Thursday, August 26, 2010

My apologies. The IOW post was scheduled automatically whilst I was traveling but there was a glitch. Please forgive the delay.


Monday, August 23, 2010

In Other Words--Be Consecrated

"The littleness of Christians of this age results from the littleness of their consecration to Christ."
C. H. Spurgeon
Samson Conquered, sermon from November 21, 1858

As I mentioned recently, God really spoke to me in a sermon about Samson. The preacher quoted extensively from this sermon by C. H. Spurgeon. The entire sermon is worth reading, but this quote resounded with me. Although it is ironic that one of the "least little" Christians of a recent age should say this. Perhaps in the place of consecration one only sees the areas that still need to be consecrated?

I should note that the point of this sermon was not that one should strive to be "big" Christians (whatever that really is). Instead he was saying that the more we allow ourselves to be set apart for God's work, the more he is able to accomplish things through us. Christians do not see God at work in their lives because they do not set their lives apart for God to work.

This really strikes me. I frequently hear friends say that they don't see God at work in their lives. They may recognize it in other people, but not in their own life. I wonder if it is because they haven't dedicated themselves in such a way to see God at work. This is not about salvation. Dedicating our lives to God in asking him to save us is different than a dedication of seeing him drive our lives. I feel like we, as a Christian populace in general, do not consecrate (set apart) ourselves frequently enough.

Let me try to explain my disjointed thinking with a couple of examples. German and I feel that God has given us gifts in hospitality and discipleship. With every move we make, we enter into that move asking God to lead us to a house that we can minister from in terms of hosting people and groups. Our homes are, as much as we are able, consecrated to God. Time and time again that prayer has been answered and blessed. Last year we calculate that there were only 3-4 weeks that we did not have a ministry group meeting in our home. We are blessed by the people that come and go out of our lives. But I do not think that it happens by accident. It happens because we have said "our home is yours, it is given by you, so use it" and he does.

Conversely, there are areas of my life that I do not always see God moving. I struggle with frustration, and eating correctly, and patience with the children. There are days that I am clearly losing the battle in these areas. When that is happening I have come to realize that it is because I am doing them in my own strength. Those areas are not set apart with expectation that God is doing something. They are struggles I am undertaking on my own. I become an ineffective "little" Christian because I am doing it myself rather than consecrating it to God.

Are you struggling? Do you feel as if God is not acting in areas of your life? Maybe you are like me and need to re-consecrate that area to him. May I encourage you to join me in that journey. Do you have areas where God is moving mightily? May I ask you to share those successes with us, to encourage us as we seek to see the same.

Thank you so much for joining us for In Other Words this week. I pray that you find something here that encourages you or makes you consider a new aspect in your walk with our Saviour. Please visit the other ladies who faithfully write each week and encourage them as well. I am having some internet issues, so it may take me a while to visit everyone, but I will get there eventually. Have a blessed week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hosting In Other Words

I have the honour and pleasure of hosting In Other Words on Tuesday. I have chosen a quote by C.H. Spurgeon that challenges me. Please come and share your thoughts on consecration to God next Tuesday. I look forward to seeing you then!

"The littleness of Christians of this age results from the littleness of their consecration to Christ."
C. H. Spurgeon
Samson Conquered, sermon from November 21, 1858

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Words of Encouragement--Shelter

In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.
~Pslam 31:20~

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
~Psalm 91:1~

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Wake of Blessing

We are busy exploring the countryside around our new home. So, on Saturday we took off for a drive and ended up at a lovely lake. We walked down to the lake and as German taught the girls how to skip rocks on the water I sat on the bench and watched the sail boats in the distance. A motor boat sped by and, although it was a distance from the shore, the wake that hit the shore was impressive. Wave after wave crashed in. The poor swans were fighting to stay upright. Then, as suddenly as it hit it was gone. Somehow I knew that there was a lesson in this, but I had not yet encountered the main point.


That would come at church on Sunday.

The sermon was about Samson. It was about being consecrated to the Lord and that even in that consecration we sometimes make choices that are against God. The pastor pointed out that even when Samson was being disobedient (touching a dead carcass, marrying a Philistine woman, having a relationship with Delilah), God did not take away his strength which was the sign of his blessing. He pointed out that sometimes we continue to experience the blessings of God even when we are choosing to be disobedient.

Later German and I were discussing this concept. I remembered the boat from the day before. I said that sometimes the blessings are like the wake of the boat. The moment of obedience when the blessing was originally bestowed is like the moment the boat goes by. It is the moment of the strongest blessing. But the moment it is gone does not stop the affect. In the wake, waves of blessings continue to come. But at some point they ebb and then they stop. Likewise, if there is not continued obedience then at some point the clear outpouring of God in a person's life will ebb and then end.

