James: Pride and Humility

James 4: 1-12

God spoke to me a lot in these verses.  My thoughts will be highlighted in color.  The Bible verses will be italicized.

Submit Yourselves to God
 1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 

The key words in this verse to me are "they come from your desires that battle within you."  We all think of evil being in the world, but we forget we ALL have wicked hearts.  The Bible says, there is no one righteous, not one!  Let's face it, we are ALL sinners, we ALL want our own way!

3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 

What a bold statement it is to say  that we ask with the wrong motives.  Here is another way we even fall short.  In our prayers.  Thank goodness that once we become friends with God we have the power of the Holy Spirit who even intercedes and prays for us even when we don't know what to pray.  Sometimes we don't even have the words to ask God what we want or need because we don't even know.  How blessed are we that we can ask God, OUR FRIEND, for anything!  We can be bold in our prayers to Him.  He is my best friend and so I have freedom to question, cry, ask, and speak the truth about my concerns.  Don't you tell your close friends your deepest fears and secrets?  How more so should we come boldly before our bestest friend, Abba Father.  Sometimes even our prayers have the wrong motives because we do want things our way, and we don't always see what God has in store, BUT we can trust His hand always.

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   “God opposes the proud
   but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

In Proverbs it says that God is "fiercely jealous lover".  He has bought us with a price!   When you become one with Christ, when He becomes your best friend, He wants all of you!  We know longer are slaves to sin, we no longer belong to the world.  We now are held to a higher standard.  Our home is not here.  We are only here for a short time.  We aren't supposed to get too comfortable here, lusting after the things that the world offers, bigger televisions, bigger homes, the newest and best car, that's not what this life is about!  We belong to Christ.  We are called to be salt and light.
 
 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  

The message translation says " Say a loud NO to the D*vil and a quiet YES to God and he'll be there in no time."  We  aren't supposed to be dabbling in sin anymore (not as a lifestyle, but we will still sin because we are human) we are supposed to be purifying our inner lives and getting serious about God.  Many people talk about getting "saved" from hell and becoming a Christian to have the benefits of heaven.  I heard a great question in Bible study this week.  Why would you want to go to heaven if you don't have a relationship here on earth with God?  Heaven is about being with God in His presence forever, knowing Him and loving Him, and here on earth as Christians we have the privilege of getting to know and love him right here on earth.  God calls us to draw near to Him and He promises to draw near to us. What a promise!!!

9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 

 It's so true that God lifts up the humble.  He has a way of making the first last and the last first.  The people we may think are weak or quiet might be giants in the faith to God.  "The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe." D. L. Moody
  
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

I really needed to hear these last two verses this week.  Recently I have been quick to judge.  I have seen some people dear to me doing things that I feel would really displease God, and my heart began to break.  But instead of going right to prayer for them, I began to harbor hard feelings and even anger towards them for their choices.  But God spoke to me in these last two verses and showed me that I have enough to work on in my own inner life, it is not my place to judge "my neighbor".  If I am upset over their choice I should pray for them and bring it before God.  But God has called me to live at peace with all men.  He has called me to love the unlovely.  And He is the only Lawgiver. The Message Translation said, "Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?"  Whoa!

God's Word is so GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What will she say next?

I love my Julia!  I love her questions.  I love her voice.  I love her face, her curls, her thumb, her smile, her independence, her creativity, and her words.

But...

I have found that being 3 means Miss Julia is starting to not only be curious about the people in her world, but she is becoming very bold, and sometimes she says things that might not be taken too well.  What to do?

Here are some things my Julia has said recently that have made mommy very embarrassed.  Now, I know Julia is only 3, and she really doesn't know that the things she says could hurt someone's feelings, or sound inappropriate, but what would you do if your child said the following things?

This incident happened at CVS...we were in the medicine aisle, when a rather large man, with a rather large belly walked by.  Julia said (very loudly) "Look mommy, he has a baby in his belly!"  (I was M O R T I F I E D)  The man kept walking and laughed his way down the aisle.

At church while worshiping, I was holding Julia on my hip and it was time to greet the people around you.  I shook hands with the couple behind me and said, "Good Morning!"  Julia said, "Mommy, she has a black face." (Julia has seen people of all shades, sizes, and types, why, oh, why would she care to mention this point now?)  To my blessing, I do not think the woman heard her, but I could be wrong.

