Saturday, May 24, 2008

Recipe Swap

One of Wayne's favorite memories of teaching came from his first or second year. He was one of the last teachers assigned a spot for his "office". It ended up being way away from his classroom or from the athletic offices. In fact, the poor guy had to share it with all women. Well, I was feeling bad for him until the first couple of weeks went by and he said one day that he didn't really need to take a lunch. Not hungry? Trying to lose weight? Really? He didn't need to. I grew concerned.

Ha. Little did I know he was in heaven. You see, Wayne was the only guy in the home-ec department! All the ladies were almost to retirement years and treated him like a grandson. Fed him. Took messages for him. Fed him. Helped him with stuff. Fed him. Fixed up stuff for him. Fed him. You get the picture.

One day, he came home telling me about a dish that one of them served him. They said it was easy. Could I get the recipe? We got it and have loved it since. If you've got the chicken cooked and cut up then you are 30 minutes from the table. We pair it with Mexican rice and refried beans with some homemade tortillas. (I LOVE being from Texas!) I'll pass on those recipes some other time. (A little of Matt's Queso doesn't hurt anything either!) For now, grab your favorite box mix and store bought tortillas and enjoy!

Mexican Lasagna

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 med. onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can mild enchilada sauce
8 oz picante sauce
3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
12-15 flour tortillas, torn into pieces
8 oz shredded colby jack cheese

Saute onion in butter until soft. Add chicken, soups and sauces. Cook until combined well. Make layers in a greased 9X13: Tortillas, sauce, cheese. (But begin with a layer of sauce so the tortillas don't stick.) Cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through.

Start by using the mildest ingredients. It comes out what we consider to be mildly spicy, but others (not from TX) have told us it's sort of medium spicy to them.

I usually grab a large can of enchilada sauce instead of the small one, but again that makes it spicier.

If your kids like things less spicy, mix theirs with more tortillas when you make their plate.

Friday, May 23, 2008

If God gives you time

Kid's Edition!

I thought it might be fun to link to some stuff the girls and I have found on the web. There's a lot that should be just for kids, but Wayne and I love games, so a lot of this may be more my favorite stuff than theirs!

The first one is to help us as well as our kids. It's a puzzle map where you place country names on a picture of those countries. It's limited to North Africa up to south of Russia and north of India. I think they put it together to help the kids during this time of war to know where all these places are. But I think it's a great tool for talking about missions because it lists Nigeria, Sudan, Chad and other places where God is working.

Xerox sponsors a site called Let's Say Thanks which allows you to send a free postcard to U.S. military personnel who are stationed overseas. Just pick a card, write a short message and hit send. Easy for the kids to do on their own. The girls do it over and over again.

NASA has some amazing stuff all over their numerous sites. One we really love to look at is called Image of the Day. It has astounding photos as well as artist's renderings. You can click to look at any of the 700 images in their archive. There's also a site for playing games that teach about everything from the water cycle to earthquakes.

One of my girls favorites places is the American Girl store. I'd rather shop online for their clearance stuff! But they do like to visit the games, stories and other fun stuff to do at the page called Fun for Girls.

So that boys (or girls like mine who love sports) get equal time check out the NFL Rush website. While it is a continual commercial for NFL, there's also a lot of fun games to test skills on. You'll also find player profiles, see clips of games and be able to check out where the nearest flag football program is in your area. You can also find out how to play the game so that come football season you won't have to ask why the guys in the striped shirts keep dropping napkins on the field.

One of our favorite game places is called Yeti Sports. Created by a bunch of guys in Austria it features games like Penguin Tossing, Flamingo Golf and Yeti surfing. We love it for wasting time. You do have to register in order to play, but we've not received anything from them after doing so over a year.

Finally, I asked the girls to tell me what their favorite You Tube clip is. Laughing babies almost won the top spot until they remembered this one. I will admit it was cute the first time, but not nearly as funny to me the 40th as it was to them. They said they've watched it over and over and laugh just as hard. It takes all kinds...

Come on, Coach

Behold your God - Part 7

May means one thing in our is here. (Yes, I know it's not the fall. Don't get me started.) That means it won't be long until a tradition begins around the Republic of Texas. Men who can still recall the feel of leather in their hands (or at least wish they had) will stand around the fringes of practice, picking it all apart. They'll take it to a whole 'nother level come game day when I and my girls will be treated to variations on the What-In-The-World-Were-You-Thinking refrain. As in: Come on, coach. A pass play on 4th and short? Or it's twin: Come on, coach. Running it on 4th and short? Everyone knew that was coming.

