Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Lesson of the Ornament

Wow! Can it be Christmastime already? I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted. It is the most wonderful....and hectic.... time of the year.
Last week, we had our Christmas fellowship for the ladies at our church. Our theme was "An Ornament for Christ" (some ideas I got at www.juliabettencourt.com - it's a great site for ladies ministry ideas). Anyways, we had an ornament exchange, and a great evening of fun and fellowship.
While preparing the devotion for the evening, (with coffee in hand), a story came to mind. Our text verse was I Peter 3:4, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." The story is a little long, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee before you read...


When just a girl of four and ten,
I changed from what I might have been.

So clearly still it seems I see
The day that brought this change in me.

Be patient with me as I share
The memories of what happened there.

I was a child of humble means,
A princess only in my dreams.

We lived upon a grand estate
As servants of a master great.

A good man in both word and deed,
He met my family's every need.

But in the winter of that year,
My heart was also cold and drear.

For as the houseguests came and went,
My days were in self-pity spent.

I watched one with a fancy dress,
Another's jewelry did impress.

I felt that I was less than fair
When with these guests I did compare.

So on that cold, December morn
I was not festive, but forlorn.

And yet the task that fell to me
Was helping with the Christmas tree.

Each year, the tree stood in the hall
In splendor, it inspired awe.

The garland gold, the twinkling lights,
The ornaments, the star so bright,

Adorned the tall and stately pine,
I'd seen no other tree so fine.

No doubt this year would be the same ~
The Christmas tree of local fame.

And so, with my rebellious heart,
The decorating I did start.

But then I heard a step behind...
I turned and was amazed to find

My master, gazing first at me,
And then up at the Christmas tree.

He spoke to me, his voice was kind.
"I wonder, child, if you would mind

If I gave you a helping hand."
I nodded, and the work began.

The decorations had been kept
In boxes 'neath the basement steps.

As we unpacked, he shared with me
Some favorite Christmas memories.

And then he asked if I could guess
Which ornament he loved the best.

He said he could not estimate
Its value, for it was so great.

My interest then was highly piqued,
And for it I began to seek.

I saw a shining silver star,
Its origin was from afar.

My master's eyes said this was not
The precious ornament I sought.

I found a jewel-encrusted ball,
Its sparkle could be seen by all.

Expectantly, I looked at him,
But soon began my search again.

An angel then, with flowing gown,
No doubt an heirloom handed down.

But this one too he did reject.
I was beginning to suspect

That I would never figure out
Which ornament he spoke about.

But when all hope I'd almost lost,
I saw a simple, wooden box.

It wasn't bright, with jewels crowned,
And so I slowly put it down.

But when I saw my master's eyes,
My mind was filled with great surprise.

The tender look upon his face
Assured me there was no mistake.

I turned and picked it up once more,
Bewildered by a choice so poor.

And as it came into my grasp,
My fingers touched a hidden clasp,

It slowly opened and revealed
What formerly had been concealed.

This ornament, this precious one,
Contained the image of his son.

And what I'd thought was somewhat plain,
Was now a lovely, picture frame.

The simple lines and modest hue
Allowed an unobstructed view.

No sparkling sequins to distract,
No golden glitter to detract

From strength, and love, and manly grace,
As seen in that beloved face.

I'd seen my master's son before,
But then he'd gone to fight the war.

And there himself he'd sacrificed
To save another soldier's life.

"My daughter, can you comprehend
Why all the money I could spend

Could never purchase or replace
This portrait of my dear son's face?"

I nodded yes, and through my tears,
I saw my master's smile appear.

"Just one more lesson I would share,"
He said, as we were seated there.

Our heavenly Master also holds
An ornament worth more than gold.

He sees it in a girl like you."
I wondered if this could be true.

"He does not look at form or face,
Or pride of station, or of place.

The beauty that we do possess
He did not give us to impress

Those who can only see a part,
But cannot see our hidden heart.

The jewels, the hair, the costly clothes,
Are seen as beauty, I suppose.

But fancy gowns and diamond rings
Are only superficial things

That in an instant can be lost,
Or can be purchased at great cost.

The beauty that our Master seeks,
Is of a spirit calm and meek.

The baubles that this world attracts,
From this true beauty just distract.

Our Master longs to see a heart,
That's lovely in the hidden part.

For when He looks at such a one,
He sees the image of His Son.

This priceless beauty can't be bought,
Though for it many long have sought.

It does not tarnish, tear, or fade,
But grows in value with each day."

I wondered how my master knew
The struggle I'd been going through.

But in his wisdom he had seen,
And helped a young girl, just fourteen,

To see that beauty was far more
Than all the things the world lives for.

I sought to heed his wise advice,
To seek the beauty of great price.

To have a heart serene and still,
Submitted to my Master's will.

And every year at Christmastime,
This memory comes back to my mind.

Forever grateful that God sent
The lesson of the ornament.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Make Up Your Mind!

Have you ever stood in line behind someone who couldn't seem to decide what they wanted? Maybe at your favorite coffee shop? Or maybe you are that person!

Usually, if I'm being indecisive, it's because I'm trying to choose between what I think I want, and what I know I need. For instance, I may really want that rich, chocolate mocha with whipped cream on top, but I know it's not good for my waistline or my budget. I'd be much better off with a cup of coffee with a little Splenda and skim milk. Hmmmm.....what will I do? That depends. Sometimes I make the wise choice. Other times, my appetite argues louder than my common sense! Or, maybe I have a friend along who is encouraging me to make one decision or the other. Can I stand up to the "pressure", and do what I really think I should?

As I went to vote today, I was reminded of the importance of the choices we make, and how grateful I am to live in a country where I can still cast my vote. I believe the consequences of the political choices that are made today will be great and far-reaching.

However, of far greater importance than the election that is taking place are the spiritual choices that we make. God has given each of us a free will, and the opportunity to choose. He teaches us what are the right choices to make in His Word, and warns us of the consequences of foolish or evil choices, but He leaves the decision to us.

In a spiritual sense, how have you cast your vote? Have you chosen to receive Christ as your Savior? Have you chosen to surrender your will to Him? Have you chosen to live a consecrated life? Or have you chosen to reject Him, to ignore His Word, or to live a carnal life? Spiritually, there are no "undecided" voters. We are all choosing every day who we will live for. The consequences of our spiritual choices affect not only our daily lives, but eternity. I pray that we will all make the choices that are right and pleasing to Christ.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Quick Update

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten my blog! I've had a busy week, and a baby with a cold. She's fine, but there hasn't been much time for writing. I will be out of town next week, but hopefully after that I can get back into the swing of things.

I'm enjoying the cool weather, in spite of the colds that are going around. I hope that you're having a wonderful autumn. The leaves here are simply stunning, and the weather has been lovely. We've had cold nights, but crisp, cool days. I think I'm ready to go crunch through some leaves!

Well, it's past my bedtime, so I'm going to go. I'll be back soon. Plan to grab a cup of coffee and join me when you can. Thanks so much!


Friday, October 17, 2008

"Grounds" Keeping

Who makes the coffee at your house? I usually make it here, mainly because I'm the one who drinks it the most. (Does that surprise you?!) I guess I could have the title "keeper of the grounds". This is a very important job if you are a coffee drinker, and should not be taken lightly. Just kidding!

There is an important "keeping" job that I do have. That is being a "keeper at home." Titus 2:4-5 gives a list of things that young women are to learn from older women. Among this extensive list is the commandment to be a "keeper at home". God says this is so important that if we do not learn and practice it, the Word of God will be blasphemed (Tit. 2:5).

Some women feel that they cannot be content or fulfilled if they are keepers at home. The Word of God teaches just the opposite. Proverbs 14:1 says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." We need to take our responsibility seriously, and do the best job that we can for the Lord.

1. Follow the Commandment

We need to realize that being a keeper at home is not just a good idea, it is commanded (and commended) by the Lord (Tit. 2:5; I Tim. 5:11-14; Pro. 14:1; Ps. 113:9).

2. Be Firm in Your Commitment

We must be committed to fulfilling our role as keepers at home. Just because we know the Bible says something does not mean we intend to obey it. Or, sometimes, even though we are obeying, we are not doing it with our whole heart. God's Word says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." (Ecc. 9:10). We need to make a commitment to giving our best to the Lord in our homes.

3. Find Your Contentment

When we have chosen to follow God's commandment, and are firm in our commitment, it is then we will find contentment in the place God has given us to serve. Do not view being a keeper at home as a lowly task (although we should be willing to do anything for the Lord), but rather as an honored position. God sees it this way, and so should we. Read His glowing praise for the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, and the many other godly women of the Bible.

God has entrusted us with a job, and we will one day give an account for how we have done it. He has asked us to be stewards, keepers, of our homes. The greatest requirement is that we be found faithful (I Cor. 4:2). In relation to the fulfillment of our duties as keepers of our homes, will the Lord be able to look at us one day and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."? I hope so!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You're Grounded!

Have you had a cup of coffee yet today? I enjoy one in the morning to get started, but often like one in the afternoon just to relax. I also like to drink coffee when I'm writing. Somehow, it seems to help me stay focused and "grounded."

