Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Echoes of My Sin Long Ago Are Loud and Relentless

Have you ever had to live with the aftermath of sin? Have you ever sinned and found yourself reaping the consequences many years later? I really feel for adolescents and young adults. I remember those times in my life. I thought I was more knowledgeable and invincible than I was, realistically. I made several mistakes, gave into temptation, and was downright foolish. I look back on some of the things and can see God’s protection over me because I sure am amazed I am still here.

It has been a rough morning. The echoes of my sin long ago are loud and relentless. I pray earnestly but what is there to say? “I knew better, still I did what I should not have done. Fix it, Lord!” Why should He? Then, there is the ugly side of me that says, “I’m already serving time, why not just keep on sinning?” What is that quote? “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Or some such thing. I keep myself very busy. Not the being under satan’s yoke type but always engaged…in God’s word, studying, reading, completing bachelor degree projects, working with my children, volunteering at their school or church, blogging, extra-curricular activities, etc. I do not like finding myself in “the devil’s workshop”.

Someone asked me, last week, why I think I have anxiety. Where do I believe it is rooted? In my heart of hearts I know where. Some nights, I wake up in a cold sweat with an elevated heart rate. Or the stress gives me bad headaches. But, there is nothing I can do about it. I have done everything short of bribing God and trying to bargain with Him to take away the “thorn in my flesh”. Yet, it seems He has no intention of doing so. I find comfort in what Paul says about his,
…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9. ESV.)
I have “pleaded with the Lord” far more than “three times”. I suppose it is a reminder, residue, of my sin from so long ago.

A well-meaning believer once told me, when I was saved my sin was forgiven and I will harvest good. She/he did not understand why “if” I am, indeed, “saved” do I still have ramifications for my sin. If I am being honest, I will tell you the “thorn in my flesh” hurts. Some days I want to cry. But, a lot of times my pride stops me. So, why do I blog about all of this? Because,
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20. ESV.)
And, blogging is how I tell people, from all walks of life, about Jesus! Maybe you know me, personally. Perhaps, we have never met. You may even have to have this translated to read it. If you take nothing else from this blog, please hold in your heart,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17. ESV.)
Despite whatever mess I have made of my life, Jesus died so I can have a wonderful relationship with God. I can (and do) approach His mercy seat whenever (and where ever) I want. So can you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Technology in the Classroom: Blended Learning

I found this video to be very exciting, inspiring, and motivational! Let's bridge the gap of diverse learning in the classroom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The High Mountains are for the Wild Goats: 50 Things I am Going to Miss About California (#43-42)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living

46. The Oakland A’s
45. The Sacramento River Cats
44. The Stockton Ports


Which brings me to the next two:

43. Disney’s California Adventure Park
When one of our kiddos was about six months old, hubs suggested we drive to Anaheim, California (CA) and take the children to Disneyland (which I will cover later at #26) and California Adventure. So, why is California Adventure at #43 instead of closer to #1? It is NOT because I did not like the park. I did. It was a lot of fun! But, to be honest, I have only been there once in the sixteen (16) years I have lived in CA. And, it is not nearly as sentimental to me as Disneyland (or Disney World). I am sure there are many who have never been to a Disney theme park. Truly, I am grateful for the opportunity. Yet, in the scheme of this countdown, I am placing California Adventure at #43. I am certain the kids had a delightful time and my hope is they remember at least a little bit of it. (They were quite young.) Would it be enjoyable to hit it one last time on our way out of dodge? Yes, but I will not be disappointed if we do not. (I highly doubt we will.) But still, I give it two thumbs up.

42. Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo
Back in April 2014, a friend of mine asked if I was interested in hiking Yosemite Half Dome (which I have listed at #16 of my 50). Not knowing anything about Half Dome (or hiking for that matter) I accepted her challenge. We had until June 15, 2014 to prepare. As a training method it was suggested to me, by another friend, to practice hiking to the summit of Mt. Diablo. Our first trek at Mt. Diablo was May 10, 2014 and I wanted to complete it four times before heading to Half Dome…which I did. It may seem a bit over the top but I am so glad I took that advice! Half Dome was a beast! And, so it Mt. Diablo. They call it “devil” for a reason. The terrain is rocky and “slippery”. My first trip to the summit I was wearing the WRONG shoes! I quickly fixed that for the next time. Any recommendation I would give to those who desire to mosey to the summit of Mt. Diablo is to BRING PLENTY OF WATER! Especially, during drought time in CA because the water fountains will be off and there are no rivers or streams along the way! Also, if your body begins to tell you to stop and go back down, heed the warning! A lot of people get stuck because they do not listen to their body…they get dehydrated, heat exhaustion or sunstroke, etc. All in all, Mt. Diablo is definitely an experience on which I am glad I did not miss out.

