Our Bible lesson for today

Ephesians 4:29 says, “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 that listen.”

I have been feeling very convicted about how we have been talking to each other in our home lately. Specifically, the word that the Lord has placed on my heart is “gracious.” I have not been gracious in my speech and I believe this is why my children are now being much uglier to each other with their words as well. I have been too harsh and lost my temper more than I would like to admit. When I am angry, the words that come out of my mouth are said in a mean or exasperated tone. Today, I confessed my sin to my kids and asked them to help me (and all of us) to work on this. We read and talked about this verse together.

We talked about what it means to “build each other up” and to “tear one another down.” We talked about specific examples for each category and are going to work together on finding words and phrases to build up and encourage one other. We need to practice!

Here are the phrases that my children thought of for each category.

Lord, we need your help. It is my desire to speak lovingly to my children…I want them to hear Your voice through me. But I confess that they don’t always hear that voice. I want that to change. But I need Your power in me to make that change…help me.

Tough Questions

Lord, have mercy on us that we even have to have these discussions with our kids. If any of you have any comments or things you might have said differently, please share…I’m praying that God would give me wisdom. My girls questions are getting tougher by the day.

Throughout the recent election we learned alot about the candidates, how voting works, and my girls seemed to really enjoy this unit and learning about how our country elects its leaders! Of course, they knew we were voting for John McCain. So, they asked why we didn’t want Obama to win. For the first few conversations, I was pretty vague…I said that each party has alot of things that they stand for, and some of the things Obama wanted were things we didn’t agree with or like. This held them off for awhile…

The questions continued, however, and during the news one evening the word “abortion” came up. I think my heart stopped. David explained to the girls what abortion is. In very simple terms we told them that sometimes a woman has a baby in her tummy and doesn’t want the baby so she decides to kill it. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about the heaviness of this conversation. My 5 and 6 year old daughters should not have to think about the things that are now in their minds…

It has been more than a week since our last discussion about abortion. But, today, Emily woke up from her nap with more questions.

“mommy, if Obama lets people kill babies will he go to jail?” ~~~ no, sweetie, you see alot of people in this country think that abortion is not wrong and they have made laws in different states saying that it is ok.

“mommy, does the mommy have to say it’s ok for them to kill her baby?” ~~~ Oh dear, well, yes…alot of times the mommy doesn’t want a baby. I tried to extend grace here too, by saying that some people don’t realize that the tiny baby inside them is alive…but that is not what we believe and what the Word of God tells us.

 

“mommy, who is the one that kills the baby?” ~~~ a doctor, which leads to another question “a doctor!! I thought doctors were supposed to help people get better! Does our doctor kill babies?” ~~~ Oh no, dear one, not all doctors will do it – some doctors think it is wrong just like we do.

 

“mommy, does the mommy hurt when they kill the baby?” ~~~ oh yes, sweet girl, in more ways than one, she will carry that hurt for the rest of her life.

 

“mommy, why would a mommy not want her baby?” ~~~ well, that one is hard to explain, there might be lots of reasons, but do you know how much your mommy wanted YOU? Do you know that the Bible tells us that God has a plan, a good plan, for every single baby that has ever lived? Every baby…in the womb or out.

“O, Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your spirit? or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ’surely the darkness shall fall on me, even the night shal be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book, they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139: 1-16

One last thing…if there happens to be any lady out there reading my blog who has had an abortion…please know my heart. I do not share my thoughts with you today to condemn you. I do not wish to further your pain. I want you to carefully read those verses from Psalms that I just quoted above. Those things are true of any baby we will ever carry, but dear one, they are true for you too! You are so precious to your Heavenly Father and He longs to forgive you, extend His grace to You and love you.

Election Day prayers

So, I can’t wear my shirt today to the polls…so I thought I’d “wear” it here today…I know alot of people that have already voted. Have you voted already? Are you going today? In years past I have never had to wait to vote more than maybe 10-15 minutes…so I wanted to take my kids with me today. They have learned alot about the election and the candidates over the past 2 weeks and are excited to go with me! (and well, they are excited to go to walmart too.) :(

So, anyway…make sure you get out and VOTE today!

