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Thursday, April 17, 2014

For the Foolishness of God is Wiser Than Men, and the Weakness of God is Stronger Than Men

Eight hundred, twenty-seven American Indians are buried at the Solano Mission (Mission San Francisco de Solano) in Sonoma, California. Yesterday, I went on a field trip with the Little Leaguer and learned about the missions, especially this one. We were told that DNA tests can be performed on the adobe bricks because of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making them. That is amazing to me…absolutely incredible! Of course, all of the American Indians were given Spanish names so I feel it is difficult to know about someone without their heritage but…

Further, it is hard for me to get a good grasp on the true magnificence of people throughout history. Learning his/her name (or revised name) is great (though I prefer the given one, by his/her parents) and pictures (or portraits) are wonderful but I, personally, need the individuals to jump off the page so I can relate to them. Perhaps video would help, but is obviously limited (anything prior to 1889 and the invention of the Kinetoscope is, of course, without “movement”). But, maybe, I am just lazy. I read God’s word often (I aim for daily) and feel I can connect with those mentioned in it, so…

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment….12What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?... 17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 1:10, 12-13, 17-31. ESV.)

I pray God will keep me from ever boasting in myself (or anything else, for that matter) other than Him. “For the Foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” That is breathtaking to me! In all my pride and when I am walking in the flesh, I am nowhere near even the “foolishness” or “weakness” of God!

827 American Indians were
laid to rest from the wall of
the mission, out across the
street.  That was their burial
ground.

The Mission San Francisco de Solano was humbling. The part that pierced straight to my heart the most was not the bricks, the building, the chapel, the barracks, or the tools with which they had to work. It was the American Indians. At the mission there was one padre and a handful of soldiers. (I would like to think the soul, the spirit of the mission was that of God.) The rest --- the heartbeat, the voice, the arms, the legs, the hands, and feet --- were the American Indians. They put all of the blood, sweat, and tears into that mission. The food was not sustaining enough. Many of them became sick and died (827 of which were buried and identified). They served, humbly. Why should I be any different?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Though There is Change at My House, There is Nothing New Under the Sun

There have been some changes in my home, recently. Being I am finishing up my second semester as a full time student, I have to distribute my time and attention to detail a bit differently than when I was homeschooling our young ones. Without disrupting the household too much, I needed to make some adjustments to the “house schedule” as I call it.

As each of our children gets older he/she is assigned age appropriate chores for which he/she receives cash. Ideally, I would like to make this payment at the end of each week but more often than not it usually gets pushed back and ends up occurring a) whenever I dedicate the time to it, b) the children would like to spend their money and would like payment, or c) the kiddos have grown tired of waiting and respectfully remind me I owe them. I believe their father and I are better parents to them than our older children because I feel we learned from our mistakes the first round.

For the most part, I suppose I still fall into the “stay at home mom” category (because I do my full time classes for my bachelor’s degree online and am a substitute teacher so I only get called into work occasionally). Regardless of my title, the fact is my load has changed and with it the flow of the daily household items. Dinner, for example, is now a shared chore between hubs and I. He has chosen to be in charge of it Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays and I am responsible for it Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Fridays are “free for all” because hubs has softball and I have bible study. The young bloods are old enough now to make themselves something easy for dinner on “free for all” nights (which they seem to enjoy). I suppose it gives them a feeling of independence…I don’t know.

Hubs has also decided he would like to try taking over the grocery shopping. At first I was hesitant because we have different ideas of “healthy” foods. But, at the end of the day if he would like to give it a whirl who am I to say, “Nah, that’s okay, I’ve got it covered.” Besides, I think it will be good for him to see it can be a little tricky staying within budget (for which he is a stickler and failed at doing his first shopping attempt. We’ll see how it goes next time…if he still wants to do the shopping).

