Thursday, March 31, 2011

But seek ye first the kingdom of God

Continuing on the Heart-Searching series:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Matthew 6:33

Is there anything in which you have failed to put God first?

Well, probably most things.  I am not even sure what this means.  I try to keep God in the forefront of all that I do, I feel like I am in His presence all the time.  I try to go about my day in a manner that I think would be pleasing to Him.  But - I know that I don't take the time to pray like I ought.  I pray all day, in my head (a favorite quote "Thinking and praying are not the same thing" Andree Seu, World Magazine).  I pray with the boys before school, before meals, when we get in the car, at bedtime; I lay in bed at night and pray for my husband, and it is usually my first waking thought, to pray for him.

But to sit alone, in my closet, and really pour my heart out to God.....doesn't happen much.  I guess I do other things instead.  Like blog.  I do take the time each day to be in the Word, though. 

Have your decisions been made after your own wisdom and desires, rather than by seeking and following God's will?

I am learning to be more patient and seek God's will.  It is hard.  I try to act as I think He would have me.  When I compare my thought and decision-making process now to when I was unsaved, I can certainly see the difference.  Following God's will is now an underlying foundation.  But in everything?  Does God care if I buy clothes on line just because they were on sale - even if I don't "need" them?  I can convince myself that wants are needs pretty quickly.  I think alot of this goes back to the previous question, and how much time I spend in prayer, seeking after God's will.  Amazing how this stuff all ties together.

Do any of the following in any way interfere with your surrender and service to God: ambition, pleasures, loved ones, friendships, desires for recognition, money, your own plans?

I guess it depends on what you mean by "service".  Is service just face time at church and activities?  I know I have often thought that.  In years past, when I was busy-busy (and therefore, "holy") at church, I would be torn because on  one hand, I did not like the self-imposed pressure to always have my kids in some program or have to find something to do with them so we could be at something - be it a potluck, a banquet, VBS, a womens group, whatever.  But on the other - since I WAS doing so much (VBS, Art Camp, teaching Sunday School, womens' book club, whatever else sounded like fun) I could feel like I was really out there and really serving God and part of the club.  No one ever told me this, I somehow came up with this brilliance on my own.

I don't think that is the appropriate attitude to take towards service.

And I don't do all that stuff anymore.  One obvious reason is that we don't attend a church with lots of activities.  But I don't make it to all of that even.  Sometimes other ministries we are involved in, or the kids' activities, are already on the schedule.  While I would not deliberately choose an activity for the boys that would keep us from church (example, would not be on a team that had practices or games that would cause us to miss church), sometimes the occasional mid-week or weekend activities overlap.  Each individual commitment has to be weighed on a case by case basis.

But is that really all there is to surrender and service?  I don't think so.  I think that we are called to serve our families.  Not to elevate our spouse and children to be idols - but my role at this time is to serve them.  God has called me to homeschool my children, to maintain a home for them, to raise them, to be a helpmeet to my husband in his business as well as the home - I feel God has CALLED me to this, as surely as he calls some to serve even unto the ends of the earth.  Some days my kitchen table FEELS like the ends of the earth, but that is another post!

God also calls me (us, you, we) to serve in various capacities through the church, other ministries, and our community.  That list is as individual as each one of us.

So, what gets in the way of my serving, as I am called to serve?  I guess the two killers are "my own plans" and "pleasures". 

I usually have a list and I usually have plans for my day/week/month/year.  I have, over the last few years, learned to loosen my grip on my planner, one finger at a time.  I am getting more flexible, more able to roll with the punches.  I want to be more available to jump and serve as a need arises.  I want to serve my friends with hospitality.  I want to serve our homeschool group by doing the newsletter and planning activities.  I want to serve our local pregnancy care center by helping to raise awareness and necessary funds.  I want to have the time to serve my family in all the ways they need me.  So I need to be flexible, as most of life does not happen between 6:00 - 8:30 a.m. (my peak hours of operation).

And what about pleasures?  Would I prefer to curl up in my chair and read a book, or play on Facebook and homeschool forums than make phone calls to organize a Lifewalk?  Or log homeschool hours in the computer?  Or clean a bathroom?  Well, yes!  But not all the time.  This is not to say that we are not to have pleasure in our lives, as long as our pleasure is not the FIRST thing we think of.  As long as I am not so busy reading my book that I miss the opportunity God has for me.

And that is what they are, you know - opportunities.  Opportunities to serve, opportunities to pray, opportunities to study His word, to learn of His great love and mercy for His children.  Let's not let our great opportunities be replaced by ordinary time-fillers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

In preparation for our upcoming Camp Meeting at church, we were given a bulletin insert of "Heart-Searching for Prayer Preparation and Personal Revival", with questions to review, pray over, and answer.

Yesterday I did the first section.  Using Matthew 6:12-14 "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptaion, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."

And now, for the questions:
Is there anyone against whom you hold a grudge?
Anyone you have not forgiven?
Anyone you hate?
Anyone you do not love?
Are there any misunderstandings that you are unwilling to forget?
Is there any person against whom you are harboring bitterness, resentment, or jealousy?
Anyone you dislike to hear praised or well spoken of?
Do you allow anything to justify a wrong attitude toward another?

