Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Sinner Rejoices in the goodness of her God

WOW! It has been a LONG time since I have written a blog! I chose to write today because of how grateful I am to my wonderful God! I hesitated to even name the post "A Sinner Rejoices in the goodness of her God" because I do not want to give the wrong impression that God is only good because I have something "good" to share. I will preface the fact that before I knew what I am about to tell, I was already feeling very grateful for my God and His goodness even in the midst of a very difficult time. I will be honest...much of my life has felt like a wrestling match between me & the Lord. I realize more than ever how much pride I have and why the wrestling match takes so long! If only I could "submit" sooner, and just lay myself down and say, "OK God, you win!" But I already know He wins. I am not wrestling because I want to win-to beat God so to speak. I wrestle because the only way to truly have victory is to understand the depths of my sin - the root of where each sinful act comes from. Only when I am broken over my sin, is there true lasting change. And that is why I wrestle. To be broken. I often times ask the Lord to break me quickly. But He doesn't. I typically don't stand up from my knees in prayer before the Lord saying, "Oh, NOW i see it! I see my sin!" More often, after praying for a broken and contrite heart, the Lord leads me into more circumstances that exposes my sin. He turns the heat up and more ugliness comes out. At the height of my anger, bitterness, resentment, etc. is where I feel broken. In those moments, I hate what I have become, and fall on my face before the Lord in repentance and gratitude for what His sacrifice on the cross accomplished for me. Without His grace, I would be a slave to that sin. That alone, is why the post, "A Sinner rejoices in the goodness of her God"

The past few weeks have been quite a wrestling match for me. I tend to be a pretty upbeat person, not often having down days. I am stubborn by nature. And that stubbornness refuses to allow any earthly thing to rob my joy. But there are a few things/people that are able to do that better than others. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about this.......You can read it HERE. This magnificent child of mine continues to challenge this often times "not ready for debate mode" mama. He is smart! I am not. He is extremely intelligent! (I AM better at math than he is!) : )Just figured I'd throw myself a bone here! Honestly, God has gifted him with a mind that often times blows me away. He is very black and white, and because of that thinking, it is hard to convince him of anything once he's made up his mind. If you know him, you know what I mean! When it comes to spiritual things, it is not always black and white. Don't' get me wrong, doctrine often is. But that is another post for another day. My struggle has always been trying to get my son to understand "The bigger picture" of life. He tends to focus on politics and all the ways that our government is messed up. I agree for the most part....I just can't get caught up in always talking about it in every situation, lest we lose that bigger picture of the gospel....that there is a lost world who needs Jesus. I don't want the gospel of Christ to ever get lost in our fight against a faulty government, or being right about ANY topic, as noble as it may seem. I have found myself in many situations that I have had to back down from discussing or fighting, at the risk of losing righteousness in order to achieve it. There is a place to stand on these things, and I believe the Lord has gifted my son to perhaps fight for some of them, but hopefully never at the risk of his holy calling.

It is funny I should sound so noble in saying that I have had to back down in conversations - because I am able to do that with any other person EXCEPT for him! He is relentless on his points.....and so I am I. Lord help us both! Well, today, I received a phone call from my sister in Florida(My son is staying with her for a week during his college break) to share with me how proud I would be of my son. They were at my nephew's Tae Kwon Do class today where David was interacting with an apparently very intellectual 7 year old. This boy comes from a strong Christian family and is homeschooled. My son began a conversation with the boy while his mom shared with my sister how her heart aches over the fact that her son does not believe in God. (How can one believe in something you cannot see-pretty black and white, right?) This mom saw the intellectual conversation her son was having with my son and wondered if David would be willing to talk to this boy about God. At the time of this phone call my son was in a room with this 7 yo boy talking to him about the Lord.

I have no update to report as of yet, but I was very proud. Even more, I am humbled. I have allowed my own anger, control, bitterness, etc. etc. to continue to get in the way of what God is wanting to teach me all along. I love when God throws me these bones along the way. Not so I can be proud in a sinful way, but humbled in knowing that that God is still on the throne and He alone can open blind eyes to see. Maybe one day I will write a book of the details of that truth in my own life, but this is only a blog (on the verge of a book already!) I worried that in any given moment, my son may lose sight of "The bigger picture". But today, he did not. This may not sound like anything miraculous to anyone reading, but my heart rejoices in my God. And again, not because there is a praise to report, but because I see the magnitude of God's grace over my own sin. I worry about things I cannot control. I get angry about things that only God can change. I have wrestled over many things this past month. Heart issues are being exposed at a rate I often cannot handle. I am thankful though, because these are the things that cause me to rise early in the morning and get on my face before the Lord and beg upon His mercies to change break fill me with His Spirit. When I arise from those prayers, I often don't receive the answers I think I need, but I receive an intimacy that cannot be explained. My desperate need for the Lord is necessary to walk in His Spirit. I continue to wrestle. It is not easy. But there is gratitude and joy.