All in all, I am thankful for the changes. It helps to lighten my load a tad and keep the household functioning a little smoother. When everyone is waiting on me (to meet the scheduled deadlines for my classes, clean the house, do the laundry, make dinner, tend to the dogs, shop for groceries, drive here and there, etc…you know the normal “to do” list) things tend to get backed up. Having our household unit work as a team might keep things moving more efficiently. I do not think there is anything wrong with that.

I have an abiding fear of what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. Chronological snobbery is the arrogant notion that the ideas of our own day are better than the ideas of a bygone day just because the ideas are in our day. Chronological snobbery feels that things are truer because they are newer. And so it is both irrational and naïve.

It's irrational because being new is no guarantee of being true. It's pure arrogance to think that a thought in my head is better than a thought in the head of Martin Luther just because I live in the twentieth century and he lived in the sixteenth. There is no logical connection between the truth of an insight and the century when God puts it into somebody's mind.
And chronological snobbery is not only irrational. It is also naïve. Because there aren't any really new ideas under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9–10 says,
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
"See, this is new"?
It has been already,
in the ages before us.
So I try to flee every temptation to be a chronological snob. I don't want to be irrational or naïve. C. S. Lewis prescribed at least one antidote. He said that every third book you read should be from outside your own century. It was good advice.
( By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/you-shall-worship-the-lord-your-god.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let Not My Lord Regard This Worthless Fellow, Folly is With Him

Time and again I come across the account of Abigail. (Don’t skim over this, it’s good reading!)
Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. 4David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name….

14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master [Nabal], and he railed at them. 15Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. 16They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”

18Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys….23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. 24She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent….35Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

36And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

39When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife.
(1 Samuel 25:1-5, 14-18, 23-25, 35-39. ESV.)

Many questions rise up in my mind each time I read this. Is this a “love story” or an example of God’s grace and faithfulness…or both? Is this “bad theology” like Job and Ecclesiastes? Is it a non-fiction “illustration” (similar to a parable so it can be easily understood) or is it simply fact…this is the way it happened, period? What is the moral? What is the reader to take from it? Why was it included in God’s Word? How did Abigail respond to her husband day in and day out?

When I sought out Pastor John Piper’s input on 1 Samuel 25 I found he simply stated this,
Be alert to your husband’s spiritual condition and pray earnestly for him (1 Samuel 25:1-35; Hebrews 3:12-13)…. I know this assumes that you are both believers, and that you are both willing. And I know that’s not true of every married couple. But it is what God calls us to pray toward and move toward for the sake of our spouses and our children’s perseverance in faith. The staff and elders have dreams of how we can help you do better for each other. Eternal security is a family project. (By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/eternal-security-is-a-community-project--2.)

So, I shall end on the following note:
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13. ESV.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Treasures on Earth, Where Moth and Rust Destroy

Yesterday was a tricky day, I have to be honest. It started off with a bang early in the morning when I went out to check the mail and discovered evidence of termites when I came back to the house. Mind you this is on top of tiles coming off of the pool (possibly because of the earthquake activity that has been going on recently) and a stove that blew a piece (literally it caught fire…at 1:00 in the morning no less) and was out of commission for roughly six weeks (give or take a few). The super nice thing about all of that is, I call the landlady! I only feel about 1/3 of the headache. Is that bad to say?

Also, as I have mentioned before, we are working on the education of one of our kiddos. Most of the assessment process is finished and areas of concern are being addressed however there are a couple parts still remaining…and I was getting calls to set up appointments for all that, too. Albeit, this was while I was working (texting) with the landlady to set up pool maintenance and an exterminator and as I was trying to get my school work finished to meet a deadline. Yes, mild chaos. But the fun did not really get started until the youngsters came home from school.

It is SAT (standardized testing) week at their school and I am sure that can be a bit stressful or tiring for them. Well, the Little Leaguer was in a mood (and when the Leaguer is unhappy, everyone is unhappy). Needless to say, four or five “time outs” later the Leaguer was sent to bed a scoach early. Hopefully a better night’s rest will improve matters. We shall see later today.

