Monday, February 27, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Philippians 2:3-5

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

Friday, February 24, 2006

How White Are You?

For school, our memory verse last week was "Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean, Wash me and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7)

In keeping with my (unintentional) laundry theme this week, the psalmist is speaking in terms we homemakers can relate to, oh so well. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. I relish laundry that is sparkling white. Bleach, bluing, detergents, all are attempts to regain whiteness in fabrics. Stains happen so easily... a blueberry drops off the pancake and lands in my husband's lap, spaghetti sauce drips from my sons lips to his shirt, mommy leans into the car to strap the boys into their carseats and oh no, dirt works its way across her jeans. On and on the staining continues. At the end of the day, the laundry pile is full of filthy clothes. Hardly any of these stains are "intentional". Many are so difficult to deal with, they leave residues that are next to impossible to remove.

This points me to my spiritual "stains". When I look at the ten commandments or the "greatest commandments" given by Jesus (Matt. 22:37, 39), I see myself falling short. Sadly, I fail God every day. Sometimes it is more than I can bear, when I evaluate my day and consider my actions. However, I am amazed and consoled by the psalmist's plea in this verse. I relate to his request to be washed. My husband is preaching on Romans 3 on sunday, and there too we are reminded of our need for cleansing, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."(v.23) Our situation is so desperate before the holy and pure God.

Then Jesus steps into the picture and offers His blood. 1 John 1:7 says, "...the blood of Jesus cleanses (washes) us from all sin." Did you catch that? ALL sin. This matches completely with the psalm. We will be whiter than snow. That is cleaner than clean. Not a spot. Not a residue. Not a trace. All because of Jesus Christ.

What a picture. This made me rejoice anew when I awoke to a beautiful snowfall this morning. As I walked to the shed, the sparkling snow seemed so white. Is it really possible that I am whiter than that? It truly is a miracle that Christ's blood washes me that clean. Thank you God for the whole plan. It's amazing. It's humbling. It's beautiful!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Man Of The House

My husband goes to a pastor's conference once a year and my eldest son reminded me today that, "while Daddy is gone, I will be the man of the house." To him, that means saying the prayer at the dinner table and "protecting" mommy and his younger brother. Of course, he doesn't understand that he receives no authority, since he is our child. However, we want him to develop a mind that "takes care of and protects" a family some day (should God bless him this way.)

Another aspect to preparing him for his role as eldest son, is to ready him for those moments we never anticipate because they are too horrible or unimaginable to contemplate. A simple example of this happened almost 4 years ago when my dad passed away.

Throughout my life, Sunday lunch was a big deal. We would come home from church and have a beautiful feast, complete with fine china, crystal glasses and almost every week, guests. My dad loved company and enjoyed hosting friends, though he generally did his part by sitting at the end of the table. His charismatic and winning personality seemed to bring interest to every meal. Conversations were often lively, challenging, informative, and more often than not, full of laughter. Of course, when he passed away, a big whole was empty at the end of our table.

I'll never forget the first sunday after he died. It was Father's Day. My mom, out of habit, was fixing the dinner- we were a big group with our spouses and children. I set the table, out of habit, not really thinking. When it was time to sit down, we all kind of looked at each other, wondering where we should sit. It seemed without my dad, we all felt kind of lost. My husband, the oldest male in the building, didn't move to sit in dad's seat, nor did my brother-in-law. My mother broke the ice and said, "well Eric, you are now the man of the family. Why don't you pray?" So my brother sat down, and began to thank God for lunch. It was comfortable and comforting.

My dad didn't travel very often in all the years, that I can remember. But my mom has told me since, that whenever he wasn't in town, she would have Eric pray, "as the man of the house." It was interesting to see that this small act was preparation for the time when he would step into the role of being the oldest son.

Of course, any of us (my mom, my sister, myelf, our husbands, our children) could have prayed for that Father's Day meal. But the transition of missing dad could not have been filled as "easily" with any of us sitting in his chair.

