Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Seeking Harmony

I began 2015 by choosing the theme word ‘Harmony.’ It was to be a reminder that, even when waiting for the things where I have prayed and hoped for God to move, that my life needs to be in harmony with his call. Only then does it play out as beautiful music and not cacophonous noise.

Over the last few weeks our church has begun a study of the early church in Acts. Combining those lessons with the lessons of my small group over the summer as we looked at ‘Respectable Sins,’ I have been reminded of the utmost importance of keeping our inner belief system and our outer actions in harmony. What we do is, truly, more important than what we say.

“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."   Luke 6:44-46

I would love to sit here and type that what my heart says it believes is always in harmony with the actions that follow. But, I would be lying. I can say that I serve a God of immense patience (Ex 34:6) and who has saved me from an impatient spirit. Yet, I still find myself losing it with the pre-schooler who needs to be told twelve times to put on his shoes. I can truly believe that beauty comes from an understanding of my place as God’s creation, and still attempt to use charm to get my way (Prov 31:30). I can voice a demand for justice for the poor, and walk passed the beggar on the street without even seeing him. My inner compass says that everyone needs to hear the gospel, but my outer actions do not always tell even my closest friends. Harmony? Not so much.

My grandfather would define integrity as “action and words being lined up.” So in many ways, integrity equals harmony. I am so grateful that God is using the sermons and Bible lessons in my life to draw me more in line. The more we seek to live in harmony with God, the more we will see where we miss the mark. That is one of the characteristics of discipleship—it continues to show us where we fall short. I’m thankful for the reminders. It illumines the path to make it easier to find my way. Maybe, today, you needed the reminder as well.

Father thank you when you show me where I fall short of living in harmony with you. Help me to always be willing to hear your conviction and adjust my life to be in harmony with yours. Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

When Things Are Out of Control

I recently attended a conference entitled "Control Freak or Trusting?" Those of you who know me, know exactly where I fall on that spectrum. *sigh* And, as such, it is frustrating me that things beyond my control, and a few things within my control, kept me from writing the last several days. So there is nothing finished enough to publish. Instead, I will leave you with the verses that the speaker used to remind the "recovering control freaks" in the audience that "God has this" and we can relax.

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,“What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:6-8

If there is anyone else out there in recovery, trust Him. His Word stands and he has control of whatever is happening in your life. I'll be back with more soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Serving with Babes In Arms

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He was the 'duty manager' for the day at church. That meant that he was leading the morning team, making certain people were in place to keep things running smoothly, and being the overall go-to person for the morning. He is not one of the paid ministry team, he's a volunteer who is willing to accept the responsibility on his Sunday on duty to help the ministers of the church not be bombarded by the myriad of things that can happen on a Sunday morning.

But, he is also a father. And on this Sunday morning, his ten month-old daughter decided that she, too, needed Daddy to be on duty in  her life. She wanted him. And he found himself in a place that parents often find themselves--trying to balance family and work and ministry and keep it all in perspective.

So, what did he do?  Without hesitation, he took his daughter in his arms and he led the newcomers down the aisle to open seats. He did both. He was her Daddy first and was happy to have her. But he never missed a beat in doing his duties as well. (And for her part, she was adorable pointing her chubby arms to the seats and smiling widely that she was in Daddy's arms.)

And in that simple act of just doing what needed to be done, I was encouraged. So often I can be flustered, thinking I have to sacrifice one for the other or do neither very well when family and ministry commitments collide. But sometimes the answer is not sacrifice, but combination. In our small group, we meet two weekends a month, in addition to mid-week Bible Study. It is a more relaxed time of fellowship and study that allows the whole family to attend. One of my main objectives, however, is not about the ministry I lead, it is about my family. I want my children to not only see me serve, but be able to serve alongside. When we are preparing the meal we serve together. The girls often plan a skit or activity for the younger children to be involved during Bible Study. They are learning to serve. Often I am asked if it bothers me to 'give up' Sundays for house group. The answer is 'no.' I'm not giving up family time--I'm serving with my family. I'm finding a way for combination not separation.

It is encouraging to me that I worship and serve within a church setting that encourages families to be family first and to serve together. That picture of that beautiful little girl in her Daddy's arms whilst he served the church will stay with me for a long time. I know she will grow up seeing her family serve. I pray that I give the same example to my children.