We recently had some friends over, and usually they bring a toy or outfit for the kids, which is totally not necessary, and honestly, I didn't even think my kids noticed, but after story time and prayer time.  Julia looks right at our guest and says, "Where is my gift?"  Oh, my word?????  How rude!

At the post office we saw an older man with a beard and Julia yells, "Look mommy, Santa Claus!!!"  Help!  Of course there was a long line and every one laughed and smiled, but the poor gentleman did not think it was so cute.

At Body and Soul, a Christian book store, we were shopping for cards when Julia saw a man with a pony tail.  This really confused her, and as he walked near us I pulled her close to me and said, "Julia this is quiet time."  Because I knew.  I knew she was going to say it.  And five minutes later she said, "Boys don't have pony tails!!! Only girls have pony tails!!!"  Oh vey!

In all of these incidents I tried to make these teachable moments where I told Julia that her words could hurt someone's feelings, and that we don't make comments like that.  But she just looked at me and said, "Why?  What did I do?"  She really didn't understand.

So...my question is for you?  What would you do?

A. W. Tozer

"Our pursuit of God is successful just because he is forever seeking to manifest himself to us." A. W. Tozer

Dr. Hartlzer, my dean at graduate school, was a godly man.  He taught the two main courses at Baptist Bible College in Clark Summit, P.A. and I enjoyed Foundations of Christian Education so much because of his stories, his wit, and his love for God.  He made us read at least 10 books per course, that was "his text book"...many great authors like Ken Ham, Renald Showers, and A. W. Tozer.  If it weren't for graduate school I never would have read so many wonderful christian authors.  So thank you Dr. Hartzler.  You were an excellent professor because you taught from your heart, you made us think with our minds and you always pointed us to Christ.  And thank you Lord for always reaching out to us to show us you are real, you are there, and that you love us.  You are never failing to show us how much you love us.  It can be seen in a rainbow, a sunset, a child's smile, and felt in an embrace.  You are so awesome!

How do you do it series...the schedule

                                                          My Daily Routine

Morning

* 1 load of laundry
* clean kitchen counters
* empty coffee maker
* clean dining room
* empty dishwasher






Afternoon


* fold laundry
* vacuum living room rug/floor (spot clean/quick)
*prep dinner
* clear counters of clutter
* get mail




Evening

*put laundry away
* sweep/vacuum kitchen floor
*set coffee maker for a.m.
*make John's lunch
*Prep milk cups for kids
*run dish washer
*empty kitchen trash

I have my routine posted on the inside of one of my cabinets.  In the morning, or throughout the day even I just check to see how I'm doing.  It helps me to have a guide, and a reminder of what I need to get done.  I also feel better leaving the house to go on a play date or the library after I know I have my morning chores done.  During nap time I do my best to get my afternoon chores done, and sometimes I sneak vacuuming in while the kids are sipping their last cups of milk and watching a video before 12: 30 nap.  I've been super kind to myself lately and have allowed a 15 minute nap time for myself which is just wonderful.  I snuggle up with a book and then allow myself to doze off and rest before prepping dinner.  My evening chores don't get done til after dinner and bath time is over, and sometimes John is already home and is playing with the kids before story and bed time.  And yes, there are still women out there who pack their husband's lunch, sometimes John helps and other times I get to do it all and sneak in a few extra treats and a note!  How else can I encourage/bless the man I love?

                                                              My Weekly Routine

Sunday- Garbage Night

Monday- Downstairs bathroom, 1 load of laundry

Tuesday-Vacuum and dust dining room and living room

Wednesday-1 load of laundry, garbage night, dust and vacuum all 3 bedrooms
Thursday-1 load of laundry, wash kitchen floor and laundry room

Friday-vacuum and dust basement, clean 2 bathrooms upstairs
Saturday- 2 loads of laundry, clean the playroom



This weekly routine allows me to be able to get to all areas of the house throughout the week and doesn't make weekends crazy with chores. Doing chores throughout the week allows Saturday and Sundays to be mainly family days and it is so great to have John home on those days, I don't want to be bogged down with chores.  We are able to take the kids to the park, out to dinner, or to the mall to play on a whim because our house is clean!  This weekly routine is right on my fridge and I look at it the most because I always forget what day it is!