If the mom of this young boy could read this blog I would tell her (like I would tell anyone else struggling in life over ANY matter), that this trial you are going through is more about you than it is your situation. It is for OUR sanctification. Everything we go through is for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to our great God. God does not get glory from my life when I am full of myself. So He brings me through the fire and brings the dross to the surface.He does this in order that I may fall desperately upon His grace to change me and wrestle it out until He does. As long as there is anger, worry, fear, etc. I know I have to get back in the ring. Thank you precious Lord for your faithfulness to me. I am thankful for your mercy and grace!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Get organized

My friend directed me to this blog to help me with my food budget. I stumbled upon this opportunity to enter to win a $100 gift card from Wal-Mart! By posting on my blog, I get to enter the contest. This would certainly help my food budget! I would encourage you to join as well, but that may limit my options of winning! JK! : ) Join! It's easy! (I think.....we'll see if this works!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who (or what ) is your donkey?

Has God put a person or a circumstance in your life that seems to frustrate you often? I don't mean to make this sound bad, but it may. No matter how hard I try not to show my sinful self, it will come out anyway, so I might as well be honest & put it out there.

When my oldest son was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with autism.(more accurately Aspergers Syndrome). That year began a very different path in my life than I ever expected or wanted to be on. I wanted so badly to help him learn to talk, to understand, to be as normal as possible. I worked day and night with him to teach him things that would come naturally to typically developing children. Although I knew of the disability my son had, it did not stop me from getting frustrated and often times angry with him. As he got older, he progressed tremendously and I was thankful for that. God taught me A LOT about myself in those early years. However, with age and progression, his vocabulary became quite advanced, and each day of my life I feel I am on trial and my son is the judge. I am NOT impressed with feeling like I am on trial. So needless to say, when i am in this position, I feel angry. I get angry. I think sometimes the neighbors know it too. I am not pleased with myself but often times feel out of control. I feel the guilt afterward and know I was not practicing self control and therefore leave NO room for the Holy Spirit's power to fill me if I am full of myself at that moment.

I could write a book about this topic but I won't. : ) But I did want to share what the Lord showed me this week through His Word. Typically when things are difficult, I will ask the Lord to reveal to me what He wants me to see in the situation. I know He ALWAYS has something for me to learn, whether I am the one in sin, or someone has sinned against me. The bottom line is, I will not be perfect until I meet Him in glory, so I KNOW He uses every circumstance in my life to draw out my sin and refine me. I will always look for that hidden sin in my own heart.

This week as I was praying about the situation with my son (we had another huge blowup) : ( I rehearsed in my mind of how much I sacrifice for my boys. i thought of what MY desires would be for myself if I wasn't homeschooling and felt I give so much. (I was in self pity mode so give some grace here) : ) I would compare myself to others and see how much more consistent I am in discipline and THEIR kids don't act this way! I felt resentment because my oldest takes so much out of me and I feel I often times give leftovers to the other two. it was not a good day for me. I want to be honest here, so bear with me. My most sinful nature comes out with this boy and i do NOT like what I see when it comes out. The strange part is that because of this child, God has given me a tremendous love and appreciate for what Christ did on the cross because I see tangibly the disgusting nature He saved me from. I see what I would look life if I lived a life completely in the flesh, and I thank God I don't have to be enslaved to that nature (even though I give into it more times than I want to).

So why the title "Who (or what) is your donkey"? The Lord reminded me this week about the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. If you're not familiar with the story, I would encourage you to read all of Numbers 22. I have pasted verses 21-34 below. After you read the verses I will share what the Lord put on my heart concerning my situation.

Balaam's Donkey - Numbers 22

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"

29 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."

30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?"
"No," he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [c] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."

34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back."

I want to highlight verse 32. Read it again:

The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.

I'm not trying to be funny here at all, nor disrespectful. But I saw my son as the donkey. I saw how God sees my path is a reckless one before Him and he puts these difficult circumstances in my path to CHANGE MY COURSE. It is His grace and love for me that causes this. And ultimately I am beating (getting angry) with the very instrument that God is using to REDIRECT my path, to draw out my sin, so I can confess it, repent it, and be free from that bondage, so I can be a vessel that is useful for Him.

I have noticed other "donkeys" this week as well. Pretty much anything (or person) that brings out my sin can represent the donkey. The donkey is the instrument that God is using to draw out my sin and refine me into the image of Christ. I can choose to see my sin and repent, or I can beat my donkey and blame IT for my reckless course.