For this reason, I am also trying to prepare my son. Not just for the role he will have in his own home, but for the role he may one day have in our home.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mid-night Lesson

Last night around 1 pm, just about the time my REM sleep was becoming deep and dreamy, my two year-old awoke with a blood-curdling scream. He was racing out of his room towards ours and I tried to gently calm him with my voice. Being still only half-awake, I let him slip into our bed, thinking I would move him in a few minutes, once he fell asleep. Unfortunately, I fell asleep in about 3 seconds and didn't wake again until around 3:30.

I was stiff from being shoved against hubby's herculan chest by my bed-hogging and oh so adorable son. Knowing the risk of having my son become a "habitual visitor" of our bed, I knew it best to move him back to his room. Yet at this hour, I also knew how chilly the house can be, since we have the thermostat set to a brisk temperature while we sleep.

Mentally, I was grumbling about moving my son, while also knowing this was what I needed to do for his own good. As I crawled from under the covers, I was gripped with a thought. Here God was asking me to be a mom. Nothing amazing. Just a mom, doing her everyday job. But I could have a good attitude or one that needs adjustment. A verse on servanthood that has been haunting me since my bible study last week came to mind, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matt. 16:24)

As I reached for my son, I was suddenly convicted of my half-awake murmuring. God has allowed me to mother this boy, and my duty is to "take up my cross" and serve my family - out of obedience to my God. But here I was "complaining" about His job description for me.

Oh how my heart changed as I picked him up. What a privilege I suddenly felt. What a love. What a joy. I didn't notice the cold air. I didn't feel the usual weariness or irritation at being awoken. He seemed so light, so precious, so beautiful.

I also contemplated how Jesus felt when the cross was placed upon His shoulders - my cross. Did He bear the cross with a similar love that I felt for my son, as I moved through the dark? Oh but the hideousness of what He carried! How dare I ever murmur about what God asks of me in service to Him.

To help me better serve the people in my life, my coffee cup verse for the week is Romans 12:1. I pray it helps me grow in the habit of self-denial - to bring glory to God.

Coffee Cup Verse

Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brethren (sisters), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Laundry Room Confessional - Part 2

I will continue the Sins of Commission, but before I do: an ironing tip. Four or five years ago, when my sister was living in the US, she bought me some Linen Water, as a Christmas present. It is a lovely fragranced water that helps scent your laundry while helping steam it. I have now even resorted to ironing my bedsheets, because it is so nice to crawl into bed when the sheets smell beautiful, as well as look beautiful. Plus it makes me feel like a Proverbs woman (Proverbs 7:17 "I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloe and cinnamon". ) Lately I've seen these Linen Waters available in Canada at places like Winners and specialty shops. I'm almost out of mine, so I'll probably go out and find some more.

Now back to the Laundry Room Confessional...

Sins of Commission - Part 2

LYING: Any species of designed deception for a selfish reason is lying. If you design to make an impression by words or looks or actions, contrary to the naked truth, God calls it a lie and charges ou with lying.

CHEATING: Write down whenever you have dealt with a person and done to him that which you would not like him to have done to you. That is cheating.

HYPOCRISY: How many times have you confessed sins that you did not mean to break off? Or prayed to impress others rather than God?

ROBBING GOD: Instances when you have misspent your time and squandered hours that God gave you to serve Him. Times when you have misapplied your abilities or wasted God's money on things you did not need. Didn't tithe properly. You have sinned.

* These thoughts were compiled from a devotional on Spiritual Power by Charles Finney. Although I don't agree with him on all his points of theology, I found these thoughts to lead to repentance helpful. Thanks to adult sunday school, where a friend shared these thoughts.

Laundry Room Confessional

I love ironing. It's probably one of my favorite household "chores". I know many people that abhor the task, but for me there is something beautiful about taking a wrinkled shirt, using extreme heat and transforming the shirt into "like-new" condition. (Almost like what God does with us in the process of sanctification.)

Back in December, we were given a sheet about Sins of Commission, which I propped against the window in my laundry room. It has given me much to think about as I work away at the pile of clothes that sometimes accumulate. Thought I'd share it with you, in case you also have many wrinkles to work out with God. Blessings, sisters.