Thank you Father that you allow us to keep in harmony our family life and our ministry life--that it is the life that you have called us to live. Thank you for opportunities to teach my children to serve and for those amazing times when we serve side-by-side. Thank you that my family gives me the freedom to pursue my gifts and thank you that I can give them the same freedom. As you teach me more and more about living in balance and harmony, thank you for the picture of this father serving with his infant as a living example of your harmony. Amen.

photo from www.morguefile.com attributed to puravida

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Who You Going to Copy?

My grandfather was a man of great integrity. He was the type who could seal deals with a handshake and no one would question his sincerity. He was also a man who had very little good to say about the church. He refused to associate with "those hypocrites" or anything they believed. Even from a young age I would argue that "they" would have to answer for themselves, but that was no reason to abandon the church. There is truth in that. But I've also grown to understand that there is also truth in being careful of whom we associate.  Recently I heard a sermon on the letter of 3 John.  I am not sure I have ever heard a sermon on this passage before. If I have, I must have only half-paid attention. But on that Sunday, it struck chords deep in my soul. Don't imitate the evil of Diotrephes, but be like Demetrius. We must be careful of our associations.
 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.  Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.   3 John 9-12
There is a person on the outskirts of my life who I have greatly admired for the Biblical knowledge that she has. At times, I have even been a little intimidated by that knowledge. But alongside that admiration and intimidation, I have also felt that inner warning that all is not right. I even know what is not right. There is one (at least one) area of belief that this person holds that is totally outside my understanding and conviction of the Bible's teaching on the church. And, honestly, it is a pretty foundational piece of doctrinal difference. I have tried to overlook that difference, because there is so much that is good in this person's belief and life. Don't hear me wrong, she is not a Diotrephes. She is not malicious in her beliefs and she does not overtly try to exclude others. But she is vocal and it can be divisive. I have tried to justify that "this is just an area to disagree and that we will both be held accountable for our beliefs" whilst at the same time attempting to emulate other parts of her life. But this passage has challenged me. I must be careful about who I copy. And if there is something that I am so glaringly convicted within the actions of a 'heroine' maybe I shouldn't be holding that person up to imitation.

Character and doctrine matter. I often tell the girls to be careful who they choose as friends and role models. Who they are associating with will, in large part, determine choices they make in the future. If it is a good teaching for my girls, it is probably also a good teaching for me. Who am I emulating? Do they lead me to be more like Jesus? Or are they causing a division in my spirit? I need to choose to emulate the Demetriuses of this world and not the Diotrephes.

Dear Father, thank you for the wonderful friends and role models that you have given me to help me along this path of discipleship. Help me to make wise choices in who I copy. Help me to have wise discernment when something in someone's life doesn't feel right for me. And Lord, help me to be a Demetrius for those around me. Convict me if there are things in my life that could lead people away from you. For your glory........Amen

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Remembering the Words

I had a different post in line for today, but feel that I need to ponder on it a  little more before sharing.  So in place of it, I'm just going to share some of the verses I've been memorizing (or at least reflecting on daily) since April. I haven't been posting my Siesta Memory Verses, but I have been trying to keep up.  Here is some of what God is imprinting on my heart. Hope they encourage you the way they encourage me.

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Psalm 84:10

Hatred stirs up conflict,
    but love covers over all wrongs.
Proverbs 10:12

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:4-5

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

When you walk, they will lead you;
    when you lie down, they will watch over you;
    and when you awake, they will talk with you.
Proverbs 6:22

Better is a dry morsel with quiet
    than a house full of feasting with strife.

Proverbs 17:1

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 1:15

If you will seek God
    and plead with the Almighty for mercy,
if you are pure and upright,
    surely then he will rouse himself for you
    and restore your rightful habitation.
And though your beginning was small,
    your latter days will be very great.
Job 8:5-7

Be encouraged.........MiPa

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The October Goal Post

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No reason to review my last goals...they were set in April...and if I didn't enjoy my holiday then it is too late to do anything about it! So moving right along, October goals:

1. Finish piecing a quilt top for anniversary/Christmas present and sandwich for quilting
2. Cross stitch an ornament for an exchange
3. Choose patterns for kids Christmas ornaments
4. Blog at least once a week, preferably twice
5. Memorize two more verses
6. Read 4 school books and 2 books just for me
7. Finish shredding last 4 files of the boxes reviewed