As I type I am reminded of James 1:2-4

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I have a new sense of appreciation for the difficult things in my life and know that it is God's perfect love for me that desires to make me like Christ so I can live in freedom to worship Him as He deserves. And really, there is nothing, NOTHING that compares to the joy that I have in Him. My love for Him has grown so much through the trials that I would NEVER choose a life of comfort and ease if that meant it would replace the intimacy that I have with Him. He is SO worth every hardship if it means I can know Him more!

So think about it. Who or what, is your donkey? Who or what has God put in your path to reveal your sin, to show you that your path is a reckless one before you? Don't get angry with it, but change your course!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why I took a sabbatical from Facebook

My last status mentioned that I had been praying about many things. I know some people think God will just show you His will and we don't need to stress about it. There was a time i didn't stress over those things. But my relationship with the Lord is very real, very personal, and very much alive. I will notice if He begins to pull away from me, so I cannot just sit back and relax. I have sought hard after Him for many years to obtain an intimacy that I only envied in others. His Word says if you seek Him with all your heart, you WILL find Him. I took Him at His Word. I faithfully got up every morning and fought to know Him even though I felt nothing. I felt He was far away. I did not understand or enjoy reading His Word. Not at first anyway. But the Lord began to open my eyes to see.

One day I was studying the word "word". Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." I studied more of the word "Word" and discovered the different meanings in the original language. Some verses that have the word "word"in the Greek mean "logos" which translated means the "written word". Other verses in Greek that have the word "word" is translated "rhemas" This word means "God breathed". My eyes were peeled open that day because I was reading the Bible as the "logos" word of God. It was words on a page. That is how a non-Christian reads the Word of God. Without the Holy Spirit breathing life onto His Word and making it a reality in your heart, you will not understand the Rhemas Word of God. From that day on I prayed the the Lord would breathe life on the words that I read - that He would make the "logos word" into a "rhemas word" in my heart. I KNEW without Him breathing on them, I would not understand them.

I hear so many people use the phrase, "There is NOTHING like (fill in the blank)...." I think in my heart - "Oh yes there is!" There is something WAY better! When God reveals something in our hearts there is NO greater joy! NONE! Some people can think I have lost my mind, or that I just can't have fun anymore. It's not that, I just compare it to the joy that I have with being in love with my Lord. When I see myself slipping away from that love and enjoying the things of the world a little too much, I realize what I am losing, and whose face I am spitting into.

I think that is what I have done - Spit in the face of the one who gave me life - who gives me breath everyday. He created me, He loves me. He died for me. I gave my life to Him. FULLY to Him, and I have taken some back. Every morning when I get up, and I go to my computer and check my Facebook before I have spent time with the one who gave me life, I am spitting in His face. It may sound drastic, but as I was reading Joshua 7 this morning, it hit me afresh. I have allowed (what appears to be innocent) idols in my life, and I believe the Lord has been trying to show me that for some time and I have done like Achan (in Joshua 7), and hid it. As if I can hide anything from God. : ) The sad part is, I know I can't hide anything from God. I just think most of us deceive OURSELVES and think we do not hold idols above Christ, and that is why we are not experiencing the power of the Spirit in our lives. But when the Lord wants to reveal those idols, He will send hardships to get our attention. If we do not admit that we put things (or others) above Christ we are deceiving ourselves. Most often people ignore their own personal sin whe they go through hardships and try to "Make the best of it" instead of realizing that God is exposing sin in our hearts. This is a dangerous place to be.

I will paste Joshua 7 below. I know it's long, but so worth the read.

Achan's Sin

1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things [a] ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, [b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel.

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, "Go up and spy out the region." So the men went up and spied out Ai.

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there." 4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries [c] and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?"

10 The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

13 "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

14 " 'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. 15 He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!' "

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, [d] the God of Israel, and give him the praise. [e] Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me."

20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, [f] two hundred shekels [g] of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, [h] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today."
Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor [i] ever since.

If you haven't already read it, I encourage you to read the note I put up yesterday by Beth Moore. ( That really convicted me yesterday. And I am ashamed that I have allowed several little threads to hold me in bondage, and ultimately will keep me from walking in the power of the Spirit that I so desperately desire.

Since i will be taking a break form FB for at least a month (If I cannot keep Christ first it has to go altogether), I will not see comments on this page. I will however post this entry onto my blog and I can see comments there. I would love to hear your thoughts. My e-mail and phone number is also in my info page if anyone needs to get a hold of me there.

As I go, I will be praying for all of my FB friends. : )

Christina : )

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

David's Testimony

Once again, I cannot believe how long its been since our last post. It is so hard to put into words all the Lord is doing in us. Well, if we were sitting face to face having coffee, I usually never lack for words, but in a blog entry, I know you don't have 2 hours to sit and read. : ) I do have a particular reason for posting this entry today. I wanted to preface it with a bit of background so any new readers will fully grasp the miracle that our mighty God has done. I in no way want to take credit for what the Lord has done, and want to be sure He receives every bit of the glory He is due.