Sins of Commission - "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." Proverbs 29:13

WORLDLINESS: How have you regarded your worldly possessions? Have you looked at them as really yours - as if you had a right to dispose of them as you own, according to your own will? If you have loved property, and sought after it for its own sake, or to gratify lust and ambition or a worldly spirit, you have sinned.

PRIDE: How many times have you thought more and taken more pains about decorating your body to go to church than you have about preparing your mind for the worship of God? Cared more about pleasing others than in how your soul appears in the sight of the heart-searching God?

ENVY: Look at the times when you were envious of those whom you thought were above you in any respect or more talented or useful than you. Have you not so envied some that you were pained to hear them praised? You chose rather to dwell upon their faults than upon their virtues?

EVIL SPEAKING & SLANDER: Have you had instances when you have had a bitter spirit and spoke of believers in a manner entirely devoid of love and charity? Times when you have spoken behind others' backs of their faults, real or supposed, unnecessarily or without good reason. You need not lie to be guilty of slander, to tell the truth with the design to injure is also slander.

Part II to come tomorrow. These alone often leave me in need of confession and restitution to my God.

5 to 10 a day

We're told to get 5-10 portions of vegetables and fruit a day, according to the Canada Food Guide. When my children were younger (and still somedays), they aren't gung-ho on raw vegetables. Combine that with a husband that considers red peppers to be an exotic vegetable, and it sometimes feels like there aren't many recipe options to give my family the necessary vitamins. A few years ago I came across an excellent recipe for a vegetable soup that has lots of vegetables, with some "exotics" like eggplant, chickpeas, plus taste that is out of this world. In fact, my husband's delicate palate loves this soup. It does have quite a few steps, but they're pretty easy after you've made the recipe once. A truly delicious and nutritious option, so I'm sharing it with you. (I'll probably make a pot later today since I found some roasted red peppers in the back of my freezer yesterday.)

Roasted Vegetable Soup

2 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs.)
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 lbs. tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
3 red bell peppers
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups fresh basil (or to taste with dried)
1 sprig marjoram (again, to taste with dried)
parmesan cheese for garnish
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Preheat oven to 425oC. Prick eggplants and place in a baking pan with onions; toss with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in upper third of oven, turning once, until eggplants are soft and onionsbrowned, about 1-1/4 hours. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, season the tomatoes; place in a baking pan with garlic. Roast on lower rack of oven until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
3. Roast peppers under broiler until blackened (doesn't take long). Transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let steam under wrap 20 minutes. Using paper towels, rub off skins; remove stems and seeds.
4. Remove stems and skins from eggplants. Coarsely chop flesh; place in a stockpot. Add roasted vegetables and any accumulated juices from baking sheets. Add stock, 1-1/2 cups of the basil, marjoram, and chickpeas; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered until vegetables are very tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool.
5. Place soup in blender. Heat. Thin with water if needed. Finely chop remaining 1/2 cup of basil; stir into soup. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan and basil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentines Reading

So I'm in the process of reading 4 books on marriage right now. Not because we are experiencing problems, but for a variety of reasons. This afternoon, my kids were at "grandma's house" and so mommy indulged in one of her favorite things: reading. I actually read a bit in each of these, believe it or not. They're all great books and so I'm wanting to nibble a bit here and a bit there, kind of like at a great buffet. I'll do a complete review of each book as I finish them, but here are some teasing thoughts:

1. Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson was passed on to me by a very good and trusted friend that extolled the virtues of this book. I have been finding it a truly valuable book, and will likely add it to my list of "best books". It is straight talk about being a wife in the 21st century amidst the garbage we are fed by Oprah and the like about "wifery". This book is not for the faint of heart, but for those that are truly ready to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord.

2. Debi Perl has a new book out called, Created To Be His Help Meet. I came upon this book at a homeschooling store yesterday. The first chapter points out the fact that we as women have been created to be help meets to our husband. She encourages us to be what God designed us to be... since we will function incredibly when we stick to His ways. I can't wait to put more effort into helping Dan. It was very inspirational to read her ideas.