14He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
15And wine which makes man's heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man's heart.
16The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
19He made the moon for the seasons;
The sun knows the place of its setting.
20You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
21The young lions roar after their prey
And seek their food from God.
22When the sun rises they withdraw
And lie down in their dens.
(Psalms 104:14-22. NASB.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

He Will Give His Angels Charge Concerning You [And Me]

There is a flurry of activity around here, recently, which has me feeling a little…conflicted (I guess would be the best description). Without going into detail, I am not sure how to explain it. I have so much university work to complete yet, my mind takes off in other directions. Perhaps it is my typical, “I’d rather be cleaning when I should be studying and I’d opt to be studying when I ought to be cleaning.” Both have to get done and yet, here I am…blogging at the present.

Where am I struggling? I am walking the path before me but God can hear me grumbling. What scripture is good for me to be preaching to myself, today?
11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
(Psalm 91:11-12. NASB.)
My dissatisfaction is surely grieving the Holy Spirit.
30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31. NASB.)

I answer to You, oh God…and the authorities you have placed in this world. I get annoyed with those who not answer to anyone, not even You. I despise those who terrorize and speak lies.
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28. NASB.)
The thorn in my flesh is irritating. I wish I could just remove it, myself! How long must I wait, Lord, for you to do it?
9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10. NASB.)
I am counting the days, Lord. Forgive me for my discontentment.

But it shall not approach you.
8You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
(Psalm 91:7-10. NASB.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Steadfast of Mind You Will Keep in Perfect Peace

Whew, my goodness, last week was…packed! I helped out at the school, where my youngest children attend, three out of the five weekdays which caused a huge pile up with my university work for the week! And, I believe the school staff would like my assistance with the Christmas pageant, again, this year so that is going to take the place of my morning studying two days a week, soon. (Last year I served as their stage manager for the performance and I was asked to be director this year, but I honestly cannot commit the time it deserves…so I have asked to keep the part of stage manager…with a couple of added duties, like choreographer.)

The days have been hot this week but I know old man winter is lurking about, waiting to pounce and drive me crazy! I desire more time in God’s word. I would also like to go back to reading Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem but I have so much other reading between university classes and the three books on which I am working: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, The Talks by Barrett Johnson, and The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace. I feel like the days slip by without me getting much accomplished. Do you ever have that feeling?

My thinking is scattered. I am distracted and cannot seem to stay focused. My thoughts swirl about in a tornado of musing. I wish I liked tea. I could have a nice, hot cup of it, decaffeinated. I do have wine. Maybe I’ll have a glass, in a little bit. I talk to God, often. He hears my thoughts (as ugly as they are, sometimes) and I’m sure some people must think I am talking to myself, at times. But, I assure you, I am speaking to God. I believe a lot of the time is spent on me asking, “Why?” What would be some good scripture for me, right now?

There is
6Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7. NASB.)
Or,
3"The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3. NASB.)
And,
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15. NASB.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

October: Bass Festival

As I have mentioned a few times before, we are moving to Texas (TX) in June 2015! This, for me, is a wonderful thing as I will be closer to family and will get to visit with them more often! On the opposite side of the coin, we are a little sentimental about all of the things we are doing for the “last time”, this year. October is a pretty big one…(which I will cover more extensively in my “50 Things I am Going to Miss About California” countdown).

For the past 12 years we have attended a local event called “Bass Derby” or “Bass Festival”. It is always in October and, for us, includes venders, a car show, a soap box derby, fire engine rides, carnival rides, and fireworks. For fishermen, it involves the adult and kids Bass fishing derby. Each of our kiddos loves Bass Festival and the younger ones cannot remember a time when we did not go. We have even talked about making the trip back to California (CA), each year, for this event. Yep, we find it that much fun!

Anyway, with autumn comes this fair, and pumpkin patches, harvest festivities, and soon trips to the snow. Hopefully, we will find something similar to these in TX or perhaps the state will have all new fun stuff for us to do! One other thing I would like to do before we leave CA sprang to mind, yesterday. I would love to attend John MacArthur’s church and catch one of his messages, in person. I already got to see John Piper a few years ago, at one of his conventions. So, John MacArthur is next on my list. Then, there is a “cowboy church” in Colorado I would like to visit, too. Church home of “The Worst Preacher’s Wife Ever”. Yes ma’am, Ms. Christie, I am still planning to head your way first chance I get!

