Riding the Waves-A Guest Post

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At times he would glance at me with those beautiful blue eyes and flash his charming grin as if to check and assure himself that mommy watched his feats of strength. Other moments, he would forget he wasn’t the only boy splashing in the ocean and though he was feet from the next child, would dive bravely into the next wave with the gusto of Alexander the Great. Then there were those moments that the wave came with greater strength than he anticipated and he would stand coughing and looking about as if, “What just happened here?”

Often we adults resemble the above description in reference to the challenges and opportunities that waves of life bring in peak, trough succession. Some opportunities in life we look at and think I got this. Other, more humbling opportunities, we stare in disbelief and wonder why we were chosen to ride this wave into shore. Sometimes we give it our best go and end up gasping for breath.

Where are you in the ocean of life right now? Please hop over to TheLaundryMoms.com and read the rest of my guest post over there! (Click here.)

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Proving the Resurrection of Christ

 Ready to Defend

During a time of year when bunnies, flowers and chocolates abound, Christians are tempted to believe that everyone will accept on faith what we preach as fact. What skeptics scoff at as a fictional fairy tale for the weak of intellect, the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be proven historically and logically concluded.

All salvation commences on an confession of faith in the final act of redemption that Jesus fulfilled on the cross. However, some converts will take more than merely the Bible’s word or that of a concerned friend or loved one to convince them of the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What about you? Was your conversion experience one of a skeptic convinced? Was it more with child-like faith? Was yours a conversion of the mind and emotions?

I came to know and accept Christ as the Lord and Savior of my life at eight years of age. I was one with a child-like faith that instantly responded to the pressing of the Holy Spirit on my heart to confess my sins and walk the isle of my baptist church to make my faith commitment to Jesus. I didn’t even consult with my parents before making the decision. One minute my family was standing in our pew singing Just as I  Am and the next minute my parents reacted by following me as I started crying and walking down the isle to meet the pastor waiting at the end.

Mine was not a conversion of a doubters mind. However, it is my job as a disciple maker to equip myself and the others who read my writing or listen to me teach with the ability to defend the faith. Further, to have ready answers for honest questions of seekers of the truth. Moreover, to equip the minds of children, teens, and adults God has blessed our paths with.

In the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, we will address a few questions concerning the reliability of the scriptures and the proof of the resurrection. Today I want to highlight a few resources that have guided me in my studies and which will answer the questions that you or someone you know may face surrounding Easter and all that is celebrated within it.

Here are some questions you can look forward to answering with these resources:

    • Did the resurrection really happen?
    • How can we know that God’s Word, the Bible is accurate?
    • How did we get the Bible that we hold in our hand today?

 

Time to buckle the belt of truth and put on the helmet of salvation as we take up our shield of faith and carry the Sword of the Spirit walking in our feet ready with gospel shoes. (Ephesians 6)

Be ready,

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Unpacking Christmas: Three Gifts

 A Christmas Poem

Christmas dawned cool and bright; I awoke at 6 AM that morn’.
All the presents were still wrapped and the ribbon yet untorn.

I began to wonder with delight what the day’s festivities would bring
Would I get that iPod shuffle, a DVD, perhaps a ring?

After breakfast came three presents they were wrapped just as I liked.
When I shook them they were silent, small, and tender…was that right?

The first I gently opened wondering, “Was it delicate and sweet?”
I gasped as I discovered Forgiveness had been given me.

I wept as I recounted all the selfishness, anger, and pride
that had accompanied my character; those traits I try to hide.

I was thankful for this present, overwhelmed at such generosity
to be given what I hadn’t asked for, nor deserved, but yet would be
the greatest gift that only Christ could offer which cost His life on Calvary.
I lingered with Forgiveness one more moment then proceeded to open next,
a present a little larger and more glittery than the rest.

Grace and Mercy came pouring out as soon as I unwrapped the ribbon then
light shone all around it as I gingerly looked in.