I'm usually pretty good about it. No, really. I am. (Okay...I get a thrill out of the Brett Farve commercial where he's telling everyone how to do their jobs, but I've never seriously injured anyone...that they know of...or can prove...) Truth is, I'm probably one of the worst, though decidedly less vocal about it given that I'm sitting with all the other coaches' wives in the stands. That's their husband and daddy I'm fuming at after all. I only get really bent out of shape when they do one of two things. Either they make it personal by cussing or yelling insults, or they start to question the coaches' commitment to doing what is best. With the first one, I usually just ask them to tone it down. But when my husband has been gone from us for 64 nights in a row, hasn't eaten dinner with us since July and hasn't made it to a single activity for his girls so that he could be with their kids and they question his commitment...well, that's when I tend to come unglued. Patty assured me yesterday that not everything I'm yelling in my head usually makes it out, but I'm sure too much of it does.

It's usually during those arrogant, I-know-everything moments when God interrupts with a jolt in my brain. My attitude toward the coaches is not much different than I can have toward God. I agree with what He does when His choices match mine. I doubt that He knows what He's doing when things go differently. That's because I have goals for myself and those I love...well, even those I don't even know. Maria Chapman, 5 yr. old daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman, died Wednesday. Killed in her driveway after coming home from celebrating her big sister's engagement...getting ready to go to her big brother's graduation party. Come on, coach. Is this really the best you've got?

The questions run deep because, as we've seen, God is all powerful...and God loves us, cares for us as a tender Shepherd over His people. Put those together and we have a God who has goals for us that are for our good, that give us a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11 And that God has all power in His hand to accomplish whatever He desires. Psalm 135:6 So, what we get in our lives is what He most deeply desires for us. Which leads us to ask...God is powerful and caring, but does He know best what to do with both? Can we trust His decisions?

Behold His Knowledge & Wisdom
Because make no mistake, the Lord our God is adamant that we understand that knowledge and wisdom and understanding are His...Is. 40:13-14...

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?

J. I. Packer puts it so well in his book, Knowing God: Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. God is never other than wise in anything that He does. (pg. 91)

The best and the highest goal. That's not usually mine at the moment, especially when I am suffering, lost in grief, racked by pain...but it is always God's. What that means for us is that we need an attitude shift. So often, we sit in judgment on God, testing His ways without the measure of His character in our minds. We trust our own judgment so completely that it is our measure against God. Why can't He see it our way? How could this possibly be good? Why didn't He stop it? Questions like this, Packer says, can lead us to despair for we are never meant to see from His perspective. Isaiah 40 puts it like this in verse 28...his understanding is unsearchable. Not that we can't know some of what He intends, for much is made clear, but we will never reach the end of His wisdom to know what He knows.

So, what do we do in the meantime? Packer puts it well...take it as from God. Know that it is He who has you and is upholding you in all things. Molly Piper put it so well yesterday. She likened the Chapman's pain to being hit by a tidal wave, but said at the end...I’m not trying to be pessimistic or say that God is not there. He’s the tidal wave and he’s the light at the top and he’s the fresh, cold air that their lungs will scream for.

Remember who it is that moves in your life. Remember His character. Remember His care. Remember the cross when you are tempted to deny either. Remember His goals. And trust Him. By a grace we will never deserve, He has committed Himself to you. He will see it through. Listen to Him...

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you...
Isaiah 43:1-4

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Mom told me about this video tribute that the Chapman family put on their website so we could all get a glimpse of their little girl...

Can you take a minute?

Tragic news for Steven Curtis Chapman and family...

We weep with those who weep, grieving, but not as those who have no hope. News from last night:
Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest child died Wednesday evening after being struck by a car driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family's Williamson County home.

Maria, one of the Christian singer's six children, was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Hospital, which confirmed the death, according to Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The 5-year-old was hit by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, she said. . . .

Singer/songwriter Chapman, who recently was inducted into Music City Walk of Fame, is one of contemporary Christian music's most recognizable and most awarded names.

He and his wife, Mary Beth, have long been supporters of international adoption, having brought three girls from China into their family. Maria was the youngest.

Please take a minute to pray for them now...esp. for their teenage son...

HT: Between Two Worlds

He is God!