I have been praying for our country…and must confess that I haven’t really known how to pray for this election. But, thankfully I’ve been getting those emails in my box with the 40 days to pray the election…here is today’s prayer. Please join me in praying for our country today!

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
–Matthew 26:39

Sovereign God, Your plans are perfect and Your ways are right and just. You put Your plans in place and we see the beauty of all You have designed. We trust in Your perfect will, even when it does not make sense to us.

O Lord, bring about Your perfect will in our nation through these elections, we pray. Do just as You intend and give us faith and understanding to relinquish our wills to Yours, just as Your Son Jesus did when He surrendered His life for our sin. We thank You for Your goodness, and for Your kindness to us and our nation. In Your name, Amen.

Mean what you sing

Can you remember the songs that you sang this morning at church? Can you remember the words? Being a musical person, I love songs with meaning. I mean, I like a *pretty* song, but the songs that mean the most to me are those that have words that touch a place in my heart that the Lord has worked on. You know, like…

Amazing grace, my chains are GONE…

Great is thy faithfulness…morning by morning new mercies I see…

My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like You…

He gives and takes away…my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name!

Then sings my soul…how great Thou art…

Oh no, You never let go, Lord you never let go of me!

I could go on and on…and I’m sure you could name a few of your favorites. But, when is the last time you sang those songs with a heart so full you just felt like you would burst? When was the last time you sang those words with a heart so thankful that tears streamed down your face? I pray that the last time was this morning or even this evening! But, if not, I challenge you to take a few minutes the next time you hear a song and truly listen to those words.

And if, by chance, you don’t like the sound of the song, perhaps you can still find meaning in the words. Perhaps you can still find a reason to praise Him, because truly He is worthy. Despite our favorite worship style; despite the problems we see all around us…HE IS WORTHY. Amen.

Why do I say all this? Well, this morning (at our Southern Baptist church, by the way) our service opened with this song.

Folks, this is an upbeat song. I saw 1-2 people even half-dancing. (You know the kind that are bursting at the seams but afraid to um, dance in a Baptist church!) The lights and spotlights were swirling around the sanctuary. I’ll just tell you, I was excited.

You see, the words to this song make me want to cry. No, this isn’t one of those really “sappy” songs that brings tears to your eyes because of the way it sounds. And, I guess I could say that not too many people in our congregation seemed impressed. (at least by outward appearance.) But, as for me, I wanted to jump up and shout Hallelujah. (but, I didn’t. Maybe I should have!)

I just wanted to say…THANK YOU Jesus that my shackles are GONE. Thank you that I am free in You and because of YOU. I am no longer bound by sin. Thank You that You have freed me to praise You.

I would not have even thought about blogging on this topic (or song) had I not been working on my Beth Moore study tonight with this song still on the brain. We are finishing up Beth Moore’s Psalms of Ascent this week and I was working on some of the study. (as an aside, if you get the chance to do this study, I suggest you jump on it!)

Tonight my study was on Psalm 134.

Now praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night!

Lift up your hands in the holy place, and praise the Lord!

May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.

Beth asks us to recall the first word in this psalm: NOW. Beth goes on to say that we shouldn’t dwell on the journey, the people who made us mad earlier, the style of worship that we don’t care for…but do what we were made for: worship. She goes on to say; “Worship has endless side effects in the life of the everyday psalmist. Among them, it exalts God to the highest place, thereby relieving the sojourner of the backbreaking burden of ego. It defeats our enemy. It answers grace with gratitude. And it ends in joy.” She also reminds us that the tempter tempts you to praise God the LEAST when you need it the MOST.

Ouch. I feel just a bit of conviction as I think about the distractions I feel in worship from time to time. And how much like the enemy to get us not praising when that is not only what brings God the glory, but is often what we need the most to get our heart in the right place!

Just a few thoughts tonight from an everyday psalmist…that’s you and me you know! Worshipers! It’s what we were created for…and I hope that when you read this you will be reminded to mean what you sing.

