Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28

I have found that there are layers to ordering life. Layers to organizing. Layers to prioritizing. Layers and layers and layers. I was reminded this week to put first things first. Let me explain:
As I was reading a beautiful book; Devotions for Home school Moms, I came across a counter-cultural comment on education: "I really believed that getting the right curriculum, organizing my school area efficiently, and setting up a workable schedule would be all I would need to be successful.....the error in my thinking became obvious. The Bible is the foundational curriculum for us, and all other material is supplemental in the training of our children.....I am in no way sufficient to home school my children by myself. There isn't enough preparation, books, time, or anything that could change my insufficiency. No matter how prepared I am, I cannot do this myself! (Every) day requires our reliance on God, not on ourselves. Bad days especially demand the perspective and guidance only our loving Father can offer us."

Of course I started this home school year with planning. I purchased and perused curriculum in all my 'free' time this summer. I set up our school room with new bookshelves, organized subject bins, new binders and timelines and note cards and all the supplies we would need. Then I made charts. One for each child and Big ones for the walls, so that they could see and remember their schedule for each day. My plans and schedules are not foolproof and still take patience and grace on my part daily. And I don't have patience and grace to offer each day! Unless, I go daily to the feet of Jesus to be filled with all those good things that I will need to pour out throughout the day! I need daily, sometimes hourly, reminders to put my focus on Jesus, and live my life for his kingdom and his glory, in HIS strength.

Recently I read about the sabbath. Rest is a current theme for my year! One part that encouraged my heart, was the 'rest' beginning at sundown. I like this because I am a night owl, and I love to stay up late reading, journaling, reading more, studying, reading, preparing for the next school day, and spending time setting my gaze in the right direction. Then comes sleep. Then work. I like the rhythm of this day: time with Jesus, sleep, work. Then I am coming to my work refreshed, recharged, and ready! I often sneak away for a minute here or there to again focus my mind and heart on the things that are important to Jesus' heart. And, often, throughout our day we need to stop to pray....for help with reading, for focus during history, for God's love to help us get along with one another. He is our source of help every day!

And, of course, since I have been convicted on this topic of rest, I see and hear and read something on rest continually! Do you receive the Proverbs 31 blog? Check out the August 22 post: Planning to Rest.
And, also, Oswald Chambers had deep, challenging comments on the subject (on Aug 20th!):
"Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once, asking Him to re-establish your rest. Never allow anything to remain in your life that is causing the unrest. Think of every detail of your life that is causing the disintegration as something to fight against, not as something you should allow to remain. Ask the Lord to put awareness of Himself in you, and your self-awareness will disappear. Then He will be your all in all. Beware of allowing your self-awareness to continue, because slowly but surely it will awaken self pity......Jesus says, "Come to Me...and I will give you rest," that is, Christ-awareness will take the place of self-awareness. Whenever Jesus comes, He establishes rest"
So set your mind on Him, and let your praise begin.......and the glory of the Lord will fill your place!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Door in the Wall

Sir Peter kept Robin's hand in his and spoke directly to him. "Each of us has his place in the world," he said. "If we cannot serve in one way, there is always another. If we do what we are able, a door always opens to something else."

For the past couple of weeks, I have been enjoying a book with my boys; The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli. We came across this passage that I just had to share. I believe that each person has a desire for purpose. We all want to know what we are here for. We want to know why we were made. What are we to do? I love how the comment in this passage suggests that we are here to serve. We are here to be a blessing to the world in one way or another. We should be searching out the gift that we have to offer.

