Jealous of You

Psalm 19:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I have been jealous of you- my fellow bloggers. Not because you post much more frequently than I do. Not because you are actually writers (I’m just a girl with a pen, journal and laptop who talks with her fingertips). I’ve been jealous of the approval and affirmation you’ve received from others.

I know. It’s disgusting. It’s foolish. But its been lurking in my heart.

IMG_4389I’ve been blogging for more than a decade. Scratch that. I’ve been “blogging” since I was a kid. In the 80’s I just didn’t share my thoughts with the world. They remained locked up in my diary. In the early 90’s they were kept on printed paper, courtesy of my cool typewriter. In the 21st century they ‘got mail’ as I began sending paragraphs of my life lessons to family and friends electronically. I don’t remember when or how I was introduced to this online journal called a blog. But for whatever reason, I decided to join the community. I created a homeschool blog and wrote about…you guessed it, homeschooling! In 2010 I shut that site down and launched a marriage blog in conjunction with our ministry founded that same year…posting about, yep- marriage. That blog was also shut down and replaced with this one. Now I’m just a blogger who shares a journey of trusting God in life, marriage, parenting, homeschooling and ministry. Morning after morning I sit in our comfy office chair with a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar), bible and composition book. Some days the pages remain blank. Other days the words flow from my heart faster than the pen can release its ink on the paper.

God has given me the ability to read His Word with understanding.

God has given me the ability to share how Truth has radically changed my life.

God has given me the ability to arrange words into grammatically correct sentences in order to communicate the Good News to others.

But sometimes I forget all that…

I forget that I blog to please God. I forget that He called me to share my story with others. I forget that the praises of men will pass away, but “well done, good and faithful servant” will be eternal.

I may never have a multitude of people follow/subscribe to my blog.

I may never have a multitude of people like/share/comment on Facebook.

I may never have a multitude of people like/re-tweet on Twitter.

Jesus had a multitude of followers, but only a handful of friends. Only 12 became His disciples. He wasn’t concerned with being popular. He wasn’t concerned with receiving praise from men. He was about His Father’s business. Everything He did was to glorify His Father in heaven.

When I compare my blog feedback with others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I become jealous of others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I think I’m a failure based on opinions, I’m not like Jesus.

When I seek praise from others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I expect affirmation for my obedience, I’m not like Jesus.

Lord,

Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my blogs
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen

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The Way

Proverbs 22:6 New Life Version (NLV)

Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.

fullsizeoutput_4d9fRecently, a child of ours (who shall remain nameless in order to protect his/her identity!) was dutifully completing their morning chores and independent homeschool work for the day. Halfway through our lesson together however, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that all the required subjects had not been completed. I stopped what we were doing and instructed the child to retrieve their school schedule. I asked about the first assignment,

“What did you read about in the Bible today?”

“Bible?”

“Yes, Bible. What did you read about?”

“Um….I forgot about the Bible, but I’m gonna do it!”

Lie.

Cover up.

I continued down the list, asking specific questions regarding the subjects and activities that were supposedly completed. Tears began to emerge from the child’s eyes but the lips continued to mutter dishonest responses in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.

“Child,” I said “you didn’t forget. You deliberately chose NOT to do your schoolwork, because you wanted to hurry up and go play with your friends.”

Tears and sobs.

“Why are you crying, child?”

“Because, I’m ….in….TROUBLE!!!!”

“Why are you in trouble?”

“Because, you….are…..mad….at ME!”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because, I…didn’t….do….my schoolwork!”

“No. I’m mad because you disobeyed. I’m mad because you lied. I’m mad because you tried to cover it up.”

More tears. Louder sobbing.

“Why are you so upset?

“Because, I’m… in…. TROUBLE!!!”

“Child, you’re not in trouble, you’re guilty.”

Truth.

“You’re upset because you got caught – not because you were convicted of sin. So, in order to train you in the way you should go (obedient & truthful), I’m going to discipline you. I discipline you because I love you.”

Hebrews 12:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

“You are confined to your bedroom and our yard. You may not play with your friends today. And, you will go back and complete ALL your subjects.”

Then the principal (aka, my husband!) re-enforced the training. He read Ephesians 6:1, prayed over and exhorted our child to confess and repent. An hour or so later, that young student humbly came to the teacher (me) and whispered “mommy, I’m sorry I disobeyed…would you please forgive me?”

“Yes, child, I forgive you.”

Big hug.

Like the child I am now training, I have disobeyed, lied and tried to cover up my sin. But I’ve learned to put away childlike things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and humble myself before the Father.

Over and over again, He’s forgiven me.

Over and over again He’s hugged me.

Over and over again He’s shown mercy.

Over and over again He’s disciplined me – because He loves me.

Over and over again He’s delivered me from evil.

Over and over again He’s restored my soul.

As a parent, I’ve discovered that I can only train our children in the way that they should go if I know the way.  Jesus is the waythe truth and the life.

Do you know the way?

Are you going the wrong way?

Are you upset because you keep getting caught?

Dear child, allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin. Humble yourself before the Father. Confess. Repent. Be forgiven. Be delivered from evil. Then discipline your flesh, obey the way, and train your children.

