Category Archives: Comforts and Calls

Don’t Forget to Pray

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School is starting (Alice is ready). Schedules, and systems, and plans, oh my! Whether you do school at home or farm some of that out, most moms are busy setting up a new year on a clean slate. And who doesn’t love a clean slate? These days you don’t even wash the chalk dust, just give the iPad a wiggle and -voilà! – a clean screen.

Problematically, there is no such app for ourselves or our children. No wiping, wiggling, voice command, or button will erase the sin that thwarts all those well intended schedules, and systems, and plans.

I’m only a couple days in to implementing section 1 of plan A in our homeschool and already I’ve been frustrated in my progress, blaming 6 year-olds for my lack of a cheery disposition and for otherwise disturbing the peace and comfort of all who want to learn in this “loving” environment.

Unfortunately, I’ve been lost in this familiar territory too often until I make it to James 1:20, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Ouch. Put off wrath. Check. But now I’m naked.

Looking around for something put on, I see the rationalization hamper full of dirty laundry. I could choose cowardice (give up and listen to Doc McStuffins all day), hypocrisy (make some more rules and demand outward compliance), or old, well-worn comparison (take a carefully selected sampling of “other” kids I’ve heard about and decide at least we’re doing better than that).

Of course none of these will do. Only Christ’s righteousness can cover our sin and produce the righteousness of God. How is this put on? By repenting and believing. How do we help ours and our children’s unbelief? “This kind only comes out by prayer.” Mark 9

Prayer, the most powerful, always at hand, inexhaustible resource given to help me, that I pridefully forget until a last resort. Let me be your 2014-2015 cautionary tale. Pray first, pray next, pray last, pray again. He will wipe away the tears and the sin behind them. He says:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4

And again:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11

Part 5, Some Principles

What are some Principles to keep in mind while we study the Bible:

1. The centrality of preaching. How will they hear if no one preaches? (Rom 10)  The Apostles did not go around establishing churches and then leave people only with a stack of letters to read as individuals, they established preachers and overseers to teach and protect sound doctrine that was often distorted.

After attending URC for a while, I noticed a change in my reading, I could hear Kevin ask, “Why is this here?” or “A basic hermeneutical principle Continue reading

Part 4, Principles: Keeping the End and the Means in their Proper Place

As we approach any undertaking we should always pause to consider what the principles or end we’re after verses the methods or means we’re using  to get us there.  When we get these mixed around we can become slaves to our methods and free to stop short of our goal.

Let’s say for example that you want to have a healthy heart.  One principle component of a healthy heart might be exercise.  You could choose from dozens of methods to achieve this principle, jogging, Continue reading

Part 3, Posture: We Need to Come Rightly

And now a bit about how to come rightly to the Scriptures:

We need to come not doubting but with belief and repentance.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8

What is the difference between a doubt and a question?

Continue reading

Part 2, Posture: We Come Hungry.

After my testimony about God’s word in my life, I came up with 3 P’s.  Posture, Principles, and Practicalities.  Our posture meaning the way we come to the Bible.  We need to come hungry and rightly.  Today, I’ll post the hungry part:

Posture:

We come hungry. The Bible refers to itself as food many times: sweet dripping of the honeycomb (Ps 19),  we “feed” on Christ whom all the Scriptures bear witness to (John 5:57, Luke 24), we should desire to grow on spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) and then onto solid food (Heb 5, 1 Cor 3), so we’ll use that metaphor as well.

Continue reading

Part 1, The Double-Edged Sword

I was honored to be asked to speak at a women’s Bible study tonight at my church.  In case you missed that I said, s-p-e-a-k.  I write.  I don’t speak, um, well.   One of my well-spoken  friends told me to use the nervous adrenaline to clear my head and push me through it.  I think adrenaline must have a reverse effect on me.  One time I had a  kid in the ER, and all that adrenaline did for me was make  me forget my own child’s middle name.  I never recalled it the whole time we were there.

But God was kind, to his name be the glory, to calm my nerves and help me faithfully give testimony to some riches of reading his word.  Since I Continue reading

Bursting for Heaven

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We had a little get-away, just my Lovey and I.  It could not have been more perfect. Beach, bikes, a clear sunset over Lake MI, delicious food at quaint outdoor cafes, a fancy hotel… seriously, perfect. I’m sure we looked like we were on our honeymoon. Parents tried to keep their kids from “bothering” us, little did they know…

It was so wonderful that it made us long for heaven.  We often long for heaven when things aren’t going well, when the curse is nipping at our heels.  But when we felt like this life could not be more perfect, there was an obvious feeling that it still wasn’t enough. Somehow we knew we were still playing with comparative mud-pies.

