Hey all. Just in case you were wondering, the audio message that I mentioned in my last post (“In Every Season of Life”) can be found by clicking here.
Hey all. Just in case you were wondering, the audio message that I mentioned in my last post (“In Every Season of Life”) can be found by clicking here.
I don’t like to fly.
This wasn’t always the case. My dad’s ministry responsibilities took our family many places over the years, so I am a veteran airline passenger. And I used to love it—the excitement and adventure of it all.
But that changed in the summer of 1999 on a family trip to Orlando, FL.
We were nearing the end of an uneventful flight when Dad noticed we had been circling for some time. Shortly thereafter, the pilot announced that we had experienced “hydraulic failure” and would have to make an emergency landing. We were circling the airport to use up the maximum amount of fuel before the descent.
The oh-so-helpful man sitting beside Janelle and me told us that hydraulic failure meant the brakes had failed. The flight attendants’ anxious manner wasn’t any more comforting.
As the plane began its descent, we were instructed to place our hands on the seat in front of us and lean our head on our hands. Upon our approach the flight attendant began yelling into the intercom system, over and over again: “Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down. Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down.”
In the end, the landing felt no different than any other (except for the yelling flight attendant). We never found out what “hydraulic failure” meant, but the only result was that our plane had no power to taxi to the gate. We had to be towed.
So now you understand why I wasn’t exactly excited about flying to Denver earlier this week to attend the International Christian Retail Show with my parents and Steve. Unfortunately, you can’t drive from Virginia to Colorado for a two-day trip.
God was giving me an opportunity to trust Him.
My wonderful husband Steve helped prepare me with a verse to meditate on from Matthew 10:29-31:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
As we landed in Denver, and then in Baltimore again last night, I repeated to myself (in place of the “brace brace” mantra): “He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows.”
This specific promise for my specific fear (see Mom’s post “Fighting Fear”) reminded me that nothing has changed, except my feelings about flying. Airlines aren’t less safe than they were before 1999. But more importantly, God hasn’t changed. He is still faithful, and sovereign, and good. And He still holds my life in His hands, whether I’m in the air, on the ground, or asleep in my bed at night.
God hasn’t promised that I won’t die in an airplane someday. But He says that I am of more value than many sparrows, and that the hairs of my head are numbered. He has told me not to fear.
So I am actually looking forward to flying again. It will be another opportunity to declare my trust in my Heavenly Father: the Unchanging One.
Yesterday, Mom encouraged us to run our race for the glory of God (Heb. 12:1-2). One key aspect of running the race is to live intentionally. And a simple, yet important way we can put this into practice is by regularly taking a personal retreat.
This is an exercise that Mom has helped me to develop, and it has served me greatly in every season of my life—from high school years, to single days, and now in my marriage. In her audio message “In Every Season” Mom speaks about living intentionally from Ephesians 5:15-17, and provides practical suggestions for taking a personal retreat.
We use this message in the discipleship course we developed for the single women in our church. In addition we provide worksheets for the women to use when taking a retreat. You can download the worksheets for your own personal use by clicking here.
I would encourage you to carve out time for a personal retreat. It may be only for a day, or you may even be able to swing an overnight. But the most important part is finding a place to have extended, uninterrupted time seeking the Lord. Ask for His grace and guidance to live intentionally for His glory.
Last week, Mom, Nicole, and I decided to go blueberry picking at a local fruit farm. So we loaded Jack into the car seat and drove off. Upon arriving we waited for the little tractor which carries you to and from the blueberry field. As we waited, dark clouds began to creep up, but we chose to ignore them. You can figure out the rest. After our bumpy trip to the field we began picking, and almost immediately, it began pouring. But we weren’t going to let a little rain stop us. We picked two full buckets and returned home completely soaked.
This little story is simply to give you a very yummy blueberry muffin recipe that we have always enjoyed making…
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mashed blueberries
2 cups whole blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease both muffin cups and tops of muffin tins around cups. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to butter mixture. Stir in blueberries. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle tops with sugar and nutmeg mixture. Bake about 25 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from tins.
My friend Sandra Groveman asked how she could pray for me. “You know that this is a season of transition for C.J. and me,” I began. Yes, she knew. As a member of Covenant Life Church, Sandra was present on that Sunday morning last September when my husband passed the leadership of the church—the church he had lead for twenty-seven years—to the man he had trained to replace him (our new senior pastor, Joshua Harris). It was a day full of joy and one I will never forget. It was also the beginning of another chapter in our lives.
“So in light of this new season,” I told Sandra, “please pray for wisdom to know God’s will. And most of all…grace to walk humbly before our God and finish our race well.”
“Of course I will pray for you,” Sandra replied. I’m confident she will. She always does. Then Sandra told me a story:
“When I was a little girl my father would lead me and my nine brothers and sisters in long talks over dinner—talks that left an indelible mark on my life. I still remember sitting at the table, stealing glances out the window, watching my friends play and the sun set, as my father dispensed wisdom about life-issues. These conversations could last up to three hours. It was at one of these dinners that he shared a piece of advice I’ll never forget. He was a runner. And he told us: ‘a good runner, he always saves his best stamina for the end of the race.’’”
My son-in-law Steve, who ran track in high school, explained this to me in greater detail. “As you approach the finish line, that’s when you run with everything you’ve got. The idea is to finish the race with nothing left.”
Last month I turned fifty. I am finishing many tasks. I am seeking to discern what new tasks God would have me take up. And this is my prayer…that God would help me, now, to give Him my best effort. That I wouldn’t be tempted to slow down or stop to rest, but continue to run with everything I’ve got. And that one day, when my race is over, I would truly finish with nothing left. Because of His perserving grace, I am confident God will answer my prayer.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
This week’s “Friday Funny” comes to us from Anne in Seattle, WA.