And, this morning brought up the rear with a bleak (though expected) diagnosis from the veterinarian (vet) regarding our white boxer (Brutus). He’s an old dog --- thirteen (13) years old --- and it is my understanding that is quite unusual for this breed. (The vet said most people are fortunate to have their boxers for ten (10) years.) So, we got a few extra years with him…for which I (and my family) are thankful. He has a neurological condition (most likely a brain tumor) and we have about one more week to love on him, spoil him rotten, and say our “goodbyes”. He has been a wonderful companion and an excellent pet! We are certainly going to miss him! He was our second adopted pet…our boston terrier was our first. (She sadly died about four winters ago.) The only dog we bought is our pug (Sydney). We have also recently adopted two Chihuahuas.

Anyway, I really hate it when I have to act like an adult, sometimes. (Those who know me well will know what I mean.) I prefer to just laugh and enjoy this vapor of a life (James 4:14). I do not like having to make the tough decisions, or deal with poor life choices, or unhealthy people (for that matter). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) to glorify God. And He has placed us on this beautiful earth with all of His creation (the heavens and the earth, light, land and sea, vegetation, plants and trees bearing seeds and fruit, the sun, moon, and stars, the seasons, days and years, sea creatures, birds, livestock, beasts, and creeping things) for which we should give thanks...(but to which not get too attached).

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.... 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:19-24, 33-34. ESV.

Monday, April 07, 2014

For When I am Weak, Then I am Strong

Some days I REALLY miss having family (and/or close friends) nearby. I dread ever being seriously injured or ill as I have no one here to take care of me (no “support system”) and I do not feel it would be fair to ask my children to do it. This morning I was hand feeding our white boxer (because he is so old and slowly deteriorating) and he accidently chomped down on both of my hands with his strong jaw. I yelled out in pain and it brought tears to my eyes but other than my children there was no one who came to my aid. When my kiddos were younger (toddlers) if I was feeling under the weather there was no one to watch them for me (unless I drove them to the local day care provider…which I did end up doing). I feel like a “one man band” and a full time care taker…and it’s exhausting. (Well, some days more than others.) But, I am certain I am not alone in feeling this way. There are many out there who have day to day life far more intense, demanding, and tiresome. Who am I to complain, right?

I filed my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) last week or the week before. (I lose track of time, sometimes.) I am pressing forward with getting my bachelor’s degree so I can go to law school and earn an income. Fall semester 2014 I should be “junior” status. I find that very exciting and encouraging because it means I am getting close to the finish line. Which reminds me of something…

For one of my classes we had to post a video on our class discussion board and then watch the videos of five other classmates and comment on them. One was a flick that was made by an elementary school instructor. It told why she teaches the way she does. Her inspiration was her brother who died unexpectedly one semester before graduating college. She asked, “If you knew a child had a life expectancy of 18 years, would you teach any different knowing that most of their life would be spent in the classroom?” She goes on to say she will “create a classroom environment that feels like family where all students feel at home”. That sounds nice, doesn’t it…an environment that feels like home? Her video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2sP-1HKN9E#t=24 if you are interested in watching it.

Only about fifteen (15) more months until we move to Texas. To say, “I can’t wait,” would be a gross understatement! Sure, I will still be away from my family (hometown, and childhood friends) but I will be so much closer! Close enough infact I can just pack up my vehicle and make the drive! If I could, I would get even closer to them but unfortunately that is not an option. But I am so blessed and thankful for what I will get! BELIEVE ME!

When I moved out here to California, I thought it was going to be so different. I was young and reckless, immature, naïve, foolish. But as I get older I realize it is better to be surrounded by a support system! This vapor of a life is too short! Some days I REALLY miss having a “support system” and that is the bottom line.


9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10. ESV.)

