Monday, June 23, 2014

The Speaking Dead

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
II Timothy 4:7-8

We walk in the sunny graveyard, crisscrossing through the ancient stones. So many souls . . . sleeping, buried beneath us, buried to face the rising sun. All around the air is still, hushed, and there are not many people about, not many who like to walk among graves. But hundreds of souls beneath us . . . hundreds who have gone on, gone on to ultimately face the One who will judge the quick and the dead . . .

The pale stones, monuments over the righteous and the unrighteous, shrouding this world’s deeds in silence, a silence that only heaven will break open with the unsealing of the scroll, the day that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

Walking through the graveyard . . . old Burial Hill, Plymouth’s hidden treasure . . . a lush pasture of history. The stones, so many broken down, so many neglected . . . this place forgotten, and perhaps feared.

We go into the church, the beautiful, old church, silent and hollow . . . a graveyard of what once was. And the echo of thick walls speaks volumes of agony, agony over what has been forgotten, forgotten and forsaken.

And the bodies of these men, men and women, laying cold in the ground, the shadows of their lives hovering between time and eternity. The faithful souls of old pilgrims . . . the monument remembering the life of missionary Adoniram Judson, who endured suffering for His Lord.

And the ocean is lovely in the distance; we can see it clearly from where we stand. The sun, glorious in the sky and the aching clouds, hushed over the horizon, hovering over this earthy place of stones and grass and flowers and men and whispers of deeds done and left undone.

And others . . . only God knows what they valued, what they forsook or chose not to forsake for His sake, whether their souls were washed in the Blood and the crystal water of the Word. Only He knows . . . 

And what does He know about me? What words will my deeds speak? Will they give testimony to a life of faith or faithlessness? To days lived for my own pursuits or for His glory?

What has mattered to me in this life? My own comfort or the dying to self and living for Him in every area of each day? Have I taken His grace for my failings or do I seek to justify myself, to cover them up in pride?

What is going to matter when I lay down my tired old body and my eyes are closed in death’s impenetrable sleep? Will it matter whether I held down a high-paying job? Whether I earned my Master’s degree? Whether I drove a new SUV?

Will it matter if I attended every Bible study class? Whether I ate organic vegetables? Whether my children wore Gap and Land’s End? Whether I lived in an upscale community? Whether I brought my re-useable bags with me to the grocery store?

What will ultimately matter?

The blood of Christ . . . a life of faith through His Spirit . . . His pleasure through the blood of His Son . . .

We love Thy name, we love Thy laws
And joyfully embrace Thy cause;
We love Thy cross, the shame, the pain,
O Lamb of God for sinners slain.

We sink beneath the water’s face,
And thank Thee for Thy saving grace;
We die to sin and seek a grave
With Thee, beneath the yielding wave.

~Adoniram Judson

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baby Joy

Remembering our son Elisha Job's birth a year ago on June 9th, 2014 . . .

A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

John 16:21

After the rush of the good news . . .

The days of waiting, heavy--

Heavy with child, heavy with wonder, heavy with anticipation and fears and hope and trust.

And the last days, so full of joy and expectancy, so full--

Until the hour comes, the bubble bursts, the swollen stomach contracts to release its tiny passenger into the world, and the womb empties itself in blood and sweat and pain--

And then joy.

The woman forgets her long months of aching muscles, tired back, swollen feet.

She holds a precious baby in her arms and sings the lullabies of the Savior to its heart, and she rejoices.

Rejoices as the baby sleeps against her warm skin, drinking in the delightful newness and freshness of the newborn, soft and clean and real.

She laughs and the long months are forgotten. The time of waiting.

Her hour completed, she holds her reward, and breathes the melody of love.

You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, SDG Gathering, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Motivate and Rejuvenate MondaysSo Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His StoryA Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Theology ThursdaysChildren Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Thought Provoking ThursdayEvery Day JesusCount My Blessings, Christian Mommy Blogger, Renewed Daily, Soul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewBlessing Counters Link PartyThe HomeAcre HopMommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridaySaturday Soiree Blog PartyTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog Hop, Faith and  Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate Monday Link-UpA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopTotally Terrific Tuesday

Monday, June 9, 2014

Is He Enough?

“At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.”

--Oswald Chambers

How deep is my faith? Only so deep as it trusts the promises of God and presses them boldly to the heart. Only so deep as the obedience it offers. Only so deep as the surrender that it gives in the day to day choices that I make. If I am unwilling to trust the Lord where it doesn’t seem to make human “sense,” then I am unwilling to trust the Lord, and I have spurned His wisdom and authority. I have silently stated that He is not enough. 

My Mom loves the “old-time” preachers, and the other day we were listening to Vance Havner on CD. He said, in his simple, homespun way, “There are three kinds of lies—black lies, white lies, and statistics.” He then went on to explain that statistics have their place, but that as Christians we are often prone to quietly (maybe without even realizing it at times) rely upon them rather than upon God. 

