Monthly Archives: October 2007

Err On The Side Of Love

Yesterday I heard about a homeless family that came to our church for help. I live in a small town, and we don’t see many homeless people around here. We certainly don’t see homeless families. With little children.

This family is living in a car. The dad has just found a job, but he won’t be paid for two weeks. They came to our church to ask for groceries. Groceries that don’t have to be cooked because they are living in a car.

Of course, my girls and I are going grocery shopping today. We sat at dinner last night and everyone called out all the things we should buy for them. “Bananas!” Silas shouted. “They need fruit to be healthy!” “Raisins! They aren’t messy!” Someone else screamed. “Crackers!” “Peanut butter!” “Oranges!” “Candy! Lots of Halloween candy!” We had a great time making a mental grocery list for this family.

Tenderhearted Rachel asked why we don’t just invite them to live in our church parsonage, which was recently vacated by the missionaries who had been staying there. My husband and I think it’s a great idea, but my husband explained that we don’t get to decide that, that our pastors and deacons will decide that. “Daddy,” Rachel asked, “if you were a deacon, would you vote yes?” He assured her he would if he could. Satisfied, she ate the rest of her dinner.

We have passed along her suggestion, along with the alternative suggestion of paying for a hotel room for this family for a couple weeks. I wish I had enough money to pay for a hotel room until they could begin renting somewhere. Or I wish I had rental property so I could work with this family to help them. Sometimes, it can be frustrating when my burden to help extends beyond my means of helping. But I know I am only called to obey and do what I can. So we will sacrificially buy groceries for them and trust God with the rest.

Sadly, I know some people won’t do what they can. Some people are too worried about being taken advantage of. I heard it just a couple days ago when discussing a different situation– “We can’t do that. Some people come along and just try to take advantage of us.”

You know what my very deep spiritual response is to that? Whooptie-Doo! That is nothing more than pride, a looking out for oneself and one’s own image. If I am loving someone else like I love myself and they take advantage of me, that’s not my problem. That is between them and God. I will know that I have done what I was called to do; I will know that I sought to demonstrate Christ and love my neighbor as myself. And the rest is up to God. Really, to me, it is as simple as that.

I have been taken advantage of before, and I am certain I will be taken advantage of again. I hope so, actually. If my love and compassion is not taken advantage of at some point, I probably am not being as loving and compassionate as I should be.

I’m supposed to be like Jesus, and Jesus was taken advantage of. Judas took advantage of Jesus’ friendship and then betrayed Him. But Judas wasn’t the only one. My husband and I were talking the other day about Jesus feeding those 5000 people. I wondered how many of those 5000 people who enjoyed Jesus’ unique blend of compassion and omnipotence that day later stood around Pilate’s courtyard screaming, “Crucify Him!”

Hmmm . . . makes whatever anyone could do to take advantage of my compassion seem like nothing.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be wise. Of course we should. But if there is a question, a judgment call to make, I think we should err on the side of compassion.

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Filed under Bible, Christ, Christianity, church, faith, food, homelessness, love

Missing Fruit

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Lately, life has been a little bit stressful. We have been working on some major projects, like getting our house ready to sell and sorting and packing years and years of stuff; and we have also been trying to maintain the day-to-day tasks of running a home with six children while keeping it all clean and organized so we can sell it. We have also traveled a little bit and we’ve done a little public speaking. Oh, yeah, and we’re homeschooling four children. I’m a little tired just typing it all out.

One day last week, the stress overwhelmed us. I had slept late, so I skipped my alone-time with God. We had a couple major things to work on that day, and our children were not exactly cooperating. Then my husband and I didn’t see eye-to-eye about something, and neither of us approached the situation with grace or love. By mid-afternoon, we were all, every one of us, behaving pretty horribly.

Late in the afternoon, I was taking meat out of the freezer for dinner when I noticed that some of my magnets had disappeared from the fridge. I have these simple, small, rectangular magnets on my fridge, each with a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit printed on. LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL. Each one on a pink or purple or red rectangle stuck to my fridge.

Except as I pulled the hot dogs from the freezer, most of the magnets were missing. I called out, “Who knows where the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit magnets are?”

My daughters came running. “Rachel knows where they are!” Lauren declared.

Then, with a quiet grin on her face, Rachel pulls LOVE, PATIENCE, PEACE, SELF-CONTROL, GENTLENESS, and KINDNESS out from under the church calendar posted on the fridge. With a sly smile, she lined them up where I always keep them.

“Ask her why they were hidden,” Lauren prompted.

Rachel silently shrugged.

Again, Lauren stirred the pot. “No, ask her.”

I took the bait. “Rachel, why were these magnets under that calendar?”

“Earlier today, when we were all acting so badly, I started taking away the magnets we weren’t showing. So I took away love and kindness because none of us were loving or being kind. And so that’s why they were hidden.”

OUCH!! The fruit of the Spirit wasn’t displayed in my actions that day. If it were so obvious to an 8 year old, it should have been painfully obvious to me. I was being controlled by Jennifer, not by the Holy Spirit.

All of that fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — all of it, the whole fruit (singular) is in me somewhere. I belong to God and His Holy Spirit lives within me. So the Spirit’s fruit is in me. When I am controlled by the Holy Spirit, His fruit will be evidenced in my behavior, in my attitude, in my words. But, on days like that day, when I have failed to ask Him to fill me and control me, the only fruit evidenced in me is the fruit of my flesh — hatred, discord, impatience, selfishness, impurity, faithlessness, harshness, and free reign for my emotions. Yuck!