Struggling with Compassion

“When He saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14

“Jesus called His disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people…” Matthew 15:32

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes…” Matthew 20:34

“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” Mark 1:41

Have you ever noticed how much compassion Jesus had? And who exactly did He have compassion for? The sick, the hurting, the poor, the “lowly” things of this earth. Jesus didn’t come to the world to identify with the rich, those who have it all together. He entered the world as a lowly, poor pauper. One of those people. Born in a stable. A king?

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, “whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”

I’m reading a book called The Red Letters ~ Living a Life that Bleeds by Tom Davis. And quite honestly, I can hardly get through it. Not because it is bad writing or not not interesting enough. But because about a year ago (maybe even more time than that, I’m having a hard time pinpointing when I started having these thoughts and feelings) God began working in my heart in a new way. The only way I can sum up my feelings are to say that I have become uncomfortable with being comfortable. And let’s face it, we are pretty darn comfortable here in America.

This book challenges us as believers…believers in Jesus…to ask ourselves if we are truly living out the words Jesus Himself gave to us…you know, the “red letters?”

“What if all Christ-followers lived the Red Letter words in the Bible – Jesus’ words? what if we offered the hungry something to eat, gave one of our many coats to someone who was cold, and truly loved all neighbors as ourselves? How radically different would our lives be? How different would our world be if Christians were really living as little Christs?” (from The Red Letter.)

I am going to risk offending someone that is reading by sharing this…but one of the things I struggle with the most is our church. And not just the one church I attend…but the american “church” I guess to take it further.

Yes, we have our pretty programs where we bring in a measly shoebox filled with maybe $5 worth of stuff to send to a poor child once a year. (or maybe we even do 2-3 boxes! Yay for me!) We take our old, worn-out clothing to the local ministry drop-off place. We give money to the church. Sometimes we even give money to other organizations, organizations that do wonderful things, don’t get me wrong. Maybe we even give an hour or two of our week each week to teach a lesson or keep the nursery.

Then, we walk out the church doors and get back to “life” as we know it. Busy schedules, carpool rides, going to ballet, fixing dinner, paying the bills, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, schooling the kids (or taking them to school) and the list goes on. And on. And on.

We paid our tithe, though! We are good Christians!

I struggle with the wealth of our churches. I mean it keeps me awake at night. I say this not to brag that I am some super-spiritual person. I’m not. I say this to ask you to pray for me. I can easily become critical when I dwell on the negative things! Pray that I will have God’s perspective…I want that so badly! I want His vision. Because quite honestly, I am a little (ok maybe alot) disheartened by the thousands of dollars our church body is spending just to advertise for our building fund. Now, don’t get me wrong, if we need a new sanctuary (big if, there) that really is not the point I am disheartened by. What bothers me is that they send us a new fancy folder, bumper sticker, pens, key chains in the mail…this week I walked into the church and now they have t-shirts —- all for the building program! I am too scared to look at the budget and see how much money we have spent just trying to raise money for a building.

See what I mean, I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like the negative and critical thoughts. But I am laying them all out there for you…honestly, I’d love to hear the perspective of other believers.

Given my personality, I know that I have a tendency to dwell on the negative. I have learned that about myself. And believe me when I say that I see a LOT of good things that my church is doing! truly! But I can’t get past all the money stuff. I can’t get past the child across the world that is dying without a .20 medication that he doesn’t have. And we need an 18 million dollar sanctuary.

I struggle with the orphans all over the world, our country included. I struggle with those who can’t feed their children, while I buy an ice cream treat on the way home from Sonic. I struggle with those who don’t have a roof over my head while I’m busy thinking about my friends with bigger and more beautiful homes. I struggle with not wanting to just sell my house and move across the world to live where I feel like I can actually do something. I know there are so many acts of service I can be doing right here. I just feel so helpless. I feel so burdened. I feel so rich.

I hope you hear my heart in this. I’m just struggling. I’m not trying to be critical. I’m just trying to hear God’s voice. I am begging that He would tell me what He is asking of me. I’m begging for His vision for my life. I’m wondering why He is giving me these burdens. What He is trying to tell me. What He wants from me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for those around the world who don’t have anything. I want to be filled with Him and His love for the world around me.

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:8