Exposed in Public

Proverbs 26:24-26

24 People may cover their hatred with pleasant words,
 but they’re deceiving you.

25 They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them.
 Their hearts are full of many evils.

26 While their hatred may be concealed by trickery,
 their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

IMG_0710On a recent trip to NYC I almost became a victim of tourism trickery- again. While standing in the middle of Times Square, snapping a picture of our eldest daughter, several bo-bo (my word for fake) cartoon characters swooped in beside her and began posing for a group shot. A moment later, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ grabbed my cell phone, while using pleasant words to coerce me to join the photo shoot. As I stood there, with my plastered-on-smile, I experienced an immediate gut check. I’ve come to recognize this particular physical indicator as the prompting of the Holy Spirit. So when I heard Him say “…they aren’t being kind” I responded at once by retrieving my phone, saying “thank you,” and turning to leave the area. But we couldn’t.

We were surrounded.

As the masks came off and the hands full of cash came out, the people began their plea:

“Please, ma’am…anything you can give.”

“Sorry- no.”

“Please…its for our college fund.”

“No”

“Please…any amount is good.”

“No.”

I locked arms with our daughter and we made a beeline down 7th Street. As we turned the corner onto 44th she protested: “I thought ‘Elmo’ was being nice!” “No- honey, I’m sorry, he wasn’t. Unfortunately, it’s the oldest trick in the book; hit up the naïve, gullible tourists for cash.”

Sadly, I’ve also encountered some non-costume wearing people that covered their motivation with pleasant words. In fact, during my family’s last visit to Manhattan, I was guilted into giving several greenbacks to a group of street performers. I walked away as I usually do, feeling used….and angry. Angry that they tricked me. Angry that their hearts were full of many evils. Angry that I didn’t tell them off! But not this time. This time I was grateful that I heard Gods warning, obeyed Him by saying “no” and that we were able to walk away without any retaliation verbally or physically.

This morning, as I sat talking with the Lord, He reminded me of the prayer I whispered on the train ride into the city with our daughter that day, “Father, protect us as we travel….”

He did.

Not only that, He exposed a few peoples wrongdoing in one of the most public places in America! Even though their trickery was concealed, the Holy Spirit was faithful to warn me not to believe them…and I didn’t.

Once again, my Father proved that He is sovereign. Once again He proved to be in control of every detail of my life. Once again, He proved that He can always be trusted….even when others can’t.

Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
 than to trust in people.

Cleared of Guilt

Psalm 32

1 Oh, what joy for those
 whose disobedience is forgiven,
 whose sin is put out of sight!

2 Yes, what joy for those
 whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

3 When I refused to confess my sin,
 my body wasted away,
 and I groaned all day long.

4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
 My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. 

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
 and stopped trying to hide my guilt. 
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
 And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
 that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. 

7 For you are my hiding place;
 you protect me from trouble.
 You surround me with songs of victory.

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
 I will advise you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
 that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
 but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
 Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

During a recent road trip adventure, our family checked into a hotel, unloaded the luggage & left our precious pooch, Maggie in the room while we went to dinner. On the previous nights hotel stay, she had been content to take a nap while we were gone….but not this time.

Upon our return, we were unable to fully open the door to the suite. After our youngest daughter squeezed in to find out why she gasped, “oh, Maggie…what have you done?!”IMG_5511

We all stood there stunned- as we gazed upon the carpet and padding that had been ripped to shreds at the threshold.

Anger welled up in my heart as I considered the additional cost we’d be charged for the destruction.

Regret for not kenneling her flooded my mind.

And then compassion crept in as I realized she must have been suffering from severe separation anxiety.

One look from Doug and Maggie knew she was in trouble. One loud “bad” from me, followed by a pop on the nose sent her crawling under the table to hide.

She was guilty.

IMG_4003Some time later, after the general manager assessed the damage, Doug and I took a moment to process the event. Immediately after I went back over to our adopted dog and stood, staring into her beautiful brown eyes. She looked at me, and then looked away. This exchanged happened a handful of times before she eventually laid down and rolled over, begging me to love her, which I willingly did.

I sat there on my knees, stroking & kissing her furry head, overwhelmed by emotion as I realized our interaction mirrored my relationship with my Savior. The Holy Spirit confirmed my thoughts as Doug whispered, “what a picture of the Father’s love for us….”

The two of us then decided to take her for a walk around the surrounding area, so we laced up our tennis shoes and clipped her leash to the harness.

Her tail wagged.

No more hiding.

She was forgiven.

She was cleared of guilt.

She was free to trot along the pathway with us, enjoying our company.

As we walked, I wondered…

How many times have I suffered from separation anxiety when I’ve walked away from the Father?

How many times have I felt heavy from His hand of discipline?

How many times have I destroyed the carpet instead of submitting my fear to Him?

How many times have I looked away from His gaze, choosing instead to hide my shame under the table? 

How many times have I refused to be honest with Him (& others) by confessing and repenting for my sin?

How many times have I been that senseless horse or mule (or dog) who sometimes needs a bit and bridle (or kennel) to keep me under control?

Way too many to count.

But oh, what joy this adopted daughter has when I finally sit down before my Master, roll over and beg Him to forgive me! What love floods my soul as I am cleared of my guilt. What gratefulness I express when I know that my sins are put out of sight! What freedom I experience in walking with Him along the best pathway, knowing that He will advise and watch over me- always. For I believe that He is my hiding place and He will protect me from trouble, when I come to Him.