Behold your God - Part 6

I know. I know. I did what I told you I hated...ended the story about Brennan without a good ending...without good prevailing...without your questions answered. So, how'd Brennan's surgery go? What was the problem? Well, if you've seen her recent haircut then you know she's doing great! Things turned out well this time. It was just soft, granulated tissue on one set of adenoids that broke open. They removed them...biopsy was clear. She probably will never have it happen again, though she still gets normal nose bleeds more often than some. So, is that why I can hope? Because things turned out well? Because God's power worked the way we wanted it to?

No. A thousand times no...

I can say that because it didn't turn out like I'd hoped when our baby died...or when we were fired...or when another daughter was taken for surgery...or when the money didn't match the bills...or when my father died...or when... you get the picture. It hasn't turned out like I might have hoped for, prayed for many, many times. So I wasn't sitting in that waiting room clinging to a false promise that His power was there at my convenience.

But if God chooses sometimes to work the way I want and sometimes not, how can I keep turning to Him? What else can we know about God that doesn't just leave us with a God who is powerful, but distant?

Behold His Care
We said that in Isaiah 40:10 the first words God speaks tell us of His power, His strength. They are words of power, rule and might. Then it shifts, almost abruptly, to words that tell us of His care for us. Verse 11:
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Read those verbs again and listen to the description given them to help us understand our Father: Tend like a shepherd...gather and carry the lambs right next to His heart...gently lead. Our Lord is powerful...powerful on our behalf. In verse 29 He tells us that He not only has power, but gives it to those who are in need.

God loves you. He can not have shown you that more than in His Son's death on the cross. He didn't spare His own Son. No greater love can be displayed. (See this post to read J. C. Ryle's amazing quote on this display.) He is the Great Shepherd leading His flock to still water, green pastures...leading us in His paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

How loving is the love of God? How compassionate His mercy? How sufficient His grace? Oh, how we need God to answer Paul's prayer that we may comprehend together with all the saints who are now with God in glory what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19

What we need to see is that it is no accident that God mentions His power before His care. It is the power of God that guarantees His love to us is sustained. When you find yourself tossed about from the storms of life, when grief threatens to overcome you so that you feel like crying out with the disciples "Lord, don't you even care that I am perishing?", when fear of what might be threatens to make you blind to God's goodness and concern for you, think of the power that sustains His love. Nothing can stop God from loving you and bringing about all that is good for you and glorious for Him.

In what is probably my favorite John Piper book, Pleasures of God, Dr. Piper writes lines that run through me. He is talking about the verse from Zephaniah 3:15-17 that talk about God's presence with us and His rejoicing over us with loud singing. Can you imagine such a thing? Can you hear God love you so much that He actually rejoices over it? If not, listen...
He is not far from you. Yes, I admit that this staggers the imagination and stretches credibility almost to the breaking point - that God can be present personally to everyone who comes to Him and believes on Him. But say to yourself, again and again, He is God! He is God! What shall stop God from being close to me if He wants to be close to me? He is God! He is God! The very greatness that makes Him seem too far to be near, is the greatness that enables Him to do whatever He pleases, including being near to me.
The same is true with His love, care, concern for you. Nothing can stop Him from taking care of you. Nothing stands in the way of the fullness of His mercy greeting you every morning. His Son has done the full work on the cross, absorbing the wrath of God, taking your punishment of death and conquering all in His resurrection from the dead. He is God! He is God! And you are His. His power sustains His love for you. His might upholds His care of you. Those strong Shepherd's arms carry you. Gently. Against His heart.

He knows you're tired. He knows you're weary. (Is. 40:30...Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.) So lean in...relax your shoulders...lay your head down...take a deep breath. He loves you...wait upon Him. You will get through this...promise.
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Is. 40:31)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Do you see what I see?

Behold your God - Part 5

It's no surprise that one of Jesus' most frequent miracles was giving sight to the blind. It mirrors what the Bible tells us that He came to do in each of us...2 Corinthians 4:3-6 tells us that we are each blind until God shines light into our hearts to let us see Christ.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
And just like Jesus said: If you've seen Him, you've seen the Father. That hymn had it right...I once was blind, but now I see. But it's not that simple, is it? It's not like we just suddenly get it. We continually have to press hard after God to see Him more and more. And we are completely dependent on Him to shine that light that lets us see. But because of His great mercy, He has chosen to reveal much about who He is in His Word. If we could see a light in the storms of our lives, what would He reveal to us about who He is?

