This is one of those statements that's easy to say when things are going well and not so easy when they're not. It sounds trite in the eye of Harvey or other national disasters. Even in the tragedies in our daily lives. Recently our little home school community has been disrupted by quite a few challenges. One girl had a sore neck and then next morning was unresponsive. One famiily was driving to catch a plane for a missions trip and the tire blew, and came off the rim, killing the wife of the leader of the trip and injuring a close homeschool friend and her husband as well as traumatizing her kids. Another family is in ministry, working hard for the Lord, and the Lord seems to be allowing it to fail (thus not paying for a mortgage and gas or electricity).
These are the times we as American Christians aren't used to. Unlike so many who are persecuted in other countries and have sometimes had to sacrifice everything for Him, we have had to sacrifice little and if I'm going to speak for myself, it comes really hard to not to question God.
Satan whispers in our ears that God is not really good or not in control. Others would tell us that God only wants the best for us and I agree. But, the truth is, I think His best looks a little different then ours. Also, what we forget is, that He's not the author of the bad things that happen to us...sin is. What do I mean by that? I mean that God made a perfect world, but the human race chose to rebel. So sin reigned in our bodies and the Word says that all of creation groans because of sin. Not only that, we changed. We were perfect and, at the fall, became sinful.; so not only do people hurt us but we hurt others. The good news is that God promises that He works the bad things together for good. That's why Jesus came. He talks about that in Isaiah 61;1-3
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;
because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
What He's been teaching me is that He's in the business of breaking chains and mending hearts. That's what He does and what He uses is the trials. I guess that's why James says to count it all joy when we fall into various trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience (my paraphrase). It's one of the hardest lines in the Bible in my opinion. It sounds impossible. So, amidst the heartbreak or even the dailiness of life it's good to know that those trials aren't happening for no reason..they're happening in order to serve a bigger purpose. Sometimes it's even an answer to our prayers. After all you can't remodel a house without things getting a little messy. So we can't change without the master Craftsman working in and through our lives. Many times through rough times.
Times like these call us to pray. To look up/ To get outside ourselves if it's not directly happening to us and if it is to know that, in the midst of it, He really is good. It challenges us, to love God no matter what we're going through There's no easy answer, only an easy eternity. . . A blessed one if we accept His gift of eternal life. It's hard, so hard, sometimes, but praise God He doesn't waste one moment of it.
It's amazing how there's lessons all around us. Lessons from God's Word. Lessons from raising kids. I can't believe how many lessons apply.
This lesson, however was from my dog, O Henry. Ya see, we were eating donuts the other day -- Yep talking about donuts. For some of you this is probably a favorite topic, some a topic of disdain, some both (outwardly, you avoid it, but inwardly you salivate). Some never even think about them (Wow. I can't even conceive of that).
So, I bought a dozen donuts the other day to celebrate a special occasion. Well, we tried to share them, but everyone seemed to be out of town. We all did our best to eat the extra, but really they are quite filling. So we left them out and my tiny dog ate way more than his little stomach could handle. He kept them down and all (I know TMI, sorry) , but his eyes were all glazed over and he looked kind of sick. I empathized. My face looked the same way.
The next day when my daughter took the box out of the fridge and ate the last of the salvaged donuts (pretty sure the dogs hadn't touched them) Henry kind of wretched and started shaking. He knew that those donuts equaled sickness and pain. He didn't want anything to do with that box of sin (don't worry, I know he's not considering his eternal destination, he just knew that those donuts meant suffering). Now I know it's not necessarily sinful to eat a donut, but I think gluttony pretty much qualified for Henry and me.
I was so mad at myself. One day I'm on a crusade to eat healthy and the next I'm plowing into a pile of donuts? Why don't I learn? I mean, I know how bad sugar is for me. I've been reading about it and I'm committed to eating clean...but then there's celebrations and children and they're so cheap, easy and tasty. Just. Like. Sin.
Now, I know sin isn't really popular. I mean, let's face it, no one likes to admit they sin...especially if you know Jesus. At least not big ones. Not important ones. That's what we were like before we came to know the Lord. That's the thing we pray for others to be delivered from. But the thing is...we still sin. Don't we? We gossip; we overeat; we're selfish; self-righteous; envious and angry to name a few of the socially acceptable sins. We hurt people we love. We don't love people God tells us to love. We want to, but we don't. And the thing is, we also hurt ourselves.
It's like Roman's 7 says.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So, in other words. I want to do what's good, but my body and mind and everything in me craves what I know is bad for me. But the verse says it's Jesus who can deliver me. He promises to give us power to resist sin if we'll call on Him. Why don't we? Because it tastes so good for a season and we forget how we feel afterwards.
