Crayons, markers, scissors and glue sticks are fresh and ready for little hands to create masterpieces this year. Phonics to be learned, sight words to recall, spelling test to study for. Novels to devour, papers to be written, facts to be memorized. Ideas to be considered, lab experiments to commence, more papers to write and sentences to pick apart.
School has officially begun and I have been praying for so many of you teachers, coaches, nurses, janitors, office and administration staff and aids. May the Lord draw you near to himself this year. We can never lead our children closer to the Lord than we are ourselves. Seek the Lord, with all of your heart this year, and you will find him.
Our pastor has posed the question to us as individuals to ask ourselves if we can be trusted. If we know Christ then he has given us the gospel message and the authority to speak it. If we aren’t speaking it and telling others the good news, then we can’t be trusted. Are you trustworthy? Can you be trusted this year as you lead the children of the next generation.
Your words matter, your actions matter, your attitude matters. You can speak nice, caring, gentle words all day long but if we leave out Jesus, we haven’t really offered them anything of worth.
You have the potential to change the world by investing in the lives of these children in your care, whether it be the little ones or the big ones, every child is a blessing and thrives on words of life and truth and encouragement. My prayer for you is that every word that proceeds from your mouth is as if you were speaking the very words of God. Build up, do not tear down. Take your thoughts captive and remember truth and look for ways you can add value and worth to every child that walks into your room, office, court or field.
I challenge you to create and cultivate unique relationships with each child because how you invest in them will affect their future. Focus on them, not yourself, consider them better than you, see them as Jesus sees them. Don’t define any of the kiddos by their circumstances, family status or their past failures. They are loved by God and have excellence in them that needs to be drawn out by you. Treat them with dignity and honor, love them unconditionally and when they fail, offer them words of life to spur them on to be more excellent. You can change lives by how you invest!
Yes, there are many educational feats to accomplish this year in the classroom and many athletic obstacles to overcome in the game but the most important thing they can learn this year is that Jesus loves them, he died for them and that he has made salvation available to them. They need to hear this from the adults in charge of them. That’s you!
Go into all the classrooms and gyms and halls and preach the gospel.
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I would love to introduce you to him.
Slam the gavel, justice should prevail!
One one hand, my black and white personality naturally gravitates towards immediate reactions to right and wrong and I tend to form an opinion too quickly sometimes about what should and shouldn’t be done, leaving very little room for mercy to reign. On the other hand, when it comes to my own actions in participating in situations, I take great effort to deeply ponder how my actions will appear to other people because I never want to be a stumbling block, but even then, at times I’m seen as a failure.
I’m a mess and I could brush it off and say, “that’s just how God made me,” but that would be a slap in God’s face because he says that I’m made in his image and he is never quick to judge or condemn or make excuses for sin. He is doing a great work in me, his word is so alive and cutting through me and affirming me and pressing me on to seek what it means to follow him.
My pastor brought Psalm 85:10 to my attention last week and I’ve been praying over it daily and seeking to understand what he is doing in my heart with this “justice first” personality. I’ve been asking the Lord to soften my heart to his truth and mold me in ways that I didn’t even realize needed molding and he is indeed opening my eyes to see what he sees, to love what and who he loves and to yes, seek justice but also to love mercy.
“Mercy and truth meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.“
Yes…justice. But, oh…love and mercy. God has shaken me to the core. How do these two meet and kiss and become a relationship that works together in unity for the purpose of his name being great? Can we have both? I have always been justice and I married one who is always mercy and the Lord reminded me of the example of our marriage. Mercy and truth have met. Righteousness and peace have kissed….and we had babies!!! Seriously though…what a beautiful picture the Lord gave me of how my marriage is an example of this passage to show me that it’s a beautiful thing when the two come together and it produces greater fruit than if the two try to prevail apart from one another.
What would our communities look like if truth was always greeted with mercy and righteousness always sought to make peace?
I process things by speaking them and my husband, so full of mercy, listens and directs the conversation in such a way that the Lord always gives me clarity in how this righteousness-peace relationship looks like through the eyes of our Redeemer. As I wildly and passionately shaved my legs and processed aloud to the hubs, who clips his nails at random hours, we clarified what the Lord is doing in my heart about loving well and bridging gaps and winning the lost over by the way we connect with them.
Hang with me and hear my heart over what the Lord is doing in my thoughts.
I’ve leaned too far on the justice side of the fence and have hit wall after wall in trying to connect with the hearts of lost people. The lost don’t need me and my laws and rules and regulations on how Christians should behave. They simply need me to love them gently and to suffer long with them. They need me to meet them where they are and love them for who they are, to call out the best in them and spur them on to seek Jesus for themselves. They need the gap to have a bridge where we can connect and walk together so I can introduce them to my Jesus. How will they know if they don’t hear?