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

It is God Who Works in You, Both to Will and to Work for His Good Pleasure

I think it is time to simplify my vapor of a life (James 4:14), again. I find myself having to do this every so often and I feel it is necessary once more. You see, I have this REALLY bad habit of letting things “pile up” so to speak. I take on WAY too much and it drives me bananas! So, I have to take a step back, re-evaluate, crunch some numbers, ask myself some tough questions, chew on it a little bit, pray about it, and come to some conclusions. (This, in an effort to avoid mass chaos. Currently my household is experiencing mild chaos, so no time like the present to simplify, simplify, simplify!)

First things first. Do all things to glorify the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:30). What is taking up my time and energy that is not for the glory of God? Secondly, what is causing me undue stress? Where can I trim the fat? What does not NEED to be there? How can I more effectively resolve any issues? How do I continue to keep God #1 and my family #2?

As I do some research I am finding great resolve for a few matters but others still have me on overload a tad. But I will continue to work through them. I do not want to drop down to part time, yet, for my schooling. Next year I will be at sophomore/junior status (sophomore for fall semester, junior for spring). Depending on how things are going I might go to part time for junior/senior year (2015-2016) or just the remaining semester in 2016 but definitely for law school! I am certainly at max capacity, at the moment, as far as my classes and schedule are concerned!

(Side note: I love it when I am reminded of scripture about which I have forgotten! Like:
12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
(Philippians 2:12-18. ESV.)

Well, my writing time is up. Off to get some school work finished, run some errands, pick up the kiddos, grab something for dinner, and then complete any further studies and/or chores that need my attention.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7. ESV.)
P.S. Why do I blog about my day to day? Because it lets me see Jesus in the mundane...and chaos!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

When God Makes Mistakes

God does not make mistakes. But, sometimes I wonder if He has when it comes to various things.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28. ESV.)

His ways and thoughts are not like my own (Isaiah 55:8). So, really, anything I cannot figure out is not going to come to me this side of heaven. And I am okay with that, of course. I trust God’s ways are FAR better than my own. For one, He sees the whole picture. When my older children were teenagers, they could not understand why I would tell them “no” for various requests. But their sight (like most or nearly all teenagers) was limited to what was right in front of their face. I, on the other hand saw a bigger picture. I feel it is likewise with God.

At times I pray for Him to remove certain situations (or even sometimes particular individuals) from my life. I pray that I may be a good servant and help to take care of those in need. Currently, my resources are very limited but I am hopeful there will come a day (toward which I am working) when I will be able to do a lot more than I can now. There are so many ways to bless others and I am going to start faithfully putting 10% of any income (though it is very little at the present) toward blessing others like:

1. Paying for the person behind me at a drive through, toll, shop, etc.
2. Giving out gift cards or food to homeless individuals.
3. Leaving treats for my mail carrier.
4. Putting a quarter into an expired parking meter if the person is not back yet.
5. Sending cards and flowers to various people.
6. Leaving better than the customary 18% tip at restaurants, etc.
7. Giving blankets and coats to the homeless, those who do not have any, or to shelters.
8. Bringing in treats for those I work with or are around regularly.
9. Donating stuffed animals to the police and fire departments and “Toys for Tots”
10. Giving blankets and towels to pet hospitals and pet shelters.
11. Sending care packages.

Of course there are things I can do without money like:

1. Giving up my seat on a bus, train, etc.
2. Letting someone into traffic or the parking space for which I was waiting.
3. Assisting the elderly, handicapped, etc. at the grocery store or other places.
4. Letting someone go ahead of me in line.
5. Leaving kind notes for people.
6. Writing thank you notes.
7. Being a mentor or advocate.
8. Picking up litter and throwing it in the trash.
9. Picking up dropped clothes in a department store.
(“Roo Girl” has “101 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness” on her site if you are looking for some inspiration.)

But the bottom line here is despite the seemingly chaotic foolishness that weaves in and out of this vapor of a life (James 4:14), God does not make mistakes and I need to make sure I trust in Him completely…and glorify Him every day!

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
(Romans 8:5-10. ESV.)

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