Lord, help us with our battle grounds of sin be they little in our eyes or big (because they're all big to You).
My prayer for me and you is that, next time when we see that box of sin we remember it's affects and wretch and shake and move far away from it and into the arms of the only one who satisfies...Jesus...our savior.
Do any of you remember reading to your little ones Stone Soup? Maybe you caught it when your were a kid on 'Little House on the Prairie.' (perhaps on re-runs?) Here's the gist. The idea is that soldiers came to a village (in our version it was monks) and wanted food and lodging. No one would open their doors to them. So, they made a fire in the market square (this is an old story) and boiled water and put some stone's in it and some salt. They made it look like it was the best thing ever. People started looking. However, they said if they just had an onion it would be perfect. Someone left for a minute and came back with an onion. Then they mentioned carrots. You get the idea. Soon, every one was contributing a small amount and it really became the best soup ever. They had a feast.
I think sometimes as homeschoolers we get stuck in our own worlds. We are like misers with time. Meanwhile, we're lonely and we don't have the best days. But if we each connect with each other we could feast.
When we share our own tips and tricks it may help make someone's day better and ours too. It's like stone soup. Could there be a way you and someone else could trade thing's you're good at doing? So, maybe if you're like me, just when you want to clam up and be your own entity, you get more by giving. Perhaps even here on this blog, we can help each other.
This is how I feel, today. I really don't have much to contribute, but my one thing that seems to work with homeschool is this. This is my stone. Find something good to read and read it together. This has lead us to all kinds of fun, silly stuff, like making wii characters of our book characters and serious discussions, from books like The Hiding Place. If you don't have time to read together anymore (older kids) spend a little bit of time having them talk about what they've read. I know, it's too easy. It's the stone in stone soup. What's helped your homeschool work?.
Call it critical thinking/home ec. Let your little challenges lead you to victory. For instance, we were out of chocolate, so I suggested Summer figure out if we had the ingredients to make some. We did...kind of and it was good...kind of. But it taught us to think through things.
Do you have anything to add to this stone soup? What's one thing, just one, that's worked for you?
John 10:10 says,
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. " KJV
I've recently, been thinking a lot about this abundant life I'm supposed to be having. I'm struggling with it, because I'm not sure I'm understanding the meaning.
For instance, if I look in the Old Testament, abundance seems to have a lot to do with numbers. The whole creation week has things teaming with abundance. He even tells Adam to fill the earth, abundantly. Then during the plagues, He brought forth frogs abundantly. Lots.
So, if abundant life means "lots" as in lots to do, I'm there. It's abundant all right. Abundant laundry, abundant dishes, abundant shopping, chore enforcement, attitude adjustments, dinners, clean-up, augh! But I don't think (at least I hope) in this context He means just lots. I think He means lots of life. So...what does he mean by life?
Because lots of time my "abundant" life looks like this:
When I want it to look like this:
But, if I look at the first part of the verse I see there's an antagonist (bad guy) who is seeking to steal, kill and destroy.
So, what's he stealing, killing and destroying? I think the answer must be:
But God has the opposite plan. He's giving more of life. So, if He promises more, why does my day often seem a lot like less? Like when I look up from the chaos, there's so little of the abundant life. There's more of the survival life going on. I think perhaps there's a thief in there.
I was lying in my bed contemplating this. Okay, true confessions, I was actually kind of whining at God (I'm not proud of it, but that's the truth).
And it hit me. It's a simple formula: Abundant life=trusting God.
In some areas I trust God really well. I really believe Jesus came and lived a perfect life and died on the cross and rose again. I believe there is a real heaven and that someday I'll go there. So, I'm good to go there and I often get really excited about that eternal life. Which is good.
However, I also understand there are areas I've always struggled with trusting God. And some I don't even realize trusting God is part of the necessary plan. Like, organizing my house or losing weight; how is that a trusting God thing? But, then again, if I'm not trusting God, who am I trusting? I think perhaps I'm trusting a thief (my own flesh, worldly systems, lies of the enemy). A thief who is trying to steal my joy and destroy my abundant life.
Then I thought, how can I grab onto abundant life if my hands are holding on to those things? Have you ever tried to hand something to a child who won't take it? It's annoying. And pretty much impossible. "Here...here...here! I am giving this to you. Take it!!!" Maybe that's how God feels.
I do see how trusting equals less time worrying. Less time being afraid, which means fewer times being angry. The absence of those three things right there would make life more abundant. Less filled with "why" questions (as in why me?) and more with "what" questions (what are you up to, Lord?). Believing He really is going to work all things together for good.