My oldest son David, who just turned 14 last month, was diagnosed with autism when he was 20 months old. He was considered high functioning and progressed quite well through the many therapy programs he went through for several years. We chose to homeschool by the Lord's leading when all other options through the public school failed. We came to realize when David was around 10, that he had Aspergers Syndrome (a high functioning form of autism). If you don't know much about AS, I will just be brief as this will be too long to go into that detail. David is extremely bright and does not struggle in academics, but struggles a great deal socially, and emotionally. There are many other concerns with fine motor skills and sensory issues that affect much of how he is as well, but for now I will focus on his inability to be flexible, and his difficulties to see things outside of himself. Transition is very challenging for kids with AS, and they see things from a very skewed perspective. I know we are all selfish, but typically we have a filter (a conscience) that tells us what is appropriate to say out loud and what we should not. David does not have that filter. There is a major issue with anger and anxiety that lies so deep in the depths of his heart, that had made the past 13 years extremely challenging. When David did go to school for a couple of years, his anger and anxiety hit a level that really concerned us. We pleaded with our Dr. for help. I NEEDED someone to direct us to some help. I wrote a letter to the neurologist that diagnosed him and explained precisely what we were dealing with so I would not leave anything out, and we didn't waste each others time. After reading my letter, the Dr. looked at me and said, "A behavioral program, or the health food store is not going to fix this. The root problem is anxiety and the only help is to put him on medication". We discussed the possibilities although that was a last resort for us. We almost felt we were at that point as David began to get very angry and even sometimes violent. We were not willing to go down that route as the Dr. explained that the type of medication he needed to be on was not recommended for children under the age of 18, and the side effects were depression and suicide.

We went home and cried and prayed. As we prayed, we were reminded of something we have read many times in God's Word. You see, the Dr. said there is no cure for anxiety other than medication, but I could not help but be reminded of Philippians 4:6-7
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There is a cure for anxiety, but we were very aware this needed to be a God thing. We were also very aware that if God didn't get a hold of David's heart, that medication may be in his future, but we would commit ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit to lead David to Christ and to help David see his need for the Lord to get him through this. So many times our words fell on deaf ears. I will admit we were inconsistent with our parenting, and often times were driven to anger ourselves, which made us feel like complete failures. But never did we back down on the standards of God's Word, and what HE required of us. David has grown tremendously over the years as far as how he dealt with things outwardly, but the anger was still very prevalent. it was so evident because that was always his first resort and often times it was to forgo a consequence. We hit these issues of the heart every time, as we believe it is the heart that is the wellspring of our behavior. If the heart is right, the behavior will flow out of a natural love for God and not just because of correction. Again, we have continued to see growth in David, but something happened this past weekend that I believe is a memorial stone in David's life and ours. I wish you had the time to hear all the details (and I wish I could even remember them all) of how these events came together, but I want to share with you a testimony that David wrote yesterday. In his homeschool lesson he was required to write a speech that he was to give to a certain audience. He chose to write his testimony. We were completely blown away by what this 14 year old wrote. One thing we do love about David is his honesty. He does not say what he does not mean - and you will see that in his testimony. He does not pull any punches.

Before I end with David's testimony, I again want to give glory to God for His Word, His promises and His faithfulness. We are so unworthy of what He has done, and we thank Him for His indescribable grace!

(This is a rough draft, so it has several errors- and it is very long)

Hello and welcome, this is David Cooke, and I'll be speaking to you all about my testimony and hope you have the patience to listen.

First Main Point- My Struggles to get to where I am now

Trust me, I'm not fully grown. Not that it's possible. But I'm nowhere near being a really strong Christian. I'm still spiritually young, however I want this to give people encouragement to get through the early stages of Christian growth. I've had a lot of struggles spiritually during my time, however I've really been thrown into the crossfire of spiritual warfare in the past few months, and I hope hearing about mine will help you to grow spiritually stronger.

Subpoint A- Seven Years Old and My "Conversion Experience" which really meant little

Sometime when I was a seven years old I asked my mom how to be saved. I don't remember the exact words she used, but the answer was not really correct. She told me simply to pray a prayer and Jesus would come into my heart and I'd be saved. The bible never says that! I don't even remember the motives behind it, was it a real genuine wish to be saved, or was it just to please my parents, it doesn't matter! There is nothing in the bible that tells you to pray a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved. Jesus says in Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Note that he does not say No I tell you; but unless you ask me into your heart you will all likewise perish. And It's not anything to do with a lack of forcefulness in those words, it's not the point. Jesus says it clearly again in in Luke 13:5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Just 2 verses later! He must mean it!

He also says in Luke 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. What is denying yourself? It means that it's not all about me or you, It's about others and even more Importantly It's about Jesus, the son of God.