I have seen that happen in my own life. I've seen it happen in the lives of others. Believing that God will continue to pour into my life in spite of my disobedient attitude, I lose sight of reality of God. Then there comes a moment when I act as if God should just be there. And he isn't. Samson experienced it.

He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
~Judges 16:20~

I find that as I examine myself and my thoughts and actions over the last few months in some ways this is my life. I have continued to experience the Lord's blessings in numerous ways. But it has not necessarily been because of my current obedience. It has been the wake of the past, continuing in spite of some horrible attitudes that I have allowed to intrude. I don't want to awake one day in the sight of danger and find, like Samson, that the wake of the blessing has passed and that I did not even know that God removed it. I want to stay in the center of obedience and experience the first hand movement of God in my life.

Father, forgive me when I allow attitudes that do not honour you to take over my life. Forgive me when I live as if I deserve the blessings bestowed from your hand rather than in a merciful reprieve from your hand. Thank you for the good things you send into my life, even (especially) as I do not deserve them. Help me to live in the consecration of setting my life apart for you on a daily basis and not misuse that blessing. Amen.

photo from (senaca77)

Friday, August 06, 2010

When Fear Stalks You

"Don't be afraid of them.

Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome,"

Nehemiah 4:14a

The Message

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Waiting for the Rowers

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.

The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it! You are God's Son for sure!"

~Matthew 14:29, 32-33 (The Message)~

A little over a year ago, a speaker at a church retreat was speaking on the different approaches people have to changes. He was using the story of Peter Walking on the Water as his text (okay, Jesus walking on the water, but the crux of the story is about Peter's reaction). He said that some people will react like Peter. They are jumpers. The see Jesus doing something and say "Give me the word and I'll jump right in there with you." They are quick to make the decision and able to adjust to change.


He said others are like the rest of the disciples. They are the rowers. They are still in the boat, still doing their job of rowing the boat, will get to where Jesus is but it is going to take them some more time.


As you can imagine, or may have even experienced, jumpers tend to think rowers take too long and rowers tend to think jumpers move ahead too quickly. Can make for interesting dynamics on leadership teams considering that both types of people are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.

This talk was a turning point for German and me. We, as you may have gathered over the course of this blog, are jumpers. Especially German. When the vision is there and movement of God is happening, we want to get on with it and see things happen. Some of our friends are jumpers. But, many of our friends are rowers. They want to weigh the odds a little more, get there a little slower and be certain. This talk helped us to realize that just because they were not moving as quickly as we wanted, it did not mean that they did not want to get there in the end. It just meant that they would get there by rowing to the target not jumping out of the boat and sprinting toward it. That was encouraging. Our code word for nine months was "we're just waiting for the rowers." We encouraged others who were as frustrated as we were that "the rowers were coming.

The problem was, they never seemed to make any progress toward the goal. And in fact their conversation was filled more with fear and doubt than a strong desire to reach the goal. Nothing was moving forward. There were glimpses of God's blessings that were actually turned away (deliberately choosing to not take the offer of the blessing because "we aren't ready to do that yet"). German and I became discouraged. In fact, we have remained discouraged for some time. We are so sure that there was a path to take, but so many of our friends chose not to take it. And those of us who did take it now feel out of step with the others. A few months ago we asked the question, "How long do we need to wait on the rowers?" For us the answer was "not much longer" because God opened avenues that led us to move. More amazingly he has led us to two congregations of jumpers (I'm sure there are rowers as well), people with whom we already feel some kindred ties. But some of our friends are still in the process of waiting. And I know that it is a hard place to be so they are in the center of my prayers.

I pray that my rowing friends will eventually get to the target they see God setting before them. I confess I often wonder if their oars are even in the water, but I trust their hearts and know their desire is to follow God's call. I'm praying for my jumping friends for patience to wait on the rowers. I did not do that well and that attitude of frustration and disappointment is something that God has graciously forgiven. I pray that this situation will prepare me for the next time I am ready to jump and have to wait for those who are rowing.

Maybe you need that encouragement as well. Maybe you are a jumper who cannot understand why those around you aren't moving as quickly as you want. Trust that the rowers are headed to the same target and will get there. Or maybe you are a rower and are overwhelmed by those who want to move quickly. Trust God that He will get you to the target at the right time for you. But to both groups may I encourage that you keep grace and mercy at the forefront--it will save you from confessing sins of frustration and bitterness down the road. And most of all, which ever is your personality type, just keep focusing on the goal of Jesus and don't get distracted by the waves of doubt or fear.