3. The Joy of a Word-filled Family, by John Barnett is another helpful book. This one is geared for parents, but has some excellent chapters on being godly mothers and wives. His wife collaborates with him on a few chapters. My greatest challenge thus far has been his opening thought that I need to completely surrender myself to God in order to be a "proper" mother and wife- "proper" meaning "as God intended me to be and behave". We've had this book sitting on our shelf since last March, and I finally picked it up when I was sick a few weeks back. Haven't put it down since.

4. The last book that I'm working on is called Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson (#1's husband.) I came upon his chapter on the marriage bed this afternoon. Since I was reading Song of Solomon this morning, this chapter was quite apropos. This is definitely helpful material, even after years of happy marriage. I definitely look forward to the "practical" side of growing even better in this area of my marriage, and I am grateful for the sensitive, dignified, godly, and exhorting way Mr. Wilson addresses the sexual relationship.

Well, I look forward to reaping all the rewards of my reading. Just hope my "pea-brain" can keep all the valuable information in an accessible place. Should make my hubby happy, to say the least!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Importance Of My Coffeemaker

Some mornings I drink a cup of coffee. Some mornings I don't. However, I've begun to use my coffeemaker as a different tool. I have begun to put post-it notes on my coffeemaker with a bible verse scribbled on it. My intent is to look at this verse to start the day. This idea came to me while I was talking with another mom about creative ways to "chew" on scripture in the midst of babies and toddlers, when sitting down to read for an hour seems an unrealistic task.

I'm calling it my "coffee cup verse". Something to engage my mind when I stop for a drink, start chopping my veggies, empty out the dishwasher, etc. Last week I was looking at a verse in Romans. This week it's 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

I'll try to post these as my "coffee cup verse" and if you want to join me in this endeavour... great! Or if you have other similar suggestions, drop me a comment.

Keys To The Kingdom -Part 5

The final "key of the kingdom" that I want to leave with you, Shannon, is that of faithfulness. Although this may seem ludicrous to you to talk about, the reality exists that divorce is running rampant in today’s society. I believe that we must resolve daily to remain faithful to our husbands – in our words, our thoughts, our actions, and our hearts. Robert Schuller writes, " (and I don’t have this book anymore. Not a fan of Schuller anymore. Like I said, I was youngJ )

Finally, Shannon, in all these areas, commit to keep these keys in both your relationship with Todd and with God.

Deny Yourself.
Communicate often.
Forgive and forget.
Love God completely.
And remain faithful to your 'king'.

God will be the cement that keeps you and Todd glued together and He is the one that will give you a piece of the kingdom of heaven, here on earth.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Keys To The Kingdom -Part 4

The fourth key to a married kingdom is learning to love your spouse completely. Matthew 22:37 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." I believe that similar to our love for God is our love for our husbands. We can demonstrate our love to God, by loving our husbands.

Next to our love for God is our love for our husbands and we need to pursue this love wholeheartedly. It seems rather ironic to me that the world continually tries to find love and unfold its mystery… and yet never really does. I believe the link needed between a man and woman for true love to exist is God. Afterall, He is love!

One of the Greek words for love is agape. Agape love is plugged-in to an eternal power source (God), and it can go on operating when other loves fail. It loves… no matter what! Agapeo is as unconditional as God’s love for us and this is the attitude we need to bear with our husbands. This reminds me of a situation in my life right now.

I have a friend who is the most loving, caring, sharing person that I know. She is a sweetheart! And just last fall her husband had an affair with another woman- her best friend's sister. Clearly you can imagine what my friend has been going through. Her husband has also been doing some rather cruel things. For instance, he bought a new house for his new woman and himself – just down the street from where my friend and the kids were living. Hurt, pain, rejection are all words my friend knows and all of us feel for her.
As I was talking to my mom about everything, we both agreed that it would be very tough for us to take back our husbands if they were ever to do something like that. But as I spoke with my friend Saturday night, she said something to me that I will never forget. She said, "Marlene, I cannot love my husband– not in my human nature. But I ask God to give me love for him… and He does, and that is the only reason I keeep the door open for him to come home."