Ah, Grace, greater than all my sins which beckons me to come
and Mercy to let me visit with my Savior and consider all that He has done.

Grace, which accompanies Forgiveness but continues to set me free
to pursue the King of Glory and to know the King of Kings.

I marveled once more at Mercy that would allow me to behold
a precious gift much greater than all my weight in gold.
Could there be more to this Christmas? One more present still left beneath the Christmas tree?
I rubbed my eyes in wonder as His Spirit had set me free.

The third gift looked more rustic a little rough that was clear to see.
I eagerly unwrapped this present and was astonished to see… me.

A dirty mirror met my gaze and I started then to fret
as I picked up a note inside then proceeded to read it.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Dear One,

I have saved you to make My Name and Glory known among the nations.  Let us move beyond your childish ways this year and clean this mirror together. It is not an easy task, but with Me all things are possible.  Let’s make this a year to love others. I want to use you to extend Forgiveness, Grace, and Mercy to all mankind. Will you join me?

Love,

I Am

Oh, Christ whose grace is greater than all my wicked sins,
would you choose to use this vessel though it is dirty deep within?

That you would change me and use me to set other captives free.
Yes, I will join you on this journey, take up my cross and follow Thee.
Will you join us on this journey, take up your cross and follow He?

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The Waters of Life

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Shells were created at the command of God the moment when time, space, and matter came into being. Created from the breath of God to provide a protective outer layer for sea life, they are one day discarded and many wash ashore.

Along their journey, the ocean rolls and tumbles the shells in tumultuous waves and in calm water until one day, finally, they settle in the sandy shores which beach combers traverse in search of beauty. Some shells are taken home as a memento, while others sit along the shore and eventually are bleached by the sun. Washed white in the brightness of day.

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We too are tossed and tumbled, even pummeled by the waters of life. We can be hit by crashing waves that swell out of seemingly calm waters. In the dark of night we may fear what we will find when the sun’s rays glimmer on the water we thrash in.

I have gulped for air a midst thrashing waves.; uprooted by swells of life I did not foresee coming. I have cried in the dark hours before the break of day and seen God’s Son wash white His saints that lay weary and beaten along the shores of life.

These verses bring me hope in such a time as this:

This I declare about the LORD; He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me I will answer; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a  long life and give them salvation.” (Psalm 91:2-6,9-10, 14-16, NLT)

Did you see it? Troubles and evil will come, but they will not conquer us. Night terrors are to be expected as are arrows that fly in the day.  But, we are to make God our refuge and his faithful promises our armor and protection.

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Recently our friend, Aaron Walp, D. Min, preached a sermon that I would like for you to take the time to listen to. His sermon entitled, Rip Tide, Thrash or Thrive can be found here, or simply view the link from Vimeo below. You will need the Joseph Four Step to break the grip of the rip in your life. Don’t miss out on this mighty word from God!

Rip Tide: Thrash or Thrive from Calvary Baptist Church on Vimeo.

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Finding Grace

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When we dropped Little E off for one of his weekly visits with his biological father, my heart broke once again over this little boy. If and when E is reunited with his parent(s), the difficult circumstances that he found himself in the first two and a half years of life will not vanish without a trace. Our stresses of three children will return to only two, our frustrations with the state and its ways and regulations will momentarily be put on hold until we feel  we are ready to serve and love another child, and our contact with this precious child will be primarily non-existent.

As our car pulled out of the gas station where we meet his dad, tears filled my eyes and I told God once again, “This is not fair.” Only weeks before I had written a post for iBelieve on the subject of fairness.  I am linking to it below. Once you have read the article in full, please come back and see if you would add anything to the list of God’s grace in E’s case. If I think on it, I know there are multiple graces in the face of a seemingly unfair situation.

Even if we have not verbalized it, we have all thought it, “That was not fair, God.” Someone else was rewarded the promotion at work, the date with the guy, the house that we bid on. Another friend tells of her unexpected pregnancy when we have labored in prayer over just one child. Children are born with disease, into poverty-stricken homes, or left as orphans.