Psalm 51: 10

 Psalm 51: 10

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I want this to be my life verse.  I want to have a pure heart before the Lord and a steadfast spirit within me.  I want to really, really love people.  I want to seek God early in the morning and have Him be my complete strength throughout the day.  Often times I try to do everything in my own strength, and it is easy to burn out, and get into ruts when we try to "do it all".  So Lord, this day I give to you and help me to be pure and steadfast before You.  Each word, deed, and thought, they are all yours.  I want my life to be a gift to you.

James: Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom

James 3: 13-18 (NIV)

Two Kinds of Wisdom
 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. 

Real wisdom begins with a holy life.  When we are living the life that God has set before us, when we are at peace with our neighbors, and humble, when we are obedient to God that is when God gives us His wisdom.  When we start to be conniving or deceitful or we begin to get puffed up with knowledge, that is not wisdom from above.  A life of grace and mercy, a life of balance, a life that is filled with loving the people around you, if you can live like that it is because of God and the wisdom He gives you.  Someone who is hot one day and cold the next isn't living a life that is balanced or pleasing to the Lord.  We can all get into a rut and our life can begin to get out of whack, that is when we need to draw near to God and ask Him to give us wisdom and guide us.  Ask him to guide our thoughts, our words, our actions, our day to day dramas.  I want that kind of wisdom.  I want that kind of life Lord.  Please give us your wisdom today.


John's Sermon

Yes, I have the best husband in the world who is also a great preacher!  I am so proud of him and thought you all might like to hear his sermon from this past Sunday.

Click here to hear the sermon from the 28th chapter of 1 Samuel!  I know you will be blessed!

Our church is currently going through the book of 1 Samuel and we are learning all about the prophet Samuel, King Saul and David.  It's been such a great study.

Growing in Grace

Building Better Relationships Ch. 8

Growing in Grace

This was probably the longest chapter of the book, but packed full of truth.  "We cannot begin to obey these commandments without a big attitude adjustment, which is called "renewing of the mind" in the Bible."

Romans 12: 2 Do not conform any longer  to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I loved this chapter because it spoke all about our thought life.  We really get into so much hate and bitterness because of the way we think about other people.  We allow our minds to focus on the negative in people's personalities, their faults, the things that hurt us and annoy us, and we don't even give them a chance.  We play this "mental revenge movie" over and over and instead of stopping the tape and giving the person a second chance we fill the movie with more negative feelings and hurts.  Sometimes we can't even control when this movie will play, but nevertheless it comes on in our mind, and we are right back where we started from with being angry or hurt at someone.  If we want to GROW in GRACE with problem people in our life then we have to learn how to respond lovely to unloving people...and it all begins with our thought life!

We need to have scriptural thinking as a "necessity for right relationships."

Philippians 4: 8
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

I'm even choosing to put my favorite pictures in this post because I want my thoughts to be focused on good memories and lovely thoughts as I type.  God wants us to fill our thoughts with the positive.  He doesn't want us to rehash or brood over the past or the things that hurt us or the people who were rude or mean to us.  These negative thoughts will come, but when they do it is our CHOICE to dwell on these thoughts or remember a verse, remember the positive, or say a prayer.  We all have problem people in our life!  Thank God for them!  Because of them, you are being molded into the man or woman of God He wants you to be!  The way we treat the problem people in our life is a testimony of our character.  I think of my mom's mom.  My Grandma Corrine is a true saint!  She had 7 children!  She got saved at a Billy Graham Crusade in the 60's.  She also was cheated on by her first husband.  By her "best friend!"  A woman who came to the house, played cards with them, went to parties with them hurt her the most.