We use the word "grounded" in a lot of different ways. Have you ever heard someone say to their child (or said yourself), "You're grounded!"? My parents didn't use that expression much when I was growing up, but it is used by many parents. I've never said it to my daughter, but she's only 11 months old! Today, if you're a parent, I'd like for you to think about the thought "You're grounded" in a different light. Instead of making this statement to our children as an expression of impending punishment, I want us to ask ourselves if we can make it as a statement of fact.

The word "grounded" as used in the Bible (and in life) means "to have a basis or foundation". Our kids need to be "grounded" in some important aspects of life. As Christian parents, we have a responsibility to make sure that our children have a solid foundation.

I think that we can use the ABC's as a starting point in "grounding" our little ones for God:

A - Authority

One of the most important truths we can instill in our children is that the Word of God is the first and final authority for their lives. From the time they are tiny, we should be teaching them that their authority and accountability is ultimately to the Lord. I should teach my children to obey and honor me because that is what God wants them to do. If we teach our children the fear of God, and His authority in their lives, that principle will guide them even when we are not there.

B - Bible

We also need to instruct our children in the Word of God. The Bible says that Timothy knew the Scriptures "from a child" (II Tim. 3:15). He was taught the Word by his mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5). What a wonderful testimony! Our children should learn the Word of God, not only in church, but first of all, at home (Deut. 6:7; 11:19).

C - Character

I Peter says that we are to add to our "faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge..." (II Pet. 1:5). This was my mom's home school verse. First, we needed to have faith. We needed to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously, this is not something our parents could force on us, but was something that they diligently instructed us in and prayed much for. Second, we needed virtue, or character. This is a prerequisite to knowledge. If people have knowledge without virtue, they can do great harm and evil. We need to teach our children to have godly virtue and character in their lives.

I'm sure you can think of many other vital things that our children need to be "grounded" in, but I believe that if we learn these ABC's, faithfully practice them in our own lives, and instill them in our children, we will give them a solid foundation.

So the next time we hear the phrase, "You're grounded!", I hope that it will be a reminder of the vital job God has given us to do as parents. May we someday be able to look at our children, and say with joy and assurance, "You're grounded!".

My Manse Topic: "Grounds" Keeping

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Grounds" for Delight

Just having a coffee pot and water doesn't mean you're going to have coffee. You need to add grounds in order to have a cup of coffee. And not just any old grounds will make a good cup of coffee! You need good quality coffee grounds, and the right amount if you want your coffee to be a thing of delight.

I think marriage is much the same way. Just having two people who get married does not guarantee that the marriage will be successful, much less delightful. It is a sad truth in our society that many marriages do not last. And even those who "stick it out" are often not happy in the process.

This is not the way God intended it. God says that marriage is honorable (Heb. 13:4), and should bring rejoicing (Pro. 5:18). A godly marriage is a picture of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33). God desires that marriage be both permanent and pleasant. Our culture seems to believe that you cannot have both of these qualities at the same time, and I am afraid that mindset has permeated even Christian people.

We often hear the term "grounds for divorce." People find many reasons to justify why their marriages should be terminated. (Remember, that Jesus said, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Mark 10:9.) What if, instead of looking for "grounds for divorce", we used the same diligence to seek for and practice the "grounds for delight" in the marriage that God has given us?

Just as a good cup of coffee requires "good grounds", so a good marriage requires "good grounds." So what are these "grounds for delight"?

1. Christianity

A truly happy home must be a Christlike home. Don't take this time to think about if your spouse is Christlike.....ask yourself if you are Christlike. Do I love like Christ? Do I forgive like Christ? Do I give like Christ? This "ground" is truly the one that all the following spring from.

2. Commitment

This should go without saying, but it still needs to be said. We must be committed to our marriages if they are to be lasting and happy. We should not even open the door of our minds to an "out" in our marriage. Think about the vows you made - "forsaking all others....for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part". In truth, most people should change their vows to "for better, for richer, in health, to love as long as you love me and treat me the way I think you should, until I find sufficient reason for us to part." We must remember that we made our vows, not to a person, but to God. He says that we shouldn't make a vow, and then say it was a mistake. We are to keep our vows. (Eccl. 5:1-6)

3. Caring

We need to love and care for one another. Sometimes this is easy to do, and sometimes it is difficult, but we are commanded to love our spouses (Eph. 5:25; Tit. 2:4). If we have Christlike love, we will love them as He loves us. We will be willing to love first and faithfully (I Jn. 4:19; Jer. 3:13). We will care about the other person's needs, and will seek to meet them. (I Cor. 13)

4. Courtesy

I think this is something that is often neglected or forgotten in marriage, especially after we have been married for a while. It is not enough to just "love" someone. Love is shown by actions. We need to remember to be kind and courteous to one another (I Pet. 3:8). It is odd how we often treat those we should love the most with the least courtesy. We are kind to strangers or general acquaintances, yet thoughtless and rude to those in our own homes. Courtesy goes a long way in making our loved ones feel loved and appreciated.

5. Contentment

We need to learn to be content with our spouses and with what they give us. Ultimately, we must let our expectations be fulfilled by the Lord, and not put demands on our spouses that they cannot or will not fulfill (Ps. 62:5). Many marriages are damaged because one spouse puts unrealistic or even unrighteous expectations on the other. If we learn to look to the Lord to meet our expectations, it will free us to love our spouses without bitterness or discontent. If we are constantly murmuring and complaining, we are demonstrating our discontent, and this is not pleasing to the Lord (I Cor. 10:10; I Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. 13:5). Also, if we have the "grass is greener" mindset about our spouse, constantly comparing them to others, thinking "what if", we are setting ourselves up for temptation and trouble in our marriages.

6. Caution

Be aware that Satan is out to destroy your family (I Pet. 5:8). He will use any tactic he can find. We need to be on guard in our hearts and minds, and not give "...occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." (I Tim. 5:14)

7. Consideration

This goes along with caring and courtesy, but we need to be considerate and thoughtful of our spouses. I'm sure that when you first fell in love, you were constantly thinking about what you could do to please your spouse or make them happy. We shouldn't stop doing that once we're married. In fact, it should be more important to us than ever. We need to learn to be unselfish in our marriages.

You may be able to think of other "grounds for delight" that you can apply to your marriage. I hope you will think of more! Grab a cup of coffee, and do some brainstorming. Think about your spouse, and instead of thinking about what they have done to make you unhappy, try to think of ways that you can work to make them happy. May your marriage always be a thing, not just of duty, but of delight!

Motherhood Topic: "You're Grounded!"

"Grounds" Breaking

Do you ever buy whole bean coffee? I do occasionally, and enjoy the smell and taste of freshly ground coffee. The problem is my coffee grinder is very noisy, and scares Halle half to death!

Regardless of which form you purchase your coffee in, it must be ground before you can actually make coffee with it. Coffee beans, in their natural state, are not able to realize their full potential. Unless the only way you enjoy coffee beans is when they're dipped in chocolate, they must be ground to be used.

Once we are saved, God desires to use us for His glory and honor. But in our natural state, our "old man" will never reach the potential God desires for us. We must allow God to break the ground of our hearts and lives and make us into something He can use.

In Jeremiah 4:3 the Lord says, "Break up your fallow ground...". In Hosea 10:12 the Bible says, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

As we allow God to break the soil of our heart, we become "good ground", and we can become fruitful for the Lord (Mt. 13:8, 23).

God tells us that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Ps. 51:17). Also, "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." (Ps. 34:18)

Have we made ourselves available to the Lord? Have we allowed Him to break us in such a way that we can reach our full potential for Him? If not, let's allow God to do some "ground breaking" in our hearts.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sitting & Sipping

This week has involved lots of sitting and little sleep! Monday morning I got up at 4:00 a.m., and Halle and I flew from Pittsburgh to Chicago to Nashville. We then drove about an hour to where my grandpa is in the hospital. I was able to visit with him throughout the day and evening. The surgery was scheduled to start at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Mom and I got up and were at the hospital by 5:15 a.m. His surgery lasted about four hours. They were only able to do one bypass, but he came through the surgery fairly well. Yesterday, he was doing well, and was sitting up part of the afternoon, but this morning, they had to do a second procedure. It was very serious, but, praise the Lord, he seems to be doing fairly well again.

I am glad to report that they serve Starbucks coffee in the hospital cafeteria! I have definitely needed it, and have placed the coffee station on my walking route. Coffee is not only an energy-booster, but seems to be a good stress-reliever!

Although I wish I were here for a happier reason, it has been so nice to spend time with my family. Lots of my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends have been here....several I haven't seen in many years. I have enjoyed getting to see them, and let them see my Halle. It's also been great to spend time with my mom and dad.

Thank you so much for your patience with my lack of blogging and for your many prayers for my family. Please continue to pray for my Grandpa. I am planning to fly home tomorrow, and will get back to blogging regularly soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Flying to Tennessee

It's 11:30 at night, and I have to get up at 3:45 in the morning, so this post is going to be short and sweet....like me, right? At least the short part. I am leaving in the morning to go to Tennessee. My grandpa, Missionary Bob Adams, is having open heart surgery on Tuesday morning. I am going to spend some time with him tomorrow, and will be there for the surgery on Tuesday. Please pray for him. Because of that, my posts will probably be sporadic this week. Thanks for understanding.