I learned in sunday school one time about JOY. JOY stood for Jesus, Others, and You. And Jesus, at the front, is the most important of all. Others, in the middle, are more important then you, and you are last. The bible fully supports this in Philippians 2:3hp Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Oh what my parents hadn't taught me at the time. I don't think they had yet come to the knowledge themselves. I started having doubts at the age of 10, and thought that they were just strange, insincerities that could never be backed up in scripture. I was wrong, they are backed up quite strongly in scripture, as I have shown you.
Subpoint B- Preparing a move to Little Rock- I didn't care but I do now

It was March of 2007, the first of my struggles on my walk with God, or, If I had one at the time. Most of the time up till then, there really wasn't much happening. I had a happy life in Lehigh Acres Florida, two wonderful friends and some neighborhood kids to play football, and just nothing seemed to matter but me.

Or, In my mind, that was all that seemed to matter.

Nothing was really that important. I went to church every week with some likely false assurance of being a Christian. I didn't know all the other stuff that's involved, like denying yourself and repenting. I prayed a prayer, so I was saved, right?


As I said earlier, the bible nowhere supports the idea that being saved is just merely praying a prayer. But my either unsaved self or very baby Christian self showed itself the day my parents told me we were leaving home and going to Little Rock eventually. We didn't know how long it would take, but we in practice ended up having 15 months before we even left our house and 2 more before leaving state. We still aren't there.

That night I cried a lot, understandable, and I didn't want to go, understandable. But time and time again I told them we shouldn't do it. Why? I didn't want to leave my friends in Southwest Florida.

What were we to do there? We were going to work for Family Life, a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ, and it worked with marriages and families. Did I care then about the many families that could have their marriages saved because of what my parents would do through that organization? No! But should I have, and should it have been expected of me to have? You bet your lifesaver!

Besides, they were fulfilling the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Now, I pray to the Lord who saved me that we will get there as quickly as possible and do the work there he would have us.

Subpoint C- Thirteen Years Old and really starting to learn what it means to be a Christian through my parents

In March, 2008, we went to The Transformed Conference at our church, McGregor Baptist, done by the way of the master. It was there that I learned about false conversion, ways to witness, exc. I thought for a time I got saved that day, but I would later learn (Or maybe deep down I knew then) that just knowing the truth wasn't enough. I had never repented that I knew of, really. I still didn't understand.

In July, 2008, we had to move out of our house because the people we had recently sold it to moved in. We went to live with our Aunt Gina and Uncle Ricky in Ft. Myers. It was a heavy and frustrating transitional period, and my severe anger problem, buried for at least a year, attacked again.

I also started having doubts about my salvation, and when I talked to my parents, they really understood them and I was really correct to be unsure about my spiritual standing. The bible says in 2Corinthians 13:5 examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Paul Washer, a great, convicting full-time preacher said something along the lines of "Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Don't ask yourself whether you have repented, but whether you continue to repent today. Don't ask yourself whether you have believed, but whether you are continuing to believe today.

It seems that the bible supports the idea that salvation is not merely a prayer, but that you must examine yourself and see whether you are continuing to believe in him and repent. Do you hate your sin? Many of us, including myself often, do not. If you do not, ask God to help you to hate it and love him. If you don't know it, ask him to show you. Subpoint D- The "(John) and (Dennis) Incidents" and how to handle them

Two incidents in consecutive weeks have helped grow my faith to where it is now. I didn't handle them all too well, but I later learned the right thing to do and will help me to grow in the future. They both occurred at the youth group at Calvary Baptist Church with two annoying kids at youth group named (John) and (Dennis). It may not be surprising for you to hear that they are friends.

(John) is a kid at youth group who is always very annoying, but a particularly annoying habit he has is to throw wet paper towels into my stall (And heaven only knows how he knew I was in there.) What I did at the time was threaten to hurt him, but in reality, I asked a youth leader to talk to him. Although that action was in the right, it was wrong for me to threaten him like I did.

On the way home, I was repeating and repeating to my dad how I wanted to punch him, how I didn't care that it was wrong exc. And this was only last week. This week a lot has changed!

(Dennis) is an annoying kid at youth group, who, like (John), always wants a reaction. To get one, he breaks a cookie and drops it on my lap. What did I do? A reasonably good choice, but not the best one. I told him to pick it up and upon his refusal I told a youth group leader who made him clean it up. What would have been the ideal choice.

