Time Well Spent

It is a joy spending time together as family. Aaron and I will watch some anime together or cooking show while James plays on the floor. Or we will all laugh together, as James tries to say his first words (which happens to be “dada”), or practices standing.

Our evenings generally look like that, but Aaron has to sleep all too soon so that he can get up early for another 12 hour day at work, and then it is just me and James again.

Eventually, I long for time alone with Aaron, just as we did before welcoming our son into our family. I long for intimacy and connection with the man I married. And when we do get a few hours time to ourselves during our date nights I then begin to miss my little boy again.

This cycle of spending time together, as a whole and alone got me thinking about how God longs to spend time with us. If we are made in His image, I’m sure we also reflect His Heart and desires when it comes to quality time as well.

Maybe, He also desires…

1. Intimate time (just the two of us)

2. Family time (kids/spouses)

3. Fellowship time (as a body/church)

It isn’t enough to just have a personal relationship with God that doesn’t also include family and church time as well. We should have a healthy schedule of meeting with God alone, and meeting with Him together. Whether that looks like devotion time as a family, reading to your child as you lay them down for bed, praying together before meals, worshipping at church or attending a class…

You name it, God wants to be a part of it. In fact, He wants to be a part of everything. He wants you to do life hand-in-hand and step-by-step with you. His love is patient yes, but it is also passionate and all-consuming. You’ll never meet a more dedicated lover, a more intimate being than our God. He IS love after all (1 John 4:8).

So don’t confine Him to your closet or Bible time. Don’t just spend time with Him when your family is all together or a couple hours on a Sunday. You can’t live your faith through other people, eventually it will have to become real for you and personal and vice versa if you never spend time together as one.

The devil despises your relationship with God. He doesn’t understand it because he only loves himself. And so he will find any way possible to inch in between you. That is why it is so difficult to find ANY time for God.

He gets you thinking that everything has to be perfect in order for you to spend time with God.

“I’m busy now, maybe tonight before bed I will read my Bible.

“I’m too tired today, I’ll go to church next week.”

“Our schedule is too full this month for family devotions, maybe once our son’s soccer season is over.”

Insert your own excuse. I’ve fallen into the same busyness scheme and it never feels healthy to be stuck in it’s vicious cycle. Honestly, we would only be doing ourselves a service and accomplishing so much more if we gave God our first fruits in time. What you give to God first He gives back tenfold. Don’t believe me? Try tithing.

It can be dangerous to separate yourself from the body and it can be equally so to separate yourself from alone time with God. Each scenario you leave yourself open to attack.

Those who distance themselves from the counsel/correction/teaching/ and support of the body may become deceived and are like sheep that’s escaped the safety of the flock. God didn’t design you to live out your faith alone, but to be a part of His family.

If you only meet with God as a whole then your faith will never grow on its own. You may just place people on a pedestal and live your faith through them or behind them. Your faith must be become real and alive to you or the devil will cut you from the safety of the flock like a weak sickly lamb and take you out.

Healthy relationships are dynamic and flexible. They aren’t one-sided or controlling, and they aren’t forceful. God is patient and waiting, and always speaking. He doesn’t hold the use of your time against you and He never condemns you.

Some tips to help spend more quality time with God:

1. Nature walk: Take the dog/kids or just go by yourself with a journal or devotional. Just being in nature can declutter your mind and help you to feel one with Him.

2. Podcasts/audio books: make your trip into town/ or to work meaningful and listen to the Bible audio book or a sermon by your favorite preacher. Let the message sink in as you go about your day.

3. Morning Bible verse/passage: For younger kids I’d start with a single daily verse and then have them think about it throughout the day. Before bed, bring up the same verse and talk about it as a family. This is a good way to begin devotions and prayer time.

4. God in the passenger seat: If you find it hard to incorporate God into your daily grind, imagine Him as a friend in your passenger seat. He follows you wherever you go like a spouse/friend. Talk to Him just as you would them, remember, He just wants to be with you. And just as you let your friend/spouse talk back/reply, do the same with Him.