The good thing is that I get to see my family and spend time with them. Also, tomorrow I get to do one of my favorite things....fly! Well, I need to go to bed. I'm sure I'm going to need my coffee tomorrow!!! Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Turn Up the Heat!

I mentioned yesterday the trouble I have with my coffee cooling off while I'm busy. It never fails, whether I'm cleaning, writing, playing with the baby, doing my makeup, or a myriad of other things, if I don't drink my coffee in the first five minutes, it gets lukewarm.

All week we have discussed our temperature....hot, cold, or lukewarm. Lukewarmness is a problem, physically and spiritually. The good thing is that it is easily remedied. If my coffee gets a little cool, all I have to do is pop it in the microwave and heat it back up. Sometimes, my coffeepot shuts off (automatic shut-off) before I think it's going to, and the whole pot starts to cool off. Heating it back up is as simple as turning the power back on.

When we become spiritually lukewarm, it is because we have "turned off the heat". Romans 12:11 says that we are to be "fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." God desires us to be spiritually hot. If we are no longer fervent or hot for Him, He is the answer to our problem. He says to the church in Revelation 3:18, "I counsel thee to buy of me..." and "...be zealous therefore, and repent..." (Rev. 3:19).

So, how do we turn the heat up, and become spiritually hot?

1. Stay in the Word of God (daily reading, study, meditation, and memorization)

God's Word is "like as a fire..." (Jer. 23:29; 20:9). The disciples on the road to Emmaus said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Lk. 24:32).

2. Spend time in fellowship with the Lord (Acts 24:32)

We need to ask the Lord to help us and to teach us (Phil. 2:13).

3. Surrender my heart to receive rebuke and repent (Rev. 3:19)

4. Be Spirit-filled (Acts 2:3-4)

Living a life that is surrendered to the Spirit of God and obedient to Him will produce fire and fervency.

5. Seek to please God above all else (Ps. 73:25; Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37)

If we will do these five things, we can be assured that our hearts will stay at the right spiritual temperature. We should check ourselves often. Lukewarmness is easily obtained; it simply comes from doing nothing. Keeping a fervent heat requires desire and diligence, but is well worth the effort! May we encourage one another to stay on fire for the Lord!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Room Temperature

I almost always grab a cup of coffee before I sit down to write. I'm sure it makes me think more clearly! My coffee is steaming and my fingers get busy. Strangely though, if I stop and grab a drink just a few moments later, my steaming mug isn't steaming anymore. The coffee that was almost burning my tongue five minutes ago is now just sort of hot. If I wait another ten minutes, it won't be hot at all. The funny thing is, it isn't exactly cold, even if it sits for a while. Unless it's in a very cold room or car, it doesn't really get icy, it just gets lukewarm. It becomes room temperature.

I think that is a good description of how we become when we are spiritually lukewarm. It's not like we suddenly go from being on fire for God to become absolutely cold and hardhearted. We just gradually cool off a little at a time, almost imperceptibly, and we become "room temperature."

God told the church at Laodicea that he preferred that they be cold or hot, but not lukewarm. Isn't it rather astounding that God would prefer us to be cold to being lukewarm? Many times we look with disdain at those who are spiritually "cold", who have no pretense of interest in the things of God. But we often look at those who are "hot" in the same manner. We think they are "fanatical", too fervent, too zealous. God doesn't feel that way. He wants us to make a decision. Be cold or hot. But don't try to be somewhere in the middle. These are the ones who make Him "sick to His stomach".

When we are lukewarm, we ride the fence of public opinion. We want to be religious, but not zealous. We speak of God, but do not stand for God. We may go to church, but have little compulsion to do our part to help the church move forward for God. We may have a desire to be good, but little desire to be godly. We want to be happy, but not necessarily holy. We want things to be right, but are not overly concerned with righteousness. We do not want souls to be lost, but we do little to see souls saved. We hear the preaching of the Word of God, but rarely apply the message to our own lives. We have many personal preferences, but few personal convictions. We bow to the will of popular pressure rather than submitting to the will of God. We are more concerned with cultural correctness than we are with Scriptural correctness. We are looking for acceptance from others instead of acceptance by the Lord. We are much more comfortable being "conformed" than with being "transformed". We see the needs of others, but do not see our own spiritual needs. We are lethargic, satisfied, comfortable, and complacent.
We are "room temperature." We are satisfied to be the same temperature as whomever we are around....not too hot, not too cold. If we are in church, we may be a little warmer; in the world, a little cooler. We don't want to be uncomfortable, or to make others uncomfortable.

The problem is that God is not pleased with lukewarmness. In Bible times, doctors would give lukewarm water to do induce vomiting. This is what God says His reaction is to lukewarm Christians. He told this church He would spue them out of His mouth. This is not figurative for losing our salvation, but is descriptive of God's feelings for and reaction to our spiritual temperature. When we are lukewarm, we are no longer useful or appealing; instead, we are repulsive. God cannot and will not fellowship with us. He must bring rebuke and chastening into our lives in order for us to be brought to repentance, and to be restored to Him. (Rev. 3:19)

Lukewarmness is a serious problem, but it can be fixed. God has the cure for spiritual lukewarmness!

Tomorrow's Topic: Turn Up the Heat!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tepid Isn't Tasty!

I already mentioned this week that I don't like lukewarm coffee. I actually can't think of anything that I really like that's lukewarm. Think about it....do you like to drink lukewarm water? What about lukewarm tea? Lukewarm soup? I don't even like lukewarm bathwater (no, I don't mean to drink!).

Lukewarmness is not appealing. It is not appetizing. We have seen that spiritual lukewarmness does not appeal to God either. So, how can we know if we are growing (or have already become) spiritually lukewarm?

According to Revelation 3:15-19, we can see what the symptoms are in God's eyes.

1. Loss of heat - "...thou art neither cold nor hot..." (vs. 15, 16)
2. Looking to self - "I am...." (vs. 17)
3. Lack of appreciation for what is valuable to God - "rich" in their own eyes, "poor" in God's eyes (vs. 17)
4. Love for things of the world - "...rich and increased with goods..." (vs. 17)
5. Lack of interest (apathy) - "...have need of nothing..." (vs. 17)
6. Lack of spiritual awareness - "....knowest not..." (vs. 17)
7. Lack of peace - "....thou art wretched..." (vs. 17)
8. Lack of joy - "...miserable..." (vs. 17)
9. Lack of spiritual treasure - "...poor..." (vs. 17)
10. Lack of spiritual perception or vision - "....blind..." (vs. 17)
11. Lack of righteousness or purity - "....naked:" (vs. 17)
12. Lack of shame - "knowest not that thou art ....naked:" "...the shame of thy
nakedness..." (vs. 17, 18)
13. Lack of zeal - "....be zealous therefore..." (vs. 19)
14. Little conviction or repentance of sin - "...have need of nothing...", "...be zealous therefore,
and repent..." (vs. 17, 19)

How's your temperature so far? Do you have the symptoms of being hot, cold, or lukewarm? The trouble with lukewarmness is that we often do not see it in ourselves. God told this church "thou knowest not". They didn't see themselves at all as God saw them. We need to take our temperature not by our own gauge, but by the thermometer of the Word of God.

Tomorrow's Topic: Room Temperature

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brrrr....it's cold!

Today is a cool day in PA....the high is only supposed to be in the 50's. Hurray! I love cool weather. It makes a cup of hot coffee (or tea, or whatever you prefer) even better if that's possible.

But, for all you iced coffee drinkers our there, let me ask you, do you like your iced coffee best when it's actually icy? Or, do you like it after the ice all melts and it gets watery and warm?

As I said yesterday, most of us tend to prefer one extreme or the other. We want hot or cold, not lukewarm. The same is true of the Lord (Rev. 3:15-16).

We have been taking our "spiritual temperature" this week. Now, spiritually speaking, being cold is not a good thing, but God prefers that to being lukewarm. So how can I know if I am "cold" spiritually? Here are a few symptoms:

1. I will be hostile or cold toward the things of God

This is something that Christ says will be a sign of the last times, "....the love of many shall wax cold." (Mt. 24:12) Do I have a hostility toward the Word of God or the things of God? If so, I am spiritually cold.

2. I will be hard or calloused toward God and others.

Have you ever noticed that ice numbs? When we become spiritually cold, we get numb, hard, and calloused toward the things of God, and God's attempts to deal with our hearts. We also get calloused concerning the spiritual needs of others. We have no feeling or compassion for their condition because we are so cold in our own hearts.

I would also like to say that many people become cold-hearted when they are in pain. If we have been emotionally hurt, the numbness of being spiritually cold may seem preferable to trusting God to help us through that pain. The sad thing is that we fail to realize that the numbness is not healing the problem, only masking it. And spiritually speaking, it eventually brings much greater pain in our lives and the lives of others.

3. I will be harsh or cruel.

As we become colder and colder, and become insensitive to God in our own hearts, we become insensitive not only to the needs of others, but to the feelings of others. Our self-centeredness becomes very evident, and exhibits itself in cruelty to those around us. Proverbs 12:10 says that, "...the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

4. I will be heedless or careless.

When I am cold, I quit listening to God, and I quit caring about the consequences of my sin.