It’s simply not fair. He is not fair. Or is He? If He is, do we sincerely desire God to treat us fairly?

Think for a moment, what our lives would look like if God treated us as we so often demand: fairly. What if that which we worked for was all that His hand allowed; if people, including our families, treated us only with the kindness and respect which we have shown toward them void of mercy and forgiveness; if our religion was based on merited works?

My life, for one, would look drastically different if God treated me tit for tat. Would yours?

Click here to continue reading the entire article over at iBelieve.

God’s grace is demonstrated to E in his placement into a loving, Christ-filled home. Yes, he is separated from his biological parents, but he has received the best medical attention we could give him, he sleeps in a safe environment, and has two great siblings. Had it not been that he was taken away from his family he may have gone much of his childhood void of the message of Jesus and God’s great love for him.

This all reminds me of a Laura Story song that I am sure you have heard. If not, click here, or on the link  below and close our time today in reflections on the grace wrapped in pains of life.

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You Are Not Alone

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No man is an island,  entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were;  any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

~John Donne

Just as John Donne, priest and poet, proposes that every passing of a life affects all mankind, I propose that our actions affect mankind as a whole.

Take for example the playing of our three children upon the beach. Little E takes Joshua’s truck. Joshy screams. Emily intervenes with physical force as I simultaneously begin giving orders. Where moments before there was peace and harmony in sand and sea, seconds later there is discord and strife.

One thought that often scares me is: people are watching when I least expect it. Someone whom I have never met may watch my interactions with my husband, children, or friends and be influenced by my behavior. People notice the manner in which we dress, react to news, pray, …our Facebook interactions and Tweets and all the while we may live in oblivion to this fact.

Your life and example can affect not only my own choices…but I can allow it to affect my mood, insecurities, worries…

This week perhaps you have received unbelievable news that you did not expect. Where did this news drive you? To your knees… a gut check…despair? Perhaps all three in varying forms.

Dear one, you are not alone. As even this news reached your ears as reality, the Father knew it from before time began. He knows all, sees all, and will one day redeem all. I want to pray for you here today as you walk in the new reality the news has brought for you.

Father God,

You are maker of heaven and earth. Before each child breathes their first breath, You have already knit them together in their mother’s womb and know each day they will live.

Help us not to waste this life you have given us!

When we are recipients of shocking news let us remember you hold the world in Your hand. The entire host of the heavens are called out by name from your mouth. When each star burns its last you are aware.

Please be with the grieving. Help us to remember that our actions can cause a ripple effect. Help us to behave in such a way as to bring about positive, God-honoring change and not contribute to the death and dying of this cursed world.

We long for the redemption of your creation. As we await your Son’s second coming, we thank you for your common grace that allows for continuance of life on earth, and for your saving grace that turns sinners into blood-washed saints.

We love You Lord and ask for Your will to be done on earth as in heaven. Even so Lord Jesus, come soon.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

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Lord Give Me Eyes to See

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In life, when  looking at something from a distance we often cannot make out what we see with exact clarity.

 “Circle, hand, flag, stable, cross…” Emily stated as she labeled each picture for the nurse administering the vision screening. The stable, really a cup, was discussed more closely and even revealed to Emily, but as she covered the other eye and read the symbols from right to left this time, she continued with, “cross, stable, flag, hand, circle.”

Perhaps it is the same with us adults? We see a situation looming in our near future or planted square in front of our noses and we have this ominous presence of anxiety about that which may happen.

Uncertainty can be a ferocious devourer of peace.

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For five months we have welcomed Little E into our family and hearts. We love and understand him more and more with each passing day, as he us. Recent progress made on the part of his family lead us to believe we will have him for only two months more. Right now we have many questions and concerns for him, for our children, and for ourselves:

How will the transition back to his own home and family affect him? How will it affect our children? What amount of time will we need a break before we invite another child into our home through foster care? How do I cope with the guilt of looking forward to some relief as a parent of three back to two and yet handle my own mixed emotions about losing the little one I have come to love? What if we need several months “off” before we are ready to again become the orphan’s advocate that foster care requires?