We Christians have some pretty high standards and deep convictions but we too often turn them into rules and regulations. We try to usurp God’s authority and make our own set of consequences if people don’t walk the line we think they ought to. I’ve been thinking long and hard and asking the Lord for clarity in how this Scripture should be handled, how do I live in such a way that the justice and truth I believe in can offer mercy and peace to those who need to experience a relationship with him? What does it look like?
Should we stop visiting those in prison because we think they should suffer the consequences of their behavior? Should we neglect those who have crossed the border because their actions were illegal? What about the homeless, should I withhold my financial blessings because they might spend it on their addictions? Should we overlook those suffering with diseases because we totally disagree with how the money is allocated for research? Should we shun those who have had abortions because we value life and disagree with their choices? Should we completely speak out against and have nothing to do with the foster care system because we believe in motherhood and if we enable them to relinquish their parental involvement then we aren’t doing them a favor and teaching them responsibility. Should I not feed the hungry children because their parents are too lazy to work?
Scenario…..I invite a broken and hurting friend out to dinner so I can speak life and truth into her and offer her hope. I don’t consume alcohol because of a personal conviction, I’m a member of a church that has taken a stand against wanting alcohol to be sold in our county. My friend orders an alcoholic drink. I have two choices, I can condemn her and make it clear to her what we have chosen to stand for as a family or I can pick up the tab and love her well and not care if anyone sees my table with drinks on it and possibly become a stumbling block to those not at my table. Am I between a rock and a hard place? No…righteousness and peace have smooched….I’ll gladly pay the tab and offer a cup of cold whatever in the name of Jesus. We have to bridge the gap. At whatever cost. We have to meet people where they are and not condemn but breathe life and hope. Jesus can deal with all the issues after he has a relationship with the one we are introducing him to.
How will they ever know the love of Jesus if we are all about justice and never about love and mercy? It’s the loving kindness of Jesus that led me to repentance. It’s the gentle, long suffering hand of the Savior that redeemed those of you who know him too. We are nothing but stinky, 0ld, dirty, rotten, molded, soured rags. We are useless to this world if we aren’t full of mercy and grace and loving kindness. I will never, NEVER, be able to reach this community if I lean too far on the side of my man made laws of justice with consequences to be suffered.
Yes, my black and white personality still believes in being bold and taking a stand for truth and righteousness but let me remind you that Jesus offered a cup of cold water to the women at the well while she was still living in sin. He called me to himself while I was still a sinner and he knew my sin and yet he still died for me. He became uncomfortable for me. He shed his blood for me. Not because I was nice and pretty and following the rules and laws but because he wanted to have a relationship with me. He cleaned me up later and is still nursing my wounds and cleaning out layers upon layers of filth. I am still not worthy of him talking to me but he is in a relationship with me daily, gently meeting me where I am and telling me how much he loves me and wants to be with me. How can I ever take what he offers and turn around and not do the same for the other hurting, broken and rotten rags out there?
Christians, people are lost and broken and damn us and damn the church if we are too good to meet people where they are after he died on the cross for us and met us where we were in our own nasty sin. I want to be used by God. I want to be his girl. I want to be the one those broken and desperate lives out there see and are drawn to because my life reflects hope in the greater things God has in store for us.
We can’t separate ourselves from the world. We must live in it and connect with the people in it. It is possible to be in the world and not of it. We can meet people where they are and offer them a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus without letting their sin contaminate us. I use to think it was impossible and that being set apart for holiness meant being separated from people in the world. The more I spend time with Jesus, the more I realize that being set apart for holiness means letting God work in my life and letting him clean me up and make me holy and righteous, it has nothing to do with what I try to do on the outside, it’s the inside work of the heart that makes me set apart and holy and able to be used by him.
How will we ever be a light if we don’t go into the darkness. My light doesn’t shine bright if I only surround myself with other bright lights. Paul says, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”" We can’t keep ourselves tucked up safe in the walls of the church and expect the world to see our light and hope. We must get out there and bridge the gap and bring them to us.
People, “we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failing of the weak, and not to please ourselves…but to build them up.” Let us be Christians who bear with the failing and faults of this weak world who knows no truth and let’s take truth to them. Not the law, but truth. The gospel, that Jesus Christ died for our sins and if we trust and believe in him as our Savior, people can be saved. Not the law we say is truth because the law only condemns but the gospel truth that Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them. We will never reach them for Jesus if it’s all about justice and law and rules and regulations.