5. Anytime is worship time: kids love to dance and you will find them enjoying even doing chores if you put some music on and worship while you work. Whether you can sing or not, just praise Him anywhere; in the car, in the shower, or even as a quiet lullaby before bed. Your kids and you will feel peace and happiness flow.

The Wrath of God

God is serious business.
He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
his fury shatters boulders.
(Nahum 1:2-6 MSG)

…This is what the Lord would still be doing if it weren’t for His Son. God had a plan from the beginning, a way to save us from what we deserved. He couldn’t deny Himself or His righteousness that demands purity. Light could never meddle with darkness but always drives it out. That is God’s design.

And so the Old Testament remains as a reminder of our past, our great need for a Savior. Because who could ever completely purify themselves before God? Or follow all the ancient rules perfectly?

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the bridge between God and man, that we might walk with God again like in the Garden of Eden. But the serpent is still loose, though his days are numbered, and our garden needs pruning and constant care, or it withers and succumbs to thorns.

Because of Jesus, who drank the wrath of God on our behalf, the judgment of the Lord now comes with a choice. Do we repent and follow Jesus, who took the punishment of our sin in full? Or do we decline His free gift of salvation and forgiveness and reclaim that wrath and just judgement upon ourselves?

There are many who would rather cling to their selfish pride, even to the point of eternal death, than surrender to a higher power. They live this life as they wish, and deny all that would truly set them free. You see in their minds they think they are free, and that the church and Christianity is a rigid cell, when in actuality, they are bound by many chains. A sinful life is a life filled with bondage. Not only to darkness but to the flesh, who rules their every thought.

But that aside, what have we done as New Covenant believers to reach those bound by such darkness?

On Facebook, I see post after post about the wrath of God on our nation. I see fire and brimstone preaching that may lead some to God in fear, but turns many others away. Imagine how differently the Story of the Prodigal Son would have ended if the father never welcomed him home. Many children are driven away from their fathers in rebellion and further still by their father’s continued wrath at their disobedience.

The truth is that we flee from guilt, discomfort, and judgment. We can only truly experience guilt and overcome it if we first feel loved. A son who knows he is loved can heal and move on from his mistakes because he knows that the father only disciplines out of love.

Discipline goes from, “how dare you do that!” To, “I can’t let you do that, because I love you too much.”

Our job has never been to condemn the world or say, “you better repent or God will unleash His fury on us all!” But to show the world that our God loves them so much that He gave His Son so that we could be with Him again. All He ever wanted was to be with us. He did everything He could possibly do short of taking away our free will, to do exactly that.

Granted, our free will got us into this mess but I think we all can understand that choice is important because it reflects the heart of a person. We go to work because we have to, not because we want to. We go to church because we love God and call Him friend.

God isn’t angry with you. The world or your actions don’t surprise Him, He saw it coming and loved us anyway. The world is what it is because it is the devil’s kingdom and God has relinquished control of it, temporarily. He chose instead to work through us.

That means our faith (power of the Holy Spirit) must be released onto the earth through works. Prayer is powerful but a believer who understands that they are the conduit through which that power flows is even more so.

What does that mean?

YOU may be the answer to the prayer. Stop begging God to do something He can only do through you! Stop looking up to heaven as if all the power is shut up behind it’s gates! You are carrying the power within you, the Holy Spirit is alive and waiting for a chance to move! If only you would move…

The world is radical. We need to meet their passion with our own. Turn it up a notch! Demonstrate the love that no darkness can extinguish. Only then will people start to see that the church isn’t fading or there to rain fire upon them, but to offer them true life, purpose, and freedom in Christ Jesus.

God isn’t angry or sleeping, He’s simply waiting…waiting for you to answer His call.