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These questions only target this one facet of our lives…we know many more people and situations that require constant prayer.

The anxiety levels can build as we look at the mess and needs around us. Its presence can pervade our days without our expressed knowledge but rather a feeling, a heaviness, that we desire to be freed from.

Thankfully, as both the nurse and I clearly saw the stable was a cup, God sees the struggles in our view as whatever cup they may turn out to be: cups of grace and mercy, deliverance from or deliverance through, or cups of pain and purification for His glory and our ultimate good.

He who was born in the household stable came to drink the cup of God’s wrath on our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Lord, please give us eyes to see, as your Son, the cup poured before us and let us say as He did:

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.

~Matthew 26:39, 42 (emphasis mine)

As we pray the Father’s will let us also claim His promises found in Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Renewal

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you  may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2

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This weekend I need some Biblical reminders that heaven is my home. Do you?

I asked Ron this morning if he thought that people we love, know, or have influenced will be the first to greet us when we enter into heaven.

Immediately following my face to face encounter with God Himself and Jesus in His glorified state, will I then be welcomed to heaven by some of the people that I love, and connected with most in fellowship here on earth? I sincerely hope so! Further, I hope that I have the privilege of welcoming others into their eternal home and joining with Jesus in saying, “Well done.”

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Today’s post will be simple. Meditate on one of these scripture passages and let your mind marvel at an eternity spent with Jesus.

Why not listen to these encouraging lyrics sung by Moriah Peters? Click here if viewing in a reader.

1. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. There fore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. ~ Hebrews 11:14-16

2. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. ~ Philippians 3:20-4:1

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you ~1 Peter1:3-4

More often than not, I rejoice at the thought of pure relationships in heaven. Community unstained by worldly desires. True fellowship with believers where jealousy, covetous, pride, idolatry, and adultery will never enter in. Contemplating an eternity where no death, sickness, or malicious acts of violence will terrorize will surely make believers rejoice at these words:

4. Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! ~Revelation 22:20

5. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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 21:1-4

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We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away? ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 124

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Truth Hits the Spot

My choices reveal more of the inner woman than I usually care to decipher.

Meditating on the motive behind my desires or frustrations with self and in relationships may become a new practice. This is necessary because, don’t all troubles really start with some stronghold that needs to be overcome?

It was for me on Sunday morning. Emily was ready wearing the dress of her choice and with her hair combed in the most obedient fashion… or at least that is what I am presently recalling. As I was gathering all the necessities for church I noticed that Emily had chosen her worn play-clothes flip flops as the final accoutrement.

I did what any caught in the temporal mother would do,”Emily, are you sure you want to wear your play shoes instead of your nice flip flops to church?”

I had planted the seed of doubt and want without thinking of the consequences to my daughter’s view of how a woman should adorn herself.

Do not let your adorning be external– the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4
I then reaped what I sowed, a beautiful little girl standing her ground in her choice. That is… until… it was time to buckle-up. Then, she wanted to wear her beautiful new Yellow Box flip flops!
Already hopelessly upset over such a trivial matter I gave way to the crying and whining and muttered unnecessary words while retrieving the more desirable flip flops.
It was the picture perfect start to Sunday worship of our Creator in packaging alone.
Amidst worship and soul-searching, I remembered a valuable nugget, it is not about the condition of our clothes, but the condition of our heart before God. I humbly expressed this truth to my daughter and prayed that I will choose more wisely the next time.
Sometimes a difficult and challenging experience ushers in the teachable point we so desperately need to grasp. Like a well timed refreshment to my soul, this truth hit the spot.
Another well-timed refreshment? So glad you asked. Our visit with Nana and “Do Daddy,” upon which we visited the local Yogurt Spot for a Sunday afternoon treat Yellow Box flip flops and all!
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