“Sometimes we go into the depths to flee civilization. Sometimes we go there to build it.” – Anthony Esolen
Let us not be people who flee civilization because we fear we might be tainted but let us go into it with our hearts set apart for holiness and let us build it up for God’s glory. Let our light shine so bright and let our love ring out so loudly that people desire to know why we want a relationship with them. Let them hear Jesus when we speak. Let them see him in us. Let us not expect the world to act like Christians but let us love the world so much so that we can offer them the one who died for them and let him change their hearts and set them apart just like he has us.
The wise man built his house upon the rock…..thank me later for putting that tune into your mind for the day.
Surely we all recognize the most important building block of any structure is the foundation. Whether it be children or adults we are building in to, the foundation we lay must be done so skillfully and with much truth, wisdom and grace.
Believers, because of God’s grace, have been enriched in every way! In all our speech and all our knowledge, we are enriched in him. We have the mind of Christ, does that not blow your mind? I’m so grateful I don’t have to think and ponder what my flesh wants to do or what the foolish world says ought to be done, the mind of Christ is available to me, I just have to follow the path of life he has shown me.
Because of this same grace of God, I am a skillful master builder equipped to lay steady, strong, lasting foundations. In the hearts of those within my care, I must take special effort in how I pour into them so their foundation will last. I don’t want to be idle in my conversations or wavering in the faith they see me live. I want to make the most of every opportunity, always ready to offer them the hope that is in me. It’s in God’s wisdom and truth that foundations are built to be steadfast and faithful. I want to offer them a taste of the goodness of Jesus so they will see that he is good and worthy to follow with passionate pursuit. If I only offer them perishable items that don’t linger in the soul, roots will never grow deep into the heart of God and their foundation will be weak and easily destroyed.
As I ponder these thoughts in 1 Corinthians 3, I’m aware that others will also build upon my foundation and that of my children. Take special care how you build upon us. Pour truth into us, spur us on toward love and good deeds, fan the flame of excellence in us so our hearts will continue to burn for Jesus.
I’m also aware that whether I’m a foundation layer or a builder in your life, special care must also be taken. Just like I don’t want to offer my children perishable fruit, I want you to be fed by Jesus through me. I desire that you are nourished here, that you are spurred on towards excellence by us, that we offer you fruit that sustains you and fills you because it’s living water that you drink flowing out of us.
It’s easy to type. It’s even easier to dream big and envision actually living the plan God has for me in this area. It’s easy in the wee hours of the morning as I sip my hot tea alone. It’s easy. It’s easy to send you that text spurring you to live as a victor today, easy to call you to excellence in a facebook post, easy to pray for you as I pen my request in my binder. It’s easy.
It’s hard to live it. It’s hard to live victoriously and boldly and confidently in this plan God has for me in this area. It’s hard when my kids wake up hungry and needy and at odds with one another. It’s hard. It’s hard to have a real life conversation with you and spur you on to excellence without condemning you. It’s hard to speak truth into those around me and let it be sent out with love and grace. It’s hard to sit with high standards in a conversation with very low standards and not live fully this conviction God has for me. It’s so very hard.
I do not do what I want to do. I do what I do not want to do.
I read this week, “If we aren’t brave enough to speak our dreams, how can we ever accomplish them?”
Here I am, being the brave I pray my children to be. I know the plans he has for me, he wrote them down for me, whispers them to me, yells at me even. I long to be this skillful master builder he says I already am. I desire for this enriched speaking and knowledge he says I am to come out of me. I want you to have value because of Jesus pouring himself out of me into you. I want to build truth and life and wisdom and grace and goodness and excellence and trustworthiness and righteousness into you. I want us to live the life God has for us, fully and abundantly. I want God to use me to pour into others. I want my investment to bring you much reward. I want the work he does through me to survive and increase your strength, your steadfastness and your faithfulness.
Whether I plant or water, only God gives growth. My prayer today is that God grows me and grows you!
I pushed aside the heavyweight down comforter and reached for my Sword. The printed words of wisdom have grown smaller over the years but with every passing year, the truth they ring is louder than ever.
After sleeping in, I knew if I stirred, so would they. I also knew that if I didn’t let Jesus stir my heart, I would have nothing to offer them today. So, I read, still and quiet as not to wake those who need me adding value to them this day. With no reading plan, I flipped open with high expectation from the Word of Truth…1 Chronicles 29….ALL of Scripture is useful so I prefaced my reading with a prayer to have something to chew on and nourish me.
Using NIV because that is what was on my nightstand, bold emphasis is mine….
It’s a bit long….read the words, don’t skim them…
Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?”
Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
I’m no scholar, just trusting I’m that simply foolish one the Lord wants to use to shame the wise.
Whispers from Jesus this morning, I am the one whom God has chosen. You are the one whom God has chosen! The task before us is great because what we are building is not for us, but for the Lord. We build for his glory. We invest for his glory. We speak truth for his glory. We add value for his glory.