Star Trek: Quotes

“I do not approve. I understand.” -Spock

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these! In my search for good quotes with lengthy words and deep meaning I overlooked the simplicity but equal importance of others. This one from Spock in reply to Anan in A Taste of Armageddon is one of such quotes that I feel has relevance today.

For those that aren’t familiar with this series, Spock is a half human/half vulcan that prizes himself on logic. However, even he has said that logic is only the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

In today’s society, the amount of illogic would probably lead to this iconic expression.

Fascinating

My point today, however, isn’t to raise my eyebrows at the state of our world, but to try and understand the “why” behind it.

I believe that no one is born evil. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t readily say that those who do evil things do it with the thought of, “I want to be evil and turn against God.” If we really looked into it, I’m sure you would find that most people think they are good and feel a sense of guilt over those actions which they believe to be bad.

Character and civility still mean something, and that is a good thing! Though it’s importance and definition is slowly fading, most of us still have a moral compass which directs us. That is why the devil has his work cut out for him when he seeks to twist a person to his will.

You can’t take a good person and turn them toward darkness in a day. It would be like trying to get a doctor, whose spent his whole life healing and helping others, to kill and destroy. It would be unnatural and disgusting to him, and yet doctors are doing this in abortion clinics throughout the world.

The only way to twist a man is by one thought, or rather, half-truth, at a time. The devil is good at being that subtle voice, like the serpent he is. He knows that a snare can’t be too obvious or we would avoid it, and so he spends years laying the trap and training us to step into it unawares. In fact, by the time he’s done with you, you’ll believe that his words are truth and his trap a warm embrace.

If you allow this way of thinking to take hold, he will get you to believe anything.

Maybe it isn’t a baby…maybe it is just a lump of cells

I don’t like who I am, God must’ve made a mistake when I should’ve been born a boy!

The list is practically never-ending. It’s these slippery slopes of deception that I can very easily understand. We have all been tested and have believed these lies (maybe not the ones listed above) but others…

Maybe God isn’t all good

I don’t see miracles, they must not exist today

Do these ones hit closer to home? Can you see that we are all in the same boat, being attacked by the same enemy. Like any battlefield, you’ll see injured, broken comrades, alongside those who get back up and keep fighting, some retreat, others lose heart, and others still are killed.

We are all on this battlefield fighting the same battles and one enemy.

It isn’t Biden, world leaders, the wealthy, some ethic group, a political party…rewind and keep rewinding…it all started in that garden. The serpent.

Jesus understands. He came down to live as a man, but died to free us from death. He is now our mediator but just like the quote above His understanding of our condition didn’t equate to approval. If that were so, we would still be lost and damned without a savior.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this topic but my final example is the clearest one in my experience.

Behavior in Children.

I’ve worked with young children for awhile now and have seen my share of illogical behavior. Most of which, are normal developmental phases of learning boundaries, though not all.

In the normal cases, children learn quickly and the problems are easily managed with discipline. In cases of abuse/neglect they tend to spiral and react poorly to discipline.

It’s easy to get annoyed by bad behavior but once you hear the story behind it, suddenly you understand the why to their behavior all the while wanting them to overcome the obstacle and to heal.

It is this heart of compassion, of understanding that I believe will reignite our passion for the lost. We’ve grown used to arguing and judging and have forgotten to love like Christ. He died while we were still sinners, and though He understood our condition He loved us too much to leave us there.

And so let’s attempt to be an understanding church, so that we can be a compassionate one. That our love and commonality would unite us and press us toward the fulfillment of the great commission, to lead people to Christ and bring Heaven to earth.

Cut’n Dry

We live in a world full of compromises and concessions. Too many of us are afraid to put the foot down on what the Bible says vs. what the world is trying to make it say. The era of cut’n dry truth has been muddied to the extent that even Christians (a.k.a little Christs) don’t agree on it.

All in the name of…progression.