Young Robin, in this book, was bred to be a knight. However, struck by illness, he lost the use of his legs. I am sure he had doubts about his future, and a crisis of identity. Now what?
I think we all find ourselves in this place throughout our lives. Somehow, our 'plan' for what we should be or do does not always pan out like we had anticipated. We don't end up where we thought we would be (at 20, 30, 40.....). This can be discouraging if we don't break out of that preconceived idea that we need to fit that mold that we thought we would! Sometimes, we just have to move on and embrace the next thing. We need to trust God to lead us when we don't know what's up ahead. And that's the beauty of it! He is with us, and He is before us, and He is behind us! Nothing has surprised Him about our journey. We are right where He knew we would be!
However, we have a choice. We can either choose to walk with Him, or forge our own path. In actuality, the two may not look so different on the outside. But there is a world of difference to the traveller. As we walk through this world, we are either living in our own strength, striving to 'make it' or 'leave our mark.' The good life of man that I see displayed in the Bible is one of a different passion. The life of abiding in Christ. Living in daily fellowship with God so that all you say and do is filtered through the lens of His Word. It is more about giving life away, than finding identity. It is about bringing glory to God without thought for self, or recognition. It is about living radically for the kingdom of God while in the midst of this worldly kingdom. The only hope for living this sort of life, is to be filled with God's Holy Spirit daily. Daily receiving strength from above to do whatever is in your path. This means, that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can be bringing praise and glory to God IF we are accomplishing our work in dependence on HIM!
I love the ways of God. It is true that when we do what we are able to do, God will open the door to more. He has big plans for you! Are you moving in the direction that God has shown you? Are you depending on Him for the day to day journey? Are you asking for Him to be strong in you so that you can accomplish great things for Him?

"Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work---this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Ecclesiastes 5:19-20

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I like this happy SMILE! We have been back to school for 3 weeks now already! We are getting back in to the swing of things. Mom is getting more organized and we are enjoying our days together. This year, we have added a bunch of zoo trips to sketch and paint animals for our Zoology class! We are still doing Tapestry of the Desert Co-op for our History (and so much more!!!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Thorn in the Flesh

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Have you ever wondered about this 'thorn in the flesh?' I know I have. I won't venture to guess what this 'thorn' was in Paul's life; I will leave that to the theologians. But I do know that God gave us these scriptures because they relate to us! He wanted us to know that this can happen. There can be something that He allows in our lives to keep us humble. To keep us dependent on Him. To remind us of our weakness and our need for His strength. All good things, right? But a thorn!
But isn't THE goal of the Christian life to be one with Jesus? To live In Him? To Abide? To Remain? To be conformed to the image of the Son, Transformed to be like Him in righteousness and holiness? And if this is the goal, why wouldn't we be thrilled beyond all get out that God would give us something (a thorn) that would cause us to press into Him? Why wouldn't we be overflowing with thanksgiving for the struggle He has placed in our lives that really leads us to a deeper knowledge of Him?
It might be pain, or a relationship, or mental illness, or deep loss. Any number of ills that plague so many of us. A thorn.
But can we, like Paul, be thankful for it, this weakness? Boast in it, even? 'For when I am weak, then I am strong."
I think this may be the key to Joy and Contentment. It leads us to the scripture in James:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2

Consider trials JOY? Makes us wonder about James, doesn't it? However, it seems that Paul agrees. And many other writers in the Bible. It seems that the perspective that we should have, is that God allows hard things, sometimes REALLY hard things, in our lives, to make us stronger spiritually IN HIS STRENGTH. The storms of life, the trials, the 'thorns', all bring us to our knees and remind us of our need for the Holy Spirit's residence in our hearts. With Him, we can do all things. Without Him, we waste away. This is the mystery of the Christian life: Christ in us! When He is living His life in us, we are strong. We are faithful, and joyful and thankful. We praise Him and point others to Him. We do all this even when we have a thorn, or are in the middle of a storm. We even praise him for the storm, because we trust Him and we know that He is growing us through the hardships that He allows into our lives.

Rise up and Praise Him! And even thank Him for that 'thorn' today. He loves us. He doesn't leave us alone with our trouble. No! He takes it upon Himself and shares our burden, and then He gives us the peace that can only be had because of his presence.

Thank you, God!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Good Ol' Oswald

Reading Oswald Chambers and had to share:
The Bewildering Call of God "....and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.' ...But they understood none of these things...." Luke 18:31, 34

God called Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God's. But what seemed to be failure from man's standpoint was a triumph from God's standpoint, because God's purpose is never the same as man's purpose.
The bewildering call of God comes into our lives as well. The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea-no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires. The things that happen do not happen by chance--they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes.
If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, "I wonder why God allowed this or that?" And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.