Father, please fill me with Your Spirit, so that Your character overflows from me. Please help me decrease so that You might increase. Oh, and please let those magnets be a constant reminder of my need for You to control me so that I can bear Your fruit. Amen.

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Filed under Bible, Christ, Christianity, faith, Family, motherhood

You Just Never Know What They’re Thinking

Last night at bedtime — just before Silas, who is 5, rubbed his chin and very seriously said to his brother, “Hmmm, I think I feel a beard coming in” — Caleb and Silas were chatting in their bedroom.

I had read The Velveteen Rabbit, and Silas had asked if everybody in our family who doesn’t live in this house is real. He giggled and said, “I guess all people are real.”

Then Caleb, very solemn-faced, said, “Unless they’re dead.” dramatic pause “Somebody died right now, Silas. And somebody died right now. Somebody is dying all the time.”

Silas wasn’t sure how to process that information, so he tackled Caleb and –I’m pretty sure– threatened something about making him die.

You just never know what deep thoughts children are having.

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Filed under Family, motherhood

Miscellaneous Monday – Oct. 22, 2007

Three things for which I am thankful —-

1. Autumn! The leaves are gorgeous, and my favorite street (the one with all the lollipop-shaped trees forming a canopy from both sides) is absolutely perfect this week. The colors are so vibrant, and the air has a chill to it. It’s my favorite time of year!

2. Friends! I have the best group of friends. I have this great group of girlfriends who live near me; and I have a few special friends who live far away, but when we get together, it’s as if no time has passed at all. I’m talking girlfriends who bring me chocolate when I need some and girlfriends who know what size clothes I wear and still love me. Girlfriends who have seen me at my worst and girlfriends who help me be my best. Girlfriends who make me laugh and cry with me when I cry. Oh, I just have the best friends!

3. Southwestern chicken macaroni and cheese! I’ve had a hankering for this for several days now and finally treated myself to this tonight for dinner. It’s small pieces of fajita-seasoned chicken mixed in with macaroni and cheese. It’s spicey and cheesey and wonderful. I plan on heating up another serving after the children are in bed.

What are you thankful for?

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Filed under friends, fun, joy, life, miscellaneous

The Savior of the World

This morning, I was reading some verses in 1 John, and I want to share them here.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. -2:2

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . . And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. — 4:10, 11, 14

If I really believe this, then I am challenged to act like I believe it. I do believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world; I believe He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. I believe that every person in the world should know that Jesus offers them salvation. I believe everyone in the world should have the opportunity to either accept or reject Christ.

I believe God loved the whole world so much that He sent His Son that anyone and everyone who believes can live forever with Him. So I want the whole world to know of that great love and that great offer.

This is how I want to spend my life — working to get this good news to the whole world.

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Filed under Bible, Christ, gospel, love, missions

Don’t Grow Weary

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

Today, I just want to encourage you. As you face the evil in the world and stand firm in Christ’s love, as you seek to use all your spiritual buffalo, as you prayerfully attempt to make a difference in the world one person at a time . . . remember this exhortation from the Apostle Paul. I’ve put it down here in several versions to help us meditate on the words.

Galatians 6:9 (New King James Version)
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

(New International Version)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

(New Living Translation)
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

(Amplified Bible)
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

(The Message, verses 9 & 10)
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

So, go . . . as Mother Teresa said, we can do small acts with great love. Go do small acts with great love, and don’t grow weary. God sees your heart of compassion, your desire to do something, your willingness to make an impact for Him. At the right time, you will reap good things.

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Impacting The Whole World One Person At A Time

In recent days, we have discussed ways we can impact our family and our community, now let’s talk about how we can impact the world.

It can be overwhelming, can’t it? To think of the whole world and all the problems and all the evil. There are a lot of widows and orphans in the world, a lot of slaves, a lot of people who live in spiritual darkness and physical poverty. It’s tempting to give up before we’ve even begun. It seems like such a big job, and I know I’m not up for it.

Now for the good news! I don’t have to do the whole job. I am not even responsible for any results. I only have to be obedient to the things God calls me to. And even then, He’s going to give me everything I need to do what He calls me to. He will provide the resources. He will provide the strength and stamina and know-how. I just need to obey, to step out and follow Him and give from the abundance He showers on me.

I know there is no way I can help every poor child around the world, but I can pack one shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse. I cannot feed every hungry family, but I can buy a fishing kit for one family through World Vision’s gift catalog. I cannot rescue every person caught in slavery today, but I can collect loose change to help rescue one person from slavery and oppression. I cannot translate the Bible into every language on earth, but I can support one missionary with New Tribes Mission or I can even become a missionary with New Tribes Mission.

We can make a difference in individual lives. And when we all make a difference in individual lives, it adds up to quite a lot of impact. Add to that the children we are raising to be difference-makers in their world, because they are learning from us and our example, and God will just multiply and multiply and multiply our tiny acts of obedience. He will take care of the results.

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Filed under Bible, Christ, Christianity, faith, gospel, International Justice Mission, love, missions, New Tribes Mission, Samaritan's Purse, Sara Groves, World Vision