Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They Are New Every Morning

"Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul,
'Therefore I hope in Him.'"
Lamentations 3:22-24

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:14-16

I don't know about you, but after the last few days I've had, sometimes even wishing I could have a 'do over,' I find these truths quite comforting. Rather than spinning up to worry about some things that I am very tempted to fret about, I can rest tonight, and I can get up tomorrow, Lord willing, ready for a new day. Amazing grace!

That Mom

I was that mom today. You know the one. If you were at Schnuck's this afternoon, you really know the one. I'm talking about the mom with the screaming banshee of a kid who was displaying her sin nature as loudly as possible for everyone to witness (the kid, not the mom). Anyone who thinks we don't have a sin nature should spend a little time with a 3-year-old. Just sayin'. I'm talking about the mom who is trying to get through her grocery list while dragging said screaming banshee while everyone in the store is tempted to think what a brat that kid is, why doesn't she do something about it already?

Things to remember:
1. Going the grocery store with a really long list right after preschool and right at lunch time is probably not the best idea.

2. Later, when I am no longer that mom, but maybe a little nostalgic for those days, I want to remember that I was that mom once. And when I see that mom from the other side, I want to think that maybe that mom is not a bad mom and maybe that kid is not a brat, really. Maybe that mom is a really good mom who is trying to raise her child not to be a brat and is choosing to persevere through a really embarrassing moment in order to teach her beloved child that screaming and pitching a fit is not appropriate and will not get her what she wants, nor will it make her a happy and productive person. Maybe that mom is trying to raise her child to not be that teenager one day, and it's better to persevere through the temper outbursts now and teach this kid that her strong-willed nature must be kept under control so she can be a decent teenager rather than one out of control. That's what I want to remember when I'm no longer that mom.

3. And maybe, just maybe I can remember to be that mom who has been there who can smile sympathetically at that mom and reassure her that you only get to be that mom for a short time, and for every embarrassing and frustrating and difficult moment there are a multitude of sweet ones to counteract it, so make the most of it.

By God's grace I pray that I will be that mom to the praise of His glory and parent in the Spirit not in the flesh. By God's grace, I pray that I will be patient and persevere and train up these blessings in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and that He would overcome the failings that I bring to the table. By God's grace I pray that when I find myself in the position of being that mom at times that I would remember His grace and that He would grant me, please, the wisdom to parent that child well. By God's grace I pray that my children will grow up to love Him and serve Him, in spite of my failings as that mom.

Then being that mom will all be worth it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Deceitful Heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things,

And desperately wicked;

Who can know it?

I, the LORD, search the heart,

I test the mind,

Even to give every man according to his ways,

According to the fruit of his doings.”

Jeremiah 7:9-10

How true this verse is. How I fear and hate the inner Pharisee that is so skilled at covering over a bad attitude with a spiritual veneer.

I sing in the choir at church. For a few weeks now, I’ve been struggling with an attitude I know isn’t pleasing to the Lord, mixed with some genuine tiredness in response to some very real stresses we’ve had (and are still having) recently, some genuine convictions I am struggling to understand, and probably a need to just take a break from choir for a little while. It all came to a head this week with a presentation we had this weekend in preparation for Easter. I’ve mentioned before that I have struggles with artistic portrayals and theatrical depictions of Jesus. I just do. It stems back to some earlier experiences I’ve had, and I still struggle with whether my concerns are legitimate or just me being hyper sensitive spiritually or even worse, legalistic.

Well, when we first began discussing this choir and drama production, that familiar qualm came back and I wasn’t sure if I would sing in this play or not. I went to practice, learned the music, and struggled over the decision, trying to determine how much of my reluctance is legitimate, and how much is just tiredness and, worse, how much may be deeper sinful attitudes I struggle with periodically. Trying to come to terms honestly with what’s really happening in my heart here.

Long story short, I chose to sit out for a little while, mainly because I felt it would be better to sit out if I couldn’t sing without having every little thing affect my attitude, but I didn’t really tell many people why. I still don’t know how serious my concerns about actors playing the role of Jesus and artistic license with the portrayal and the play on emotions that is part and parcel of such a performance should be. I still don’t know if that should be a concern or if l am thinking too much, but I am beginning to have a growing conviction that more of my discomfort with it than I am yet comfortable admitting may have been an excuse I used in my own mind to justify some less spiritual attitudes I was struggling to overcome.

