sickness will come. Many times you are young and healthy and are all gaga over the one who stands beside you. The one who will be your best friend and lover til death do you part.

Not much thought is placed on taking care of a chronically ill spouse. Why would you think about this? We should not dwell on what ifs. But if it happens our expectations may be broken. It is a hard reality to face when you lose your health. You know you are no longer invincible. This realization comes to all of us at some time in our lives because our bodies are in the process of dying. Yet it comes to some sooner than others. This world and our bodies are not what they were meant to be. One day we will be what we were meant to be if we belong to Jesus. If He is your Lord you can look forward to that day with great hope. Do you know Him? On that day all things will be restored.

I write this post today as I struggle with a complicated migraine. I cannot speak words or express emotion without excruciating pain. However, I can read and write with minimal pain. It is doable. I must tell you that this life of chronic complicated migraine is not what I had hoped for. I am sure it is not what my husband hoped for either. As I suffer through things like this I get to see a beautiful picture of my spouse sacrificing to serve me. It is a beautiful picture of Christ-likeness.

I also get to experience humility as I let people help me. This is a huge deal for me. I want control of how my house runs. It is hard to do in this condition. However, I trust my girls and husband to keep things going. The world does not revolve around me. It helps us to work together as a team.

I know my husband did not know that from the very beginning of our marriage he would often become my care taker. Yet in this role I get to see the sweet character of Jesus in Him. I get to experience intimacy with him in special ways. I get to see the fullness of self sacrificing love. This man has carried me when my legs had stopped working, he has held my hair as I have emptied my stomach in the toilet, he has left fun and important things to help me. This is just a tiny portion of what he has endured with me. I am forever grateful and thankful for him. Through it we get to experience a deeper kind of love. A true love that is lasting. In this I can be thankful. I may never understand or know the why of this enduring suffering in our lives but as long as I can see God growing us it is something we can live with until God desires to heal. We trust Him and His timing.

Are you experiencing a chronic condition? Put your hope in Christ. If you would like someone who understands to pray for you leave a comment or email me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walk It Out - A Study on James Week 1

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I really love this song! Listen in preparation for the study. Take the study slowly. This stuff we are about to talk about can help you so much when you face life's trials. Somehow the wrong thinking of, "if I just do this then I will escape suffering" has entered into the thought lives of many people. However it is not truth. Jesus told us in this world you will have trouble (John 16:33).

What kind of trouble are you currently experiencing? If you are not experiencing anything now you will at some point. It is good to be prepared as to how to handle it. We need the right perspective on our trials to overcome them.

James is speaking to these Christians who have been dispersed as we learned last week and he cuts right to it. After his greeting he opens the letter like this, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4 (ESV)).

These people were experiencing various trials from the times and dispersion. Look at the notes from last week for specifics. James challenges them to count it all joy. Now I think it is important to know that I do not believe He is saying count it joy you lost everything you own and have had to relocate so be happy about it. Sin grieves God's heart. He does not expect us to be happy about sinful circumstances that wreck our lives, yet in His great wisdom when He allows it He desires our right perspective about it. God is sovereign and in control of all things so when He allows some adversity in our lives it is for our good ultimately (Romans 8:28-29). We must trust that.

It is through adversity that we learn and grow. It is how we become more like Him. So it is one of those blessings in disguise. If we let it do its work in us we will be better off in the end then we were before it. I do not type these words lightly but it what I truly believe from studying God's word and getting to know Him more intimately. He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and will bring you from glory to glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

To understand what James is saying let's look at these verses in the Greek. These definitions are mostly from Blueletterbible.org
Count it=means to consider or think
all=means everything
joy= is a cause or occasion for joy
when=whenever or as soon as or as long as
you meet trials=fall into or encompass you
various=variety
trials= adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one's character, faith, holiness/ an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances

I like this break down. Basically it states we are to consider ALL our trials which come in various forms either from our own sin or incoming affliction as an occasion for joy. Do you get this? We must think and consider it. If the affliction is not of our own sinful doing then we may not know the why but we can be prepared to consider it an opportunity. Now why would we do that? The next part of the verses explain that.

" for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."
It means as your faith is tested it achieves a loyalty or patient endurance. It shows your faith to be genuine. It is easy to trust God when all things are going great but it is another thing to trust when life is falling apart.

Then the final portion is astounding, it states, "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." As we endure these trials they make us mature in our faith they help us to Walk It Out authentically. It helps us not be light weight Christians but those that stand strong keeping our eyes on Him and feet firmly on the Rock.


Here are some other helpful passages that back this line of thought up.
"Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9).


Does it surprise you that trials taught Jesus obedience while He was in the flesh?


"There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

We all have to endure many trials and it purifies our faith which is so important to God. In fact it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). To truly Walk It Out we need authentic faith that will be strong and hold til the end. In the end God will commend us for it. And wouldn't you like to hear Him say, "well done?"

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance" (Romans 5:3). Again, problems help develop endurance. If we want to be people of strong character then our perspective needs to see our trials in this light.

So in light of these truths, what do you find your greatest trial right now? How is your perspective looking about it? Does this give you hope?

How should we view troubles or trials that come our way?

What does this tell you about the character of God?

What most surprises you or intrigues you about all of this?

I could write so much more about what the Word says about life and difficulty. However that can be for another day and another study. Let's refocus on James and next we will look at the need for wisdom, especially in light of what we learned. That is what we will study next time. This is enough to chew on and really ponder. God is good. He loves us enough to orchestrate events that will make us more like Him in the end. We must trust Him and know we do not have a Savior who is unfamiliar with suffering. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. He knew the final outcome of that vast suffering and this too is how we should view our trials. The end is where true joy and change takes place. We can trust Him.

What are you having trouble trusting God with? How can we pray for one another this week?

"But for you, O LORD, do I wait it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer" (Psalm 38:15).







Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: The Perfect Love by Ruth Myers

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I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

This book was a very good read. It actually reminded me a lot of my favorite book, Falling in Love with Jesus by Dee Brestin. This book leads you through the Scriptures and shows you over and over again your identity in Christ. It is a beneficial read for all Christians. I do believe this issue is so important in our lives as Christians, to know His complete love for us.

When we are rooted and secure in HIS love for us then we are free from many things that tempt us away from Him. This book helps us to see this and helps draw you near to Him. It helps you really see who you are in Him and then in turn how to respond. I was challenged and encouraged greatly by it. It is worth your time to read.

You can check this out at Amazon here.

 
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