My mom summed it up well in these words "Turning the other cheek that is in this case cleaning it up is the only thing that has power To show Jesus' love. Jesus backs up her opinion in Matthew 5:39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. This is the biblical thing to do.
Subpoint E- Fourteen and still much to learn

If you think that by listening to me all this time that I think I'm a self-righteous jerk who thinks I'm better than everyone else, you are gravely mistaking.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, I have a severe anger problem I am trying to defeat, but I'm not so sure I can alone. I need to trust God to help me get past those problems in his timing which will help me to be a greater witness for him. As you may see, my testimony is not really complete, nor is anyone's. The Christian, either a long-time Christian or a reasonably new one like me (Though I don't know the exact time which I got saved) We are always learning new things about God. If you're still a child living at home, you may be thinking, "I can't do anything for God, I'm too young." Whether it be Satan or society, don't let them lie to you. The book, Do Hard Things is a book for teens, by teens, and they certainly aren't bound by that lie. Second Main Point- Who says young people can't do big things for God?

It may seem impossible for a young person to do things for God, but it really isn't. I have read some of the book Do Hard Things which tells about some teens that really did go out and take on huge responsibility. In this part of the speech, I'll tell you about this book, my personal example of a time I took a small, Although you may consider it big, it really isn't, example of doing something for God, and my big plans for the future which may not correspond with yours. As is said in Veggie Tales "Little guys can do big things too." Subpoint A- The Do Hard Things book and 1 Timothy 4:12

1Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

After reading that verse, do you still think it's impossible for the young to do big things for God? It's not.

In the Do Hard Things book, the authors (Two brothers wrote it) told three stories about t teens from long ago who did Hard Things. Here are two of the stories in my own words.

A man named George was born in Northern Virginia in 1732 to a middle class family, and he lost his father at 11. At 16, he had mastered advanced math such as geometry and calculus. At seventeen, he was official surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia. This was a man's job and was heavy work. He grew up to become the first President of the United States, George Washington.

David, not me, different David, was ten when he began his career at sea, and at 12 he was given command of a vessel that was captured during the War of 1812, and had a mission to return it to the United States. The former British Captain was upset about being ordered around by a 12 year old. He was allowed to keep his pistols, A symbol of his position, out of respect, and he said he'd go on deck with them. David responded by telling him if he did he'd be shot and thrown overboard. The former captain believed him and stayed below.

Talk about guts! And over something worldly! And we don't have the guts to tell our friends the greatest news in the world, eternal news about Jesus. Neither do I, but it's a problem. Remember the Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." This applies to the young and the old. Subpoint B- Handing Out Tracts in the mall

As I previously admitted, I'd call myself a young and immature Christian who has much to learn and much to do. However, the bible supports the idea that the young can do big things, and I have done something reasonably small that proves the idea that the young as well as the old can fulfill the great Commission.

The story started on Saturday, February 14, when my dad told me that that next Saturday the Schmitts were going to go to the mall to witness to people. I originally had no desire to go, but quickly changed my mind Sunday Morning. That changed quickly on Sunday Night, when I had my issue with (John), I realized that, if I can't handle that, am I ready to witness? But I decided to go, and handed out six tracts at the mall. I didn't talk to anyone, but I put the gospel into their hands. You can surely do the same.

Subpoint C- My dreams for the future, and why should you care?

My dream for the future a week ago? Make Video Games, be an author, something along those lines. Now? I want to proclaim the gospel. Am I a person who cares for nothing worldly and only the spiritual? Far from it! However, I am a person who wants to please God and grow closer to him, and to fulfill the Great Commission. Every Christian's dream should be the same.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Family Worship

We mentioned in our last newsletter that we would be doing a blog entry on Family Worship. A friend was telling us recently of a pastor that was interviewing for a position at a church. The Senior Pastor asked him if he was in a regular routine of leading his family in daily worship. His thought was the same as mine. When I think of worship, I typically think of singing. But that is not what the pastor meant.

Recently Dave and I listened to a Familylife radio broadcast that featured a pastor named Voddie Baucham. He talked about the importance of fathers being the Prophets, Priests, Providers, and Protectors in their home, and the responsibility of fathers to disciple their families - not the churches responsibility, but fathers. There will be situations where the father , for reason, is absent (whether in body or in spirit), and in that case it would be the mom. The point of this post is to encourage families that the responsibility of discipling our children comes from home, and we should not leave it up to others (i.e. the church)to do.

We listened to the program on a CD in the car while we were traveling form NC to GA. Dave expressed his heart to me about the conviction he felt to lead his family in worship on a daily basis. He has taken this task very seriously. I will share some simple things we have done, but ultimately would love to hear from others what you have done. We would like to hear thoughts, ideas, what you do, or even some frustrations you may have had in this area. If you are like me, you need ideas. What you do will depend on the age of your children, so we would love to hear from families with children of all ages. Nothing is too much or too little. Some of us need to start out small, so please share.