This morning I sat in the audience and did get to worship in a way that is hard for me when I’m singing as part of the performance, and for that reason I am pretty sure I made the right decision to sit out this time. I'm not sure I would have been as able to heed the heart work that the Holy Spirit did in me this morning had I not been sitting quietly in the pew today.

What has struck me most and foremost this year about the crucifixion is just how clueless the crowd and the soldiers and the religious leaders and Pilate and Herod and everyone involved were about just Who Jesus really was, and how clueless we still often can be today about just Who He IS. And it struck me how clueless I am, too. How often I am just not in awe of His majesty, His worth, His holiness, His love and His amazing grace. It struck me how often I am flippant about things I should not be flippant about or lazy about prayer or just so absorbed with my little life that I forget that it is so not all about me. It strikes me to my very core when I think of Jesus on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the essence of grace. He forgives all the ugliness and ignorance and pride and laziness and forgetfulness and uncharitable attitudes....and.....and.....and....that is in my heart. He has forgiven me so much, and too many times I am so self-centered and self-focused that I cannot even see what is real. I can’t even see how awesome it is that I even get to be in His very presence, clean and forgiven. This is what hit me in my very heart this morning. May I learn to see Jesus and savor Him and glorify Him for who He is and for how worthy He is of praise. How I long for my one desire to be to know Him and to see Him and to praise Him. How I long for my one aim to be to please Him.

How ashamed I am and how painful it is when I come face to face with the hypocrite within who will try to cover over sinful attitudes and legalism rather than face them and repent. How thankful I am for the grace which brings those attitudes to light and will not leave me in the Pharisaical mode but lovingly brings me back to the foot of the cross and shines His light on my heart, unveils my eyes from deception, and reminds me that He has washed me clean with His blood and clothed me with His righteousness and that He is ever interceding for me at the throne of grace.

How very, very thankful I am for grace.

Palm Sunday

Psalm 118:25-26
“Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts of, “Hosanna,” and the people waved palm branches as, seated on a donkey, He passed by on the streets of the holy city. They were ready to welcome Him as King. Or so they thought.

They wanted salvation from the tyranny of Rome. They wanted a temporal salvation tied to this world. They wanted an earthly kingdom.

Their view of God was not nearly high enough.

They did not even realize that He came, not for some temporal, earthly salvation from Rome, but He came to save them from a far more insidious enemy. He came to save them from an enemy they weren’t even aware they needed to be saved from.

He came to save them from the tyranny of their sin. He came to redeem them from the bondage of sin that is part of every one of us down to our DNA. He came to free us from our sin nature that resulted from the first Adam’s fall.

He came to die. For that is the wage our sin merits. By grace, He came to offer Himself in our place; the spotless, guiltless, sinless Lamb who came to pay the penalty for undeserving sinners such as we are.

So, as they hailed Him that Palm Sunday, they had no idea that less than a week later He would hang, bloodied and dying on a Roman cross, the true Passover Lamb, after they cried, “Crucify Him!”

And less than week later, when He gave up His spirit saying, “It is finished,” the curse of sin was broken. The price was paid. He did what He came to do.

Less than a week after that Palm Sunday, the temple veil was torn in two and the Holy of Holies was opened to those who would place their trust in the true King, Jesus Christ whose blood paid the ransom for their souls.

As we sing, “Hosanna,” on this Palm Sunday, we remember that it didn’t end with the triumphal entry. Praise God that Jesus completed the work He came to do, so that a week later, He rose triumphantly from the grave. To God be the glory!

**Originally posted on April 1, 2007

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some Thoughts About LOST

My apologies to those of you who are not LOST watchers. I am one. My blog. I had some thoughts I needed to write about it. Feel free not to read if you find that boring.

Though I’m fairly certain it is not the point the writers of LOST are trying to make, I think last night’s episode is a great argument for how bad theology leads to bad decisions and much heartache. Anyone else wish you could have taken Richard aside and explained the real meaning of that cross last night?

And for those of you who, like me, are reformation Christians, anyone else a little concerned that the character who had a more biblically accurate view of the nature of fallen mankind is the ‘bad’ guy (MIB) and the implications of what that means for the worldview of the show? It seems to me, depending upon just who Jacob is supposed to be in this weird show, that the writers just may be subscribing to an openness theory that I do not like - did you catch how Jacob was surprised by Richard’s suggestion that if the ‘good’ did nothing to intervene, the evil certainly would. He had not adequately thought through the implications of his little game he is playing with people.