I wonder, how many times in my life, have I sensed the Holy Spirit prodding me, pressing some truth upon my conscience, urging me in some step of obedience that didn’t seem to make human sense, and I have ignored it. Ignored it because I was afraid of what people would think, afraid of what Christians would think...

And I think, when I did obey, when I did walk in obedience and surrender to Him, how great was my joy at that moment and the sense of His Presence and spiritual power were tasted and realized. 

One of my favorite saints is George Mueller—here was a man through God’s grace who was willing to bank his life upon the Word of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit to his conscience through that Word. He consistently prayed through the Bible on his knees time after time throughout his life. He carried out what we would now consider a huge “operation,” opening five orphanages by faith and through prayer, refusing to ask for donations, only letting his needs be known before God in petition. He wanted to testify that God is able to move men through prayer, and indeed, His God was enough.  Beginning with the equivalent of 50 cents, George Mueller began this great work, and though his faith was greatly and daily tested, he continued to only let his needs be known to God throughout the course of his days. 

I hear about million-dollar church-building projects and the fundraising structures that are set up to support them and I wonder, is the reliance really upon God? If the church, if I truly took God seriously, and spent the time upon our knees petitioning God, rather than constructing elaborate, frantic fundraising campaigns, would He disappoint them, would He disappoint me? Or is it that we are sometimes afraid that God will not come through for us and we will be embarrassed in the end? If that is so, are we serving ourselves, or God? Are we doing the work for Him, or so that people will praise us and think how wonderfully spiritual we are? 

I struggled this week in trusting God. I looked at my circumstances, at my “poverty,” and I questioned in my heart whether God was “enough.” Is He “enough” when it comes down to my daily bread? Is He enough when the car is making funny noises, when a husband’s hours get cut at work, when an unexpected expense arises, when the iron breaks? Is He enough? 

Is He enough when I contemplate the calling that He has placed upon my life, when I look at the seeming immenseness of it, and it overwhelms me? Is He enough when the baby is crying and fussy, when the animals get sick, when I am weary in the day to day, when the faucet is dripping? 

Is He enough when I look at other Christians around me and they are warm and well-fed and they travel and smell pretty and their husbands buy them expensive jewelry—is He enough? Do I possess that “godliness with contentment,” which is “great gain” in the midst of my trials? 

And is He enough for the future—the future of grace that stretches before me-the calling that looms large upon my heart and that I cannot forsake? Is He enough? 

He is enough . . . “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits . . . who forgives your sins and heals all your diseases, Who fulfills your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s . . . (Psalm 103:1-3)”

He is enough. 

Photo credit: <a href="">Carl Chapman</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)</a>

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We Interrupt this Blog . . . :-)

I'll be taking a short break from posting new writings on my blog for a few weeks -- My husband and I are eagerly expecting our second child any day now and will be focusing on making the adjustment from a family of three, to a family of four. We would be so glad if you would pray for us :-). 

During this time, I'll be re-posting "favorite"/enjoyed blog entries from over the past year. I pray that the Lord will use them to bless you. 

Ever pressing on together to walk more deeply with Him,


Monday, June 2, 2014

Press On

Three sticks tossed into the stream, the bridge beneath our feet.

Three sticks into that happy, gurgling Connecticut stream, she tossed them, and we watched to see how they would reappear on the other side, tumbling, rolling in the blissful cold water, the stones heavy on the sandy bottom.

And we watched as only two emerged, silently, steadfastly moving on, and then watched again as another got stuck on the side of the stream, the clutter of debris hindering its free movement. 

The last stick gleefully spun on, ever racing, ever tumbling merrily down the stream, to who-knows-where, its pathway delightfully free. 

And my Mom points out the lesson -- one stick never made it beyond the bridge, another got stuck, hindered by the cares and the debris of the stream-life around it, and one stick flowed on with the current of the clear, crisp water, free and unencumbered. 

It's easy to get stuck; it's easy to be worn down by the cares of this life. It's easy to never make it down the stream. 

How do we avoid getting stuck?

By pressing on. 

In the strength that God alone gives, by the power and freedom of the Holy Spirit, we press on. 

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. 

Therefore . . . we do not lose heart. 

And though the outward man is wasting away, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (II Corinthians 4:17-18)

Press on.

It's what my sister always reminds me of, tells me to do. 

She looks at me and she says, "Press on." 

Says it with her gentle eyes of steel-conviction. 

When I'm discouraged, worn down by the cares of this life. 

Her words always lift me up again, to where He is -- the words of the apostle Paul that she is echoing   . . . 

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14).

And the struggles don't disappear, but the load lightens, because I trust Him to bear the burden with me. 

I don't need to carry it alone. 

He gives me the strength. 

The strength not to wallow in my worries, in my fears, in my lack of money or resources or time or whatever it is I am choosing to wallow in. 

He gives me strength -- when I take hold of Him and press on. 

He is my Strength . . . when my flesh and my heart fail

He is the strength of my heart . . . .

And my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26). 

Photo credit: <a href="">Washington State Department of Natural Resources</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)</a>