Do you see how our spiritual temperature will affect not only our own hearts and lives, but our marriages, our parenting skills, our service to our churches, and our relationships with those around us? This topic is really important!

I would venture to guess that most people who are reading this would not classify themselves as cold. It is possible, however, for any of us to grow cold toward the things of God. If you see any symptoms of coldness in your heart and life, turn on the "heat" of the Word of God. If you know and love someone who has grown spiritually cold, don't lose hope. God's love and His Word are powerful enough to thaw the iciest heart.

Tomorrow's Topic: Tepid Isn't Tasty

Monday, September 29, 2008

Keeping It Hot

Today was a busy day! We are having revival services at our church this week, so there are extra things to do, and a shorter day to do them in. I think I poured myself at least five cups of coffee (that's a lot!), but I only finished one. The rest cooled off before I could get halfway through. They were all really hot when I poured them (just the way I like it), but before long, I would get busy doing something, and when I'd come back to my coffee, it hadn't stayed hot.

In my last post, there was a "temperature test". I don't know about you, but on most of the questions, although I may want them to be a 10 or know they should be a 10, I can't honestly say they are currently a 10 in my life. I wouldn't say they're a 1 either. These things are important to me, but on many things I scored somewhere in the middle.

Now, I want to say to myself, "That's not so bad. It's not that you don't care about those things, and nobody's perfect. You're doing pretty good." There is always room for improvement in our lives, but the scary thing is that we're often content to stay right there.....somewhere in the middle, in our comfort zone. Spiritually, that is lukewarmness - not cold, but not really hot either.

God said in Revelation 3 to the church at Laodicea, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

We need to be spiritually "hot". Some other words that may describe being hot or having heat are fervor, ardor, passion, zeal, fiery, or boiling. This isn't just a little heat that God desires for us. He wants us to be blazing for Him.

We have taken our spiritual "temperature", now let's look at some symptoms of being spiritually "hot."

1. I will be fervent or boiling.

Apollos is a good example of someone who was fervent for God. Acts 18:25 says that he was "fervent in the spirit". The word fervent means boiling. When we are "hot" spiritually, it will bubble up and boil over in our lives.

2. I will be fiery or blazing.

A fire consumes what it burns. If I am on fire for God, I will allow myself, my desires, my will to be consumed by God.

A fire is conspicuous. If you are on fire for God, you won't have announce it to people. It will be evident in your life.

3. I will be fearless or bold.

Spiritual heat makes us bold to speak for God. Jeremiah tried to refrain from speaking the Word of God, but it was "as a burning fire" (Jer. 20:9). When we are fervent for God, we will speak the Word without fear.

4. I will be faithful and believing.

A "hot" Christian will have great faith.

Back to my earlier illustration, my coffee began to lose heat the minute I took it away from the coffeepot, and the warmer under it. It had gotten away from its heat source. As Christians, Christ and His Word are our "heat source". If we want to be "hot" and stay that way, we must stay continually close to Him.

Tomorrow's topic: Brrrrr......that's cold!

The Temperature Test

Do you like your coffee steaming hot, or do you prefer it iced? How about lukewarm? I like my coffee HOT! I do like iced coffee, but it is not really my favorite. Whatever your preference, my guess is that you prefer one extreme or the other, but you don't want it lukewarm. Maybe that's why you never see coffee shops advertising, "Special of the Day...Tepid Coffee".

God used this very truth to speak to a church about their spiritual condition. That is what I would like for us to consider this week. Instead of dealing with a different aspect of this each day, I would like to think about this topic all week, and in our hearts and minds, ask the Lord to help us apply it to our marriages, our families, our ministries and our music. The truth is, my spiritual temperature will affect all of these other areas. So, rather than concentrate on those individual areas, I should deal with my spiritual condition first.

Today, I would like for us to take a little test. There are 15 questions here. I'm sure there could be a multitude more, but these cover the basics. You may want to grab a piece of paper to write down your answers. On a scale of 1-10, rate yourself in each of the following areas (1 being "I don't really care", and 10 being "It's extremely important to me".) These results are for you to know, and no one else, so be honest with yourself.

Where would I rate myself on.....

1. Daily time spent reading God's Word?
2. Daily time spent talking to God in prayer?
3. Meditating on, studying, and memorizing God's Word?
4. Faithfulness to God's house?
5. Faithful service in the ministries of my local church?
6. Being a faithful witness for the Lord?
7. Faithfulness to tithing and giving to my local church?
8. Having a pure life and testimony?
9. Having standards of personal holiness in every area of my life?
10. Being right with others (kind, tenderhearted, forgiving)?
11. Being filled with the Holy Spirit?
12. Allowing God's Word to be the final authority in my life?
13. Striving to be the wife God designed me to be (if married)?
14. Striving to be a godly mother (if you have children)?
15. Honoring the Lord in and through my home?

Total Score (Out of possible 150...you may need a calculator!)

Check back tomorrow to see how you did!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poetic Scents

I finally got my cup of pumpkin spice coffee! I enjoyed every drop of it. Something about the smell and flavor just speaks fall with each sip.

I love the changing of the seasons. One of the things I enjoy most about Pennsylvania is that there are four distinct seasons. I like each one, but there is no doubt that fall is my favorite. Fall inspires me, motivates me, energizes me, and yet relaxes me. This week I have been in a flurry of fall decorating, baking, and sewing. Autumn puts me in the mood to be creative, to fill my house with beautiful colors, aromas, and flavors.

Today is my "miscellaneous" day, so I'm just rambling a bit. Instead of a devotional-type thought for the conclusion of the week, I want to share a poem just for fun. It sums up my feelings about each of the seasons God gives us. Thanks for dropping by this week. I hope you'll be back soon!

By the way, feel free to post comments or questions. Also, if you would like to subscribe to an RSS feed of my blog, you can do so at the bottom of the page.


Elbows rest upon my kneecaps,
Cupped hands underneath my chin,
Breathing steam upon the window,
Watching snowflakes dance and spin.

Snuggled up in something fuzzy,
Sipping chocolate warm and sweet,
Curled up like a caterpillar
In my cozy window seat.

Warmer panes against my shoulder,
Spring's sweet scent is in the air,
Bursting buds and baby bunnies
I am seeing everywhere.

Making plans to clean and garden
As I hear the steady beat,
Dreaming dreams and counting raindrops
In my cozy window seat.

Summer days are hot and hazy,
Evenings filled with summer's glow,
Weddings, picnics and vacations
Keep me running to and fro.

But when twilight falls around me,
Seeking refuge from the heat,
I slip in and watch the fireflies
From my cozy window seat.

Fingertips touch glass now chilly,
Glorious days and brisk, cool eves,
Watching as the autumn sunsets
Match the colors of the trees.

Looking for a place to run to
When I need a safe retreat,
Finding all I rest contented
In my cozy window seat.

Copyright 2003 Niki Lott

"Note"-able Scents

I think it is fascinating that coffee blends are often described as having "notes" or "tones". These descriptive terms are used to try to help us understand the aromas and flavors of the coffee blends we choose. I went on a coffee website this morning (www.cariboucoffee.com) to see what some of their descriptions were. Here are just a few....."high, lemongrass notes", "subtle floral aroma", "sweet, spicy, and berry notes", "smoky, berry notes".

As a coffee drinker, I tend to prefer medium or dark roasts. I especially enjoy those that are described as smoky, nutty, or spicy tones. I don't usually like the ones that are considered to have fruity or citrusy notes.

Music is made up of notes and tones, but they are more than just sounds on a musical scale. Music can and does express attitudes and feelings. Last week, we discussed a little about the attitudes of the music we listen to, and the attitudes it produces in us.

This week, I would like to think about the aroma and attitude of our music as musicians. If you sing or play an instrument, what kind of attitude do you have about your music? What kind of "aroma" does your music project? Is it heartfelt or is it cold and emotionless? Is it timid or confident? Is it Christ-centered or audience-centered, or worse yet, self-centered? Is it designed to bless or just to impress?

I will confess, as a pianist and a singer, I have struggled with many of these issues. I want to play and sing with confidence, and yet not be arrogant. I want to sing with emotion, but not be an actor or performer. I used to worry about my music being perceived as too "showy" or flamboyant, so I would play and sing with little emotion or feeling. That just made my music appear timid, weak, or lifeless.

I. A Note of Encouragement

There are several Scriptures that have helped me learn how to have the right "aroma" in my music. In Colossians 3:16, the Bible states, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." If the Word of Christ is dwelling in me, if I have "grace in my heart" and I am singing to the Lord, my music will admonish and encourage others.

II. A Note of Excellence

Colossians 3:23 says, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;". We need to sing or play "heartily". Put your heart into it! Don't do it for people; do it for the Lord. When I worry too much about what people think, instead of what the Lord thinks, my music will reflect that. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...." Give your best to the Lord!

If I am to give my best, I must be willing to work to develop my skills. Again, this is not to impress others, but so that we may offer our best to Christ. Psalm 33:3 says, "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." If I have not practiced a song much, and am not confident that I can play (or sing) skilfully, I tend to play timidly. Most of us won't play with strength, and "a loud noise", if we have not worked to be skilful.