So then I was trying to figure out how to trust. Then I got it. This trust thing is like a muscle that atrophies when we don't use it. Thus the trials, be they little or small are part of learning to flex the, "I trust you, Lord," muscle. Which is a key to abundant life.
So, this week the Lord's working on some of those hard to trust areas and it's hard for me. I said it's a simple formula, not an easy one.
This is a new thought for me so tell me what you think? Is it heresy or Biblical?
Recently, my family and I read Matthew 26:46-55 and it really made us think.
Earlier Jesus tries to tell the disciples what's going to happen but they're not getting it. They have plans, big plans.
Perhaps they were thinking, "He is the Messiah after all. Everyone knows what that means. He's a conquering king. These Romans aren't going to know what hit them."
But He keeps telling them things that do not jive with their plans. The most recent of which is that someone would betray them. I mean how random is that? Why? And, even weirder he says they'll all scatter. Why would they do that? They've been following him for a long time now.
Then, He goes to the garden. to pray. Now this is pretty normal and common practice for Him so no red flags, but He tells them to pray, and there seems to be an urgency about Him,.
They fall asleep... twice. Maybe John notices the drops of blood on Jesus (he seems to be most aware) Is Perhaps they were thinking, "So we fell asleep. What's the big deal? I mean He's God we're not. "
Then, minutes. later their whole world collapses. Suddenly there's torches, shouting, lead by...Judas? What? Not Judas. He's been with them the whole time. He was their friend. He saw the miracles.
"Don't worry Jesus, I got this. Lucky for you I kept my sword. I'll take out the little guy. You say the "I am" stuff again, and we're good to go!" (I am adding this, of course, Peter at this moment was a man of action and no words are recorded). Instead Jesus heals the man's ear.
Instead of a Messiah who was going to lead the world (at least the Romans) with them as His right-hand men, their Messiah was being taken away like a criminal. And they scattered.
It ends (so they think) when Jesus dies a horrible death.
All their plans gone. They'd had it all figured out and now this. I bet to them It seemed like their ordered world just got very random.
How familiar this may seem to some of us. We're just going along with our lives. We may get some indication from Scriptures we're reading that something is hard coming our way, but hey God has given us a specific direction, it's probably just a coincidence, right? Yeah. Things are humming along and then, there's a lost job an accident, cancer or fill in the blank.
"But Lord," we say, "I, we had this plan. What is the deal?" It seems so...very...random. But it's not. It's all part of the plan. This awful thing, will be used for the good thing, if we can just believe and submit to it.
Because ,just like with the cross, God promises that this evil, death, horrible thing can be used to birth a really good thing in us.
Look at the disciples.Their plans, no literally their savior had died. But what they had forgotten is that their God was bigger than their plans, bigger than death itself. Jesus wasn't done. He was just beginning.
And that's true for you. Whatever you're going through.
God often doesn't act in ways we understand, and we think, "Woah, what is this about, God? I was serving you and this is how you reward me?"
It's not that He's random or mean, it's that He's bigger. He is so big that, just like the sculpture who uses a hammer and a chisel, He uses the evil of sin and death to knock away those very things in us to free us from the stone; to mold us and shape us to what He needs us to be.
That's what the resurrection was about. It was the bigger, most important picture. The great end of the surrender He had made in the garden.
Because the most random events, weren't random at all. They were planned from the third Chapter in Genesis when God told Eve "her seed" would bruise Satan's head. They were the bigger picture. Had this bigger picture not come into play, we would have no hope. Neither would the disciples.
The next scene is them fishing again. At our family study, Pat remarked that the disciples probably went back to what they knew. I mean, it was great that Jesus was alive and all, but what did that mean to them?
No more big plans to help rule the world. No more fishing for men... So many times when "our plans for God" don't work out isn't that what happens? We find ourselves back where we were before the trial, just kind of doing what we know and waiting on God. Kind of numbly wondering what's next. Pat and I had to confess, there've been many times this year, we've thought we had things figured out, only to find out that God had a different, harder, not very American dreamish, happily-ever-after, ducks in a row plan.
But, as hard and challenging as they may seem, we have to know they're not random. They're for a bigger purpose. Maybe it's to help us grow. To keep us from making an idol out of something that's too important to us. To show us how much we need God, but it's not accidental and it's not for no reason. God promises us that in Romans 8:28. Many of us have quoted it.
Romans 8:28King James Version (KJV)
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
But, back to the disciples. I like how the story ends, don't you? He meets them fishing. It's so great the way He does it too. They can't catch any fish just like the first time He and Peter met. (Luke 5:3-5)
And Jesus calls from the shore for them to put their net on the other side. That sounds familiar. "Could it be?" They throw their nets on the other side and they catch tons of fish (literally their nets are breaking) and then they know.It's him. And then there He was, cooking fish for them on the shore.
