Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Ending Classroom

Possibly one of the most positive words in the English language is “Learn.” Yes, if we are to grow and mature we must be continual students of life. We learn from our mistakes, our challenges and our life experiences. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by discouraging situations, we can turn them around by saying to ourselves, “How can I learn and grow and become a better person because of this?”

As the kids head back to school in the month of September, let’s remember that we never stop going to school. Every day brings its own set of lessons. We learn about people, we learn to be flexible, we learn a new skill, we learn to be patient, we learn new ways to be thankful. Observe, listen, grow. A teachable spirit is a great asset.

The Psalmist said, “Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.” Our greatest teacher is the Lord himself as we look to Him to lead us and guide us each day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Precious Rest

Rest from the Heat
For the last few days I have had the privilege of spending some time in beautiful San Diego, California. Now for those of you who have been to San Diego, you know that the weather there is pretty much perfect all year long. It remains a consistent 65 to 75 degrees; a glorious reprieve from the Texas heat. Just as it is good to take a little break from the hot summer weather in Dallas, it is also good to take a little intentional break from the heat of our busy and overloaded lives.

In the Old Testament we read that God designed a plan for the Israelites to rejuvenate themselves each week, and it is a plan which can still strengthen us today. God told his people, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. (Exodus.” 20:8-10). God wanted his people to be set apart from the rest of the nations by having a Sabbath day – a day of rest from their normal activities. It was for their own good so they wouldn’t become “burned out” or live in a constant state of stress.

Do you take time to refresh and rejuvenate from the hustle bustle of your week?
Our loving and caring Father knows we need a time of regular refreshment. But we must be deliberate about setting aside a time of Sabbath. The word “Sabbath” in the original Hebrew literally means “to rest.” Ask yourself, what is work to you and what is rest to you? Do you have a time when you stop and rest each week? Personally, I began setting aside Sunday afternoon as a time of rest and reflection, praying for God’s help and guidance for the coming week. I decided to step away from answering emails, returning phone calls and running a lot of errands on Sunday – as those represent work to me. In it’s place I read, rest and pray which brings refreshment to my spirit and helps me start off my week feeling renewed.

Stop and think, what can you do differently to create a time of rest at least once a week. It may be small changes, yet deliberate ones which open up the possibility to experience more calm in your weekly routine. As moms, encourage your children to do the same. In our overly active and involved culture, it is hard to carve out a time for solitude and rejuvenation, but I believe this is why we have so many stressed out families and kids.

Charles H. Spurgeon spoke of the Sabbath not as a form of legalism, but as a blessing. He said the Lord’s day for the Christian, “is to him a joy, a day of rest, of peace and of thanksgiving. And if the Christian can earnestly drive away all distractions, so that you can really rest today, it will be good for your bodies, good for your souls, good mentally, good spiritually, good temporally, and good eternally.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

This past weekend I participated in a glorious reunion of the Chapel Choir from First Baptist Church in Dallas. Hundreds of choir members from over the past 50 years converged in the sanctuary in downtown Dallas for this historic event. Personally, my life has truly been enriched by the friends I made and the lessons I learned from being a part of this amazing and unique group. We traveled to Europe together and sang in the cathedral of Notre Dame, then on to London and Vienna and several military bases in Germany. From California to Washington D.C. we faithfully sang with the joy of the Lord and had a great time doing it.

It is good to reflect on the blessings God has brought us throughout our lives. In fact it is important for us to remember God’s goodness and never forget His faithfulness and kindness to us. I think about how God challenged the Israelites as they approached the Promised Land. We read his words in Deuteronomy 8:10 – 11, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”

God warned his people to continue to turn their eyes on Him because He knew that once they became comfortable in the land, they could easily forget what God had done for them and they would become proud in their hearts. Isn’t it the same for you and me? Sometimes we become so caught up in our life activities that we forget to thank the Lord for all He has done and will continue to do in our lives.

Certainly we should not live in the past. And we must be careful not to continually replay hurts, mistakes and bad memories from the past. Yet remembering God’s goodness ought to be a vibrant part of our lives. As you consider God’s faithfulness in your own life, what can you thank Him for right now. I want to encourage you to rejoice in God’s loving-kindness. Thank Him for the people He has brought into your life over the years, thank Him for some of the ways He strengthened you through difficult circumstances, and of course thank Him for some of the wonderful situations He has allowed you to experience as well.

As a parent, I want to encourage you to reflect with your kids on the goodness of the Lord. As you reflect back over your summer together, take some time to thank God for the people He allowed you to encounter and the experiences He allowed you to have. Take some time to create a summer scrapbook of family memories. And remember Paul’s words, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:17

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lukewarm - Yuk!