III. A Note of Expression

One of the hardest things for me was singing with feeling. Part of this is because I get so nervous. The other part is because I worried too much about what people thought. (The fear of man bringeth a snare..." Pro. 29:25.) Music is a very expressive thing. We shouldn't inject emotion just to impress others, but if we are singing with our hearts, then we must learn to express the feelings of what we are singing about. If I am singing about the joy of the Lord, and sing with a blank expression, and an unemotional voice, then I am sending a mixed message. The Psalms are filled with the emotions of David. "My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed."(Ps. 71:23). He speaks over and over about singing praise to the Lord, singing with joy to the Lord. Many of the Psalms begin with David describing feelings of discouragement and despair, but end with His assurance that the Lord is with him and will meet all of his needs. When we sing (or play) songs of faith, we should do so with assurance. When we sing of the love of God, we should show the love of the Lord in our hearts.

IV. A Note of Earnestness

The most important part of this is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. Keep your focus on pleasing the Lord, not people. Ask the Lord to help you. Choose songs that are true to what you believe in, and that you can sing with honesty and sincerity in a heartfelt way. If I am going to sing "I Surrender All" and I am in rebellion to the Lord, then I cannot sing honestly to the Lord. The solution here would not be to choose a different song, but to get our hearts in tune with the Lord.

So what are the "note"-able scents in your music? Do people perceive the attitude and overtones of your music to be sincere, sweet, and Spirit-filled? If not, let's ask the Lord to change our hearts, and give us an aroma that would be pleasing and honoring to Him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giving Makes "Scents"

I have a sweet friend who brings me Dunkin Donuts coffee on a regular basis. We both love it, and she often brings me a big cup when she comes to church. It is such a thoughtful and enjoyable gift! I certainly don't expect it, but it means a lot when someone gives you something out of the kindness of their heart.

My husband is also a considerate and wonderful person. He recently brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses! I love it when he surprises with something like that. Think how I might feel, though, if I found out he only did because he felt it was duty, or that he really didn't want to buy me roses at all. Thankfully, that isn't the case. A gift can lose it's value if it is not given sincerely or freely.

I. The Ministry Is Giving

Today, we want to think about the aroma of our ministry. Ministry is giving to the Lord. Often, when we think of giving to God, we only think about money; but God desires that we give of our substance, and more importantly, of our selves. God describes the right kind of offerings and gifts in the Bible as a "sweetsmelling savour." Ephesians 5:2 tells us, "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." Christ is our example, and He admonishes us to remember, "...freely ye have received, freely give." (Mt. 10:8).

In Philippians 4:18, Paul spoke of the gift he had received from the church, "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." As this church was obedient to Christ, and they gave to Paul, they encouraged him and met his needs.

What kind of aroma does my ministry have? As I give of myself to the Lord, and to those around me, is it "sweet smelling"?

II. The Measure of Our Giving

God does not look at the amount of our gifts compared to what others give. He looks at the amount of our gifts compared to what we could give. Think of the story of the widow with two mites. Jesus called the attention of the disciples to those who were giving to the treasury at the Temple. He said that "many that were rich cast in much." However, His praise was for "a certain poor widow" who threw in two mites. He told His disciples, "....this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Many times, I think we hesitate to give our talents and our time to God, as well as our treasures, because we think it isn't enough. We get caught up in comparing ourselves with those around us instead of just doing our best for God. God says this is not wise. (II Cor. 10:12). God will hold us accountable for giving out of what He has given us.

He also tells us in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." We were talking in Phebe Fellowship last week about giving. I was telling the ladies that I always think of brown sugar when I think of this verse! When you measure brown sugar, you pack it in, and add a little more, and pack it down some more. That's what I think of when I think of "...good measure, pressed down.....". The end of this verse is very important though, because God tells us that He will measure to us the way that we measure to others. If I give to God and others with a "teaspoon", that's how God will give to me. If I give with a "cup", God will fill it up and give it back. What if I give with a bushel basket?

God doesn't measure the way that we do. If we want to see the blessings of God on our homes, our families, and our ministries, we need to give everything we have to Him. Hasn't He given everything to us?

III. The Motives of Our Giving

God not only measures differently than we do, He sees the motives behind our giving. God is less concerned with the amount of our gift than He is with the attitude in which we give it. Consider II Corinthians 9:7, where God says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Just as I would not want my husband to give me a gift because he felt he "had to", so God does want us to give to Him in that way. Am I doing my service for the Lord "grudgingly", dragging my feet, wishing I could do something else? Or, am I giving "of necessity", because it's my "duty" to do? God isn't pleased with either one. God loves cheerful givers. He wants us to give to Him because we love Him and desire to please Him.

When we give to the Lord cheerfully, we can be assured that it is a sweet smelling sacrifice to Him. How precious it is to receive a gift that is given out of love. How wonderful that God desires our gifts! Let's determine to "serve the Lord with gladness" and give our all to Him.

These are the lyrics to a song I wrote last year (the music is not yet in print....sorry!). I pray that I can do what this song says.

I Must Give All

Christ left His throne in glory, and dwelt with sinful men,
His perfect blood was offered in payment for my sin.
He gave salvation freely; not one part did I earn,
What can I give Him in return?

I must give all! I must give all!
How can I dare to bring Him less when at His feet I fall?
He paid the highest price to be my sacrifice,
A portion of myself will not suffice,
I must give all!

He asks that I would love Him with all my heart and soul,
My mind, and strength, and body placed in His full control,
And when I look into His face, and at His nail-scarred hands,
How can I question His demands?

I must give all! I must give all!
How can I dare to bring Him less when at His feet I fall?
He paid the highest price to be my sacrifice,
A portion of myself will not suffice,
I must give all!

Copyright 2007 Niki Lott

Tomorrow's Topic: "Note"-able Scents

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Scents" and Sensibility

Do you like flavored coffee? I do...sometimes. Right about now, a cup of pumpkin spice coffee sounds yummy! It smells and tastes like fall.

Last year, I was visiting my sister and decided to buy some flavored coffee. She's not really a coffee drinker, but she likes cappuccino, so we thought we'd get a good flavored coffee and "doctor it up". The flavor we bought (some kind of chocolate) sounded so good, but when we started brewing it, it smelled a little strange. But, we figured that it had to be good. It was chocolate, right? We poured ourselves two big mugs, and took our first sip. It was terrible!!! However, I had paid good money for the coffee, so neither of us wanted to admit that it wasn't any good. After about three drinks, I couldn't stand it any more. "Do you think this tastes funny?" I asked. I could almost see her relief as she said yes.

We didn't want to give up on it just yet, though (it was chocolate, remember?). We thought maybe we had just made it too strong. So we poured out that pot and made another one. It was just as terrible as the first!

The moral of this silly, but true, story is that the scent was warning us that our other senses may not enjoy this experience very much, but we didn't have the sensibility to listen. Aroma and smell can tell us that something very enjoyable is in store, or it can warn us to stay away (think skunk!).

I. Scents

Think about your home. What scents surround you? What scents greet visitors when they walk in the door? What aromas do people associate with you and your home? Now, I'm not talking about air fresheners or candles here, although I like both. My mom always says that she wants people to associate certain aromas with her home.....the scent of freshly baked bread, chocolate chip cookies, and clean laundry are just a few of the scents that I associate with my mom's house. It's fine to have a banana nut bread candle burning (one of my friends just gave me one....mmmmm!), but when was the last time it was actually banana nut bread baking that smelled so wonderful? 0ne of my husband's favorite scents in our home is Pine-Sol because it means I've been cleaning!

Scent is important because it is helps us identify things. When we smell smoke, we think fire! When you smell something good in the oven, you get hungry. Moms, when you smell a dirty diaper, you know a change is needed.

As the keepers of our homes, we should recognize that scent is important. Does your home smell inviting, clean, satisfying? Or does it need a little maintenance in the scent department? When your kids are grown, what scents will remind them of home?

II. Senses

Scent is only one of our five senses. One of the things that we can think about as creative homemakers is appealing to all five senses in our homes. A sweet-smelling candle won't cover up a home that looks dirty, floors that feel sticky, noises that are annoying, and food that isn't tasty.
It is a big task to try to get all of these things together at the same time! As I write this, my desk is cluttered and needs a good straightening! However, we should think about this, and make the effort to keep our homes at their best.

III. Sensibility

We mustn't conclude without using our sensibility to think about the spiritual side of this. We've talked all week about attitude being our spiritual aroma. What is the attitude or atmosphere of your home? The most beautifully decorated, sweetest smelling home is worthless if it is filled with attitudes of bitterness , greed, spite, or selfishness. Proverbs 15:17 says, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

Our homes should be filled with love, joy, peace, kindness, laughter, and patience. If there is a spirit of tension or contention, then we need to work on the spiritual aroma of our home.

Let me ask you, when people come to your home, do they feel comfortable, welcome, at peace, relaxed? Do people know that your home is a Christian home when they walk in the door?