He eats with them, talks with them and gives them a new vision. They then take the Gospel to the world.
So what about you? Have you had your old vision revamped? Perhaps, like the disciples, your political future seems to be bleak.
Remember the disciples. The thing that seemed the most like death was the key to life. Wherever you're at, if you know God, He is there too. It's not random, it's God's sovereign plan. And often times just when it seems like He's finished with you, that's when He's ready to get busy.
If you know anything about Pat and myself, you know this past year has been a real faith walk. God's given us just enough to get by. Just recently we were able to go to San Diego. Pat had two speaking engagements back to back the same evening in the Los Angeles area and we figured, since we were close, we'd go to our old stompin' grounds, San Diego. Note to self: never book two speaking engagements within two and a half hours of each other. It was crazy!
Of course, at the first place (thank the Lord we got there two hours early) many technical glitches. Pat made it to the podium just in time. Folks there were gracious and kind, when the "question and answer" time was cut short. I was starting look a bit glassy-eyed by the time we got to the second place and I couldn't imagine how Pat found the energy for the second talk.
After that we drive to San Diego, sure it's only another hour and a half, why not? Pat's driving so, I book a hotel did I say hotel? Pardonne moi. I meant la Motel de Seis. Did I mention we brought the dogs? Yes, let's add another layer of difficulty. Two dogs...Jack Russells....Yeah. So I book a hotel and there's no refunds because it's so late. I check with Pat and book it for two days.
We get there and it's not like other Motel 6's. It's dark (we can see the bridge to Tijuana) and we had to kind of do a weird U-turn over a dirt road to get there --and the Motel 6 sign is literally duct taped over the old Day's Inn sign. It's creepy, but I think, okay, we sleep with one eye open and maybe they'll let us cancel the second night. We walk in the lobby and there are idols with evidence that they're, you know, worshipped. Kinda' creepy, right?
What you don't know about our family (especially Pat) is that we've made a rule about going to places with idols. We don't. We don't shop at them, eat at them or sleep in them. I mean places that are actually worshipping them. No judgment if you do; everyone has their call from God on that issue. Some minister from the inside. Some pray for them.
It's just that, since the girls were little and we read about the idols that God found detestable in the Bible and the girls were horrified when we ate at places with them, we kinda' made a decision to stop. We, mostly meaning Pat....especially tonight...when it was after midnight and every Motel 6 was filled with people celebrating Mardi Gras. And, the worst for me as a mom? No refunds. I know it was just a dumb idol, but if there was ever a time it was calling me to sleep it was that night (not really, just my imagination :)). I mean, God knew that, had we known we wouldn't have slept there, but it was too late right? Wrong.
So, we sadly turned away and went to the gas station across the street to try and plead our cause. No go. No way. I called back. The person on the line wanted to know why we didn't want to stay there? I handed the phone to Pat. He meekly explained to the person on the other line about the "no idols" standard. The person was actually understanding, but said there were no refunds, not even for the second night. We paid for two nights and that's what they were charging us. Finally, around 1 a.m. we found another Motel 6 a half hour away that had room. I felt so tired and so...abandoned by God. I mean, really, Lord? No refunds?
"Where are you in all this, Lord? Here we are trying to serve You on a shoestring and this happened?" As I looked at the Motel 6 sign getting smaller in the rearview mirror I finally said, "Well, it's God's money and if He want us to spend it this way, okay."
The next night it so happened we were at the same gas station at the exact same time of early morning, and I wished I could have gone back in time and told them that everything was going to work out all right. The next morning, Pat had talked to another person from the chain who turned out to be a believer (we think) and they agreed to pay for one day. Then we had a terrific day playing at the beach, eating yogurt and all manner of fun events that ended us up right where we had been lamenting 24 hours. What a difference a day makes.
To top it off, on the way home the man who invited Pat to speak offered to pay for our Motel. God didn't have to do that, but He gave a gift to this spoiled child of His for her husband living up to His convictions. God is good. Even if He had made us pay, He already paid the ultimate price so I could spend eternity with Him. Everything I have to pay is just loose change.
Joshua 24:15 King James Version (KJV)
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Stardate January 9, 2016, (read in the voice of James T. Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise) This is Sandy Roy, second in command for the Earthship Roy. I was on my mission to talk to the Creator of the blue planet, Earth, when there was a disruption in the airwaves caused by a large device that looks like my communicator (I believe the term is, laptop). It is emitting sounds, which confuse me and keep me from my task. Going to investigate....