It's autumn. In fact, it's early autumn. It's October. It's Feast of Tabernacles week when He goes. The harvest operations are all over. The people can take a week off. The tints of gold have just begun to streak the leaves and Jesus moves to Jerusalem. Strangers are there, countrymen from Judea, strangers from Peraea, Galilee, other places mingling in the streets of Jerusalem at the feast time. And they are mingling in the ever-present shadow of the great sanctuary, the temple. Its glorious marble, its cedar wood, its gold, it sits up there high on Mount Moriah and casts its shadow over the whole of Jerusalem, and its shadow is all the more indelible because the Feast of Tabernacles concentrates on it in particular.

And Jesus is also there and He walks in Jerusalem, not so much under the shadow of the temple as under the shadow of a wooden rugged cross soon to be erected high on a different hill, Mount Calvary. And starting with John chapter 7, Jesus begins to walk in the relentless lurking shadow of the cross. He has come to Jerusalem because it is time to come to Jerusalem. He does everything when it is time to do it. He delayed because His time was not yet come. His time has come and thus He has arrived in Jerusalem. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will die. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will be hated and persecuted. But He comes anyway because He had to present His truth, and secondly, His death will mean redemption. And so He comes. And from now on, from chapter 7 to the end of this gospel, we are in the shadow of the cross.
(By John MacArthur. ©2014 Grace to You. Website: gty.org. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1517/the-divine-citizenship-of-jesus.)
33Therefore Jesus said, "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come." (John 7:33-34. NASB.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A Worthless Man Digs Up Evil, While His Words are Like Scorching Fire

18Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.
23The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
26A worker's appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.
27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:18-33. NASB.)

I have to preach to myself a lot. I remind myself, “Pride comes before a fall.” I struggle with that…stinky self-righteousness. And if I feel “icky” and am not quite sure why, I blame it on that. I pray God will keep me humble. I ask He will keep a guard over my mouth. I trust in the Lord, completely. Anyone who knows my life story (my witness to God’s goodness, mercy, and grace) knows that. I wish people could see my heart. My confining flesh is like a dam…blockading a deep reservoir of love. Love so amazing it wants to burst forth. I love, because God first loved me (1 John 4:19). I wish we could be like in Acts with flames “resting on each one of us” who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:2-3. NASB.)
Would that be better for followers of Christ or make things more difficult (for those who cannot worship in public)?

This statement from Pastor John MacArthur caught my attention,
Preaching to others, and being disqualified. The landscape of the church. The landscape of the evangelical church is strewn with corpses. People who are laid low, disqualified, because their lives didn't support their message. Paul didn't want to be laid low on the Christian landscape. He didn't want to just become another corpse, just another casualty, just another calamity. Somebody who talks about Christ proclaims Christ, claims Christ, says he loves Christ, ostensibly serves Christ. And then ends up a corpse on the landscape. He didn't want that to happen, and that's why he said at the end of [1 Corinthians 10] chapter 9, "I have to run to win. I have to compete, exercising self-control. I have to run not aimlessly, box not as a shadow boxer. I have to pound my body into submission, because I do not want to be another casualty." And that would be true for any of us. It's certainly true for me. It's certainly true for those in spiritual leadership. But it's true for everybody, because all of us are called to witness. All of us who have ever proclaimed the gospel need to support that with our lives. And it seems to me in the day in which we live, there are more corpses around the evangelical landscape than there have ever been in my life….

The Christian life is an effort to get as close to Jesus Christ as you can. The Christian life is an effort to be as pure as you can. It's not a life that says because God is gracious, I'm going see how far I can go to the edge before he reacts negative. If that's how you're living your life, seeing how close to the edge you can get, you're testing God's tolerance….

Death to the complainers. I like that. I hate complainers. They're so destructive. They're so poisonous. They were assuming that God didn't know what was best. They were assuming that God didn't do what was best. They were assuming that their plan was better than his. There are a lot of terrible assumptions….And here you have the list. Worldliness. Idolatry. Immorality. Testing God. Complaining. We stand warned. If you don't get a grip on your life, and exercise self-denial, self-control, in the spiritual dimension, then all the privileges that you have from God can be diminished, as you abuse those privileges until finally you're just another corpse strewn out there on the landscape, flirting with the world, flirting with its idols, flirting with its morals, flirting with its materials, pushing the patience of God, complaining that you don't get what you want when you want it. This is a tragic way to live your life. You may think that everything is okay, and that you're standing pretty strong, but if these are the kind of attitudes that have found root in your heart, you're about ready to have a fall….