Now the situation is not resolved, but who knows, if God keeps giving my friend the agape love that’s needed to mend the marriage, there may be a happy ending yet. But the lesson speaks loud enough. We have to love our husbands, NO MATTER WHAT!

Keys To The Kingdom- Part 3

The third key I want to look at is forgiveness. Pastor Phil talked about this in great depth yesterday at church, but I’d like to highlight some aspects. Just as we are to be quick to forgive – as Christ forgave us… we must also forget. Psalm 103:11-12 says, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

Strangely enough, marriage brings out the best and worst of us – our mates know every side of us. That makes the practicality of forgiveness in marriage a reality. But coupled with the ability to forgive is the grace to forget. A good memory of mistakes in marriage is a vice which creates heavy and crippling burdens.

A formula for a happy home can be found in Drescher’s book, Meditations for the Newly Married.

Never both be angry at once.
Never taunt the other with a past mistake.
Never forget the happy hours of early love.
Never meet without a loving welcome.
Never talk AT each other either alone or in a crowd.
Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
Let each one strive oftenest to yield to the wishes of the other.
Let self-denial be the daily aim and practice of each.
Never let the sun go down upon any anger or grievance.
Never allow a reasonable request to have to be made a second time.
Never make a remark in public at the expense of the other. It may seem funny sometimes, but it hurts.
Never sigh for what might have been, but make the bet of what is.
Never find fault unless it is certain that a fault has bee committed, and even then always speak lovingly.
Never part for the day without loving words to think about during the absence. Short words in the morning make a long day.
Never forget that the nearest approach to heaven on earth is where two sould rival each other in unselfishness.
Never let any fault that you have committed go by until you have confessed it and are forgiven.
Never be contented until you know that both of you are walking the straight and narrow road, each helping the other.
-Author unknown.

Forgiving and forgetting go hand in hand and we need to learn them both.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Keys To The Kingdom -Part 2

The second key to your kingdom will be communication. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 read, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in all circumstances."

Another aspect of communication that Jesus speaks of is listening as found in John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me."

Norman Wright has written an entire book about this topic, called Communication: Key To Your Marriage. In this book, he describes comunication as a process (verbal and non-verbal) of sharing information with someone else in a way that he/she understands what you are saying. In this respect, talking, listening and understanding are all involved. This is what he writes,

Comunication specialists point out that when you talk with another person there are actually six messages that can come through.

1. What you mean to say.
2. What you actually say.
3. What the other person hears.
4. What the other person thinks he hears.
5. What the other person says about what you said.
6. What you think the other person said about what you said.

Discouraged? Rather. But it does illustrate why communication is often hard work. Someone has suggested that listening intently with one’s mouth shut is a basic communication skill needed in marriages. It has been estimated that usually a person hears only about 20 percent of what is said. What is involved in effective listening?

Listening effectively means that when someone is talking you are not thinking about what you are going to say when the other person stops. Instead, you are totally tuned in to what the other person is saying. Listening is more than politely waiting for your turn to speak. It is more than hearing words.

Real listening is receiving and accepting the message as it is sent – seeking to understand what the other person really means. While listening is generally regarded as a passive part of communication, this is not true. Sensititive listening is reaching out to the other person, actively caring about what he says and what he wants to say. When both husband and wife recognize the importance of listening objectively, and giving each other full attention, they are taking big steps toward building strong lines of communication.

Keys To The Kingdom- Part I

Valentine’s is just around the corner, so I’d like to turn our minds to our husbands. Last week as I was sorting through an old file, I came across a devotional I shared at the shower of a friend over 10 years ago. It was written after about 1 year of marriage (lots of experience to draw from) so bear that in mind. However, I found a lot of good reminders in it. Some of it is a little "young", but I’m gonna post it for you anyway. If there’s anything good, keep it… anything less than good, ignore that.