Behold His Power

The first thing God mentions about Himself starting in Isaiah 40:10 is His power, His strength. He tells us that nothing can stay His hand. No one can thwart His plans. He is Lord of kings and nations. The stars, some of which are so large that our sun can fit in them 10,000 times over, are upheld by Him. Powers on earth which are too large for anyone to overcome wither at just His breath blowing on them. Every power on earth is accounted by Him as nothing...emptiness.

How mighty is the might of God? How powerful His power? How strong His strength? What could stop His plan? Your boss, your spouse, your teacher, your money, your ability, your strength, your wisdom...what can get in God's way? He rules. He rules you. He rules everyone else. No one is outside His kingdom. No one goes their own way. When you feel helpless, lost, powerless, unable to see your way through, unable to do what needs to be done, turn to the one who is able. Appeal to Him on the basis of what He Himself has said.

A Fight to Behold
I will never forget one moment when I needed to hold this thought so firmly. Our youngest, Brennan, was playing on the computer. School was over for the day, earlier than I had even hoped for. We couldn't have been having a more normal Tuesday when Brennan runs to me, yelling in panic that her nose was bleeding. Well, I'm a coach's wife. Bloody noses are part of life. So, I told her to calm down. Let's get a rag. Pinch it closed for 10 minutes or so. It'll be fine. Except that it wasn't. We didn't get to one minute when the blood started pouring from her other nostril. Then she started gagging and throwing up blood. It was pouring from her nose, coughing up from her mouth. More than I had ever seen. Nothing I was doing could stop it.

By the grace and mercy of God, our pediatrician and good friend was home that day and answered my call for help. She comes over expecting to see, I'm sure, a normal nose bleed, but one look at the blood spatters all over the bathroom and she understood we needed more than normal help. She gets us in to an ENT who makes the call that he needs to get her into surgery to be able to see where the bleeding is coming from and to stop it completely. Wayne rushes up from school.

A normal day gone to pieces. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the ICU with Wayne and dear friends who answered our call for help. I felt so completely helpless. Brennan hates hospitals. Hates needles. Hates blood. Hates being left with strangers. Cassie summed it up when I called her that afternoon...Why Brennan? I think I could have handled this, but Brennan? She'll be terrified. That's how we all felt. And what was causing this? My brain was running with all possibilities and the looks on our friends' faces told us they were greatly concerned as well. That wouldn't usually make a difference except these friends were doctors of many years. If they're concerned, we're in trouble.

And there was nothing we could do. But we were not without help. We had God. He is able to do what we couldn't. He could be with Brennan, right inside of her. He could calm her. He could get her through. Nothing could stop Him being with her. He knew exactly what was wrong with her. And He could fix it. He knit her together in my womb. She was His workmanship. He knows exactly how her body works and what needed to be done. And nothing could stop Him from guiding that surgeon's hand. He knew the plans He had and He would see them done.

A dear friend who stayed until the end sat next to me. I would look at her from time to time as the seconds stretched to hours. She would see my panic and say what I needed to hear: No, Kim. Don't panic. He's there. You are not needed. He has her. Who else would you rather have in there with her than GOD? He is able. Do not fear. He is with her. He will uphold her with His righteous right hand. I know that you are afraid, but think about God.

Think about God. That's what steadied me in that place of need. My God is mighty to save. He has great power to bring back from bring about extend the relieve the guide you safely through the heal your heart that grieves so deeply. He is mighty in power, great in wonder, awesome in His display of who He is on behalf of those who trust in Him.

Free Stuff is having his monthly giveaway. This one is my favorite so far because, as you know from the previous post, I LOVE BOOKS! And I love Monergism Books. It's a website that's devoted to classic and contemporary literature, but they've expanded it to included Bibles, DVDs, etc. You should check it out sometime.

Here's the scoop:

The Prizes

This month’s prizes will actually let you build your own prize. We’re giving away gift certificates that are redeemable for anything you’d like to buy from Monergism Books—books, Bibles, commentaries, DVDs, t-shirts, music, tracts…whatever catches your eye.

  • First prize: $200 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
  • Second prize: $75 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
  • Third Prize: $35 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
If you'd like to enter the giveaway just click here. If you'd like to do me a favor, you can enter the number 70329 in the referral box to let him know you heard about this from me.