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In Other Words--Change Not Myself


“Instead of trying to fix yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in my righteousness, radiant in My perfect love.”

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
by Sarah Young

I find it so easy to get caught up in the things that I know need changing. I need to be more patient. I ought to eat healthy. I need to exercise more. I ought to model Jesus to my children and my friends better. I need, I need, I need...

And I can be so caught up in the "I needs" and the "I oughts" that I totally become self-defeating. Because the more I focus on the things that need to change, the more I realize that I can't change them. I can make small efforts, but I cannot make the total change. If the things that I needed to fix were totally external, perhaps I would stand a chance. But they aren't external. They are internal. They are heart issues. And the only one who can change the heart is Jesus.

So I need to focus on Jesus and let him change me. As he changes me from the inside out, I will be able to make the external changes that are needed. But only because he has changed the internal first.

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55:22

Father today I cast my cares on you. I make the decision to take my eyes off of myself and focus them on you. Help me to fix my eyes on you. Quiet the voices in my head that tell me I should do something and quiet the anxiety in my heart. Help me to rest in you. Help me to trust you to change the motivations of my heart that will then allow me to have success in changing external habits. Amen.

Debbie at Heart Choices is our hostess for In Other Words this week. Please go and visit her, encourage her and participate in the conversation.

Monday, August 02, 2010

August Goal Post


Goals for July Revisited:
1. Finish unpacking office and sewing room-sewing room complete, office about 50% (need German's help)
2. Start over on a Project 365 photo project--nope
3. Lose 5 more pounds(maybe if I put these goals here I'll stick to them)--went backward this month *sigh*
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments--nope
5. Complete page 4 and page 7 of "The Names of God"--completed page 4 and 80% of page 7

Goals for August:
1. Enjoy some family time with German and girls
2. Start over on a Project 365 photo project
3. Lose 5 more pounds(maybe if I put these goals here I'll stick to them)
4. Join the gym plus walk 3-5 miles each week
5. Complete 4 Bride's Tree ornaments
6. Complete page 7 and begin page 8 of "The Names of God"

Marriage Monday--Romantic Foods

Welcome to Marriage Monday! This month it is all about romantic food--picnics, favourites and flops. My plan had been to interview German about his favourites this weekend, but an unplanned day at the deer park and an evening (and late night) of vacation planning means the interview was forgotten. So instead, I'll use E-Mom's questions and give what I'm pretty sure would be his answers. (I'll check with him later to see how well I did.)

1. Would you name three dinner entrees that you really enjoyed lately?

Based on the reactions I know that two of them would be Chicken Cordon Bleu and Lasagna. The leg of lamb also went over well for a first try.

Cordon Bleu always takes us back to our first romantic dinner that I cooked when I asked him what his favourite meal was and this is what he said. I had never heard of it, much less cooked it. But with the help of a friend I found a recipe and endeavored to create it--and it worked! Lasagna is a family favourite but since we limit carb intake it is a rare treat.

I'll add that if I was answering this question, the BBQ pork steaks that German cooked last night were absolutely to die for!

2. In your opinion, which ones flopped?

The courgette casserole. That would be his definitive answer, and I would definitely agree.

There have been some spectacular flops in our past--homemade rolls that were anything but soft, gravies that never thickened, cakes that looked more like pancakes, mashed potatoes that turned to soup before getting to the mashing stage. Especially when we first moved to England and I was learning different ingredients with new measurements and new ovens the disasters abounded. But we usually manage to laugh our way through them.

3. Which foods would you like more of?

German always answers "what do you want me to cook this week" with the answer "filet mignon." Which is impossible since we do not eat beef here. Grass-fed beef just does not taste the same as corn-fed beef. So I know what he misses is a lot of our beef dishes from the States. He would love it if I could get tuna steaks to grill, but they are not in abundance here in the Midlands. He often requests salmon which I am happy to oblige. Salmon is another one of our "romantic" dinner foods as we both learned to like salmon whilst we lived in Spokane. But what German consistently wants more of is the "comfort foods" like fish pie, chicken pot pie, kielbasa in mac n' cheese and tuna casserole. Those are the foods he calls "home foods."

4. What would you like to see banished from our menu?

Liver and onions. But to be honest I never cook it when he is home. He just likes to tease about it. I don't know how he would honestly answer this question.

5. Secretly, what dessert have you really been craving?

Not so secretly, creme brulee. I suspect lemon meringue pie or pecan pie might be a secret craving. Maybe I need to do some baking.

There you have it, a few of the foods that make memories in our house.  You can visit E-Mom to learn what foods make memories in her house and follow the links to the others. I'm getting hungry.