Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Byes

Nobody likes to say Good Byes. One of the things we all look forward to in heaven is that we will never have to say good bye. Last September our youngest son and his wife and their 2 children moved to the other side of the country...I did not want to say good bye; I wanted them to stay with us, but God had another plan and He is using them for His service where they have moved.

This past Sunday we had to say a most difficult good bye as after nine years of pastoring the Redwood Baptist Church we had our last service with the church family that we love so dearly. My husband has always been burdened about church planting, and about 16 months ago God dealt with his heart and that burden became a call. It has been such an emotional time for me personally - you know women like to nest; we like to feel secure about where we are and that we'll be able to cozy in and call it home forever...that has not been the case with me.

I remember when we were at our previous ministry I really struggled with leaving when my husband was called to the pastorate. In fact, I down right fought him! I was unwilling and disobedient. Our pastor knew I was struggling and very pointedly "suggested" that I get alone with God and figure it all out. I remember spending an afternoon in prayer and I read from the Book of Isaiah - from chapter one to 36! The Lord dealth with my heart and gave me my answer in the first chapter, but I battled Him until I finished reading chapter 36. My fear was that if we moved I wouldn't be able to be with my kids in church, I would miss out on what I was accustomed to doing with my family and in my church. God's answer to me was Isaiah 1:18-20 which says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

I learned that if I was willing and obedient to the Lord I would enjoy good at His Hand. As it turned out, 3 of our 4 children served with us in the ministry for 8 years! This past year God began moving us one by one. When my husband told me how God was dealing with Him, as difficult as I knew it would be heart breaking to say good bye - I learned by experience that I will be much better off by being willing and obedient - as my daughter reminded me when she moved away I used to tell her after she was cured from cancer that I would be happy to have her anywhere God used her to serve Him because it would be closer than heaven.

Through tears and a broken heart I hugged the dear ladies of our church and said "if I don't see you here, I'll see you there." I have learned that being willing and obedient to God will allow us to see good. Good bye comes from "God be with ye" and so while I close this chapter and say "God be with ye," (goodbye) I look forward with great anticipation to see what God will do as we willingly and obediently answer His call to Oakdale, CA, and planting the Lighthouse Baptist Church. Please pray for us. I will keep you posted and will continue posting the Tender Touch as God leads.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swallow and Follow

Swallowing took on a whole new meaning for me recently when I underwent an endoscopy - that is a test where the patient (me) must swallow a tube with a small camera at the end so that the doctor can see all the way to the stomach. I knew I needed to take the test because of family history - but I was okay with it because I thought I was going to be asleep during the procedure. A few days before my appointment the nurse called to give me last minute instructions; I became apprehensive when she said I would have to be awake to swallow this tube! In fact I told her that it sounded like a panic situation to me...I did not want to do it so I fretted and stewed about having to swallow that tube for the rest of the week (that was a lot of help); but the truth is the only way I could get the results was by swallowing that horrifying tube. Thankfully I indeed was asleep during the procedure and so all that panicking was for nothing - Praise the Lord!

That word swallow is an interesting word because it has so many meanings other than just to take food from your mouth to your stomach. Another meaning is to accept without question or suspicion. I believe that is the kind of swallowing we should use when it comes to the Bible. Psalm 34:8 says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." When it comes to the Bible we should swallow and follow - accept the Word of God without question or suspicion - and then do it!

Ladies,when God calls your husband to take that step of faith - though it may seem difficult and perhaps even frightening - just swallow and follow. This will be much easier if your bathe your husband in prayer and trust that God is leading your husband to lead your family. Every mighty miracle that we read about in the Bible started with a step of faith (that's the swallowing part - believing), but as James said in James 2:18 "...I will shew thee my faith by my works." In other words when you believe something your actions will prove it.

Ladies, I encourage you to take the Word of God to heart today - swallow and follow - as you do you will indeed experience Psalm 34:8 - you will see that the Lord is good and you will be blessed as you trust in Him.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two are Better Than One

This past Friday I underwent a health test that required my having an empty stomach. I was instructed to have nothing to eat or drink after 7:30 in the morning but the actual test was not until 4:45 pm - so I had to fast all day. My husband woke me up a little earlier than usual to invite me out to breakfast - we finished our last bite and sip of coffee by 7:25. We spent the rest of the morning at the church getting some things done, and then we ran a few other errands before going back home for the afternoon. I was able to nap (to kill time and not think about being thirsty) and when I woke up my mouth was pretty dry - but I couldn't have any water. I didn't say anything about it - its not really a big deal, but my husband came downstairs to check on me and wanted to let me know that he was with me - that he too had determined that he wouldn't eat or drink anything either. Maybe that's not a huge deal, and I wouldn't have minded if he had wanted to eat and drink - he had no reason not to; but it was a loving gesture on his part to let me know that he would "suffer" with me.

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In the 31 years that we have been married as I look back, all my memories include my wonderful husband because we became one flesh - two separate people joined to form a holy union and as such the two of us together is better than one of us alone. In your marriage be two together forming one, not two fighting to see which one will get their way. Here are points to remember.

1. The two of you together is better than one of you alone because your labor together will give you a good reward. You'll be able to look back on your lives and see what you have built together - the home you have built (not house), the children you have raised, the work you have accomplished.

2. When you go through a hard time together one of you will be able to help the other. There have been many times that I have been down, either because of health or discouragement and my husband has been there to hold my hand to encourage me. By the grace of God I have been able to do the same for him.

3. On a cold winter night its nice to be able to snuggle with my husband for warmth, but it also a blessing to receive a warm reception from the man I love. There are times when have been at gatherings where we have received "the cold shoulder," but when we're together we can provide warmth for each other.

