Monthly Archives: March 2011

Faith Test

What’s testing your faith today? My faith challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s the small ones that trip me up the most—the things that don’t seem to be a big deal. In other words, things I think I can “handle” myself.

There’s a reason God says in Psalm 37:5—

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.

God doesn’t encourage us to commit only the “big things” to Him. He doesn’t implore us to trust Him only for that which seems impossible. God exhorts us to commit everything to Him. Faith is built one step at a time as we trust Him with every detail of life.

This morning I committed my children to Him as I dropped them at school. I committed my schedule to Him as I wrestled with the reality that there aren’t enough hours in this day to do all that I think must be done. I committed our financial challenges to Him as we try to balance the budget. Here are just a few of the other things I need to commit to Him on a regular basis:

*My family’s health and safety
*Fears about the future
*Plans for the future
*My faith. (Yes, I have to commit my faith to Him. I’m so weak. I know that apart from the Holy Spirit within me I would walk away every time my faith is put to the test.)
*Relationships (the good ones and the bad ones)
*Decisions about budget, family time, parenting choices, school choices, how to invest my time, talent and treasure…

In other words, everything!

Take a moment and commit everything to your Loving, Gracious, All Powerful, Faithful and Ever Present God. Then do the next thing, TRUST in Him. Every time you’re tempted to worry, declare (out loud if possible) that it’s already in His hands and you refuse to take it back.

When God gives a Birthday gift…

I told you we celebrated our son’s 16th Birthday at a friend’s island home with his buddies. The fact that we have access to such an amazing beach house is a gift from God (and our friends!), but His Birthday gift to our son went beyond what we could have imagined!

The island house is a kid’s paradise—ping-pong, foosball, bumper pool, kayak, ocean and bay views, beautiful sand beaches, and we can’t forget the golf carts on steroids! Accessible only by boat, it’s an adventure just getting there! The one thing we couldn’t come up with was a jet ski. Keller really wanted to jet ski, but the cost was far beyond our budget. I really felt the jet ski experience would be the perfect final touch to Keller’s Birthday Bash but couldn’t imagine how we could make it happen. So we started praying…

The day before we were to leave we received refund checks in the mail…maybe that was God’s way of providing for the jet ski! However, when Brad and I talked about it we were uncomfortable spending that much money for a couple hours on a jet ski when we needed to use the funds elsewhere. We continued to pray and later that day He answered big time!

I received an e-mail saying that our friends had purchased a jet ski and they were going to leave it by the dock for us to use while we were there! God didn’t provide funds for a couple hours, He provided a jet ski for five full days!

Brad and I were soooo excited to tell Keller about the jet ski gift. I wish you could have seen his face when he heard the news! Do you know who else was excited? The Gift Giver—God! Can you imagine how excited He must have been, knowing how abundantly He was going to provide? He loves to give good gifts to His children… just like we do.

I think the joy on my son’s face every time he was on the jet ski was a small reflection of the joy that must have been on God’s face as He watched our son zoom across the ocean!

Brad and I could have “made” the jet ski happen by putting the rental on a credit card. I confess that I was tempted to do it. If I had, I would have cheated our son out of seeing God provide an amazing gift.

I’m not a “prosperity gospel” person. God won’t say ‘yes’ to every request we make because He cannot be manipulated, controlled or put into a box. But I do think He wants to shower us with His love, and sometimes that means He gives us tangible gifts to say “I love you.”

How about you? What gift do you desire from the Lord? For your kids? For you? For your spouse? Pray about it and watch God provide in ways you never imagined!

Easy and Amazing Dinner!

My son turns 16 this month and his one request was to spend a few days at an island house one of our friends generously let’s us use now and then. We took a couple of his buddies and had an amazing time!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have internet access on the island and couldn’t blog.  I do have some fun things to share with you now that I’m back, but for today I thought I would post a recipe I discovered for roasting chicken that’s super easy, inexpensive and delicious! My kids love it!