My grandfather called one day to tell her the truth about the affair and she tells us the story that she just screamed on the phone because of the pain she felt.  But guess what?  In spite of all the hurt, the drama, the 7 children to raise and care for in a godly way, she is friends with my grandfather to this day.  And my grandfather is still with the "other woman".    My grandfather is now a devout believer in Christ, and I can't help thinking that Grandma's testimony and the way she treated him and the "other woman" at parties, graduations, get togethers (and there are a lot with 7 children and 13 grandchildren and 2 great grand children...mark and julia).  I am amazed at the Grace my grandmother extends to all.  She is the kindest most loving person, and super prayer warrior I've ever met!  And it's because of Christ and how He has worked in her life.  The Grace Christ extended towards her is the Grace she extends towards others.  My grandmother never said a negative word about my Aunt Jena.  She never treated her cold or gave her the cold shoulder.  In fact she would sit right next to her, offer a hug or a kiss, ask how she is doing, etc.  Unbelievable right?  I never knew their story til I was older and my mom told me, I never would have known.  My grandmother always showed love which had to be very hard at times.  But to God be the glory.  Grace is God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  We get grace not because we earn it or are good enough we get grace because God is so Good...it is totally undeserved.  We need to be willing to extend that same undeserving grace to others who we feel have no right, those people who have abused us, wronged us, neglected us, overlooked us, ignored us, belittled us.  You are right they don't deserve grace, but then, neither do we. 

"How quickly we want to escape our people problems.  We want the people removed from our lives, or to blame them for our discomfort."

Ephesians 4: 23 Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth.

1 Peter 1: 13 Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus.

When "problem people" are put in my life, my job is to change my way of thinking about them.  My job is to extend grace and love to them no matter what.  I may have to set up healthy boundaries, but there is never ever a reason for me to be rude or unkind.  S*tan wants us to believe his lies when our thoughts need to be set on the truth.

Here are some of his lies...
*When people act unfairly, unkindly, thoughtlessly or obnoxiously I should blame them and dwell on the wrong done to me or others.
*When I am rejected, hurt, or unfairly treated I have a right to be in a bad mood and harbor negative thoughts.

God's truth says: Ephesians 4:32 that we are to be forgiving, kind and tenderhearted, even as Christ forgave you!

Gina brought up a great point in Bible study yesterday.  Animals react on instinct.  A dog might just snap at you in fear.  But we are not animals.  We can think through a situation before we act.  We can ask God for wisdom and guidance in how to handle a situation.  We don't have to react with a snap or be harsh.  We can change our way of thinking and work on our emotions so that we respond with GRACE.

I don't know about you but I want a healthy thought life.  I want to think about the things that are going to move me forward in my journey here on earth.  I don't want to dwell on the past or have to avoid people who have hurt me.  I want to live a life of GRACE.  I'm praying that we can all grow in grace and choose to dwell on the positive.  Let's set our minds on the things above not on the petty things.

I hope you were able to build better relationships with this book.  I know I definitely grew a lot during this study.  Click on any of the chapters you missed and be blessed today!

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Lemony Penne & Broccoli

Tonight I made a new recipe!  It was from my Family Circle Magazine March 2011.  It was quick, it was easy, and it is healthy and delicious!  I was so surprised that both my kids ate EVERYTHING!  It's also a meatless dish which is good to have a few of during the week.  But since there are cannellini beans there is still a good source of protein!  And, O, the flavor!  Fresh basil leaves, Garlic, and red pepper flakes and lemon juice!!!!!! Yum!  Hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Lemony Penne & Broccoli

Ingredients:

8 ounces whole wheat penne
4 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb broccoli florets
1 can (19 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (yea, we used more!)

Directions:

1. Cook penne pasta according to package (10-12 min) Drain and RESERVE 1 CUP of cooking liquid.  Transfer pasta to large serving bowl.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of oil in pan, over med high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add broccoli and 1/3 cup water to pan and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 min.
3. Stir in beans and add lemon juice, zest, salt, and red pepper.  Add pasta to the pan/skillet.  Stir in remaining 2 tbsp oil and the reserved water to create a sauce.  Tear in the basil leaves.  Serve with cheese on top.

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Tomorrow's post is the last chapter of Building Better Relationships Ch. 8

Spring is Here!!!

We are so thankful for God's handiwork in our lives.  It never ceases to amaze me that the God of the universe answers my prayers and pays attention to the likes of me.  The same God who changes winter to spring.  The same God who makes all things new.  The trees that were once dead and bare all winter, are now budding to life!