3. When you face opposition together you can stand, and most especially if Christ is at the center of your marriage - He makes the third fold of the cord that will not be quickly broken. Recently my husband had a conversation with a man that greatly discouraged him - probably as low as I have ever seen him. Please note that my husband did not come crying to me, but rather began apologizing for his shortcomings. I couldn't understand why he felt the need to apologize, nor did I agree with what he was stating were his failures. I tried to encourage him from my point of view, but then as we then prayed together the Lord brought so many illustrations from His Word to our hearts that soon we realized that the discouragement and oppression were simply distorted views from Satan. Praise the Lord for His Word and for His comfort!

Years ago I remember watching an old 40's movie (for some reason that era seems to be when many of my favorite movies were made); in the movie a young gal was getting married and her father said to her, "well honey, now the two of you are one, but remember for you he is the one!" I know it was just a line from an old movie, but I think we would all be wise to consider our other half as the one we should put first. I'm glad that we enjoy that type of relationship - and I know that every married person would be happy to enjoy a marriage like the one God has given to me. I am a blessed lady indeed - thank you Lord for giving me such a wonderful husband that follows your Word, and for a marriage that by Your grace earnestly seeks Your Word as our model.

Have a wonderful day and may God bless you and your marriage!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Eye of the Beholder

"Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye." -Shakespeare 1588
"Beauty, like supreme dominion is but supported by opinion." -Benjamin Franklin 1741
"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." -David Humes Essays, Moral and Political, 1742
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" as we quote it today is a line from the book Molly Bawn written by Margaret Wolf Hungerford in 1878. The same sentiment expressed throughout history in these quotes is this - beauty is a matter of opinion.

I remember when my first child was born I thought he was the most beautiful child, so you can imagine my utter surprise when one of my sisters-in-law came by and saw him and said, "oh look, now he is getting cute." In my mind I thought, "Getting? What do you mean getting? He has always been very cute!" She had her opinion and I had mine - to me he was always beautiful and to her he was now getting cute (at least she had the good sense to know that he was cute, right?). The fact is that beauty really is determined by the one that is looking, and is subject to each person's opinion.

As a wife the opinion that matters most to me is that of my husband's. I want to be beautiful in his eyes - so I try to dress to impress him, I fix my hair in ways that he finds attractive, and so on. To be honest though I would probably put up a fuss about it if he had ridiculous ideas (like if he wanted me to wear my hair the same way I did in the 80's, or if he had strange ideas about having me wear totally outdated fashions) - thankfully he appreciates my choices, but he will let me know if I choose something that he doesn't like and when that happens I respect his opinion and get rid of what he doesn't like.

As a Christian the only opinion that matters is God's. I want to be beautiful to my Lord. I believe that holiness before the Lord is what He finds beautiful. There are five verses in the Bible that teach us that truth and within them I find also a recipe for holiness.

A Recipe for Holiness

1. Give glory to God. "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." I Chronicles 16:29

2. Praise the Lord. "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever." II Chronicles 20:21

3. Worship the Lord. "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." Psalm 29:2

4. Fear the Lord. "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth." Psalm 96:9

5. Be willing to do what God wants you to do. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." Psalm 110:3

I am thankful that I can be beautiful to the Lord in spite of my looks. I am thankful that I can be beautiful to the Lord though I have sinned because of the forgiveness I have received through His blood according to the riches of his grace. It is my prayer today that I may be found beautiful in the Eyes of my Beholder.
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3

"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." I Peter 1:16

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Would Your Son Share His Lunch?

On Sunday morning my husband preached a message about the feeding of the 5000. As he was preaching he mentioned the "lad" that had food to share. I have often thought of that lad as I have read my Bible and so many thoughts have flooded my mind about that situation...here is the account of what happened.

"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." John 6:5-12

Now, the thing that intrigued me (as a mother) is the fact that of all the people there (5000 men plus women and children) there appeared to be just one boy that either had a lunch or the very least was willing to share his lunch. I have pondered several things about this boy and would like to share with you today.

1. He must have had a very good mother - she made sure and packed her son a lunch, so she took care of him.

2. He must have had a spiritual mother because she sent him (or allowed him) to go to Jesus.

3. He must have had a mother that taught him manners because he was willing to share his lunch with everybody even when there was obviously not enough to go around.

4. He must have had a mother that taught him to pay attention to the needs of his authorities and spiritual leaders - because it was the apostles that knew about the lad.

5. He must have been taught to speak with and respond to his authorities - so many children today would not have spoken up to say anything. This speaks to the fact that he must have had a measure of confidence (something a mother can foster or squelch in her children).

Now I know that I am attributing all of these things to his mother, but in truth it is the mother that would do all of those things.

So, quite possibly, because of what his mother probably had done, this lad, and all of those present witnessed a miracle! This lad was used of God very possibly, or even probably, because of the loving tender care that his mother gave him and it put him in the right place at the right time.

So, you may be wondering what all of this has to do with anything - but in fact I believe that there is a valuable lesson that can be learned and applied to every mother's mothering skills.

1. Make sure that you prepare your children for the unexpected - it is better to be over prepared than to be caught in a situation with no resources.

2. Have a personal walk with God at home. Be involved in your church, church activities, special meetings, make sure your kids know that it is important to be a part of every opportunity that God brings in your lives.

3. Teach your children basic manners, be polite, share, be attentive, show respect for your elders especially those in a position of authority.

4. Encourage your children to know that they can do all things through Christ - most leaders had someone in their life that made them believe they could do what God wants them to do.

I can't say for sure - but I think this is the kind of mother that nurtured this lad - and God used His offering to perform a miracle that is recorded in the Word of God! I think this mom was pleased, and I know this lad brought glory to God! Would your children share their lunch?

I pray for all of you moms that are raising your children for His glory that these thoughts might be a source of encouragement to you - I love you.

Have a wonderful day!