Whole roasting chickens (I roast 2 at a time. One for dinner and one for sandwiches)
kosher salt
2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven 450 degrees
Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken using approx. 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper for each side.
Place chicken in roasting pan, breast down. (I spray the pan with PAM to help with clean up later!)
Sprinkle 1 tsp. olive oil on back side of each chicken and lightly rub it in. (the salt and pepper make a bit of a mess but it’s worth it!)
Put in oven uncovered and set timer for 30 minutes (45 minutes if roasting 2 at a time)
After 30-45 minutes turn chicken to breast side up.
Roast for another 30 to 45 minutes or until meat thermometer is at 170 degrees.

Meat will be incredibly moist! Enjoy!

Jesus Name…just a word? Part 2

What’s worse—using the “f_ _k” word or using Jesus name in vain?

I don’t blame non-Christians for the humiliating disregard our culture has for the name of Jesus. If I were intent on marginalizing a religion, I would do what they’re doing. It’s a brilliant strategy—misuse His name in every way possible and soon He becomes ‘just a word’ rather than a Savior.

God’s people have become so de-sensitized to the abuse of our Savior’s name that we do it ourselves without even realizing it.  God’s heart must break every time He hears it.

I have to point the finger at myself as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended our family watch a movie and then half way through it Jesus’ name is profaned. How did I miss it? I missed it because I, too, am easily de-sensitized.

In one Christian school, the 6th grade science teacher warned that the documentary they were about to see had some mild language in it but “nothing that bad.” A student later told her parents, “They used Jesus’ name in vain in the movie. I thought that was really bad but the teacher didn’t think so. What’s the truth?”

If the words, “f_ _k” or “s_ _ t” were in the film do you think the Christian schoolteacher would have shown it? Those 2 words may be vulgar but they don’t tarnish the image of the Savior. Why do we cover kids ears and wash out their mouths in regard to vulgarity and not profanity?

Brad and I have made it a non-negotiable to turn off any movie (no matter how engrossing it may be) if Jesus’ name is used in vain. If you try it you’ll soon discover that your media options are very limited! You’ll also discover how incredibly freeing it is!

I’ve found that the more I honor His name the more I enjoy a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. Can you imagine having a close, intimate relationship with someone whose name you allow to be trashed every day?

If we don’t stand up for Jesus’ name who will? Our kids need to see us honoring His name, not profaning it. They need to see us standing up for His name, not ignoring it every time it’s misused in TV, movies, and the work place. Our kids must see us living out the third Commandment:

You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name. –Exodus 20:7 (NLT)

Jesus’ Name…just another word?

The name of our Lord Jesus Christ is dragged through the mud every day. Is it any wonder that our kids grow up with a warped view of Jesus and what He did on the cross?

My son and I were in line at Costco when we heard Jesus Christ’s name shouted out in a very profane way. Instinctively I turned to see where it came from. One of the cashiers was laughing with a customer and he did it again. My heart started beating and I knew I had to say something. “Are you sure Lord?” I asked silently. His response was simple, “It’s My Name.”

I smiled at my cashier, Roma, and said, “I don’t know if you’re the one I should talk to, but one of your cashiers just used Jesus’ name in a very profane way. I’m a follower of Jesus and it’s deeply offensive when the employees of a business I patronize use His name like that.”

Roma was gracious, “Oh,” she replied, “You have to understand, it’s just a word.”

“Unfortunately,” I replied, “Christians have let it become ‘just a word’ by not standing up for it. But it’s not just a word, Roma. Jesus is the name of my Savior and God and it hurts me deeply to see Him degraded. Why is it okay to take my Savior’s name in vain when we would never use the names of Mohammed or Buddah in such a way?”

Roma looked at me wide eyed and put her hands in the air. “Lord,” her voice was soft and sad, “Forgive me. I’ve done it myself!”

I talked with a manager who was completely unimpressed with my convictions but said she would let her team know to refrain from using Jesus’ name on the job. As we walked out of the store my son said, “Well mom, one lady got it and one lady didn’t.” More importantly to me–my son got it!

You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name. –Exodus 20:7 (NLT)

Got Milk?

Have you noticed that milk is always at the back of the store? I saw an interview with a grocery store marketer and was fascinated by what I heard!