My question to them is this, what exactly do they hope to “progress” into? And is it really their own idea, under their control? Or are they just spiraling out of control, with the devil spinning the wheel?

For example: I’ve heard the term “brainwashed” and “deceived” repeated almost like a broken record by our divided country. We are stuck pointing fingers and demanding equality, but can any society have that which it denies?

Without the moral foundation of the Word of God and, equally important, the love of God, our eyes shift from Him to our fallible selves. Suddenly God is “us” and we have seen what chaos that ensues.

Satan has a field day when we say to ourselves, “who needs God?”

As Christians we are not called to progress into madness alongside the world, but to stand apart, and quite frankly, be hated by the world (Matthew 10:22). A church that is beloved by all unsettles me in today’s culture. A church that has dissected truth, using cookie cutters to make it exactly what they want, gravely forget the warning of God at the end of Revelations and what it means to be a follower of God.

They made the truth fuzzy and warm, easy on the ears. Since when is truth easy? I love truth, but my experience has been that it is solid, cold, and unbending…not what the fallen man wants to hear but what he needs to survive. It’s the pill that’s hard to swallow but as necessary as oxygen itself. It is our grounding to reality and the reality of God. Of good and evil, both in the world and in our hearts.

The church’s job was to shepherd the world, like a parent. Not become the world’s best friend. Does that approach ever work when raising children? Sparing discipline is hatred toward your children! (Proverbs 13:24)

Sparing the hard truth is hatred toward the world!

The truth is, there is a hell. And many will live out eternity there. Doesn’t that scare you? To know that you are missing the opportunity to save those that you love because you fear man and his rejection?

One saved life is worth the following persecution of one hundred.

We need to stand firm and reassert the Word of God into every fiber of our being. If someone asks you what you believe it will be as simple as pointing to the Bible, the whole thing, and not just a few verses.

You can’t be a Christian and believe in abortion or side with those who believe it. You can’t be a Christian and say that because God is love, all kinds of “love” must be from God. The devil creates nothing but warps everything God first created to be good and pure. You can’t be a Christian and hate your fellow man, love should be the driving force behind everything you do, not offense! Every evil act against man is an act against God, but He can take it and He will settle it.

My advice to you during these uncertain times is this. The Word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Read it. The whole thing, excluding nothing. Allow it to erase the worldly thinking and replace it with a Godly one. Make truth cut and dry, simple, again.

And then stand on it with everything you have, like a rock wall against the torrents pushing against you, trying to make you forget, blend, and “progress” into the devil’s hands.

It’s time we unite and remind the world that we’re unshakable, because of Christ in us, the hope of salvation which is free to anyone who says, yes!

My job, and ours is to remind the world that there is another way, another path, and that is Jesus. We are ambassadors from another kingdom after all. Represent Him well.

And do it all with love or it means nothing..(1 Corinthians 13)

Hope Song 2021

My days go something like this…

I wake up rather stiff backed, to the cooing of my son beside me in his crib (this is a new thing for us as he has slept with me since birth and never slept through the night completely til just a week ago). I get him up, play with him in bed, change his diaper and take our dog out. I then hurry to wash all of James’ baby bottles from any nightly feedings as he grows impatient for his morning meal. I feed him and let him have floor time, while I either hurry to catch up on chores or watch some mind numbing show.

This leads into midday as James keeps me busy with drool control, supervised play, feedings, and diaper changes, and teaching him new skills/sensory play. If I’m lucky, he will be happy enough to let me shower while he sits in his high chair. Otherwise he’s glued to my hip, fighting naps and being fussy as I frantically try to figure out what’s wrong. My stress turns slowly into impatience and anger as I watch time tick by and chores pile and my son moans or cries for something I don’t know how to fix.

I find myself fighting new battles in anxiety every day or week it seems, be it rashes, teething, breathing issues (when he was younger), constipation (frequently), new sleeping arrangements for me, James, and Aaron…among the anxieties of life, marriage, church functions, and home that I have to balance harmoniously.