Shannon, these last few months have probably been some of the most wonderful days of your life… and yet at the same time, perhaps they’ve also been the most stressful. But I think for me… the best part of being engaged – next to finally being able to get Dan to hold my hand in public – was that I was treated like a princess… as you are. Engagement is wonderful – you get to try on beautiful dresses that make you look like a queen, you are an instant "star" as people rush to congratulate you, hug you, and marvel at your ring. And best of all, you get to have wonderful parties – like this one – thrown in your honour!

As most brides look at their wedding day, I think they often have the same feeling Cinderella did at the ball – they’re excited, but also kind of hoping all these wonderful things will never end. Well, Shan, I believe they never have to, since you will always have a kingdom – that kingdom can be your home… where Todd is the king and you are the queen.

Now this kingdom will face many difficulties and battles… like any kingdom does, but I believe it can be a wonderful place… something like God’s kingdom. So today I’m gonna draw some analogies between the kingdom of God and the kingdom you and Todd will share when you are united. I’ve made some little keys as reminders for you in the future – because if you’re anything like I was, you’ll probably not retain all that’s said tonight. I suggest you pin these on the inside of your kitchen cupboards – or somewhere that you look every day so you can be reminded of some of these "keys of the kingdom".

First, deny yourself. In Mark 4:34 we read, "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Now although this is speaking of our commitment to God, I believe it is also applicable to marriage. Dennis Rainey, in his book Lonely Husbands, Lonely Wives, looks a great deal at the deteriorating effect self-centeredness has on marriages. He writes, "selfishness is possibly the most dangerous threat to oneness that any marriage can face. One woman shared how selfishness had invaded her marriage by saying, ‘My husband and I have been married for 20 years. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for me and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him – and that’s exactly what we do for each other, NOTHING!’"

As spouses, we need to deny ourselves at times. Sometimes we need to deny our feelings – like if we’re wallowing in self-pity, moping around, grumpy. I’ve discovered that leaving these feelings unchecked simply gives Satan a playground to work in to develop dissatisfaction in me.

Other times we need to deny the expression of our opinions – one of the areas of marriage that I struggle with most, is knowing when to give my opinion and when to shut up. I believe this is something that God can help us with, if we ask him for wisdom in using our tongues.

Another area of denying ourselves is in the aspect of our wants. When we want a new pair of pink suede shoes… or a fabulous Louis Vuitton purse, we need to consider our husbands and their wants, and sometimes sacrifice ours for theirs. It was neat to see this in practice for me when we were in Hawaii recently. I really wanted to get these 2 cool tops I had seen on sale for $10 when I was shopping, but as Dan & I were strolling through a golf pro shop he saw a golfing glove he absolutely loved. Well, the end is that he got his glove and I didn’t get my shirts, but the joy I gain from seeing him wear his new glove is definitely worth the 2 shirts I gave up.

And that’s how denying ourselves works. Although it’s tough to do at the time, the results of putting our husbands ahead of ourselves are amazing.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hard Teachings

I was rather discouraged Monday night. You see, I've been studying the topic of divorce in the bible over the course of January. Even before I began my study, I knew there are wise and studied men on every side of the issue. Nevertheless, I wanted to be a faithful student of the Word and explore the topic on my own.

After 4 weeks, I formulated my understanding of God's message to us about marriage, divorce & remarriage. Then, I thought I'd talk to my husband and compare my learnings with what he has read on the subjects. I was excited to talk to him, because he too spent considerable time studying this as part of the elder board at church last fall.

Well, we stayed up to 1:33 and I feel more at a loss than I did on January 1st. It was late when we headed off to bed and so I was down-hearted at our inability to clearly understand all the passages involved. Individually, they seemed clear, and yet when pieced together, it was more difficult to understand God's way.

On one hand, I felt like my study time had been in vain, since I still had many questions about the issue. But on the other hand, I was grateful for the time to examine God's word. I think I've come to realize that I may not end up with the correct "answers" on some of these issues (cessassionism and specifically tongues is my topic for February), but I will still pursue God's truth in these areas.