Set the mood in your home. Use all of your abilities and sensibilities. This doesn't have to require large budget. Just do your best to keep your home neat (it doesn't have to be museum quality), sweet-smelling, and sweet-spirited. Pop something good in the oven, or put on a fresh pot of coffee. Play beautiful music. Make your home a place of comfort and welcome for your family and for others who may enter.

Tomorrow's Topic: Giving Makes "Scents"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Take Time to Smell the.....Coffee

Do you ever stop before you take your first sip of coffee in the morning, and just inhale the aroma? Mmmmm. Life is so busy, and usually I just grab my cup and go. I drink my coffee while I'm busy at my desk or doing my housework. I enjoy it, and I know that rich smell is there, but somehow, it is so much better if I take a moment to savor it.

I. Take the Time

Today, I want us to stop and think about being a mom. It's a full-time job (but you didn't need me to tell you that!). Life is so hectic and busy, and many times we are just doing our tasks at a run. However, sometimes we need to pause, and take a few moments, and "smell the coffee".

When was the last time you took the time to take a deep breath and think about the joy and privilege of being a mother? Babies grow up so fast! Savor the moments with your little ones. Life's busyness can often consume us, and cause us to neglect the most important things in our lives. Take the time to hold and hug your children. Take the time to talk to your children. Take the time to pray for your children. Take the time to play with your children. Take the time to appreciate and thank God for your children.

II. Take the Test

If the "aroma" of motherhood doesn't seem all that sweet to you, maybe you need to take this little test. What is your attitude toward being a mom? Do you perceive your children as a blessing or a bother? Do you see them as a delight or a distraction? Do you view your role as a mother as a sacred trust or a stressful task? The truth is that God says our children are a blessing, a gift from Him. He has entrusted them to our care and keeping, and it is a huge responsibility to seek to raise them up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".

There is no doubt that sometimes are children can bother us, distract us, and stress us out! But if that is our overall attitude toward motherhood, then we need to ask God to change our hearts.

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed with being a mom (and who doesn't at times?), then I would encourage you to take a mini time out. Think about the child or children God has blessed you with. Think about what your life would be like without them. Think about what a precious gift they are. Then, thank God for them. Take time to enjoy and appreciate the gift of motherhood.

Tomorrow's Topic: Scents & Sensibility

The Aroma of My Marriage

Happy Autumn! Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love everything about it....the cool air, the changing colors of the leaves, and all the smells of fall....leaves burning, apple cider, pumpkin bread, and so many more.

Isn't it interesting how smells can evoke emotion in us? When I think of the aromas I just mentioned, it makes me feel happy, warm, nostalgic. I mentioned earlier that one of the things I love about coffee is the aroma. It is one of my very early memories. My parents are both coffee drinkers, and there was almost always a pot on in our house. I love the smell, not only because it smells good, but because it reminds me of my home and family, of sweet companionship and good night kisses.

Our devotion this week began with thinking about our attitudes being like aromas. People may not be able to touch them or see them, but our attitudes identify us nonetheless. How can we apply this to our marriages?

I. The Perception of My Spouse

Think about it this way, how would my husband describe me as if he were describing my attitude as a "scent"? Would I be more like a rose or a skunk cabbage? Would I be more akin to a hot cup of coffee or a cold cup of vinegar?

Our attitudes determine the atmosphere of our homes and families. Ever heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"? As a wife, if I have a "stinking" attitude, that odor will pervade everything about my marriage, and eventually everything about my entire family.

There are many attitudes we could discuss, but there are a few that are clearly commanded in the Bible. One, is that I am to have an attitude of reverence toward my husband (Eph. 5:33; I Pet. 3:2). If I have an attitude of disrespect toward my husband, it will create great problems in my marriage. Another attitude that goes right along with this is submission (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18). A wise person once said, "Obedience is action; submission is attitude." In my own life I have found that I may be obedient, but still not have an attitude of submission. If I am not submissive, my attitude is not pleasing to the Lord.

One more attitude I would like to mention is an attitude of contention (which will lead to being contentious in action). The book of Proverbs speaks much of the contentious, brawling, angry woman. It has nothing good to say about her. One interesting passage in light of this topic is found in Proverbs 27:15-16. " A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself." Here we see that a contentious woman is both annoying, and cannot remain anonymous. If you try to hide her, it's like trying to hide the scent of a strong ointment.....it will tell on itself. When we have a contentious attitude, it will reveal itself, and it will never be perceived as something pleasant. Do you always have to have the last word? Do you need to "speak your piece" about everything? Proverbs 25:24 says, "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." I think sometimes we drive our husbands to their "corner", and then wonder why they don't want to come back out!

So, what is your husband's perception of your attitude toward him, and toward your marriage? Do you think it is positive, something sweet and attractive, or negative, something disgusting and repulsive?

II. The Purpose of My Scent

Our attitudes reflect what is going on in our hearts. Just as a scent can whet our appetite, warm our hearts, and bring back memories, a good attitude can do the same. In our marriages, our attitudes can make our relationship with our spouse sweet, warm, and desirable. On the other hand, odors can do just the opposite.

When there are difficulties in a marriage, they can sometimes be hard to define. Often that is because they are the result of attitudes more than actions. An attitude of ungratefulness, of disrespect, of superiority, can often be the wedge that comes between a husband and wife.
You may say, "But you don't know what kind of attitude my husband has." That's true, but the only person whose aroma you can change is your own. If your attitude begins to reflect the attitude of Christ, it will influence those around you. Aromas are pervasive. If you start a pot of coffee, you will soon be able to smell it, not just in the kitchen, but throughout the house. If you change your attitude, you will soon see the effects of that throughout your marriage.

The purpose of our "scent" is just like everything else in life. It is first of all to be pleasing to Christ. Then, in my marriage, it should be pleasing to my husband.

III. Some Practical Suggestions

On a practical note, think about using aromas in your marriage. Do you know what your husband's favorite scents are? Do you know which ones he doesn't like? What is his favorite perfume? Does he like candles? Fruity, flowery, warm and spicy? If you don't know, find out! As I already mentioned, scents can evoke strong emotion. Find a "signature" scent that you only wear for your husband. Ask yourself, what aromas greet your husband when he walks in the door (more on this on Thursday)? In your bedroom, does it smell like dirty socks, or a relaxing spa?

The strange woman of Proverbs is a horrible person, but one of the "tricks" she used to entice a man was the power of scent. She perfumed her bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.(Pro. 7:17). Now, I would never recommend that we have the attitudes or actions of a strange woman, but if we want to guard our marriages against the likes of her, we might want to consider trying to keep our husband happy at home!

To conclude, all the scented candles in the world won't disguise a bad attitude. But if we work on the aroma of our marriages, first in our attitudes, then with some practical action, we may be surprised how much sweeter it will be.

Tuesday's Topic: Take Time to Smell the.......Coffee!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

There is nothing like waking up to the aroma of coffee brewing. Many days I get to do that, because my husband usually gets up before me and turns on the coffee pot! Long before I liked the taste of coffee, I loved the smell of coffee.

One of my favorite movies is "Facing the Giants", and one of my favorite lines in the movie is where the coach tells his team, "Attitude is the aroma of your heart." (That may not be an exact quote!) How thought-provoking! If our attitude is the aroma of our heart, then I wonder, what kind of aroma do I have? Is it even an aroma, or more of an odor?

There are many interesting things about smell. One thing is that it often helps us to identify something before we can see it (think coffee in the morning!). It can whet our appetites (think coffee again), or ruin our appetites (think sour milk) without our ever tasting anything.

This week, I think we should "wake up and smell the coffee" of our hearts and lives. Let's examine our attitudes, and find out what they "smell" like.

This morning, I want us to think about the attitude of our hearts. What is my attitude toward God? How does God perceive my attitude? Is it a "sweet smelling savor" to the Lord, or more of an obnoxious odor? Let's consider......is my aroma:

Grateful or Griping?
Faith Full or Fearful?
Prayerful or Pouty?
Content or Covetous?
Agreeable or Argumentative?
Compassionate or Calloused?
Giving or Greedy?
Submitted or Stubborn?
Sweet or Sour?

This list could go on and on. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if your aroma needs sweetening. The Word of God is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart". Let's determine to have an aroma that is pleasing to God.

Monday's Topic: The Aroma of My Marriage

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pep or Power?

I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of decaf coffee. I don't like the taste, but I also don't like the lack of caffeine. Granted, I probably don't need as much caffeine as I consume, but I do like the boost of energy it gives me, especially in the morning.

However, the truth is, one cannot live on caffeine alone. While it will give you a temporary "pep in your step", it fades after awhile. There is really no nutritional value in coffee (it really hurts me to say that!). Thankfully, there aren't any calories either (unless you load it with cream and sugar).

We need nutrition if we want more than just pep. It's okay to start the morning with a cup of coffee, but you'll feel much better throughout the day if you follow that coffee with a healthy breakfast (not the bagel or donut that tastes so good with that mug of hot stuff). Good, solid food provides our bodies with the nutrients we need to function. If we are going to have the strength for the day, we need to make sure that we're feeding our bodies the proper things. However, many times, instead of eating something nutritious when we begin to feel weak or tired, we just go back to the coffeepot for another temporary jolt of energy.