On the screen It seems there is a bird moving its head up and down to, what in my normal state, I would call music (although in my present state seems more like noise). It seems as if there's some kind of magnetic attached to the sc because It keeps drawing me there. I ...must...get back to my mission...but, oh that's funny...losing ground. Mayday! Mayday! Beem me back to the kitchen Scottie.
Stardate, ten minutes later than the last entry. I have returned to my spot and tried to resume communication. Now a dark feeling is enveloping me....anger. Isolation. My communication with the Creator is spotty. Sandy out.
12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Even fun? Surely it must not mean fun. Where is the fun clause? This is America after all "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." AKA fun? Some of all think you're better at this. Saying."Oh, I don't do that."
You do too. You might not play with the kids, but what about, Starbucks, Dutch Bros. (fun in a cup) Facebook, texting friends, shopping (the kids need....I). Am I saying those things are bad? No, just sometimes they get in the way of our commitments to excellence. So, how do we do lay aside the "every weight?" A weight isn't necessarily sin, it's things that weigh us down or hold us back in the quest to live for God. How do we do that while still having to live in the real world?
In this minutely small part of my tiny world I'm trying to dedicate to God (in this small task of dishes) how do I do that? Because, what I'm learning so far is, while doing the dishes (or whatever your task is) may work fine at certain times of the day, other times you may encounter distractions. Sometimes they're valid, but often they're those things that entertain you...okay me. I admit it. Especially in the evenings when "fun dad" is home. Not that it's bad to spend family time, but it's a balance (obviously I tend to tilt toward the "fun" side). Still, you need to do what you need to do. Right? If not, your house will be an awful thing to live in (if you've never experienced this, trust me on that one). So what do you do? I found a solution to distractions in this area, so I'm going to share it and a couple ideas.
1. Make your own magnet to pull you back. Newton's law says for every action there is an equal reaction. My reaction was to plug my earphones into an audio Bible and just listen to the Scriptures, as I did the dishes. That was good. Christian music would work, a prayer list anything that helps you focus. I must say I really enjoyed it. It was like being on my own little island. (disclaimer: this is not permission to completely ignore or tune out your kids. Make sure you have someone responsible watching them, or plug in one earphone and still keep an eye one them. Or perhaps, God has you to stop and attend to a need, be it emotional or physical, so this is not permission to always block out your family. In short, this works if you can manage it in a safe way.) This is a practical illustration of the second verse of Hebrews 11 which says.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;..."
This also helps with the next thing that creeps in (at least it did for me)--.pride (I'll tell you what, between my flesh and the devil they don't miss a trick). 'They're watching this ridiculous fluff while I'm listening to the Bible. Hm. Hm. Hmph. ' It was a struggle and it is amazing how different (non-eternal) your normal routine looks when you're in that "communicating with God" attitude. How did I combat that? It was hard. I reminded myself that that's normally me watching those things and kept trying to "look unto Jesus" not me. What about you? Have you been successful? If so, what do you do to combat pride? Any comments on that would be appreciated.
2. Get the family involved. I might try this next time; getting them cleaning up, in a Godly way. You know, putting on some Christian music or singing songs as we clean up. Maybe you just pick one person, but make it fun. Some of you who have already tried this are probably snickering about now. "Sure, the family. It's going to go just the way you think," you're saying (maybe you're not as sarcastic as my inner dialogue). Anyway, I understand I'd have to go easy on the expectations.
3. Do the task later. But put a deadline on it so it gets done (like before bed). I did this last Saturday and it turned out to work out well. Okay, I did the, listening to the Bible thing and I did the dishes later; because after my first set was done, we had dinner, a few snacks, and voila there was a whole new set--previously my mind would drift to the verse about the demons who were cast out and came back seven fold when the house was clean, but I'm changing that thought, dishes are not evil. (Wasn't serious about that anyway, FYI) that's old thinking; they are an invitation to come to the throne room of the God of the universe and believe that He is there listening. .
And, I must say, the sink is seeming like a bit more special of a place than it was before. Not a lot. Just a tiny bit. I'm trying not to let it be just a short-term fad, but a long-term habit. How about you? Is God transforming your task? What have you come up against? How do you deal with distractions? Have you been putting it off. Start and start today. Anticipate distractions and head them off at the past.
Let's encourage each other, believing that God who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. Phil. 1:6 (paraphrased). For me, beginning with my least favorite task is a great way to start. How about you? Also, do you have any good verses that deal with distractions? Please include them below.
Sandy Roy is a homeschool mom and co-creator and "special ops" writer of the Jonathan Park series, Novarupta audio drama, and now Time Chroniclers.Read More