Encouragement for the week

I used to be in a Sunday school class that was huge- as big as or bigger than some churches that gather on Sunday mornings. Each week, a certain gentleman would stand up and read the prayer requests that had been submitted and we would have  a time of prayer for them.

After this time was over, he would encourage us to be in the Word that week and say each week, without fail:

“Folks, it’s God’s Word.

We need to be thinking about it, praying about it, and we MOST ASSUREDLY need to BE about it”.

Then he would sit down.  The inflection in his voice was the exact same each week- he would really emphasize the words above that I capitalized. It was very predictable. But the truth of his challenge was worth repeating each week! How would we all (and our families, our workplaces, our homes, our city….) be different if we really were reading, thinking, praying and acting on (being hearers AND doers of) God’s Word this week?

I haven’t been in that class or seen this gentleman for years-  but I am so thankful that his words were ringing in my ears yesterday, challenging me for the week, reminding me.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (and woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2Tim.3:16           

When I am tempted

I can’t come up with clever, catchy titles to save my life! Maybe that is something I will grow in as I write more…..however, thanks for coming over anyway and seeing what the Lord has been teaching me from His Word in regards to temptation.

What lead me to seek the Lord on this particular matter was when I was having a really bad week with the kids. Just some honesty here- I was so quick to be angry at them, raise my voice- ok, let’s call it what it is- yelling, or the kind of talking where you grit your teeth together and open your eyes real big to really get your point across. But I am sure that you guys don’t do that. But I do, and I don’t like it or think it’s ok- but sometimes the old girl rises up and it ain’t pretty. And, it definitely doesn’t get the response from my boys that I want- it doesn’t reach their hearts.

Here’s where Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-23 are such an encouragement to me. I’ve spent this year studying Acts in our Bible study and if the man that I have seen be beaten and imprisoned and hungry and in the middle of riots and left for dead all for the sake of his Savior, can say these words, that gives me hope.

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, cit is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

We’ll come back to that passage in a moment- but the verse the the Lord brought to my mind in reference to this temptation of dealing harshly with my kids is Hebrews 4:14-16. Certainly it applies to any temptation we face, but for me, this is how I have applied it in my own life.

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Even though Jesus wasn’t tempted with each exact sin that we are, he was tempted with the enticement of sin and the tug of evil.  However, he remained sinless and did not give in, and more than that, stands ready to give us grace and mercy in our own time of need! My heart leaps even now as I write about this! To know that my Savior- a perfect, holy, righteous God is ready to  meet me (and you!) where I am and help me.  That he doesn’t look at me (or you!) with a pointing finger or a frustrated “Ughhh! Again, Lauren?!”

He says, “Draw near to me and receive the mercy (not getting what we do deserve) and grace (getting what we don’t deserve) that I want so badly to give you.” For those who are His own, the sheep of His pasture, this is the reality.

So, how did that change me or my day? To just come to him when I feel that anger or frustration rising up inside of me- “Jesus, please help me. I want to parent these boys in a way that reaches their hearts. To show them Your amazing grace, your infinite love, your holiness. I must decrease, you must increase.” And that, friends, is exactly what He does. He is so faithful.

To close, going back to the verse in Romans (actually 8:1)-at the end of that speech about being a wretched sinner that Paul gives is one of my favorite verses:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

And for that, I am so thankful.

Why does it matter?

Finishing up the several posts about Biblical reliability, I’ve been thinking.  We have to understand why it matters if we actually believe the Bible or not. We are misguided if we think, “Well I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that when I die I’ll go to heaven….but the part in there about fill in the blank here…..well- I don’t know about that.”

Truth is, there are certain Biblical truths/doctrines that aren’t comfy cozy and don’t give you warm fuzzies inside. But I will submit to you that if we don’t believe it ALL, we can’t claim to really believe ANY of it. If it’s not all true, then how do I know the part about eternal security is true? How do I know anything about who God is and what He wants from me? We can’t pick and choose from Scripture what we would like to believe.  That leaves us confused and uncertain. Two things that I don’t believe He wants us to be.

The thing is, God wants us to know Him. He wants us to be secure in His love and His plans. And that is why He’s given us His Word. We are not going to understand everything about this life and even about Scripture, but we can apply ourselves to know Him and His Word, and continue to grow in that until the day we die.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,

    let not the mighty man boast in his strength,

let not the rich man boast in his riches,

but let him who boasts boast in this,

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

See- all of those other things can be taken away from us- wisdom, strength, riches (things that our culture and world values & treasures above all else)…..but knowing Christ cannot.  So I would ask you- if we don’t know Christ, what level of security or confidence can we have in this life? And how do we know him if not through his word?

“With my whole heart I seek You;

let me not wander from from your commandments!

I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.

I will delight in Your statutes;

I will not forget your Word.”

Psalm 119:10-11,15-16

P.S.