Evening rolls in and Aaron is home, I give him a quick peck and maybe he takes James for a bit so I can do a power shower or a troubled bath in which mother mode still won’t chill as I hear James cry for something through the door. We make dinner, we hurriedly eat as James bounces, or plays on the floor, generally this is noisy squealing playtime so we don’t hear much TV, or James is chill and I get a few minutes to talk to Aaron.

Then it’s bath time for James, and hopefully he takes a nap, though now that he sleeps through the night I’m lucky if he takes a good nap at all, though he might take a 15 min one around 12 or a longer one around 6. Each time I lay him down it’s a struggle during the day unless he really wants to sleep.

Sometimes the nightly routine of coaxing James to sleep lasts 3 hours. And by then Aaron has to go to bed (we sleep alone) and I finally have silence collapsing quietly upon the air mattress in James’ room. I can’t sleep many times for a few hours. I try to get some things picked up in the house, I scroll my phone and I get up a few times to reinsert binky or roll James into a better position. Or sometimes I have to change him and then try to get him back to sleep for an hour.

In all this (which is wayyy better than when James was younger), I still haven’t had the time to write. Even now I do so from the air mattress with James finally sleeping in his crib deeply for the first time all day. I wonder to myself what my hope song is anymore.

I have a blessed life. My son is a blessing and he’s healthy. I have a wonderful husband who works hard and a roof over my head. I have a church family as well as parents who would do anything for me. I know that my struggles don’t compare to many others.

I have a cousin whose son is confined to a wheel chair, he is sick all the time, he had a liver transplant and sees many specialists because he is the only one in the world with this disease. He requires constant care and his mother has suffered more than you can imagine. What is her hope song?

I admit that I just haven’t made time for God very much. Let alone for myself. Or even my spouse. I’m not generally someone who gets texts from friends wanting to come over, though I know many who would open their doors to me if I asked.

I hardly write, and I no longer sing in the church band or preach. I still serve as director of the preschool class, not wanting to abandon my kiddos or the work we started there.

Covid opened my eyes in many ways. It tried (or more specifically satan) tried to rob me of joy last year harder than ever before, amidst the greatest joy of my life, my son being born. James is a light, a hope song to my family and friends and his wondrous view of the world keeps me rooted.

What then is my hope song when all around me is fear, pain, hopelessness, depression, and hatred?

I promise you that even at my lowest, which I tend to hit a lot lately, God is still that hand reaching into the pit for me. My world is upside down now, it isn’t about me anymore, I don’t live for me, and as much as I’d die for James, I don’t just live for him either.

I live to live as Christ. My Bible may be dusty, my mind busy, but all that I do is for Him. I raise James to serve God, I even clean my home to serve God. I don’t always go about it with that mindset but at the end of the day, it really is all about Him.

And so when your hope comes from the very one who already won the victory over life and defeated death, why would you let anything take that away? Why would you fear a virus or who’s president? Seriously, was Daniel ever in tears or shaking in terror under the rule of King Neb?

It’s okay to have a bad day, it’s okay to mourn what has been lost and what the devil has done to our country, family, and friends. It’s okay to be angry! But let me tell you, it’s not okay to stay in a place of depression or fear. We still have a hope that the world needs to see, His light is still shining just as bright as when He gave His life on the cross so that we might truly live.

You aren’t powerless! You’re duty isn’t to lament and cower, begging God to change the world, YOU are the change! YOU were born for such a time as this. Don’t bow, don’t surrender, don’t turn away, don’t be swayed, stand FIRM and remind the world Whose we are!

My life has changed, I have changed. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. And I wouldn’t change a thing. My hope song is still singing, my light isn’t fading, and this year I will take two steps forward to make up for the year I took a step back.

Pray for our new president, pray for our country, pray for our church, and keep fighting the good fight, keep running the race to the finish line ❤️ Our work has just begun.