The way we started out was just picking a topic, verse or book of the Bible to read through and discuss. (Voddie talks about the 3 points he uses - can't remember them exactly, but the gist is, read the verses, discuss what the verses mean, and then talk about how you are going to apply it). We have been going through the book of Philippians, and dissecting it verse by verse. We have a time of prayer, and sing a few worship songs, which we usually let the kids pick. One day, Dave just asked the boys if anyone had a particular verse they wanted to discuss, and Samuel said, "Yes, John 1:12", then proceeded to open his Bible up to the verse and read it out loud - then we all discussed it. Next week, we are going to take turns having the kids lead the worship time. I'm sure tears and frustration will be involved. : )

One thing we have been meaning to do for years (see, you're not the only one who procrastinates) : ) is the "Family Nights Tool Chest" that is put out by Focus on the Family. These family game nights are set up as a devotional/game night, that include hands on activities to help your children remember the lesson. I pulled the book out last week so I can prepare for a lesson. This is something we would like to do once a week, but if we can even do it once a month, I know it will make a big impact. One example is on the tongue and the power of your words. There is a whole lesson with Bible verses included, but the activity is this: have your kids squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste onto a paper plate. Once it is all out, tell them to now put it ALL back in. of course they will tell you that is impossible. In which you would reply, "Yes, and it is the same with our words. Once they leave your mouth, you cannot take them back."

Another good resource that is simple but will have great long term rewards (especially for kids 12 and under), is a book called "Big Truths for Little Kids", by Susan and Richie Hunt. This book has great stories, and goes through the catechisms. A catechism is a set of questions and answers learned or memorized to teach a body of information. This book uses questions, answers, stories, scripture and prayer to help you communicate the character of God. It is fun for us as well, because we learn them too. I tested a friend on some basic questions and she failed. She felt the need to get the book herself to learn the right answers. : )

Click HERE to access audio or written transcript of Voddie Baucham's program.

We just ordered Voddie's book, that talks more about raising our kids is this culture we live in today. It is called "Family Driven Faith".

Our family has so much to learn, and having these times of worship with our boys is bringing out some of those things. We have had a great opportunity to hit some serious heart issues, and talk to our boys about the responsibility we have as believers in Christ, to prepare our hearts for God to do the work that only He can do. Some hard truths have come out, and it has given each of us an opportunity to examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), and talk about the Cost of being a disciple of Christ (Luke 14;26-33).

We look forward to hearing from you...

Praying the Lord will bless every effort you put forth to bring Him the glory and honor He is so worthy of...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Journey Continues

I wish we had been better at keeping our blog updated. I have many things written in my journal, and we have shared snippets of things we have learned between the blog and our monthly newsletters (available on our website), but unfortunately we have not tracked enough. Dave & I have experienced some things spiritually over the past year that have pretty much rocked our world. We have seen God in a way we never have, and we have truly been challenged in what it means to live the Christian life - the crucified life. frankly, it is quite scary. Scary because I know our eyes have been opened to see the truth of God's Word, and am afraid for so many that have never been shown the Word of God for what it really is. I am ashamed to say that for many years I thought I was
OK spiritually because unfortunately I compared myself to those around me and thought I was just like every other Christian I know.

I am grateful that the Lord brought circumstances in my life that I truly could not handle in my own power and caused me to seek Him out of desperation for His power just to make it through with some kind of success, lest I look foolish for screwing it all up. I am afraid my motives were not always so pure and I did not even see it.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I wrote an e-mail that I placed in my journal because it had great significance of the realization of where I was at spiritually. I recognized for the first time in my life that I was not living the Spirit filled life that I read about in the Bible. The Bible says "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you", and I felt I was very far from that power. I did not believe it was anything mystical, nor did I feel that i would go around healing people or speaking in tongues like they did at Pentecost. I wasn't really looking for anything magical, but I knew I was missing something. In fact, something that concerned me was when I would talk to others about it, they would engage me funny and not seem to know what I meant. they would ask questions like why I didn't feel I WAS walking in the Spirit, yet when I asked them if they felt they were, the answer was typically, no. That kind of bothered me especially coming from people I looked up to spiritually, people that are leading in our church. I wasn't looking to judge ANYONE, yet when I looked at others, I felt they didn't really have what I was missing either. I wasn't even quite sure WHAT it was supposed to look like, but there was a great gnawing in my heart, and today it is evident that God was piercing me. He had so much to empty me of and to teach me, and I was so blind - so prideful. I will never say I am not blind. As I was learning of my spiritual blindness, the Lord began to open my eyes to see like I never saw before. I began to read scripture in a new way - a way that is so real and alive. As I read all the verses in the New Testament about blindness, i saw the
correlation between the physical and the Spiritual. In John 9:35-41, I saw that I was much like the Pharisees. And unfortunately as I talk with others around me, people are not quick to admit that they are blind (spiritually). Here are the verses.

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."