Another admission I don't like to make is that coffee can be addictive (ouch!). It doesn't have to be, but it can be. If we are dependent on it, instead of something more healthy, then we need to be careful and maybe think about how wise (or unwise) this is.

I would like to apply these thoughts to the music we ingest. Music is one of my favorite things in the world. I love to listen to it, and I love to participate in it. I love to sing and play the piano, but I have learned that music is an amazing force. As a Christian, I need to examine the music I am listening to. First and foremost, I must ask myself if it is pleasing to Christ in every aspect. I think, with this in my mind, we could ask ourselves if we are listening to the music we listen to because we desire pep or power?

Many people, even in Christian circles, are feeding their minds and hearts with music that may give them a temporary "boost" of energy or emotion, but has no spiritual nutritional value. In fact, it may even be detrimental to their walk with the Lord. But instead of choosing to feed on something more healthy and sustaining, they just "drink more" to get that next jolt.

God desires that we speak to ourselves "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." (Eph. 5:19). Godly music will sustain us spiritually throughout our days, and even through the night (Ps. 77:6; Job 35:10).

So let's examine our music. Is it just for pep or will it give us spiritual power?

I. Examine Its Appeal

Does the music you're listening to primarily appeal to your flesh or to your spirit? Does it make you want to dance or does it make you feel more devoted to God? Does it appeal solely to you on an emotional level, or does it encourage you to take spiritual action? Does it appeal to you solely on a physical level, because you like the way it sounds, or does it feed your spirit? Can you sing this music "in your hearts to the Lord?" If my music is appealing to the sensual rather than the spiritual, I need to change my heart, and then change my music.

II. Examine Its Associations

What kind of people (in general) listen to the music you enjoy? Is it the kind of music you are comfortable talking about at church? What about to your pastor? What about to someone who you consider to be a spiritual role model? Most importantly, what about Christ? Would you change your radio station, your ipod playlist, or your CD if Jesus got in your car, or put on your headphones?

What kind of people sing the music you're listening to? Are they associated with the world or with the Lord? What kind of people are associated with the genre of music you enjoy? Are they godly people? Let me say here that much of so-called Christian music is far more worldly in its associations than it is with Christ. If it sounds like the world, and looks like the world, it is the world.

III. Examine Its Attitude

All music has an "attitude" and will compel an attitude in the listener, whether the listener is conscious of that or not. Some music is very calming, while other music is energizing. Some music is very depressing, while other music may be uplifting. Music can have attitudes and overtones of rebellion, lust, anger, depression, or it can have attitudes of love, joy, peace, and worship. It cannot have both at the same time. You cannot have opposing attitudes in the same song. That is what much of contemporary Christian music pretends to do. They claim to have spiritual lyrics with carnal music. The messages are conflicting and confusing. "God is not the author of confusion...." (I Cor. 14:33). If the words of the music are telling me to be surrendered to God, and the music is telling me to serve my flesh, there is a battle and conflict in every beat of that song. There is nothing spiritual about that, no matter what the label may say.

What attitudes does your music produce in you? Does it make you desire to do more to Christ? Does it make you honor Him? Does it draw your mind and your heart to reverence His holiness? Does it challenge you to live a godly life? Does it encourage you to go out and serve Him with all your heart?

IV. Examine Its Addiction

I mentioned that coffee can be addictive. Music is one of the most addictive things I know of. If you have always listened to a certain type of music, particularly worldly music, the prospect of not listening to it anymore can make you feel absolutely hostile. I've heard people say, "I just can't live without my music." Isn't it amazing that it can have that kind of power over us?

Let me ask you, what kind of music are you "into"? Could you stop listening to it tomorrow? Have you given your music to the Lord? I think that an interesting verse regarding this aspect is found in I Corinthians 6:12, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." This does not mean that any action or activity is permissible for me as a Christian. That is clear from the previous verses. I do believe that it means that even those things that are "lawful for me", that are not clearly forbidden, are not to control me. We are to be under the power of the Spirit of Christ.

V. Examine Its Agenda

All music, good or bad, has an agenda. It has a message that it seeks to convey, and a purpose it seeks to fulfill. Even without words, music conveys messages. I already addressed that a little bit when discussing the attitude of music. If you listened to your music without the words, would someone automatically assume that it was Christian or secular?

I write music, and one of the things that I seek to do is to get my point across in a song. I start with a thought that I wish to convey. I then work to find the right words to articulate that thought in a clear way. I then seek to write music that matches the overall message of the words. Is it a meditative, contemplative song? Then I would not seek to match it with a fast tempo, bright song. Is it a song of glad testimony for what God has performed in my life? Then the brighter music would suit it better. Some songs are more subtle in their message, while others are very forthright. But never forget, every song has an agenda.

Again, if the message, or agenda, of the words does not match the message of the music then its overall message is one of confusion and rebellion. The Bible says that the same fountain should not produce sweet water and bitter (Jas. 3:10-12). This is also true of our music. It should not be sending mixed messages.

What "agenda" does your music promote? Is it a godly, spiritual one, or a worldly, carnal one?
Let me conclude by saying that there is nothing wrong with music that is lively, "peppy", or stirring. The Bible says that we are to make a joyful noise. I think of songs like "Saved,! Saved!", "Power in the Blood", and "Jesus Is Coming Again". These are stirring, exciting songs. However, they are also songs with spiritual meat, and without a secular, driving beat.

The "pep" factor should also not be the sole qualification we seek in our music. Some people refuse to listen to a slower song. They don't like "church music" because it is too slow, or too "old-fashioned". Just as we need a balanced physical diet, we need a balanced musical diet. We need songs that encourage us, motivate us, and bring us joy. We also need songs that inspire us to be prayerful, repentant, and in awe of the majesty of God. We do not need spiritual "junk food", music that sounds spiritual, but is really all sugar, and no substance. It is spiritual "cotton candy". We also do not need the poison of the world's music.

All music has power. The question should be, is it empowering my old nature or my new nature? Does my music appeal to me simply at a physical level, or does it appeal to my spirit? Is it giving me temporary "pep" or long-term "power"? How balanced is your musical diet?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are You Diluted?

My post yesterday never happened because my baby was sick. It appears that she has a virus, but she has been rather miserable, and just wants to be held. She has slept very little the last two nights. Consequently, my morning cofffee has felt more like a need than a want! Because I missed yesterday, today's post will be about ministry, and tomorrow's will be about music.

This week, we've been talking about strength....in coffee, and our lives. Weakness can come from a variety of reasons. One is not having sufficient strength to start with. If I brew my coffee without enough coffee grounds, it is going to be weak. However, another source of weakness is dilution. When something gets watered-down, it loses flavor and potency. One of my least favorite things is a watery drink, whether it's coffee, tea, Pepsi, or Kool-Aid, there is just nothing good about it when it gets diluted.

Today, I'd like to take a little about our ministries. What would you consider your ministry to be? Ministry is more than just what the preacher (or preacher's wife) does. Ministry is something that every Christian should have some part in. Ministry is service to Christ. While we may serve in different aspects or different roles, every member of the body of Christ has an important function, and needs to be performing it.

Many times I think we confuse activity with ministry. Mary and Martha are the classic examples of this. Martha was busy and was serving, but in Christ's eyes, she had lost focus of what real ministry was all about. If we are not careful, we can do the same thing. We can be "cumbered about much serving", and yet be missing the point of ministry altogether. Our ministry, instead of being vibrant and powerful, can become diluted and weak. Just as a weak cup of coffee is barely palatable, so a weak ministry is ineffective and unappealing to the very ones we are seeking to minister to.

So what causes our ministries to become diluted? Our ministry will be diluted if....

I. We Forsake the Person

We must never forget that ministry is supposed to be all about Christ. Most of the time, we serve Christ through serving others, but our true motive is serving Him. If we get our eyes off of Him, and on those around us, we will become discouraged and often weak. Mary's focus was on the person of Christ (Lk. 10:42), and Jesus said that she had "chosen that good part...". If we do not spend time with the Lord in a personal relationship, if we fail to read His Word, and walk with Him, all of our activity is in vain. Jesus told Martha, "...one thing is needful." We must never lose sight of why we do what we do. It is about a Person, not people. It is about a relationship and fellowship with Him, not just the amount of busyness we can involve ourselves in.

II. We Forget Our Purpose

As we walk with Christ, He leads us by His own example to our purpose, which is to please the Father. Jesus gave His first statement about His ministry in the Temple at the age of twelve when He said, "....I must be about my Father's business." As His ministry continued, He did many wonderful things. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and more. Yet, He said in John 5:30, "...I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." He said in John 8, "I do always those things that please Him." Even in the Garden, before He was taken to be crucified, He prayed, "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." While the ministry of Christ achieved everything He was sent to do, He did it all by fulfilling the will of His Father.

Christ is our great example. If we will simply focus our purpose on pleasing our Heavenly Father, He will see that we fulfill all that He desires us to do. When we get sidetracked into pursuing our own ideas and purposes, our own ambition and desires, even in the name of ministry, we become diluted and lose the power God desires us to have. We must learn to pray, as Christ did, "Not my will, but thine, be done."