Spring is here, and with it comes the winds and the rain!  We are so thankful for the warmer temps and the green grass beginning to grow.  This weekend was beautiful.  Friday was 78 degrees and the parks were full of families.  I've never seen so many kids and pregnant mamas!  It was such a sight!  Thank goodness I dressed Julia in yellow and Mark in orange.  They were easy to spot anywhere!

We took the kids bikes and cars and Radio Flyer out and our front yard and side walk are fun places to hang out now!  Once it gets a bit warmer it will be time for chalk drawing!

Things are starting to wind down in the Mac household.  My ladies bible study group ends the middle of April.  John preached today (he's been prepping for 2 months now), and May is my last month teaching K-5 Sunday School.

But we do have some fun things to look forward to...Mark turns 2 this May (party planning time) Spring cleaning begins this week (I'm dedicating one day a week to an hour of Spring Cleaning)  and soon Julia will have her Gymnastics recital in June.  We will also have some new Spring/Summer play dates to the zoo and farm, and beach! There is never a dull moment.  And God is always good...and there are some other fun announcements, but we will wait to share those!  Just to build some suspense :)

I'm thankful for you Spring!

James: The Untamable Tongue

 James 3: 1-12

This passage in James went PERFECTLY with my talk on The Power of Our Words.  I read it with the high schoolers and discussed it during chapel. God has really put it on my heart to be very careful with my words, I grew up with such encouraging people in my life whose words pushed me to be the woman I am today.  I've been blessed to be surrounded by godly men and women who saw it fit to mentor me and build me up with their words.  I have friends who pushed me to go to grad school when I doubted if I could handle it.  And now that I'm a wife and a mom I feel my words can also do great things if I use the influence I have with my little family to encourage my husband and bless my children with the words that come out of my mouth.  Here is what the passage says:

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. 

I read a quote that said, "David referred to his mouth as the "door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).  More often than not, it needs to be shut."  We get ourselves in A LOT of trouble when we have a lot to say.  I've had to bite my tongue A LOT lately.  When this cute little person stands in the doorway of my room at 6:45 a.m. (and her brother stays asleep til 7:45)  I may be tempted to say, "Julia go back to bed."  But God has convicted me to greet her with kind words the minute I see her no matter what the hour (I used to be such a morning person before motherhood!)  So now I bite my tongue and I say, "Good morning Honey, did you have a good sleep???" And she smiles brightly and shakes her head yes.  And guess what?  I just started the day off right, I just made her feel valuable and loved by my mere words.  And guess what else?  That's exactly how she greets her brother each morning!  "Hi honey, did you have a good sleep boy?  You cutie boy!!!"  Words truly are powerful.  They can start the day off right if we learn to tame our tongue, bite our tongue, and speak love and blessing into people's lives.



I'm tired of cynicism, crass jokes, complaining people, negative people, sarcasm...that's just not what God wants from us.  We aren't to be like the world, so filled with negativity and despair...hello!!! We belong to a mighty God who loves us and died for us.  What are we complaining about and so cynical and sarcastic about?  I find the more time I spend with Jesus, the less time I have to bite my tongue.  And the more time I neglect my time with Christ, the more time my tongue gets me into an awful amount of trouble.

We can be such hypocrites.  Father forgive us.  One minute we are praising the Lord, singing worship songs, and the next we are gossiping about another brother or sister in Christ.  The tongue is so little and yet if not tamed it can do great damage.  It can destroy someones reputation.  Our words can separate the best of friends.  In verse 6 it talks about our tongue being a fire.  Gossip sometimes begins innocently, but one careless match, one slip of the tongue, and a whole community can be brought down.  Gossip destroys friendships, families, and churches...and I'm just as guilty as the next person.  Why do we gossip?  Why do we slander?  Part of it is insecurity, part of it is fear, and part of it is just our wicked hearts.  I say insecurity and fear because sometimes when we have an issue with someone, instead of going to them and clearing it up we elect a fan club.  We talk about that person to our friends and try to rally them and get their sympathy instead of just dealing with the issue with the person.  Proverbs 18:21  Solomon said that death and life are in the power of the tongue.

Lord, give us the strength to bite our tongues, help us to use our words wisely.  Help us to not use our tongue as a sword, but to be sweet like honey, help us to heal and restore people and build them up with our words.  God only you are good.  Help us to be more like you with our words. 