Something else that just occurred to me: Do you think when the doctor threw the gold cross on the ground, calling it worthless, do you think we were supposed to only think of it as monetarily worthless and a slap in the face of Isabella's gift, OR was there a deeper message being implied by the writers that faith in the work that was done on that cross is worthless? Maybe I'm just reading too much into it, but you have to admit that this show has been laden with all kinds of religious symbols from all kinds of religious systems and I can't keep myself from wondering if the message we are meant to get from it is that it is all worthless? I sure hope that's not what they are saying, but it did occur to me. If so, I am profoundly sad. Not disappointed, because you may remember that I mentioned at the beginning of this season that I was pretty sure I might have a major problem with the direction this show is going to go and that I am quite sure it is not being written from a Christian worldview. Last night confirmed that thought. So, not surprised, not expecting anything different, not ever expecting to get my theology from a TV show or expecting Hollywood to get it right, just commenting on what I saw.

Yeah, yeah, I know.......lighten up, Beck, it’s just a TV show. Whatever.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dinner With Kids

Dinner with the children was.....interesting...tonight. My husband was away tonight. It is Spring Break. Kids are getting a little loopy.

We had dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and fish sticks for dinner tonight because it is easy and kid-friendly. Well, the kids had that and salad. I had salad and a quesadilla.

Anyway, dinner with boys is sometimes an adventure. I looked over at one boy’s plate, and he had a dinosaur in halves with ketchup on each half and another dinosaur looming over it in dinner mode. The other boy was having paroxysms of giggles over the word “poop.” My daughter was walking two fish sticks around the table and having them say, “Nice to meet you,” to each other.

I found that I was suddenly not very hungry after all.

Obviously the parental job of civilizing these kiddos needs some more attention.

Can they go to bed now?

Duct Tape

Have you ever been out in public with a three-year-old and wish that you had put duct tape on her mouth before she said something you understand because you know the thought process behind it and how her little brain works, but the strangers who hear it and have no way of knowing you or what you think about important things will not understand and will most definitely misinterpret in a quite unpleasant way, wondering just what you are teaching her at home? And you know you most definitely are NOT teaching her what they will mistakenly assume from the weird way she worded her comment, and then later you still feel terrible days afterward and you beat yourself up because you finally figure out what you should have said that you were too stunned at the time by her comment and with the mortification of wondering why in the world she came up with THAT comment and why in the world she had to make it in THAT way at THAT very inopportune moment to be able to think clearly on your feet, instead of just wishing the floor would just open up and swallow you right now, so that you could say it at the moment you needed to say it? Yeah, me too,

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘granola’ girl if you know what I mean. I’m not in a panic over so-called global warming or overly concerned about mankind’s ability to destroy the environment. In fact, I think we have been blatantly lied to about much of the hysteria and worry over the environment. Here’s my thinking on environmental concerns. Man was given stewardship of the earth by our Creator as we see in Genesis 1:26. I believe we should care for the world we’ve been given because it is God’s creation. I do not believe we should worship the creation, however. It is not “Mother Earth” or "Mother Nature." God is sovereign over all, including the environment. That is not to say we should be careless about the environment, but it should be kept in perspective.

All that being said, you’re probably going to think I’m a little weird when I tell you I’ve recently discovered the benefits of making my own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and household cleaners with more natural ingredients. In fact I made my first batch of laundry detergent just this week, so this a whole new thing for me, and so far I am quite pleased with the results. I like that by doing so I put less chemicals into the environment, but that isn’t the main reason I’m doing it. The main reason I’m doing it is I was listening to a friend talk about how much she enjoys doing this, and how much better she feels knowing that she doesn’t need unnecessary chemicals that are not very healthy for her family in order to keep her home clean. I liked what she had to say, and I must say, I really am pleased with my efforts toward using more natural cleaners so far. Granted, if you just like that Tide or Gain smell and don’t feel like your clothes are clean without the scent, you probably wouldn’t like the homemade stuff. I do. My clothes actually seem cleaner to me now. Plus, I really like the significant cost savings that are a huge benefit of making my own cleaners. It’s going to be big savings, and that’s the real reason I am excited to have found the homemade, natural alternative to commercial cleaners. I wouldn't say that what I’m doing is really about being ‘green,’ because it’s really more about healthier alternatives that also will help the budget. I like that I can be industrious and save my family some money. Makes me feel just a tad like the Proverbs 31 woman.

