Lessons from an Eight Year Old

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John1:4).

 A few days ago our eight-year-old grandson, with wonder and excitement, relayed this story to us on the phone. He and his dad and little brother were mountain biking through some wooded trails. He was in the front, got far ahead of the other two and took a few wrong turns. He found himself lost and alone.

He told us that he immediately prayed…twice! This story has more than a happy ending. The next day, as they were reading a daily children’s devotional, the topic was… you guessed it—Fear Not! It described different fears such as being alone, rejection, and failure. And it talked of the assurance of God’s promise—“I will never leave you.”

We always have someone who loves us, accepts us, and helps us. God wants to be part of our here and now.

He was so excited about the timeliness of this lesson that he read the whole devotion to us with the excitement and passion that we have when we realize that a special passage from God’s word was written just for me, at the exact time I needed to hear it.

Don’t you love how God works!?

It warms my heart to know that this little guy knows that he can face his fears with God “who will never leave him.” And here is the verse from his devotional that we can all claim, which was written just for us, for the exact time we need it:

 I asked the Lord for help and He answered me. He saved me from all that I feared (Ps 34:4).

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus, every part of our life is affected. Oswald Chambers states, “The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house—He invades all of it.”

This is good news! Even if we spend three hours a day on our knees or reading scripture (I’d like to say that this is me, but I’m nowhere close), even if we did, that would only be a very small percent of the day. So many, many other things are happening. But if the Holy Spirit is present like He says He is, they are all “Spirit-ual” activities.

The challenge for me is to let Him lead…then for me to follow. And it does require time for prayer and scripture reading to hear His voice. If there is a dry spell where we are not given explicit direction, we can still chose to live righteously in our typical daily routine because He’s in that room, too.

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2: 13).

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corin 1:9). 

Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-presence. You’re here at times when I beg for direction and intervention; and You’re here when I arrogantly think that I can handle things. I am grateful for Your faithfulness especially during those times when I’m not.

 

 

Passion

I will praise You with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto You (Ps138:1).

Recently I was speaking with a woman whose country is 20% Christian and 80% Muslim. She said that in her country if you choose to follow Christ, you must be totally committed; everyone there is passionate about his/her faith or religion. No one is just lukewarm.

In our country it is relatively comfortable to be a Christ-following believer. We can openly worship, we have access to scripture at the tap of our thumb, and we certainly can pray. I’d like to think that I am totally committed, but I’ve never had to act on it by putting my children in a dangerous situation, nor like Rachel Scott, the young girl at Columbine who chose to be fatally shot rather than denouncing her faith.

But just because, thankfully here in the US, we’re not required to choose between torture or denying our faith, we can still heighten our passion and commitment.

How can we become even more committed? The answer is the same as how do we fall in love. The passion and commitment follow as we know more and more about that person. Although on this side of heaven, we can no way fully grasp the magnificence of the character if God, His mercies, His justice, His love…, we can learn more and more about Him through scriptures, conversing with Him, and the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. And allowing ourselves to trust His word and His will as He reveals Himself to us.

Psalm 138 continues, On the day I called, You answered me and You made me bold and confident with renewed strength in my soul.

Spiritual Fortitude

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.”

An online poster had this prayer, “Dear God, I don’t ask you to make my life easy, but I ask you to give me the strength to face all my trials.”

Truth be told, I would not pray this prayer. Or maybe I’d ask for both—an easy life and strength to get through troubles. But God didn’t design life to work that way. Spiritual fortitude and strength of character must grow through training and testing.

Although He could, God does not zap us with spiritual strength and an automatic trust in Him. God engineers our circumstances to grow us. He starts us with ten-pound weights, and then after He helps us through those, He challenges us further causing us to develop more faith and more trust right there in the midst of life’s realities.

Maybe my prayer should be “Lord, let me see You in my trials. Help me not to whine and complain, but to trust that you’re strengthening me to do greater things for you and molding my character to be more and more like Your Son, our perfect example.”

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, For you know that when your faith is tested, your perseverance has a chance to grow. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

Stumbling Blocks

Get thee behind me, Satan (Matt 16:23).

These are familiar words of Jesus, when Satan tried to tempt Him with a more comfortable path instead of the one that lay ahead at Calvary. But later in Matthew, Jesus was recorded as saying these same words to Peter, His close friend and follower.

Peter was genuinely concerned about Jesus. When Jesus foretold Peter about His upcoming suffering, Peter did not want to hear it—“Far be it from You, Lord.”

Satan uses every trick in the book to lure us away from God’s plan. Jesus called Peter (or Satan using Peter) a stumbling block. How often has a well-meaning friend tried to suggest an easier path for us? How often have we tried to steer a loved one in a less painful direction that in the long run would hinder their growth? Enabling maybe?

Jesus continued, “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but merely human concerns.”

Because stumbling blocks aren’t intrinsically bad things, Satan can so easily trick us. Maybe Jesus’s words should be our first prayer when we are trying to discern and decide, “’Get out of the way, Satan’…in the name of Jesus”

The Sniff Test

I have never had a guest writer before, but my friend Lynne Gintzig, a sister on this journey of faith, is sharp and witty, amazing and humble. She doesn’t mince words, but after she steps on my toes, I somehow always leave with a smile. Lindy has the ability to combine profound spiritual wisdom with things she pulls out of the junk drawer of our everyday lives. Enjoy…

                    Porkchops, The “Sniff Test” and a Metaphor for Life.

I have added this to my daily prayer…and I really pray it with SINCERITY. But do I really listen?? “Most Holy Spirit of God, inspire my thinking, pervade my imagination, suggest my decisions and order my doings.”

So WHAT would possess me to fry up some thin cut pork chops when I almost gagged upon opening the package?? (Well, the date was good, I just purchased them and stored them properly was my rationale). Even during the brief flash in the pan they smelled “off”…. So, WHAT possessed me to eat one? I ignored the “red flags”. And believe you me, I suffered consequences all night.

So, why – in our daily lives- when something doesn’t pass the “sniff test” do we ignore the warning signs and our conscience and proceed full steam ahead? Our egos? Our love of something else besides wisdom ($?), comfort (I don’t want to have to go back to store), our lust (I REALLY like a pan fried porkchop), or just plain lazy stupidity (duh).

I say, if you want God to bless your life, then LISTEN to Him… And then obey Him. If something about that relationship with that cute guy (the porkchops LOOKED just fine) smells off, pay attention, GIRLS (and guys). If you jump in the frying pan with those questionable chops, trust me… there WILL be consequences.

Moral of this bedtime story….If your “porkchop” isn’t passing the sniff test, there are other porkchops out there! I’m not giving up porkchops because of a bit of misery, however…it just may take me a few weeks before I can look at one and not gag.

 

He Talks to Me Too

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears (John 16:13a).

God speaks to every believer. Period. Sometimes His message hits us like a two-by-four. Other times it is still and quiet and we need to be still and quiet listening for it.

God speaks to us through His word. We may read the same passage over and over again through the years, and then one day, it jumps off the page and is totally relevant to our current situation.

God speaks to us through prayer. We may be praying for a miracle and He may answer by giving us instructions. Really, why couldn’t God give us a thoughtful inspiration? After all, He created our minds. God will never give us a thought that is contradictory to His word or character, but His way is always the best way.

God can speak to us through other believers. Often this can confirm our prayers and should always align with His word.

God wants to talk to us. His ways are the best. His plans for us are the best, and He is more than willing to reveal Himself to us.