The Goodness of God

Today I am thinking of all the good things God has given me and all the blessings he has bestowed on us.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalms 107:1).

Thank you Lord for my husband John who works 14-15 hour days, but still finds time to ask about how my day went and is excited to hear about the things that are important to me.
How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! (Psalms 31:19).

 Thank you for our home, the roof over our heads, the cars in the driveway, the food in the pantry, and the children who run throughout the house.  All of the things you give me are good.  All of them.  Thank you for the noise, the laughter, the tears, and the hugs and kisses.


Thank you for their happy smiles, their little words, their silly questions, their sticky fingers, their curly hair, their squeaky toys, and their rhyming books.  Lately, my life has just been all about being a mommy and I love it!  Thank you for the miracle of life and your goodness in answering our prayers for a Julia and a Mark!

Psalm 34: 8 
O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Thank you Lord for always making me feel safe and secure in your arms.  Thank you for letting me run to you when I am nervous, afraid, or overwhelmed.  Thank you for always being there and being so real and present in my life.  Thank you Lord for being my best friend and accepting me faults and all.  I love you.  Thank you for getting me through a challenging week!  I knew you would!

God you are so GOOD!!!


The Power of Our Words

On Wednesday, March 16th I will be at Timothy Christian School speaking to the high schoolers (minus the seniors who are away on their missions trip to Dominican Republic...my first group of third graders are now SENIORS) in chapel.  One of my favorite things to do if I can't be in the classroom every day, is to speak in chapel to the students whom I love dearly.

I will be sharing with them a talk called, The Power of our Words.  I grew up hearing a lie, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  And yet, words do hurt, when people are not careful with what they say, words can be used in powerful ways and they can truly bless us or curse us.  I've always been a very sensitive person, don't get me wrong, I have a good sense of humor, I love to kid around, be silly, and have fun, but not at the expense of someone getting hurt, not ever!

Today I will share with the Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors (all kids I have had the privilege of teaching and have watched grow up) that God wants us to tame our tongues.  He wants us to build up, encourage, uplift, bless, and infuse sunshine into the lives of the people around us!  He wants us to stop tearing each other down, criticizing, complaining, lying, and gossiping.

Psalm 19: 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, o Lord, my strength, and my redeemer!

Our words are powerful.


Proverbs 18: 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it's fruit. 


Our words are powerful.


Ephesians 4: 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Our words are powerful.

Matthew 12: 36-37 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. 

Our words are powerful.

These are just some of the verses I will be sharing with the teens as well as many stories from my growing up days, church life, and married life.  God gives all of us experiences where people have used their words to encourage us and push us forward, and there are moments we all have where someone's words hurt us, and set us back.  But God is good, and the Holy Spirit is powerful, and with God's help we can all use our words to honor and glorify God.  We don't have to be like the Pharisees who Jesus says to them, "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."--Matthew 12: 34 The Pharisees were hypocrites.  They cared more about the outside and the appearance of being good and keeping the law instead of having humble hearts and attitudes before the Lord.

If you have given your life to Christ and you have been transformed, then you have a new heart, and God gives you a new vocabulary.  We are no longer slaves to lying, complaining, gossiping, and foolish talk.  God gives us a new heart and a new tongue.  We will still mess up.  We will still make mistakes with our words, but James (I'm loving my study in the book of James) tells us that we do need to control our tongue because it does have such potential to get us into trouble and condemn us.

So, think before you speak!  Our words ARE powerful!!!!!!!!!!!  And bite your tongue if you have nothing nice to say, or positive or uplifting.  Keep those negative thoughts to yourself and ask God to help you get rid of them!  Once you put those powerful words out there, they can not be taken back...

Pray for me!  I'm trusting God to help me deliver my message!  I'd let you read the whole thing, but it's around 7 pages long!

Psalm 119: 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Let your words be filled with sweetness today, dear ones!

Building Better Relationships Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Learning to Listen

I always thought of myself as a good listener...until I started to listen to myself talk on the phone to a friend....sad, very sad.  I couldn't wait to put my two cents in, share my experience, and give my advice.  See a pattern?  It was about me!  Was I really listening to my friend, or was I simply waiting for the next free minute to JUMP in with my words?