And remember, if you win, Christmas is just around the corner and I'll be glad to let you know what I'd like...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I admit it...I'm one of those people

Behold your God - Part 4

I love to read. All the time. Anywhere we are. (That's not the admission.) I heard from one of our youth pastors that iPods are what he calls "isolation devices". Teens can use them to disconnect from others around them. That was what a book was to me when I was a teenager...and still can be. An escape, often. A way to disconnect with life, sometimes. A way to knowledge, understanding, experience without having to move off the couch, always.

But somewhere along the line, and probably earlier than I'd like to admit, I became as much a critic as a reader. I'd change lines in stories, plot locations and devices and most certainly, endings. That last one was after I was burned a couple of times. You know the feeling? When you hit the last couple of pages of the book or the last few minutes of a movie and realize: This is the end? You've got to be kidding me! That's when it started...I became one of those people...the ones who read the end from the beginning. I want to know that the characters come to a good end...things wrap up nicely...justice is served...goodness prevails...the question is answered. Every now and then I'll tell myself that I'm not going to do it. And I'll usually get a good 100 pages or so into it before I flip to the back to see if she really dies or if I actually agree with their conclusions. I'm weak. I know it. I'm seeking, I'm not. I actually like it!

How nice to see that God understands me and gives us words that tell us the end from the beginning! That's what Isaiah 40-66 is all about. Words of comfort before the exile begins. Words meant to give Israel a glimpse of who He is and what He's about. Words that don't answer all the questions, but hit right at our need. Obviously, I can't cover all that He says in a blog (PLEASE read it sometime for yourself), but I'd like to hit some of the highlights as we consider what it is about God that He wants us to behold...that should settle our hearts as we hit times of suffering.

Look for yourself just in chapter 40. So often, when we see a passage of Scripture, our eyes run over it quickly. Don't run your eyes over these words. If you have time to click this blog, you have time to read the next passage. Really listen to a God who desires to provide words of comfort. Then in the next few blogs I'll sum up some of what I see that I need to be reminded of when need is great and times are hard.
10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.

21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Sailing in a storm

Years ago, I attended a conference with several women from TBC and heard a lady named Pamela Reeve speak. She had just published a book called Deserts of the Heart: Finding God During the Dry Times. She talked about times of suffering and finding God through it, times of dryness and drinking deeply of God. I don't remember too many specific words from the talk except for one quote which has stayed with me since. It was one of those moments where you hear something and never have to hear it again to remember it. I've since googled the author and work, so you can read the short poem it was taken from here.

Dr. Reeve paraphrased it for's what goes through my mind often when I think about suffering.
It's a good reminder to me.
One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

A friend asked me for a little might think that a ship which only has sails for power must travel which ever way the wind blows them. But that's not how it works. The direction it travels is determined not by the wind direction but by the way you set the sails of the ship. The same wind can be used to travel either east or west. It's up to the sailor to determine the direction and set the sails properly to keep them on course.

So, too, I can have the mindset that there's nothing that I can do to change the course I'm on. I can become convinced that my reactions, emotions, etc. are determined by my circumstances instead of realizing that like Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4...
11b I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through (Christ) who strengthens me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Doubting Mom is one thing

Behold your God - Part 3

Poor Aisley. Middle child. Last to get her picture in the blog! This is from the morning of the TX state track meet in Austin last Saturday. She was much less happy with me after a day in the 97 degree heat with 89% humidity! She'll probably take a pass next year.

She's a delight. Gentle, quiet, sweet smile, loves little ones, unsure of herself in some areas...completely confident in others! It's some of those confident areas that are giving us a few fits as she gets closer to that 13 age. One that's been coming up lately is having her doubt my words. The conversation may be about something as vital as what time it is or whether she took a shower the night before. But more and more she's pushing back as to whether or not my word is sure.

I'll give her the right to be unsure from time to time, though. After all, she's lived with me for a while. I've been wrong a time or two...or three. But it's a different thing altogether when we doubt God. I've been writing about Isaiah 40, God's words of comfort to Judah. I've been thinking today about the effect Isaiah's words from God had on the people. The least we could say is that it didn't "take" with them, know what I mean? They didn't return from the exile never to turn their back on God again. How can we be different? What needs to happen in us so that God's words don't fall on deaf ears? What do we need to do to "prepare the way of the Lord" (Is. 40:3)?