Yowsa.  Steppin' on some toes there.  But hey, this is scripture - not some life coaching, how to live your best life now nonsense.  Scripture tells us that if we say we love God and hate our brother, we are liars.  We cannot love God and hate our brothers.  Cannot.  If we do so, God is not in us.  That is some paraphrasing on my part, here is the actual scripture, "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.  Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." 1 John 2:9-11.  The light here, is Christ - salvation.  So, if you say you are saved, but yet hate your brother - consider whether or not you are truly saved.  That is not me judging, by the way - that is me admonishing you to consider what scripture has to say.

So, as I look through these, most of it is pretty easy-peasy.  I have done much prayer and soul-searching over the years, and really, I do not think there is anyone that I have not forgiven.  There is no one I hate.  Is there anyone I don't love?


Had to think about this.  There are definitely some people (not many, and they fall in the category of "I have forgiven") that if I saw them in Walmart, I might scootch my cart the other way.  Not many.  Only two I can think of, actually.  But do I hate them? No.  Do I love them?


I have some acquaintances that get on my nerves some.  We all have those people who are sort of sandpaper to us.  Usually the things that annoy us about them are the things we don't like in ourselves, if we really take the time to examine it.  If they get on my nerves, does that mean I don't love them?

I posed this question to my husband yesterday.  Ladies, take scriptural questions to your husband first, if you can.  He listened to me, and then he asked me, "The people who aggravate you, or who you don't want to see in Walmart - if they needed you - would you help them?"

Yes, I would, if I could. 

He says that the willingness to give of myself is loving them.  I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it (when we have deep spiritual talks at 7 a.m., they end up paraphrased.).

Is there anyone I am jealous of? 

Hmmm....envious might be a better word.  I am envious of my dear friend Angel.  She is so disciplined - I feel like a schlump next to her at times.  But maybe that isn't jealousy - let's say I appreciate those qualities in her that I don't have.  We make a good team. 

Do I allow anything to justify a wrong attitude toward another?

Yes.  Sometimes.  Back to the sandpaper people.  The ones who unknowingly irritate me.  But I do recognize that in myself now.  When I am being critical of someone, I feel badly about it.  I repent.  I have been known to go to the hearer of my complaining and apologize to them for making them a party to my critical spirit.  I guess I could say then that I briefly justify a wrong attitude.  But the Holy Spirit doesn't let that last long.  When we are saved, we have that conscience, the Holy Spirit, working in us.  We can no longer enjoy sin.  Sin has to become distasteful to us. 

Some sins take longer than others.  There are 23 sections of questions.  I think if I make it through all of the questions, I may manage to hit most of my sin.  On one hand, I kind of don't want to do this.  Facing sin is painful sometimes.  On the other hand, though, facing the sin and repenting brings us closer to God.  Is there anything too hard for that?

We shall find out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It is all in the details

Like my friend Sara over at Knittingprose (check out this blog) I have had good intentions, but been too busy lately to blog.  So, also like Sara, I think I will just do a bit of catch-up today!

Earlier this month my friend Angel and I went to the Great Homeschool Convention in Memphis, Tennessee.  Had a wonderful time - ate peanut butter and banana pancakes at The Blue Plate Cafe, rode a trolley, heard some incredible speakers, got to meet one of my best friends in-real-life for the first time, and oh yes, I bought some books!   Made it home with some chess workbooks and dvds, Elections by Notgrass Company, Apologia General Science, stocked up on my Rod and Staff spelling, BJU grammar and Singapore math workbooks, and picked up a few books just for fun.

Since then, we have been busy building a new building/garage on our property.  Okay, Nevin has been busy.  I don't do any of the actual work, but I think about it a lot, if that counts for anything.  And I do try to be encouraging!  Been to a few fellowships and prayer meetings, a few homeschool group gatherings and field trips, run the normal errands.  My red hens have finally started laying, and are popping out brown eggs with a vengance.  Our next door neighbors have moved, but the new neighbors have not moved in yet.  I am nearly breathless with anticipation - our old neighbors were good neighbors - quiet, took good care of the yard, we worked together to maintain our common road.  We were never what you'd call "friends", though.  So now, new people - will they be nice?  Will they have kids our kids' age?  Will there be blessings or problems?  Is it okay to pray for a homeschooling family of well-behaved boys?  Anyway, the Lord will put next to us who is supposed to be next to us, and it is probably to my benefit that I DON'T have any input in that!

Today I slept in a bit, and the kids are up, dressed and fed.  They are taking their schoolwork to Grandma's this afternoon, and I am going to the shop and to run a few errands.  Nothing earth-shattering.  The weather is nice, and I am praying that the rain will hold off for.....a month or so!  I have the last birthday for a while this week - my Joe turns 8 on Friday.  He has requested a cake from Walmart.  What is with these kids, anyway???? 

All is right with the world. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Well, Ah've bin bizzy

I truly will write again someday.  Someday soon, even.  Maybe tomorrow?  I have so many exciting things (okay, exciting to me, anyway) that I want to talk about.  But I have not had time to formulate a thought.

So, while you are waiting (!) here are some things I am thinking of...

First and foremost, my trip to Memphis last weekend to THE BEST homeschool conference I've ever attended;

Having my oldest son about to become a TEENAGER this week;

The flock of red hens started laying this week;

Cleaning off my bookshelves and cleaning out my closet;

which leads to
The experiment I started January 1, where as I wore things I hung them on one side of the divider, so I could see what items really get worn and which ones....don't.  Guess what items are the ones getting "cleaned out".

And that is it - many thoughts, not enough time to put them all together, but I will really, really soon!