Today wraps up the series on biblical reliability!  So far, we’ve looked at:

M-manuscript evidence

A- archaeological  evidence

These last two go very well together so I have decided to lump them both here. I feel the need to say again, these points aren’t mine, but come from the article by Hank Hanegraaf, “MAPS to Guide You Through Biblical Reliability”.  Here is the article in it’s entirety: http://www.equip.org/articles/bible-reliability

So, jumping right in, the P stands for prophecy- predictive ability. There are many events that the Bible predicts, but because Christ is the focus of the whole counsel of scripture- old and new testament- it only makes sense that the prophecies regarding him outnumber the rest, so that’s what I want to hone in on.

Genesis 17:19- Here, God promises that the messiah will come from Abraham’s line- via Isaac, not Ishmael.

Micah 5:2- Prophecy that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem

Isaiah 53:12- Prophecy that the messiah would be crucified with criminals

*These are just a few of the ones that obviously Jesus could not set out and intend or conspire to fill.*

Let’s look real quick at Psalm 22 and Matthew 27.

Ps. 22:18- “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”
Matt. 27:35- “And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots”

Ps. 22:7- “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads”
Matt. 27:39- “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads

Ps. 22:8- “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him”
Matt. 27:43- “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him, For he said ‘I am the Son of God'”

Ps. 22:1- “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
Matt. 27:46- “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now, for the S- statistics. The Bible was written over the span of 1500 years with over 40 authors in 3 different languages, and speaks to hundreds of subjects. Yet, there is one over-arching theme- Jesus Christ and God’s redemption of mankind. The likelihood that Jesus would fulfill all prophecies concerning him BY CHANCE alone? Conservative estimates: 1 in 10 to the 17th power.

I also want to say again, that I am no Bible scholar or apologist- I don’t pretend to be! There are plenty of great ones out there! I just want to show that the Bible is worth looking into- maybe giving a second thought to the possibility- that it’s divine in origin rather than human, and that it’s accurate.

Keepin’ it real

Today has been a crummy day.  You know- starts wrong and then things just keep right on going down the tubes…..I woke up later than I wanted to (so my “i’m going to enjoy my morning cup of coffee and quiet time alone” time wasn’t so alone); then I didn’t feel like working out (probably a bad choice) so I decided to take the kids to Target to get some chalk and dry erase markers then we would go to Chik-Fil-A to play and let them get some energy out on this rainy, dreary day.

Notice I only needed 2 things at Target….this was probably my fastest and cheapest trip EVER. But not absent of the “I wants” and a semi-tantrum from my middle child. Great.

Which then led to mama being very frustrated and deciding that “I am not taking anyone to CFA when they have acted like that”. Period. End of discussion.

I know you (if you have kids) know how that went over with the oldest child. More whining to ensue from him. Then very loud whining/crying/fussing/boo-hooing  from said middle child who caused the whole disturbance in the first place.

Insert ray of sunshine- 19-month old who doesn’t know what’s going on and just smiles at me  from his carseat. 🙂 I know- he too will cause this raucous one day…..but for now, let me have my ray of sunshine.

Then, the straw that broke the camel’s back- I wanted a fountain drink- diet coke- my drug of choice. But again, decided against going through drive-thru b/c I don’t think that the person on the other side of the speaker where you place your order could have heard me over all the fussing and crying present in my van. And, I am supposed to be drinking only water for 40 days….so now I feel like a failure at that b/c I have maybe a few times cheated.

Also insert a (clean) laundry pile that looks like this:

AND, I have to work tonight, won’t be home till 1:00 am, so nothing I can do about it tonight.

There were numerous other things swirling around  in my mind and in my day, but I will not bore you with those details! (you are welcome) SO I just got to thinking…..this is just life. What do we do when the crummy days come? Or the hard days? Or the tragic days? Or the ones that we just feel defeated, or just plain confused and don’t know what to do about a certain situation? Or….fill in the blank of anything unpleasant.

First, let me say here that I know my situation/day is good in comparison to many others who are facing extreme hardship, and I do feel embarrassed when I allow myself to turn inward and complain about my life.  But it happens, right? If we aren’t careful we have a tendency to look at our situation and just invite ourselves and those we love to the pity party.

I just managed to (as I was doing some laundry 🙂 ) say to the Lord, “Help me! How can I change my attitude and just move on? I’m in a “funk” and I don’t like it!” I am pretty sure that the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control- Galatians 5) was NOT flowing from my heart and life today.

And here is the answer, I believe: “Praise Me”.  I think that just turning to the Lord and focusing on who He is- His awesome deeds- His marvelous works- His faithful love- His saving grace- His abundant mercy- His real Presence- His true Word- brings us to a point where we can look outside of ourselves and see how Great is the Great I AM.

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting”.

Psalm 147:1


You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

Isaiah 26:3-4

Now gotta go get in my car and drive to work….rockin’ some praise music. 🙂

Banana Banana Bread

If you are looking for a really good banana bread recipe…..look no further! I recently made this (in the form of mini muffins) for our pediatrician’s office and they were a hit. I made a few changes- used whole wheat flour and added in a few spices- cinnamon and nutmeg. I also put a cinnamon streusel topping on it before baking. I wish I had taken a photo, but didn’t cross my mind at the time! I should mention that the boys loved these too and are asking me to make them again! If I could figure out how to make them without the butter, i’d be set! Any suggestions?

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/banana-banana-bread/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=banana%20banana%20bread&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page