This chapter gave me some really cool insight on how important it is to listen with our whole body.  Sometimes when we listen this way we learn a lot not only about ourselves but the person who is sharing.  And when we listen with our whole bodies we can be a better friend, a better listener, and we can help someone else instead of focusing on ourselves.

The next time you are on the phone with a friend, before you interject, ask three questions (obviously you can ask more than three) about their situation before you start to share your own story.  It may be easy for you or difficult but it is a great discipline to learn.

James 1:19 says, "19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20."  I think all of our relationships would be improved if we heed these words!!!

BIG week ahead!

Hello my blog friends!  If I ever asked for prayer, this is the week I need it THE MOST.  John and I have a huge ministry week and we are already tired before the week has begun! 

*Tuesday I teach Ladies Bible Study
*Wednesday I speak to Timothy Christian School High School students (about 250 students)
*Sunday John preaches his first sermon on a Sunday!!!

This week my two verses I will be meditating on are Psalms 19: 14 (I will be speaking about The Power of our Words in chapel) Let the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.

And Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Only God is going to get me through the next few days with the amount of mommy duties, wifely duties, and teaching/speaking duties I have to prepare for.  But I know God will not only give me the strength that I need He will also provide me the grace, peace, and wisdom I need to get through each moment! Praise God!  I can't do any of this in my own strength, and I'm just glad God has taught me that lesson!



As for my John, well what can I say, I am super proud of my husband.  Four years of seminary has grown him not only into a godly man, but a man of the Word, and a man of integrity.  And he is so excited to share what he has learned and what God has taught him.  He's teaching a powerful message in 1 Samuel 28 where Saul actually consults a medium since God took his spirit away from him because Saul was so disobedient.  John is going to be great, but he needs prayer in narrowing down all the material he has gathered and putting it in a mere 35-40 minute window... I think he needs a 2 hour window right now!  Poor guy has so much to share!  I love his enthusiasm!  Will you remember us this week and forgive me if I'm not able to blog this week?  I may be able to pop in here and there, but I just need a lot of time to mentally prepare my heart and mind and gather my thoughts on what I want to share for Tuesday and Wednesday!

Have a Son-Shiny week!  And remember where YOUR strength comes from!  God is so good!

James: Faith and Works (deeds)

James 2: 14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.



***********************


I love this passage in James because it is such a good reminder of why our behavior and actions should reflect our faith.  I can remember vividly witnessing to John as a teenager and explaining to him that it wasn't just about believing in our head that there is a God, but that our belief in God needed to work it's way to our hearts and that our faith gives us the desire to want to obey Him and choose to do what is right.  I shared verse 19 with John about "You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe and tremble!"  Whoa!!! He said out loud, are you comparing me to a demon.  Of course not, John.  I'm explaining that there is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, and that God wants more than just our minds to believe but He's looking for a heart change!


If you ask John to this day, what verse helped in transforming you to becoming a Christian, what really impacted you to realize that you needed a God, that he wanted you and loves you and desires a relationship with you, what verse sticks out in your mind it would be James 2:19!

See, the thing I knew when I was witnessing to John was that he knew all about God, he grew up in the Catholic church, he heard about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but he didn't KNOW God as his best friend.  He knew God enough to believe that going to church was good and saying your prayers was good, but he wasn't willing to change the music he listened to, the negative influences around him, or the way he talked or treated his parents.  He knew God created the world, he believed Jesus died on the cross, but he wasn't willing to give up sinful behaviors he had.  And being willing to change is only after you KNOW and experience God in your heart.  After you KNOW him and you LOVE him with all your heart, mind, and soul, change happens!  And what a beautiful example my John is of that kind of miraculous change...literally over night!  Only God can do that!


God wants all of us...not just our minds, not just church attendance on Sundays, not a quick devotional to be able to check off our list each morning, he wants ALL of us.  And our actions reflect what is in our hearts!  So faith and works go hand in hand!


Building Better Relationships Chapter 6

Befriending Your Emotions

What I loved about this chapter was that our emotions are neutral, they are neither good or bad.  Sometimes we need the reminder.