So, it's just when we think we stand that we have to be reminded that we are always necessarily devoted to the spiritual means to win the battle. And as you grow in Christ, and as you mature in Christ, you get stronger. You become a spiritual young man. You become a spiritual father. And you get stronger in that battle. And the Lord will always provide the way out. Nowhere to go. No one to blame but yourself.
(By John MacArthur. ©2014 Grace to You. Website: gty.org. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-291/avoiding-the-pitfalls-of-spiritual-pride
Yikes! Like Paul, I do not want to be “laid low on the Christian landscape”! Please, Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you!

(Photo information.)

Monday, October 06, 2014

For Those Whom He Foreknew, He Also Predestined to Become Conformed to the Image of His Son

This weekend I heard, “No one gets the glory but God.” Isn’t that the truth? I might feel like I am being the best parent/wife/sister/daughter/friend/blogger ever and that my life screams, “I’m a follower of Christ,” and ponder, “Surely, those around me think, ‘If that is Christianity I definitely want to be a part of it!’” (No, I do not really consider myself the “best” or even close to being an adequate representative of Christ Jesus and God however, I believe you get my point.) But, if God has not called them or stirred his/her heart, then it is just another day…nothing exceptional has happened. Today, I was listening to a radio station that stated, “Donate today! People have been saved because of the music we play!”
For all things are Your servants. (Psalms 119:91. NASB.)
Yes, God uses “all things” for His purpose but, ultimately, He saves…not blogs, my behavior, radio stations, pastors, bands, etc.

At one point in my vapor of a life (James 4:14), this fact was a difficult pill to swallow. My pride kicked, scratched, and yelled, “Then what’s the point in living honorably?! If it is not going to make a difference, then why bother?!” Ick, ugly, disgusting pride! The point, of course, is #1. We were created to glorify God. #2. As a new creature, who has taken off the old, put on the new, was given a new heart, and filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not pleasant at all to sin. So, why in the world would I desire to do so? #3. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Someone once gave me the illustration that sin is like a drop of poison in a reservoir of clean drinking water. Just the smallest drip contaminates the entire supply…and is deadly.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23. NASB.)

One of my favorite verses is James 1:15. Included with the scripture around it, it states,
13Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:13-15. NASB.)

My desire with all that I do in my life (including this blog) is to glorify God and Christ Jesus. To stand before you as a reflection of Christ (1 Peter 1:7). I used to hate affliction. Okay, I still do not like it but I see it, now, for what it truly is. As John Piper states,
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper "fear and trembling" in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it's a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don't fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER'S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.
(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/he-is-like-a-refiners-fire.)

29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30. NASB.)

(Photo information.)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

"Lean on Me" by DC Talk

This song brings back great memories every time I hear it... and DC Talk is one of my absolute favorites!

Friday, October 03, 2014

You Open Your Hand, They are Satisfied with Good: 50 Things I am Going to Miss About California (#46-#44)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living


Which brings me to the next three I am going to do together (and you’ll see why in a moment).

46. The Oakland A’s
To be honest, I used to think baseball was incredibly boring. Even when my kiddos were in t-ball and little league, I was more interested in just watching them run around than the game itself. But, over the last four or five years, I have actually started enjoying the sport. The Oakland A’s are my #1 favorite team (and no, it is not because of the movie). There is just something about them. The flow of their game. The talent of the players. The meet and greets when they sign stuff (especially for children). I cannot quite put my finger on it, but I like them.

45. The Sacramento River Cats
The Sacramento River Cats are the triple-A team affiliated with the Oakland A’s. One year we went on a guided tour of the River Cats stadium (which included the history of the team) with the kiddos’ charter school. Afterward, we were given four tickets to the game of our choice, during the season. Did I mention how great the seats were? We were close to the field, next to the team dugout! Just watch out for the retractable seats! If you stand up for a second (with the intent of sitting right back down again) just know, the seat will not be there. (You have to pull it back down, again.) I was reminded of that the hard way.

44. The Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports are the single-A team affiliated with the Oakland A’s. Each year we attend the “Faith Night” Stockton Ports game. Though the games run a bit longer than a River Cats or A’s game, sitting in a block of seats among brothers and sisters in Christ usually keeps one pretty entertained. The first year we went I was uncertain as to what to expect. Now, I find myself looking forward to the event. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this night of fun, the body of Christ, and baseball.

23Man goes forth to his work
And to his labor until evening.
24O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
25There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
26There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
27They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
28You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
29You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
30You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.
(Psalms 104:23-30. NASB.)

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