As a child, I remember running up to a drinking fountain while playing in the park, putting my lips to the water and expecting cold refreshing water to relieve my parched lips and throat. But instead of refreshment, I got yucky warm water! Yes those were the olden days before they had refrigerated drinking fountains (oops, I just dated myself). There were times when I would simply spew the lukewarm water out of my mouth because it was so very unappetizing.
It’s interesting, but in the Bible we read that God talks about spewing lukewarm water out of His mouth as well. In the book of Revelation we see God’s messages to the early churches. He told the church at Laodicea,

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:15 - 22

Think about it; both cold water and hot water are useful. Cold water is useful for drinking, and hot water for bathing ourselves or boiling food. God wants his people to be useful in the kingdom, not just sitting there warming up to our environment. Yet the real lesson to the church at Laodicea was actually the message of how to be useful in God’s kingdom. God urges them to stop being self-sufficient, self-centered and self-indulgent. Instead he invites them to depend on Him. That same invitation is open to us today to abide with Christ, dwell with Him, and find our sufficiency in Him.

Let’s consider in our own lives, are we leaning on Christ or are we depending on ourselves in our own self-sufficiency. Are we useless like lukewarm water, or are we refreshing like cold water? Are we simply just warming up to our environment or do we offer the traits of hot water springs which are cleansing and healing to the body? Let’s listen to Jesus’ message as He stands knocking at the door of our hearts. Let’s invite Him in and abide with Him every day.

Use the water analogy with your kids this week. Place an ice cold glass of water in front of them as well as a lukewarm glass of water. Ask your kids if they want the cold water on a hot day or lukewarm water. Talk to them about the different uses of both cold and hot water, and then talk about how we can be useful in God’s kingdom as far as using our different gifts and talents to encourage the body of Christ. Read to them the beautiful words of God approaching us and knocking on the door of our heart, as he desires to come in and eat with us and abide with us (Revelation 3:20). How do we abide in Christ? We dwell with Him by spending time in His word and in prayer; walking with Him throughout our day, praying and being thankful for His presence in our lives.

If you want to see and hear me give this message then go to
Today’s blog was inspired by a sermon I heard this Sunday given by Stephen Bramer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Pursuit of Wisdom

John Bunyan had only a few years of formal education, yet he penned the timeless classic Pilgrim’s Progress in 1666, a book which is still widely read today. Bunyan wrote this masterpiece from his prison cell - imprisoned in England for preaching the gospel without a license. How is it possible that this man of humble beginnings and very sparse education could write such a profound work? My answer in one word would be Wisdom. Wisdom goes beyond what we simply learn it books. It is a profound insight and deeper understanding into matters of life. Discernment, good judgment and prudence are encompassed in wisdom.

The Bible says that wisdom comes from God and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Solomon said “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I’m not saying we should ever neglect intellectual pursuits and education, but I am saying we begin our pursuit with a humble recognition of our source of wisdom. The foundation of wisdom begins by acknowledging God as our creator and Father. The opposite of wisdom is obviously foolishness. The fool says in his heart there is no God.

God’s word encourages us to pursuit wisdom. We are also told to ask for wisdom. In the book of James we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Isn’t it easy to go about our day, doing things our own way and going our own direction? Yet the voice of wisdom calls out. God is saying, “Draw near my child and listen to my voice. I will lead you. I will guide you. I am the God of all wisdom and I invite you to come to me.”
As a parent, we must seek God’s wisdom in matters of discipline and raising our kids. A business person would do well to seek God’s wisdom and direction as he or she faces decisions at work. As a writer, I recognize my need for God’s help and guidance to lead me along the path I am to go and to encourage others as well.

Let’s take time right now to seek God and ask for His wisdom to direct our lives. Oh Lord, we are open to you. We desire you. We love you. We need you. We ask for wisdom to live our daily lives and honor you in what we say and do.

This week talk with your kids about wisdom and how it goes beyond what we read in books. Wisdom extends into how we live life with discernment and prudence. Start each day by reading several proverbs from the Bible, and then be on the lookout for ways you all can implement the truth that you learn. Memorize Proverbs 2:6 together. This week especially be aware of when your child does something or says something wise. Take the opportunity to notice it and point out their wise actions or words. Each night as you tuck your kids in bed, pray with them thanking God for the wisdom He gives and then pray for wisdom for tomorrow.

Visit my show and see an interview with my daughter on the topic of wisdom.