38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

So many think they are on the right track as I did. I was so much like a Pharisee in many ways. As I began to really study the Word, it became a mirror to me - seeing myself in light of who God is, and what HIS standards are, as opposed to
comparing myself with others, and their standards. Now I read the Word and see how Holiness is what God requires, and His Word says, "without holiness, no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14)- that is a sobering thought.

Over this past year, many challenges have been brought our way, and we came kicking and
screaming through some of it - especially when it came to protecting my rights against being hurt and rejected. I am such a people pleaser and I want so much (too much) for others to be pleased with me. I do not handle rejection very well, and much of that has come my way over the past 15 months - more than I can handle at times. As I cried out to God many times, He challenged me on those rights and made it very clear to me that I did not have any. I remember one day sitting in our school room and crying in prayer about how hurt I was over a situation and God gently showed me how I was making it about me. I questioned Him and asked if I had the right to be upset over how I was treated. His answer was very gentle yet very firm - "No, you do NOT have any rights. the day you gave your life to me, you gave up those rights". I have to say that I did not repent right then and turn from my wicked ways. I battled for some time (and am still struggling with this reality). But God showed me something that day that was new to me - something I think that is new to many. And I say that because EVERY person I have shared that story with (and it has been many), have all had the same response, "Well, you do have the right to be upset". I know, it sounds good, but it is not the life that Jesus lived - not the crucified life where we are told that in order to be Christ's disciples we must "Deny ourselves daily, take up our cross and follow Him". (Luke 9:23). I wanted so much to hold onto these rights, but frankly the hurt came so often that i was tired of being hurt. I came to realize the attacks were not going to stop, and in fact it may get worse. the only thing to do was to deny myself, deny my rights, so I can have freedom FROM the hurt. taking up our cross daily means to crucify the flesh daily, and that includes crucifying our rights - especially seeing the example Jesus gave as He held onto to NONE of His rights and He is the ONLY one that deserves to keep them.

I heard a great quote once that my friend shared with me years ago, and today I see it as reality in my life. It goes something
like this:

inoculate me from the praise of man, He baptized me in the criticism of man, until I was no longer under the control of man."

This quote means so much to me now, and I am beginning to feel that freedom. It still hurts, but I no longer try to protect those rights. I know they do not belong to me.

One thing God has revealed to both Dave and me - and my husband has taught me a lot in this area, is that everything, EVERYTHING that we do, every circumstance that comes our way is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. The attitude in which we have in our hearts toward God and toward others during the most trying of times truly tells of our character and relationship with Christ - a reflection of where we are on our path towards holiness. God has convicted me many times of the condition of my heart, even though outwardly I went through the right motions. He has shown me how my righteous acts are like filthy rags to Him, and ANYTHING I do in my OWN power cannot bring Him glory. Then how CAN I bring Him glory, as it seems I do so much in my own power? This is what we have been learning this past year - to surrender our hearts fully, wholly to Christ, so He (and only He can) change our heart, so the power of the Spirit can flow and do what only He can do. What my hearts feel is a good tester of how much of "me" is still in there.

This journey we continue to travel comes with much hardship, but we rejoice in the fact that the Bible assures us that every believer will face hardship. Because of the desire to bring glory to God, we are challenged to embrace these difficult times with fresh hearts and healed eyes. Of course we continue to submit to our flesh more times that we want to, but when we put our heads on the pillow at night - even through tears at times - we truly thank God for the circumstances that He continues to bring our way that are refining our hearts to shape them into the image of Christ.

We have more trials to face, ones we see and ones we don't see. The next challenge in our journey that we face is Dave stepping down from his current job, in order to start raising support full time. this is a HUGE (somewhat scary) step for us to take, as we will have to finish our support before a certain time, where as before we were not under that pressure.

This change will take place within the next couple of weeks, and we will take some time to visit with family and take the kids on a much needed short vacation before we head up to NY to raise support there. there is no telling of what that will look like, but we are trusting the Lord to continue to guide us every step of the way. He has provided a place for us to stay already and we are so grateful for that. it will be small and our family will become very intimate (or perhaps enemies) : ) The Lord's continued provision for us has been unbelievable. And I say unbelievable, because we have never trusted Him in this way before because we have typically made our own plans of how we do things. Trusting God in a radical way can bring much fear as you are no longer in control, and now we do things HIS way. I don't know why we ever doubted that He would provide this way, but it was perhaps because we weren't willing to have what HE wanted us to have as opposed to what WE wanted us to have.

Since the selling of our house and getting rid of so much stuff, we realized how much we have accumulated our own desires and then expected God to provide for them. Dave continues to tell people that we are "Happily Homeless." We laugh because in part that is true - we do feel very free, but on the other hand, we do look forward to settling into our own place and getting back into a normal routine. We will try to make the next couple of months a fun adventure for the boys and we trust that this time will be a great Spiritual marker for all of us, as we continue to be stretched along the way.

By His grace, and for His glory.....