Anne’s husband Dave offered to serve her by going to the grocery store. He succeeded in finding all the items on her list except one: “Maxis with Wings.” Dave thought that “Maxis with Wings” must be some sort of chicken product. So he diligently searched the poultry section, scrutinizing all the labels. Unable to find what he was looking for, he finally asked for help from a couple of ladies standing nearby. Between fits of laughter they directed Dave to the feminine products aisle.
Thanks Anne—and Dave—for letting us share this story!
Have a tremendous weekend everyone!
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
You already know that I’m in the middle of motherhood. Well, I’m also in the middle of moving. Brian and I have been blessed with our first home—a townhouse—and we’ve been moving in stages, all week long.
I shouldn’t be surprised that moving has exposed sinful desires in my heart: specifically, the desire for the “perfect” house. This was revealed through my indecisiveness in making decorating decisions. My husband Brian asked me some helpful questions. I thought that I would share them with you.
1) Are you content and grateful for what God has provided, or are you thinking about the next or better thing you want?
2) What are you more aware of: God’s amazing provision of our current house and furniture, or the material possessions that you don’t have?
3) What purpose do you want your home to serve? Are you more desirous of impressing others with your decorating skill or serving them—and glorifying God—through hospitality?
Through Brian’s questions, God gave me grace to repent from the selfish desires in my heart. And I continue to repent on a daily basis.
God also used my sons to help tear down the idol of a “perfect” house, literally. Liam scratched up my newly painted walls. Owen came behind smearing the scratch with peanut butter and jelly. To top it off, my new laminate floor already has a lovely scratch from dining room to doorway.
I’m in the middle of motherhood, moving, and heart work. God has been good to me. The boundary lines have truly fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).
The phone rang early this morning. It was my daughter informing me that there had been multiple explosions in London’s transport system today. I immediately experienced fear. My husband is in England. He is speaking at a leaders’ conference in Brighton.
My first thoughts were: How close is Brighton to London? Did CJ have plans to go to London today? Maybe the reason I haven’t heard from him is because something is wrong! I tried calling him, but got no answer.
Then I remembered Psalm 37:23—one of today’s take-away verses for meditation from my morning devotions. It reads: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” I had also read Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on this verse, which said: “All [of the Christian’s] course of life is graciously ordained, and in lovingkindness all is fixed. No fickle chance rules us; every step is the subject of divine decree.”
I may not have been able to talk to C.J, but this much I knew: God’s lovingkindness was ordering his steps. How kind of God to give me that promise this morning! It brought instant comfort to my soul.
And C.J. did call. He is safe. I am grateful to God for his loving protection.
However, he said that our friends in the United Kingdom are in need of our prayers. Please pray for safety and peace for all, and for wisdom for the local church pastors, particularly in London. And please join me in asking God to use this tragedy for His glory, the good of His people, and the spread of the gospel.
My husband gave me a gift this past week that I must tell you about. It is The Valley of Vision on cd. If you are not familiar with this book, here is a brief description:
“The Valley of Vision is a collection of prayers and devotions taken from the writings of spiritual giants like John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, and Richard Baxter. These men were not only devoted students of the Bible, but men who expressed an enthusiasm for prayer that is inspiring and contagious.”
For years, my own prayer life has been informed and enriched by reading the prayers from The Valley of Vision during my morning devotions. Now, having the audio version enables me to benefit—not just in the mornings—but throughout the day. At this very moment, I have one of the CD’s in my car, one in my kitchen, and one in my bedroom. I know, it’s a little overboard, but it just goes to show how much I am benefiting!
The audio collection comes with seven compact discs, which include six hours of narration. I suggest you put this series on your next birthday wish list. Or if your birthday has passed, add it to your Christmas list. Then you too will be playing it on every CD player you own!
On Saturday, I had breakfast with two of my close friends. While sipping our hot drinks and eating our bagels, the conversation turned to the struggles we have at times with fear—fear about our children, fear about our blindness to sin, fear about our future….
But that is not how the conversation ended.
We went from confessing our fears to talking about our need to trust God more. Our need to exercise faith. We reminded each other of God’s great faithfulness toward us.
Because fear is not neutral. Fear is sin. And we must fight our fears with faith in God’s character and His precious promises—promises that flow from Christ’s work on the cross.
Here are Biblical promises that impart faith for my fears (along with commentary by Charles Spurgeon):
“The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” Psalm 102:28
“[This verse] is full of good cheer to us; we may plead for the Lord’s favor to our offspring…. God does not neglect the children of his servants…Grace is not hereditary, yet God loves to be served by the same family time out of mind…. We may, therefore, not only for our own sakes but also out of love to the church of God, daily pray that our sons and daughters may be saved, and kept by divine grace even unto the end—established before the Lord.”
Charles Spurgeon, Psalms , Series editors, Alister McGrath and J.I. Packer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), p. 70.
My blindness to sin:
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6
“God is teaching [the repentant Christian] truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived. The love of the heart, the mystery of its fall, and the way of its purification – this hidden wisdom we must all attain; and it is a great blessing to be able to believe that the Lord will ‘make us know it.’”
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6
“These twin guardian angels will always be with me. Just as when great princes go abroad and must not go unattended, so it is with the believer. Goodness and mercy follow him always – the black days as well as the bright days. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.”
Are you tempted to fear today? God has provided numerous promises in His Word. Find a specific promise from which you can derive faith and banish fear.
Here is a promise to get you started:
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
“God makes a perfect work of it. He clears away both our fears and their causes, all of them without exception.”
Previous three quotes taken from Charles Spurgeon, Psalms , Series editors, Alister McGrath and J.I. Packer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), p.211-212, 91, 132.