John Piper encourages pastors to preach "hard texts" - not to shy away from them, in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. The same goes for us as laity. We must also study the "hard texts". I'm starting to think they are "hard" because of the "hardness" of our hearts. My prayer is that the time I spend on these "hard teachings" will be beneficial to my walk with God and that I'll get the practical guidance I need, even if my "position paper" is lacking.

Let me challenge you to do the same. Don't get too discouraged when you feel "lost" in understanding God's word. Persevere. Study anyway. Pray resolutely. He has included these passages for our benefit - even if it's simply the discipline of seeking His face in these matters. Press on and enjoy studying the harder teachings.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Glamorous Life Of Motherhood

I haven’t posted for the past few days because we had a virus run its course in our house. For those of you that are mothers, this story will probably be one of your own experiences. It definitely dispels some of the romanticized pictures of motherhood.

It began Thursday around 5 pm. I had just started fixing supper: spaghetti (which will prove to be a bit of a lamentable choice within 5 hours). As I was chopping the peppers, my stomach felt a little queesie (sp?) but as all mothers do, I proceeded to focus my attention on the task at hand. By the time dinner was served at 6, I excused myself and lay down on the sofa in front of the fireplace.

"Ah, maybe a little rest and calm in front of the flames will help. Just wake me up in an hour," was my request. Sleep came quickly and easily. My truly wonderful husband must have known something was "up" and managed to wrestle the boys to sleep without my stirring. By 8:30 the house was quiet. He tapped me just before 9, said he was heading out to his men’s bible study (it goes from 9-11 pm), and suggested I head to bed for a better rest. I followed his advice, but as I moved from downstairs to upstairs past the kitchen, I figured it might be prudent to pick up a big bowl.

The bed felt so soft and so snuggly. I again quickly dozed off, but was up in about 45 minutes, glad that I had brought the big bowl upstairs with me. After gagging for what felt like 10 minutes, though it was probably no more than 2, I felt better and went back to dreamland.
Not 30 minutes later I was awoken by the cry, "Mummy. Help!" It was my 5 year-old, emptying his supper on our carpet, as he was making his way to my room. (Good thing I had made that spaghetti!) Well, I helped him out of his desperate situation, and started to clean up the mess, when I started to feel sick again. At this point I was wishing hubby hadn’t gone to Bible study, but also thinking I was glad he wasn’t at a hockey game or I’d probably have to struggle with feelings of bitterness.

Then my 2 year-old woke up. As the older boy and mommy are both sitting in the bathroom, wretching, his eyes were getting bigger and bigger. I don't think he can remember vomiting, at least, not since he was a baby. So this was a really educational moment. He was a little overwhelmed by the situation, plus tired, and so he began to cry. Wail actually.

And then came one of those stellar moments, when in the midst of it all, I knew this is what motherhood is all about: giving of myself, even in my hour of weakness.

Turns out we were all feeling much better the next day. Vinegar and club soda went a long way to get rid of the stains on the carpet. But I treasure the reminder I received amidst the "momentary affliction". Motherhood is truly a glamorous life. Not Hollywood glamorous. But glamorous in service. It is a way to relate to Christ in self-sacrifice that I am so grateful for. In fact, I sometimes wish I hadn’t waited until I was 30 to enter this blessed profession of motherhood. It may truly seem like a "sick" way of thinking, but I’m glad we had the flu. Glad because it reminded me that when I am weak, Christ is my strength. Glad because I was able to give of myself when it wasn’t easy. Glad because I have the best job in the world and just needed a "sick day" to be reminded of that!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blogging Carefully

Randy Alcorn wrote a commentary on the controversies surrounding "End of the Spear" (definitely worth reading if you've heard any of the latest Chad Allen disputes). After reading the challenging post about this latest movie release, I am committing myself to blogging more carefully. The last half of Alcorn's article deals with the dangers of gossip and missinformation in the church, and extends this to the blogosphere.

May we all chose our words carefully, since "there is almost no gap between composition and publication," as Alcorn notes. Matthew 12:36 affirms the need to "blog carefully", "And I (Jesus) say to you, every carelesss word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement."