Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sometimes you have to wait...

It's harvest season here on the farm and things had been going well, the weather was cooperating and equipment was working, but last week it rained. The combine hasn't moved since and we're hopeful things will soon be dry enough to start harvesting again.

After a few solid weeks of harvest this pause in the plans has been welcomed, but after a few days of change my husband is ready to get back to business. Before that happens, God had a lesson to teach me and I pray it's one He uses for you as well.

Three weeks ago, harvest was just beginning and I shared a post about seasons (you can read it HERE) and I continue to find myself thinking about these periods of time - both the physical and spiritual ones. I've also found myself thinking about and studying the word, and action, serve. One who serves is a servant and if we call ourselves servants of Christ we must work for and wait on Him. I always understood the work for part of the term, but the wait on piece of the definition has really caused me to think. A server in a restaurant waits on tables and as one who serves God we wait on the One who created and controls the world.

Friend, as we serve there will be seasons - seasons of joy and pain, ease and difficulty, rain and winter, grief and doubt. Seasons will come and go just like they do on the farm and sometimes we too will just have to wait. Like some farmers we may be ready for the season to be over. We may have been working towards a goal or longing for the pain to be over thinking the end was in sight only to have something happen and change comes. The season goes on and lasts longer.

Had it not rained last week, our harvest could have be done, so instead of celebrating we continue to pray as the month comes to a close and winter draws nearer. As I've watched my husband over the last few days, God's provided me some important reminders...

While we wait, there's other work we can do. On the farm the work truly never ends and though my husband couldn't combine our crops, he could fix equipment, load semis and take care of livestock. He also was able to spend more time with the ones he loves. Friend, are you in a season that doesn't seem to end? What can you be doing while you wait for it to be over? Are you waiting for a season to begin? What can you do to prepare yourself so you are ready when the wait is over?

For us the harvest season hasn't ended yet and I believe there's a reason for that. I don't know the why and may never understand, but I believe Daniel 2:21 holds the answer. Here Daniel is praising God, the one who "changes times and seasons..." Friend, He is in control. He is sovereign and He knows. So whether you are in the season of diapers or teenagers, grief or anxiety or you fill in the blank, God is one we can trust. He is working and will make a way.

There will be waiting times in every season we walk through, but since we are in the midst of harvest here on the farm I've specifically thought about spiritual harvest seasons as well. In Luke 10:2, the Bible tells us, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." I think we all understand this message and know there is much that needs to be done and many to invite into God's kingdom. But if the spiritual harvest is anything like the one on the farm, we must remember it takes time. We must be wise and diligent and even sometimes willing to wait.

Finally, the last area I want to remind myself and you to wait is in prayer. Is there something you are praying for? Wisdom you need? Direction you want? A season to end? May this example from Daniel encourage you if your answer has not yet come. In chapter 12, Daniel has a vision and here's part of what the man said, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come..." The man heard Daniel's words immediately, but didn't respond for 3 weeks. Friend, God works in a similar way - He hears us instantly and always is at work, but sometime the answer takes time. May we remember there is a spiritual battle going on (Ephesians 6) and we must press on in prayer while we wait.

God is faithful. (Deut. 7:9) He can't be anything else. He will listen. He will work. Sometimes we simply must wait. If you are in a season of waiting may these verses from Scripture comfort your soul and renew your mind -

"It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." (Lamentations 3:26) (Remember salvation not only refers to God saving us eternally, but also to Him delivering us from harm, ruin or loss.)

"Wait for the Lord and He will save you." (Proverbs 20:22b)

"Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9)

"See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rains. You too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5:7-8)

Friend, I know waiting is hard, but waiting is worth it. I pray each time we find ourselves having to wait, God will remind us of these truths. He has a reason, He is working and He can be trusted. Wait on Him!!

Dear Heavenly Father, help us wait on you. During the wait remind us of who you are and strengthen our trust in you. Renew our strength. May we mount up with wings like eagles, help us run and not be weary, help us walk and not be faint. You are our everlasting Father and we praise you. Help us worship while we wait. In Jesus' precious and powerful name...Amen 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"God's Expectations"

If you've read any of my recent posts you've probably noticed a few common themes - surrender, transformation and perseverance. Three complex things God's been working on in me. All three are key for any disciple of Christ. They are also challenging and convicting. It's not easy to surrender, transformation rarely comes naturally and perseverance is hard. None of these require a one time action...they are something you and I must do over and over and over.

Awhile back, I started looking at this wrong...almost like it was something to add to my to-do list. You know balance the checkbook, go to the store, SURRENDER, ReNEWed meeting,
TRANSFORM my mind, laundry, library, PERSEVERE, can applesauce... Friend, typing that out makes me realize how crazy that thinking is! First of all these things are not something you and me can do on our own...we need God's help and his Holy Spirit within us. Also like I said, it's a continual process and it involves a state of mind not just an action. We will never scratch this off our list!

So as it became a bit burdensome I found myself crying out to God and simply asked, "What do you want me to do?" Within days, He answered my request as I repeatedly came across Deuteronomy 10:12-13 -
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God,
 to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God 
with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep
 the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?"

For the past few weeks I've been meditating on and studying these verses. They have much to say and truly can help us surrender, transform and persevere. First of all a little background - Moses shares these words with the Israelites before they are going to the Promised Land and after He has reminded them of who God is and all He's done. He asked this of the Israelites thousands of years ago, and even today offers us a similar question.

The great thing with this question is He immediately follows it up with the answer. Think about what He requires of us. He never once lists a certain number of hours spent in prayer or dollars given to the poor. He doesn't require us to read the Bible X number of times, go on Y number of mission trips or etc. In these verses, God gives us 5 of His expectations. Read this verse again, do you know what they are?

I'll follow His lead and give you the answer -

This is an expectation that is first on God's list, but typically not on man's. In our culture and even some churches this isn't talked about. Let me ask you - "Do you fear the Lord?" "Do you know what it means to fear the Lord?" This is respect and honor, but it does go deeper. He is our heavenly Father and we should fear Him in a healthy way like a child does their earthly parent.. Our pastor has been preaching from the Old Testament and one point that has stuck with me is God is faithful. I knew that before this series began, but as we dive into some familiar and some not so familiar passages we're seeing God's faithfulness in all areas. It's fun and easy to talk about His faithfulness to love, equip and encourage, but we must not forget He is faithful to judge and discipline as well. Fearing Him rightly and fully is something we must do. And fearing God will help us not fear man - "The remarkable thing about God is when we fear Him, you fear nothing else; whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else." Oswald Chambers

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." (Hebrews 12:28)

This is more than where we go, this walking refers to walking with God or against Him. The other day my little guy was pushing a miniature grocery cart down the aisle and I said, "Jesse get out of the middle of the road." He quickly responds, "Pastor Tim tell me to do it." My 5 year old has been listening during Sunday morning services as our pastor encourages us to follow Jesus down the middle of the middle of the road. I believe that is what Moses is referring to along with the need to obey, which will happen when we follow Christ. We can choose to follow our selfish, sinful, fleshly desires or walk with the Lord...there is a difference and each option comes with consequences. Further on Deueronomy 11:26-27 tells us obedience brings blessings and disobedience will result in a curse.
"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1.5-7)

God expects us to love Him. He created us for this. This isn't a feeling that will just happen, but it is a choice we must make. We can't turn this into a duty, but instead see it as a response to the love that He has poured out on us. Our love for God should and will lead to obedience to Him. Jesus spends much time talking about this, as do other writers of the Old and New Testament. Jesus loved His Father and we are called, chosen and commanded to do the same.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. 
And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3)

We often hear people say, "I want to serve the Lord." Chances are we think and pray about the same thing. This is a good thing, but let me ask you a question - What does it mean to serve the Lord? In the original Hebrew language the word is labor, which means to work and exert effort. We are to be God's servant, which simply said means we work for Him and wait on Him. He doesn't need our service, but He created us for it. How is He calling you to serve Him? Are you? An important thing to remember as you ponder this expectation - we can only serve one master. In your life is that God or someone or something else?

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 
(1 Corinthians 15:58)

The final expectation in this passage is to keep the LORD's commands and decrees. Any idea what that means? Again looking back at the original text, this word - shamar, means to guard. One commentator also mentioned to protect, preserve and possess. It could be a two part expectation - obey God's commands and pass them on to future generations. Friend, we will never do this if we don't know the commands, so we must daily spend time in God's Word and abide with Christ.

"If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)

Friend, I pray this list of expectations is something you find purposeful. Remember God is a good, loving Father and He gives us these expectations for a reason. These are for our good...He knows best. This is what He created us to do as we walk through life. It's not about His power or prestige, but our purpose and peace. And to top it off, He gave us an example to follow...

"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 5:7-10)

Monday, October 24, 2016

"He decommitted."'s not a word you hear too often, but it's one that came up for me recently. I'm a fan of the Iowa State basketball team and recently we had a recruit decommit. Over the years I haven't really followed recruiting, but with today's technology we're more aware of what goes on behind the scenes. Anyway, I didn't know much about this player (KF), so it didn't affect me much as a fan, but as a follower of Christ this situation caught my attention.

Just 2 months ago at our ReNEWed Life Women's Event, Micca Campbell challenged us to be surrendered Christians rather than committed ones. This teaching had my attention back then and it's something God continues to work on today. This recent happening with the basketball team painted a pretty good picture of her illustration. 

This past summer when KF announced he was coming to Iowa State, fans were excited, sports writers were praising him and expectations started to be made. He made a visit and the excitement built, but daily life continued and then the recent surprise announcement caught people off guard - he was decommitting.

Like I said, I haven't thought much about this as a fan, but God's used it to speak to me as a follower - not as a follower of the Cyclones, but of Christ. And friend, I want to encourage you to think about this concept as a disciple as well. 

It's easy to say we are committed to Jesus. We can sit at a retreat, in a church service or even in our quiet time and commit to serving the Lord, believing God's Word or living like Jesus did. We promise to be slow to anger and slow to speak. We agree to be a submissive wife. We vow to be a more patient mom. We pledge we will do what Christ followers do, we commit. 

The thing is cheap. It's easy to say the right thing and much more difficult to do it. Would you agree? Pause for a minute and think about the last promise you made, be it to God or a loved one. Did you follow through? Were you true to your word? Did you honor your commitment?

I realize situations change and our callings can too, but God knows our heart and always is aware when we decommit, which spiritually is something we should never do. Perhaps this would happen less if we focus on surrender instead of commitment. 

When you think about these two words they have some similarities, but they are different. In my mind commit is more of a choice while surrender is a last resort. Commitment is something that can change - just look at the ISU recruit, but when you surrender it's typically a done deal - think about the wars and countries you studied in history. 

So today rather than committing to do one more thing for God, why don't we surrender who we are and be who He's created us to be? Rather than pledging to be a mom who doesn't scream and lose control, why not surrender our plans and die to self? Think about a commitment you've made to God...are you following through? Are you focusing on striving instead of being? Is there something you need to surrender? 

Friend, God wants you, and me, on His team more than the Cyclones wanted KF. He has a role for each of us, He sees our potential and expects our effort. Have you committed to His team only to find yourself tempted to decommit? Are you willing to surrender to His ways? His plan won't always make sense and the daily walk will require more effort and energy than a college basketball practice. But the rewards? They are worth it!! 

Stay the course!
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Do the work!
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..." (Colossians 3:23)

Die to self!
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

Let Christ live!
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Heavenly Father, in a time when it is easy to commit today and decommit tomorrow, I pray for a heart that is willing to surrender. May I present myself as a living sacrifice to you Lord. Transform my mind and purify my heart. Help me live a life that pleases, honors and glorifies you. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"I'm glad you didn't quit."

Does life ever get you down? The election leave you stressed? Grief leave you overwhelmed? Work make you feel defeated? I know life can be hard, seasons challenging and days difficult, but this post from 3 years ago struck me tonight. I'm currently not feeling tempted to "quit", but have definitely been there and know the feeling can return. Life is hard, the future is uncertain and sometimes we just want the struggle, whatever it may be, to end. So what are we to do? May this post from the past offer some insight...

The title of this post comes from words my husband spoke to me. I had just finished a task I really didn't want to do and one that took effort to complete. It was one I could have just left undone...honestly, something I considered. Anyway when it was all over, my husband looked at me and simply said, "I'm glad you didn't quit."

His words struck me because they came shortly after I had posted an entry titled, "Just Quit". My focus then was to quit listening to lies, worrying, striving to please people and a list of other things. There are so many things I need to quit doing, and maybe you do too, but as I listened to my husband I was reminded there are just as many that I don't need to quit. Oh but how often I confuse the two!

So this simple statement and big truth got me thinking...what are the things I shouldn't quit? I can't quit doing the daily tasks that can get mundane like doing laundry, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, making meals and on and on. I can't quit disciplining my children, loving them, reading to them, spending time with them. I can't quit on my marriage and I can't quit on God. 

Friends, will you think about this with me? Have you been tempted to quit on God? Have you quit on Him? Even when life is hard, with situations that make no sense and when relationships fall apart we can't quit seeking Him, trusting Him or obeying Him. 

I know this is hard - God often leads us out of our comfort zone and His plan rarely matches ours, but we must remember His ways are perfect and His plan is for good. Friend, you don't need my words to encourage you, but I pray God's will -

"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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." Philippians 3:12-15

"We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, 
but we are not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

So today when you are tempted to quit or God shows you that you already have, go to Him, remember what His Word says and press on. Keep the faith and fight the good fight! (1 Timothy 6:12) I have to admit I appreciated my husband's words, but as I've thought about this I've been reminded someday God could share similar ones with me! Friend let's live in a way that we will hear Him!!

Today will you join me in trying to quit doing the things we shouldn't do and press on in the areas God calls us to! I believe if we do this we will one day hear Jesus' words from Matthew 25:21 - "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Friend, I don't know what you are facing or if you are tempted to quit, but God does. He doesn't just know, He sees and understands. He is working and longs for you to work through whatever it is He is doing. He will never quit on us...may we follow His example and persevere too. 

May we remember all God has done and then do what He asks. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, we get some valuable insight! No matter what happens or how we feel this is what we must continue to do -

 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Let's pray...
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord as I think about quitting different roles, situations and thoughts enter my mind, but the one I must focus on is Jesus going to the cross. He was fully God and fully human meaning quitting must have crossed His mind...I'm so thankful He didn't give into that temptation. I'm also grateful for the reminder that I have the same Spirit in me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit Lord and give me the grace to do, say and be all you made me to be. Don't let me throw away my confidence, may I remember the God who saved me and sustained me, equipped and encouraged me in the past will do the same today and tomorrow and every day to come. Help me set my mind on You. May I fear, follow, love and serve you with all of my heart and my soul. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Monday, October 10, 2016

It's Just a Season

Day two of combining was underway when I found myself driving out to the field with lunch for my husband. I also had one little boy who was going to switch places with his little brother so they both could get a turn in one of their favorite pieces of farm equipment. His excitement was overflowing, but mine was not. My thoughts were focused on the jobs I’d left behind and the countless trips I’d yet to make. I wondered how long harvest would take this year, if the weather would cooperate and the breakdowns would be few. As my mind raced, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “It’s only a season.”

Those four simple words were a real perspective changing statement. Harvest had only begun and I was already consumed with the crazy schedule, the work, the time, the stress, the unknowns and potential frustration. Rather than thinking about the crop we were harvesting and the way God was providing, my mind lingered on the selfish thoughts and the changes this season on the farm demanded.

Friend, you don’t have to live on a farm to experience the harvest season. Or the planting season (when new growth begins) or calving season (when new life happens) for that matter. There are seasons in all walks of life and areas of work. We experience seasons in our faith journey as well.

Some are long, others short. They can be enjoyable or they may require extra effort. Seasons of grief can be dark and lonely, while seasons of growth are full of life and joy. Certain seasons are painful and full of suffering, yet others are marked by progress and comfort. They all have unique challenges and they often overlap.

Though seasons vary greatly, they have some similarities. They happen for a purpose. On the farm, it’s obvious why we need harvest season; the reasons are not always so clear in life. I’m pretty sure we could all pick a season we could live without…maybe you are in one now.  Seasons don’t last forever…though sometimes it feels like it. A new season will come, and it will have challenges of its own. These periods of time bring results and are opportunities for God to work.

I think it’s easy to understand seasons have their place and their purpose, Ecclesiastes 3:1 expands on this truth - “There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heaven…” It’s a given there are seasons in farming, parenting and life, but what are we to do in them?

That day in the field, it was good to be reminded harvest was a season, but that didn’t change the fact that the days could be hard, stress might come and frustration might build. So my mind went to work and God led me to His Word. The seasons may change, but God’s expectations stay the same. So as I searched the Scriptures for wisdom to help me walk thru harvest, I found insight for all seasons of life.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 was the first passage to jump out at me. Here we read, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good."

Friend, do you see some key action verbs in these verses? Fear, walk, love, serve and obey. Whether you are harvesting beans, changing diapers, parenting a teen or experiencing the empty nest this is what we need to do. No matter what season we are in, these are actions God commands. So today in your life what does it look like to fear the Lord? To follow and obey? To love and worship Him? How can you do this in your present season of life?

Another verse that rose to the surface was Micah 6:8 - "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Again, powerful words of wisdom regardless of what season we find ourselves in. Today, what will this look like in your life?

Finally, a little more biblical insight directly related to the harvest season, which if you think about it from a spiritual standpoint - it's a season we are always in! In Proverbs 10:5, Solomon says this, "He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." As I tried to instruct my 13 year old son with this truth during morning devotionals, God did the same with me, His daughter. Friend, regardless of what season we're in, when there's work to do it needs to be done. Not just because we reap what we sow and make a living with the work we do, but we please the One who calls us daughter. 

To close, the verses that have really been speaking to my heart as harvest continues; Galatians 6:9-10 where Paul writes, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Friend, if you're in a season that leaves you a bit stressed or one that can create tension, I encourage you to write these words down and carry them with you or memorize them and etch them on your heart. God will bring them to mind when you need encouragement to do what is right (often what doesn't come naturally) and strength to keep pressing on. His Word is living and active and it's what we need in every season of life! 

Regardless of what season you are in, I pray you remember the One who controls the seasons that come. And seek Him as you walk the path He has you on.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, we know life is full of seasons and they are full of ups and downs, but help us remember that You are in control of them all. As we walk thru our unique, individual seasons may we fear you, follow you, love you, serve you and obey you. Help us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. May we work hard even when times are hard. May we plant seeds and reap a harvest. Encourage us with your Word Lord, comfort and convict us with it too. Father when the season we are in leaves us empty or discouraged, angry or anxious, I pray you would set our eyes on you. Remind us it is just a season and then help us remember what you expect us to do. Fill us with Your Spirit so that we can walk in your ways, do good and glorify you. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Someone's following me...

I snapped this picture the other night after J.D.'s football game. He's our oldest son and he's hanging on to our youngest son's hand. J.D. told Jesse he could walk with him to the locker room and our little man was thrilled. Big bro (13) was making time for little bro (5) and I was grateful.

I loaded my pictures that night and this one quickly become my favorite. It brought me joy as a mom and perspective as a person. I looked at it and instantly a quote from the great, late John Wooden came to mind. He encouraged his former UCLA players with many words of wisdom including these - "A careful man I want to be, a little fellow follows me. I dare not go astray for fear he'll go the same wrong way."

I’ve shared these words with our first born before and have appreciated them in the past, but I trust God timed the reminder for me and am grateful He’s taken the lesson deeper. I’ve been mindful of the example I set since I was a high schooler and became even more conscientious of this when I became a teacher and a coach.  I’ve always appreciated the role models I’ve looked to and those who’ve shown me the way be it on the basketball court, in the classroom or my role as wife. Others have influenced me as a mom, friend and women in ministry. I’m grateful for their insight, wisdom and prayers.

As I glance at the picture a verse comes to mind as well. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” That’s a verse we must all make our own.  I long for my oldest to be mindful of this, but realize I must be as well.

Friend, others are not just watching us, they are following us too. If you are a Mom this begins in your home…with 5 kids of my own, I know they see much. My husband and I try to teach them a lot, but like the old saying says, “More is caught than taught.” Our kids, and others as well, see the way we act, and react, they hear the way we talk and observe the life we live. If our actions don’t match our words…they know. They see and know all the practical things, but they understand and observe the spiritual stuff too. Even young kids know there is a difference between going to church and living a life for Christ, they get that talking about prayer and praying are two different things. God sees our hearts and He knows our motives; the people following us get a glimpse of this as well.

So let’s ponder on these questions…"Who’s eyes are on you?” “What example are you setting?” “Is someone eager to take your hand like little Jesse took J.D.’s?” “Are you willing to let them?

And some more to get us thinking about the flipside…"Who are you watching?” “Are the examples you follow ones that lead you to Christ?” “Are you appreciative of the ones who help you walk in a manner worthy of the calling you’ve received?”

Let me close with a few more thoughts…our little Jesse is a people person and makes friends real fast - in minutes J.D.'s teammates become his "best friend". Our oldest never says much about this, but the night this picture was taken J.D. had a grin…he was doing what big brothers do. Jesse chose him and he responded. 

Friend, are you a big sister in the faith? Let me assure you the answer to that question is yes - you have walked with Christ longer than someone. When she wants to take your hand and be part of your life, what will you do? 

Don't let thoughts of perfection or the lie that you're not good enough scare or discourage you...instead do what my oldest did - invite them into your life and be mindful that they are watching. Share, encourage, pray, be transparent and point them to the perfect One!! May we remember this will only happen if we first are following Christ...are you doing that today??

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord thank you for the example Jesus has set for us. He is the ONE we need to follow, help us set our eyes on Him today. May we follow Him down the middle of the middle of the road. And as we do, may we be mindful of the example we set and the ones who are watching. When others need prayer, encouragement or love help us stop and provide. Thank you for the examples you've placed in my life...they show me how to live, love and be like You. I'm grateful for the friendship, listening ear, caring touch, comforting words and convicting Truths they share. Help me do the same. Abba Father, I long to make a difference for you and in your family, fill me with your Spirit so that I can do and say what you lead me to. Finally, Lord help me be discernful as I watch others. Give me wisdom to look to ones who are following you. In Jesus' Name...Amen

May this song encourage you to follow the ONE who knows the way!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Insight from the Farmer's Wife

Hello friend, if you are a wife I have a question for you - "What advice would you share with a newly married gal?" I was posed with this opportunity this past weekend as I spoke at a bridal shower for my young friend, Lauren. She is married to our nephew, Sam - a farmer. The prayer was my words would encourage her and also speak to the other wives in the audience. Now I'm praying the same for you, whether you are a farmer's wife or not. Actually, I hope these words speak to you married or not!

My daughter's also had a role at the shower and performed a skit, "A Farmer Applies for a Marriage Licence". I've included their picture to give my city friends a visual of a farmer!

So I volunteered for this job before I knew exactly what I was going to say. A couple of days later, I was thinking about it and asked God, “What am I going to say?” You see even though I’ve lived on a farm nearly all my life and been a farmer’s wife for 15 years I don’t have this figured out.

Almost immediately after I whispered this prayer I heard Job (my husband) getting ready for the day. He was doing what he does every morning, but that morning I thought about it in a whole different way. His daily routine started a new one for me and I pray it helps you start each day.

One of the first things Job does daily is put on his work clothes…as he did this I thought about how we must do the same in a spiritual sense. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Our husband’s work clothes are necessary, but our spiritual clothing is essential. When you dress this was as a wife…your husband will be blessed, your marriage will be strengthened and God will be glorified.

The next thing Job always gets is his knife and pliers…two tools that he uses often on the farm. They help him and make jobs easier. We don’t need to attach an extra piece of equipment to our belt, but there’s a tool we all need as wives – the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive 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.”  God’s Holy Word equips us, encourages us, convicts us and comforts us. I challenge you to use it more than the farmer uses his pliers or knife!

The other piece of equipment the modern farmer is never without is the cell phone. This helps him stay in touch and makes it easy to call for help. 1 Thes. 5:17 puts it quite clearly – “pray continually”. We’d all be much better off if we went to prayer as often as we go to our phones. David’s words in Psalm 17:6 remind us of an important truth. Here we read David say, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me.” When we call God we never get the busy signal...He hears and answers. The phone doesn’t just remind me to be in communication with my heavenly Father, but as wives we need to also think about and be mindful of how we talk to our husbands. Ephesians 4:29 makes it real clear, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The next thing Job does is lace up his work boots. These shoes will take him where he needs to go and as he put them on I was reminded of the walk we are on. As Christians we are encouraged to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.” (Eph. 4:1) Part of that calling is being a wife. This role entails much but begins with Genesis 2:18 – “the Lord God said, ‘It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 1 Peter 3 offers more insight into the road we walk with talk of submission and a quiet and gentle spirit. You don’t need to wear work boots as a farmer’s wife, but be prepared to exert some effort!

The last thing most farmers do before heading out the door is put on their hat. As I watched Job do this it was a great reminder for what we read in Ephesians 6:10-13a “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God.” This is a verse you probably know, but it must become a reality in what we do. Satan is on the attack, he doesn’t want your marriage…or any marriage for that matter, to succeed. We must be equipped and aware. 

Friend, I don't know if you ever struggle with the "I don't know what to wear" dilemma, but if it ever happens I pray this insight from the farm will remind you of the most important wardrobe we need! 

Let's pray...

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, I lift my reading friend to you with each of us and help us dress like the farmer does - may we put on our work clothes - compassion,  kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Above all these help us put on and pour out love. May we remember to read your Word and call on you. Help us walk the road you want us to walk and live out the roles you've created for each of us. Finally, Lord help us stand in your mighty power and put on your full armor. Father God, I lift each marriage to you - protect them, provide for them and give them peace. May we as married women remember that our marriage can and should be a picture of your love for the church. In the moments when marriage is hard and we're tempted to be impatient, selfish or too talkative guard our hearts and mouths. Fill us with your Spirit so that we can shine your light and share your love. Use us to bless our husbands today Lord. And together may each husband and wife glorify you. In Jesus Name, Amen