Psalm 6: 1-10

1 LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
   or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
   heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
   How long, LORD, how long?
 4 Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
   save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
   Who praises you from the grave?

 6 I am worn out from my groaning.
   All night long I flood my bed with weeping
   and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
   they fail because of all my foes.

 8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
   for the LORD has heard my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
   the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
   they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame. 


Here, David comes to God with his emotions.  David was called a man after God's own heart.  David wrote the Psalms as ways of communicating his heart to God.  David went through many difficult times when Saul hated him and wanted him killed.  He had many enemies and was fearful for his life.  And yet his first response was to cry out to God with his emotions.  And by the end of the Psalm it was as if David had more peace about the situation.  Why is that?  When we take our emotions to God, our worries, our fears, our concerns, our burdens and we talk them through with our creator, somehow God is able to give us a peace about the situation because we realize who is in charge, who is our Help, and who is our refuge.   What a comfort it is to have a relationship with God.  To be able to be open and honest and bare our soul to the one who created us. 

Here are some great points the author brought up:

*Emotions are our initial, involuntary response to a situation or person.

*Emotions are neutral, neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, silly nor sensible.

*Emotions resist change.  When we wish to feel happy, we may feel sad.  When everyone wants to celebrate, we might feel like crying.  Because we feel out of control when emotions won't obey our commands, we sometimes build a thick inner wall of protection to keep us from feeling anything, or we bury unpleasant emotions deep in the pit of our stomachs.  Only to suffer from stomach acid.  Either of these choices is dangerous because each has far-reaching future consequences.:

1. If we build up our wall to keep out certain emotions, we risk losing all emotions-pleasant or painful.  We could shut down, unable to experience life to the fullest.

2. Buried emotions refuse to stay buried. As author John Powell writes, "When I repress my emotions, my stomach keeps score."

In Psalm 6 David expresses feelings of distress, a troubled soul, weariness from inner groanings, and grief.  When he expresses his emotions he realized that God heard him and that it was almost sinful to be in such despair.  I learned that I need to go straight to the Lord with my feelings of sadness and despair, and even when I get anxious (which is very often with two toddlers).  Having alone time with God and sharing my feelings and listening for God's wisdom does bring comfort.

When those negative emotions come it is up to us to draw closer to God, cry out to Him and expect Him to answer!  God is our strength.  He is the one who allows us to rejoice each morning.  We need to rely on that dependence on Him.

Also, remember that other people's emotions should be allowed and considered.  WE should be ready and willing and listening with understanding as opposed to judging or criticizing.  That's not what God does for us and so we should not have a superior type of spirit.

I learned a lot through this lesson.  Hope you did too!

We're Back!

Good Morning!

Today my verse I am meditating on all day is:

Micah 6:8 He has shown you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

This weekend we were sick with a stomach virus, but today is a new day, bright and sunny and we are all feeling MUCH better!

Let me give you some "Kristi Updates" ...

Julia's new phrases are:

"Mom, two more minutes!"  This phrase comes up around bed time, nap time, library time, teeth brushing time, doll time, you get the idea...she always wants two more minutes, and when mommy gives her two more minutes she is shocked that they went so quickly!

She also now says, "Of course!"  Julia, can you get Mark's diaper for me? "Of course!"  Julia, can you grab Mark's milk cup.  "Of course!" Julia can you share your snack, "Of course!"


Mark's new phrase is..."NO!" said with a very big smile.  Mark, share with Julia. "NO!" as he runs in the opposite direction.  Mark, off the couch.  "NO!" As he climbs back on.  Mark, no more water fountain. "NO!" As he tries to get more water.

His other new word is "Fun!" and "Happy!" Yesterday we picked him up from my in laws after we saw a movie and the first thing he did was run into my arms and say. "Fun!" So I knew he had a great time!

The next few weeks are super busy for me with teaching Ladies Bible study, speaking in HS chapel and helping to organize/attend a church baby shower.  Not to mention my John is preaching in two weeks for two services on Sunday, and I feel like I am going to be right up there with him (emotionally of course).  So God is good, expanding our borders, stretching us, providing for us, and continuing to show us love and mercy and teaching us to be fully dependent on Him and humble.  All good.

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