Milk is at the back of the store because it’s a staple. You’re forced to walk by products you don’t intend to buy in order to pick up the items they know you’ll buy. The master marketer gave multiple examples of how product placement motivates shoppers to buy impulse items, thus driving up the grocery bill.

A friend asked me if I grocery shop with a list. The reality is, I can’t go without one! I’m an easy target for savvy marketers. My list is my best defense. I can’t tell you how many times I walk by tempting displays repeating to myself, “It’s not on the list, it’s not on the list!”

The enemy of our souls wins the prize for savvy marketing. He places all kinds of distractions along the path to the staples of the Christian life. Some mornings the path from my bed to my Bible can feel like a minefield of distractions! Believe it or not, I have a list of reasons to spend time in God’s Word every day. This list is my best defense against the lies of the enemy. Here’s a few items from the list:

1. He knows everything and I don’t. I’m not smart enough to tackle the decisions of the day without His guidance.
2. He’s all-powerful and I’m not. I need His strength every day!
3. He’s in control of everything and I’m not (though my family says I give it a good try!). I need to be reminded of that comforting truth!
4. His love is perfect and mine is not. I want to love my family and friends with a selfless love but my own agenda can so easily get in the way. I need His love in order to love the way I want to love. (try saying that 3 times really fast!)
5. His love for me is perfect. Self-image issues (and menopause emotions!) fan the flames of lies that drag my view of myself into the pit. His love for me fills my heart to overflowing and gives hope in the midst of failure.
6. Apart from Him I can do nothing that has lasting value. When I put off my time with the Lord it’s usually because my “schedule” is so full I don’t think I have time for it. In John 15:5 Jesus says,

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.

If I say ‘no’ to time with God I’m cutting my legs out from underneath me. I’m running a race I’ll never win…why would I want to do that?!

What about you?  If you had a list of reasons to spend time with God, what would be on it?

Unjust judges…Cash for Kids

Aren’t you thankful our God is a Perfect Judge? Judge Mark Ciavarella has made me even more thankful than before…

Former Luzerne County Judge Ciavarella has been convicted of using children to get rich. The Judge wrongfully sentenced juveniles in order to receive an estimated $1 million in kickbacks from the private detention centers where the children were placed. Authorities are now reviewing all of the cases Judge Ciavarella presided over, as they lack confidence that any of the decisions he handed down were fair and just.

Most of us talk about God’s Justice only in the context of our sin. It’s true that God’s Justice can’t ignore our sin and that a penalty must be paid. Jesus’ horrific death on the cross is the ultimate display of God’s justice being satisfied. Apart from Christ, there’s good reason to fear God’s Justice. However, there’s also much comfort and hope in knowing that God is the Perfect Judge.

God is the Perfect Judge because He Loves us Perfectly. He desires the best for us and He’s never motivated by selfishness.

Judge Ciavarella appears to be motivated by a narcissistic love that’s willing to hurt children in order to further his selfish desires.

God is the Perfect Judge because He’s Totally Truthful.

Judge Ciavarella sacrificed truth for his own personal gain.

God is the Perfect Judge because He’s Holy, perfect and clean in every way. He never judges out of malicious intent.

Judge Ciavarella is, as we all are, imperfect. But he allowed his dark imperfections to control his life and many children have paid the price.

God is the Perfect Judge because He’s completely Faithful. He promises that He will judge every wrong and defend every innocent. He’s our greatest advocate and judge!

Judge Ciavarella made a mockery of his judicial promise every time he sent an undeserving child to a detention facility.

Judges like Ciavarella make it easy to become cynical about true justice, and that cynicism can seep into our view of God’s Justice. Let’s never confuse our imperfect human judges with our Perfect and Holy Judge!

We’re raising the next generation of judges right now. They’re in our schools, our churches and sitting around our tables. It’s so important for us to talk with our kids about the difference between an unjust judge like Ciavarella and the Justice of our Perfect, Loving, Faithful and Sovereign God! The best way to raise up a new generation of just judges is to teach our children who God really is and why it matters. It’s upon His foundation they will build a moral compass that always points to true justice.

He is the rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is! -Deuteronomy 32:4 (NLT).