My devotion should be to the temple of God. I am God’s temple. Those around me, believing in Christ as Savior, are God’s temple. I desire to give willingly of myself, to work on and add value to the temple of God. Everything precious in me should be given to you, I should have nothing left at the end of each day if I’m letting God fill me up for the purpose of being poured out.
Yesterday I went shopping, ALONE! I had this thought, “what can I do with myself today….whatever I want to do!!” At the completion of that thought, I looked over and saw a truck trailer that said, “UNIGLORY” and I was quickened to remember for whose glory I am made.
Who am I building for, speaking for, breathing for, writing for, living for, investing in others for? He is the One!
Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today? Are you willing to be poured out for the building of his temple?
For the community of Cyanika in northern Rwanda, the lack of latrines and sanitation is a very real problem with a solution in sight. This year, through partnership with Blood:Water Mission, Cyanika celebrated 100% water coverage with rain catchment tanks for 7,000 people. Women and children no longer have to walk 30 kilometers for access to a water source. To continue transforming the health of this region, latrines are the next piece to the puzzle. They will provide the dignity of eliminating waste in private, while keeping the newly constructed water sources free from disease.
This Christmas, help us Deck the Stalls to raise $130,000 for our sanitation efforts in Cyanika, Rwanda. Just $50 means one person will have access to a composting latrine that will provide them health and dignity.
One would expect me to come away from a blogging conference a bit more proficient in WordPress, widgets and well crafted words. I should know all about growing my platform, partnering with sponsors, marketing, branding and publishing. The time and money my sweet husband invested in me to attend Allume surely should produce something of value, some sort of treasure.
Tricia Goyer’s words have stirred me, ”Mine Your Treasure!”
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mat.6:19-21
What treasure am I mining?
What eternally valuable treasures have I devoted my heart to investing in?
I walked away from the blogging conference with a renewed vision and passion for mining my treasure. My husband and my children are my treasures. They are gifts, straight from the Lord himself. That is where my heart is. Being a faithful steward of my time so I can invest my whole heart into giving them the opportunity to grow in their relationship with Christ is what the Lord has called me to in this season.
Make disciples, I am commanded. What better place to start than right here within the walls of my own home.
Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
My heart’s desire is to be faithful in this work he has given me to do so his name will be glorified.
I may be none the wiser when it comes to widgets or web design but when it comes to recognizing kingdom work with eternal dividends, I’m thankful my eyes were opened to the Truth of God’s plan for me. I’m grateful he promises to gently lead those with young.
The prayer of my soul is that when he searches to and fro looking for those whose hearts are devoted to him, that he will find me devoted and that he will strengthen me.
Need a bit of help in managing your time well enough to be able to Mine Your Treasure? Check out Tricia Goyer’s words via Intentional Pursuit!
Tom Davis’ Children’s HopeChest Ministry travels to:
Here’s all the project information:
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For months now I have been praying for Alison, an ordinary mom. She has a couple of handfuls of kiddos with her oldest battling brain cancer. I’ve prayed for her son, Ian, for God’s will to be done, for his health to be restored, for Alison’s strength to be renewed, for her family to see God’s hand at work in their lives.
I love this Ordinary Mom because there’s something quite extraordinary about her as I read her blog and her journey of trusting the Lord with her child.
This post today isn’t about Alison though, it’s about our creative God who is a divine appointment planner. See, Alison lives in Minnesota and I’m in Texas, that’s at least 5 states away and I’ve had the honor of taking her family before the throne of grace and asking God to make his name great through them.
We’ve never exchanged correspondence aside from me commenting on her blog or seeing each other tweet. At the MomHeart Conference with Sally Clarkson a few weekends ago, I checked my twitter feed to see all the buzz about the conference and I noticed @ordinary_mom tweeting about the MomHeart conference. WHAT? She is in Texas??? I immediately sent her a tweet asking her if she was there and telling her that I pray for her and would love to meet her! She tweeted back saying she was at table #49 and asked where I was.
I couldn’t see my table number because we had previously moved it due to picture taking so I turned to look at the tables around me because I knew we were 40 something. Table 49 was right beside us!!! I recognized her and our chairs were practically side by side…I whispered over to her!! All I could think of was how great our God is for me to get to meet this sweet mom who I’ve been able to pray for….now, I actually get to meet her!
When the session was over, we met, hugged and I got to pray over her. It was such a blessing for me to meet Alison, to pray over her with my arms around her and ask God’s blessing upon her life and family. Thank you, Jesus, for planning this unexpected divine appointment for me.
Take a moment today to pray for Alison, her son Ian and their family.