One thing I don’t like about so-called ‘greener’ living, however, is that in order to find some of the ingredients I need, you have to shop at health food type stores or websites. Ya’ll, there are some kooky beliefs out there. And you really find them when you ‘go green.’ For example, I was looking for something called Castile soap. We were shopping at a local department store that I really like to patronize but won’t name at the moment, and found some lavender scented Castile soap in a bottle that had a lot of tiny little writing all over the bottle. Excited to have found one of the items I needed at a store I frequent, I purchased a bottle. When I got home, I actually read some of that tiny little print. Oh, dear. It was someone’s very wacky religious philosophy that sounded like they’d been spending a little too long in mindless meditation exercises and had travelled so far within that they had really jumped off the deep end into their inner Oprahfication, claiming that oldest lie in the world that all religions are the same. Needless to say, I will not be buying THAT brand of soap again. I poured the soap in a bottle I had and threw away the creepy bottle it came in, and still feel really bad that I actually paid money to a company that is peddling that kind of spiritual poison. I didn’t want that garbage in my house.

So, my point is: read labels before purchasing. Well, that’s a side point. I guess my main point is: in the effort to be healthier, be careful that you do not allow an even worse poison into your home, heart and mind than the chemicals you may be trying to avoid ever were. There is a lot of bad thinking out there, much of it in the ‘green’ or ‘health’ movements. Know the truth. It is the truth that will set you free. That truth is Jesus. Not just who you think Jesus is, either. Just because someone mentions His name on their wacky little bottle, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are talking about HIM. Read the Bible. I plan to write more on that soon. Know Jesus. Know what is true and what is false. Guard your heart and mind. Because no matter how clean and healthy you make your body and your home, it is in the heart and mind that you must be clean as only a repentant, surrendered relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can make you. All the ‘green living’ in the world is of no value if you do not have that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sad, But True How Some People View Government

This is funny in a scary sort of way. I guess what makes good satire is that there is so much truth to it....

**This comedian is funny, but I don't necessarily endorse everything I've seen on Youtube from him.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Status Report of Sorts

Drinking coffee....with hazelnut creamer and Splenda. It’s the first cup of the afternoon. I foresee a second in the near future.

I had set the coffee on to perk as a motivator for me to finish the chore I was not wanting to do.

Chore is done now, coffee is being enjoyed. While enjoying, I am working mightily to tune out the umpteenth whining fit being pitched by my stubborn little three-year-old. Can I just say I’m feeling a little weary in the temper tantrum trenches these days? It’s not like we EVER give her what she wants when she screams and whines. You’d think she’d figure out a better way....but did I mention she’s stubborn? Good thing I am too, because this little girl is needing to learn that she can’t scream and manipulate her way through life. She’s choosing the hard way to learning it this week. There have been consequences for her behavior. She has not liked them. I’m hoping she will come to not like them so much she will learn to quit with the temper tantrums already. Responsible parenting is hard. It would be so much easier at the moment to just give in and have some peace, but oh, what a whirlwind that would reap down the road. I’d rather the difficulty now than to have to reap the consequences of irresponsible parenting when she’s older.

People keep telling me her strong-willed streak is something for which I’ll be thankful when she’s older. I pray often for wisdom and mercy to parent her well. I pray that for each of the kids.

But I digress from my original reason for sitting down to write a blog post.

The dreaded chore I just finished was to go through Boo’s clothes and take out the 3T’s she has outgrown and pack them away for give-away. I can see we will need to go shopping before spring gets here....we’re a little low in the warmer weather clothes department.

I am having a really hard time packing away Boo’s clothes. Actually, it isn’t the packing them away that is hard. It’s the giving them away that is hard. To be able to take that bag of clothes out to my car and actually get rid of them is to finally admit that Boo is, in all likelihood and unless God overrules that thought, our last baby. And she is quickly becoming not so much of a baby anymore. Intellectually I am okay with this. Emotionally I thought I was until I was sitting in the locker room at the Y this morning and thinking about things and started to cry. Well, for the most part emotionally I’m okay with this. I’m doing a lot better than I did after previous miscarriages, thanks be to our gracious God.

But to actually give away those clothes is to finally admit that the baby season of my life is probably over.

So, there’s that bag sitting there in the hallway that I’m not sure I’m quite ready to take away yet. It can wait a little bit, I guess.

And then there’s the temper tantrum trenches. Maybe I’m nearing the end of that season, too.

Being a mom is hard. It’s good, but it’s hard sometimes.