Does that sound ungrateful?  To take Lewis’s advice to not be “too easily pleased?”   I think it’s like this: several times we mentioned to each other how thankful we were to our parents, but it wasn’t complete until we could get back to say it to them in person.  There was  a kind of relief or satisfaction in it.  It is the same with Jesus.  Our hearts are fat with thanksgiving and doxology and until we can worship face to face, we’re uncomfortably full.  The only remedy will be to fall down at his feet, cast all our prizes, and sing thankful praise with the elders,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”  (Rev 4:11)  

 

 

Dead Identities

reunionI went to my high school reunion this weekend. As radical as it sounds, I’m going to tell you that is was encouraging to my soul.  15 years ago we were mostly a bunch of awkward Christian kids just budding from a small town in the middle of Michigan. Now we are mostly a bunch of Christian adults spreading branches through the world.  Praise God.

And more personally, I was encouraged in my own sanctification.  One of the first people I got to hug was a girl I lived with in college. Still her joyful, overflowing self, she bubbled, “I’m just so happy to see that you love Jesus.”   It caught me up short. Of course that is my identity now, but I quickly remembered, it hasn’t always been.   She knew the sin of my youth and she rejoiced with me to see it dead.

Then yesterday morning at church, we sang “How Sweet and Awesome is This Place” by Isaac Watts. Verse 3 reminded me why I shouldn’t bother with mascara on Sunday mornings.

Why was I made to hear thy voice
and enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?

I am living a life I don’t deserve and didn’t want, but for his grace.  By grace, my husband and I have grown up together in the same direction.  By grace, I’m not defined as the “career woman” people thought I’d be.  By grace, he gave us 7 kids (instead of the 0 we said we wanted)  to raise to know the Lord.  By grace, I hate my pride.  By grace, I love authority.   By grace, I love the saints. By grace, my tongue will not cease to give testimony to all his wondrous works. I am filled and satisfied with eternal Good.  And all this, I would have missed had he not by the same grace plucked me out of my dead-end desires and claimed me for his own.

Abundance Messes

I had the pleasure of laughing until my face hurt yesterday at the tale of some little boys, a new kitchen faucet that spins 360 degrees, and a pregnant mom hustling around getting ready for a doctor appt.  It’s not my story to tell, but after I could breathe again, she asked me what it really looks like when my crazy people do crazy things.  She thought, “Danielle would probably laugh and snap a picture.”

On my best days, yes, that is what I do; and I have plenty of pictures. But for every captioned picture, I’ve probably had another mess that I handled with frustration, tears, and self-pity.  So, I gave her a few thoughts about eyes of faith that look to wield weakness into strength, told her that we try to discipline for the disobedience, not for the mess, but I really just wanted to read her a blog post that I read a few weeks ago, that has been a great help to me:  The Oxen Are In by the Rachel Jankovic.  If you’re struggling with the mess in your home and your people who are making it, read it.  I couldn’t say it better myself.

 

Sane Faithfulness

 

Grown Weary

Feeling a bit discouraged the other day, I looked back through the archives of this blog expecting to find a pick-me-up.  After all, at one time in our history, 3/5 of our kids couldn’t walk. Life has to have gotten a little easier. While I did have a good laugh at some of the outrageous adventures we’ve had, I did not find what I was looking for. I found myself still struggling in the same old nets and sloughs, sinking further still.  So I lugged  myself and my big fat burden into the 2nd best place I could think of, Chris’s lap. Of course he has no power to take my burdens off, but he knows the one who does, and so he pointed me there.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [bold mine] Philippians 3:13-14

My first reaction was something intelligent like, “No-duh!”‘   Behind that phrase I meant,  “Obviously, I’m not perfect.  Obviously, I want to be.  But how do I try again to strain forward toward the perfection that will always be beyond my reach until we see face to face?  I’m tired and that spot on my forehead now has a bruise and I don’t want to bang it against the wall anymore. It feels like insanity!”

Indeed, Einstein defined insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  But then, without banging my head, it hit me. Like finding out I’d been eating knock-off mac n’cheese my whole life, I realized that Insanity was only the imitation, an impostor of Faithfulness.  Insanity is a hopeless repetition of failure and the only way out is to quit.  Faithfulness is acting on a sure prize and the only way forward is to strain.  Yes, faithfulness is repetitious, but here’s where we get bold, we are allowed to forget our failure.

In as much as our sin reminds us of the magnitude of grace, let’s call it to mind.  But forgiven sin is not meant to weigh us down and entangle us.  If remembering that we’ve handled the dinner hour with angry impatience 5 times already this week causes us to say, “why bother trying again?”  Then forget it! Leave it behind, throw it off.  We are free to succeed on the 6th time.  More than that we are assured that the author of our faith is the perfecter of it, so do not be afraid of another rep because discipline, “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”