One area to address is our hesitancy to believe God. We, like the father from Mark 9, cry out..we believe; Lord, help our unbelief! The way I usually put it is: I know He can. I just don't know that He will. But sometimes mixed in there is more than doubting His actions. Sometimes I doubt that He is willing to care about me. I doubt His compassion. His mercy. His concern. His genuine love for me and His care about my suffering. I forget that Jesus came to be the one who would suffer so that I would have a sympathetic high priest. Not one that is removed and simply pitying the underlings, but one who is greatly moved by the sufferings of His people...for He Himself suffered, unjustly, horrifically, and completely for my sins...not His.

The ladies at girltalk have given us a great quote this past week from a man named J. C. Ryle who was born in the early 1800's. He was an evangelical leader in the 19th century who wrote prolifically. One of my favorites is a tract on prayer. As we head this week toward thinking of God's words of declaration from Isaiah 40, prayerfully consider these words. Allow the Holy Spirit to do His good work of making straight a highway for the Spirit of God to bear fruit in your life...

“Reader, if God has given you His only begotten Son, beware of doubting His kindness and love, in any painful providence of your daily life! Never allow yourself to think hard thoughts of God. Never suppose that He can give you anything which is not really for your good. Remember the words of Paul: ‘He who spared not His own Son—but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things’ (Romans 8:32).

See in every sorrow and trouble of your earthly pilgrimage the hand of Him who gave Christ to die for your sins! That hand can never smite you except in love! He who gave His only begotten Son for you, will never withhold anything from you which is really for your good. Lean back on this thought and be content. Say to yourself in the darkest hour of trial, ‘This also is ordered by Him who gave Christ to die for my sins. It cannot be wrong. It is done in love. It must be well.’"

Look close, Mom

Did you notice something different in the picture with Aisley?
Look again...

I did it! New glasses...
And it only took me, what? A couple of years?

And yes, I love bifocals.
There. I said it.

And yes, Cassie, I know how old that makes me.
Quit laughing...

I mean it...Stop.
It's not that funny.

(No. It's not...)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The work of rest

Sabbath. Rest. A day off. You wouldn't think that you'd have to command something like that, would you? But anyone with a toddler who's too tired to see straight knows that you do. We 21st century people have taken it to a whole new level. We actually brag about how little sleep we need. And see it as a mark of maturity or ability if someone needs less sleep than we do. Find out that someone actually gets more than 8 hours a night or...gasp!...naps frequently and watch us all look at them like the lazy bums they are, right?

But the Bible is clear. God invites us to rest...Matthew 11:28. He gives us rest...Exodus 33:14. He commands that we rest...Exodus 20:8-11. But in one passage God makes very clear what's at stake and what our response usually is...
Isaiah 30:15...
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." But you were unwilling...
Israel was meant to turn from other nations and turn from striving to protect, uphold and maintain the life they wanted. They wouldn't rest in the Lord. That's me. Unwilling. Unwilling to believe that it will all hold together without me. Unwilling to be still before the Lord and actually think large, weighty, heavy thoughts. Unwilling to lay aside my cares and concerns and simply rest in the Lord to care for it all. Unwilling to turn aside from upholding my world to rest in the Lord's sovereign care. Sabbath rest is a declaration to the world that we are not in charge and not in need. They must work to maintain their life. We trust not in this world but in God. We can lay our lives aside. God will take care of us all.

This doesn't mean that I don't help someone in need. (I'm sure the Richardson's could still use a hand today!) Or feed my family. Or play. Or take a walk or a few blocks. But what it does mean is expressed so well in a posting by pastor Ray Ortlund, Jr. from Immanuel Church in Nashville. Join me while I seek to do a better job at the work of rest.

"So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God."

1 Corinthians 10:31

On this day, my usual Monday day off, I will glorify God by redirecting my trust in him from work to rest. I work by faith in him, I rest by faith in him. On this day of rest, by his grace, I will ease back on the throttle, trusting in his all-sufficiency. I will pay more attention to my wonderful wife, mow the lawn, ignore my cell phone, try (at least) not to fuss in my mind, take a drive with Jani at dusk along the Natchez Trace Parkway to see if the deer are out, not shave, wear jeans, enjoy Camaros on youtube, linger over the Bible for an especially long quiet time, think carefree thoughts all day long -- in general, just let the world go by with a Sabbath-faith in God while knowing that tomorrow morning my work will be cheerfully waiting for me, demanding my full attention again, as it should, but none the worse for having had to wait.

It's Monday. I will glorify God.