III. We Are Not Filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit

When we seek to do the work of God in our own power and strength, it is doomed to weakness and failure. While I may appear to accomplish great tasks for a period of time, spiritual ministry cannot succeed through the power of my flesh. This is true whether our ministry is in our homes, our churches, or our communities. I cannot be the wife, mother, teacher, musician, or anything else that God desires me to be without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit is not a mysterious or "charismatic" thing. I think it can be summed up in one simple verse, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The less full I am of myself, the more full I can be of the Holy Spirit. As I die to self, and surrender to His ways and His will, and am obedient to His Word, I will be filled with His Spirit.

A Spirit-filled ministry will be strong and powerful. A self-filled ministry grows continually more diluted and weak.

IV. We Fail To Pray

The first three things we looked at are the keys to a strong ministry. They are the crux of the matter and are vitally important. These last few things can cause us to be distracted or to lose sight of the person of Christ, the purpose of the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we fail to pray, we are not making use of one of the greatest ministry tools God has provided us with. Prayer is our open access to the throne room of God. It is there we meet with Him, fellowship with Him, praise Him, and seek for His guidance and wisdom. When we neglect to pray, we are essentially saying that we do not need God. How sad!

Have you ever tried to make a pot of coffee and forgotten to plug it in? You added the water, put in the filter and carefully measured out your coffee grounds. Then, you turned on the pot and walked away. But when you came back in 15 or 20 minutes, there was no coffee. What happened? You neglected to "plug in" to your power source.

Many of us are like that in our Christian lives and ministries. God has given us everything we need to be effective for Him, and yet we never really get "plugged in" because we try to do it in our power. We must not neglect to seek the Lord's guidance, help and provision in our lives every day.

V. We Feel Things Too Personally

I believe this is an easy trap to fall into, especially for women. When we minister for the Lord, and we minister to people, not everyone is going to appreciate our efforts. As a pastor's wife and a pastor's daughter, I have been involved in some aspect of "the ministry" for almost 30 years. When we, or the ones we love, receive criticism, blame, false accusations, and more, it is often very hurtful. However, we must be careful not too allow this to taint our view of ministry. Again, we must examine our own hearts and motives. Why are we doing what we're doing? Is it for the appreciation or applause of others, or because we love and desire to please Christ?

The great prophet Samuel ran into this very difficulty. After years of sacrifice and service to the children of Israel, they rejected him and wanted a king. Samuel was grieved and hurt by their sinful choice and their personal rejection. God reminded him that their true rejection was not of Samuel, but of the Lord.

If we are truly seeking to please God, then we must, as always, look to Jesus Christ as our example. "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" That entire passage (I Pet. 2:19-25) is a great comfort and encouragement to me. When I'm feel a little blue, or a little "black and blue", I try to remember that Jesus never did anything wrong to anyone, yet He was "despised and rejected of men". I often fail and disappoint those I am seeking to help, but Christ never did. When I keep my focus on Him, I realize that He has never failed me, and He will never forsake me.

VI. Lose Focus of our Priorities

I believe this is also a special area of danger for women. We know that our first priority should be our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but after that, it can get a little confusing when it comes to ministry. We are often bombarded with opportunities for service and each seems important. It is hard to know when to say no, and is often hard to do so even when we know we should.

My mom has helped me with this so much. We must learn to examine and prioritize our lives by what is important in God's Book, not ours, or anyone else's.

I am a wife, and now a mother. It is my responsibility to care for my home and family, and to do it with all my might (Eccl. 9:10). I believe that, after my walk with the Lord, my priority list goes like this:

1. My husband ~ meeting his needs, loving and caring for him (Eph. 5; Tit. 2)
2. My child/children ~ meeting their needs, loving them, training them (Eph. 5; Tit. 2; Deut 6)
3. My home ~ keeping my home, guiding the house (Tit. 2; I Tim. 5; Pro. 31)
4. Other service ~ extra ministries in my church and community, as I have time

Faithfulness to church is part of our faithful walk with the Lord, but there are many extra avenues of service through my church that I can be involved in. I need to examine these carefully, prayerfully, and with the counsel of my husband, choose wisely what to be involved in and what not to be.

Each person's level of availability is different. When I was single, my priorities were totally different than they are now. Before I had a baby, I had much more flexibility in my schedule, and there were activities that I could be involved in that I may not be able to do right now.

We must be careful not to lose focus of our God-given priorities. If I am busy serving at church, to the neglect of my family and home, I have lost focus, and my ministry will weaken. My home and family are my primary mission field, not my only one, but my primary one. If I am weak and ineffective there, how can I have a strong ministry elsewhere?

VII. We Faint Under Pressure

"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. " (Pro. 24:10) We all face adversity, pressures, and stress. If you are seeking to minister to the Lord, you can be assured that you will face adversity, because "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:".

Someone once said that pressure does not test your character, it reveals it. That's not an exact quote, but I believe it is true. God often allows us to go through the "furnace of affliction" to refine and purify us. Job said, "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

It is often difficult not to give up when the going gets tough. But if we do, we dilute the message that God is seeking to send through our lives. If we are seeking to tell the world that His grace is sufficient, that His power is unfailing, and that His promises are true, then we must allow God to prove these things in and through us.

So, let me ask you, how strong is your ministry? Has it become a little diluted? If so, take heart. His strength is made perfect in weakness. We must simply get our eyes back on Him.

Tomorrow's Topic: Pep or Power?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Realize Your Strength

Alright, fellow coffee lovers (and non-coffee lovers), what's your favorite kind of coffee? Do you like a breakfast blend, a medium roast, or a dark roast? Are you a flavored coffee drinker? Do you like yours black, with cream and sugar, cream only, sugar only, or some other variation?

I like just about any kind of coffee, but my favorite is a dark roast coffee with cream and a little Splenda. My dad often reminds me that a serious coffee drinker doesn't need cream and sweetener, but that's just the way I like it!

If you like some level of sweetener or creamer in your coffee, you may know that it's hard to have someone else "doctor" your coffee. Unless it's a barista (can you believe we know that word?) and you give very specific instructions, it's easiest to add your own cream and sugar to get that perfect taste and strength you're looking for....not too strong, not too weak, not too bitter, not too sweet!

I love being a "keeper at home." On top of it being my part of my calling from the Lord, it's a great creative outlet and opportunity to express myself. I am not only the "housekeeper", I am the interior decorator, the chef, the seamstress and much more. I'm sure you could add your own titles to your homemaking resume. Being a homemaker can be a rewarding job, but it's also a challenging one.

If we are going to find joy and fulfillment in our role as "keepers at home", one thing we need to do is to find and realize our strengths.

I. Realize the Strength of Your Place

By this I mean, do not diminish the importance of the role you have. God has commanded us to be "keepers at home" (Tit. 2:5), and instructed us to "guide the house" (I Tim. 5:14). This is no small responsibility. If we see our place and our purpose in our homes as something that is important and precious to God, we will realize that it is not only a duty, but a joy to seek to fulfill it.

II. Realize the Strength of Your Personality

Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. We need to learn to incorporate and make the most of our strengths in every area of our lives, including our homes. We then need to ask God to help us in our weak areas. The wonderful thing is that He tells us that His "strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12:9).

Let's look at some examples. Maybe you're an organizer and a perfectionist by nature. This can be a great strength. You may excel in the cleaning of your home, and the organization of your family. Your weakness may be that you tend to expect perfection, and feel frustrated and disappointed because it's always just out of reach. Make the most of your strength! Use your organization and detail skills to keep your home at it's best. Then ask the Lord to help you give your expectations to Him, and to enable you to relax enough to enjoy your family.

Another example may be the opposite of this. Maybe you're a very laid-back, relaxed personality. Your strength may be in the ability to be flexible and creative. You probably take the time to go outside and play with your kids, and not worry so much about the house being perfect. What a gift that is! On the other hand, you may need to ask the Lord to help you to not be so relaxed and fun-loving that you neglect the tasks of keeping your home "clean enough to be healthy".

Maybe you fall somewhere in between these two examples. The key here is to find your personal strengths, and make the most of the gifts God has given you. Then, seek God's help in your areas of weakness, and know that He is able and willing to give it.

III. Realize the Strength of Your "Palace"

Part of the joy of being a homemaker is learning to enjoy our home. If you're expecting to have your "dream house", you may live in a world of disappointment. It is easy to focus on the problems and shortcomings of our homes, instead of maximizing their potential.

My house is 80 years old. Now, I love old homes, but when we first looked at our house, it really needed some love! It has been a lot of fun to fix it up, and make it reflect our personalities and lifestyle. It has also been a lot of work! Be willing to invest in your home, not only financially, but with love and creativity.

If you're on a budget (and who's not?!), don't use that as an excuse to do nothing. Instead, use that as inspiration to get creative. Go to your library, and find books that reflect styles you like, and get ideas. Then, adapt them to your home and budget. Will it take some effort? Sure. But is it worth it? Absolutely!

View your home as your own personal "palace". Realize the strength of a welcoming home, not only to serve your family, but to serve the Lord. Use it as a place of hospitality. Your home is a reflection of you. So as you look around today, are you pleased with that reflection? More importantly, is the Lord pleased? If not, begin to make some changes. Find your strengths.

I'm going to add some before and after pictures of my home. Hope you enjoy!

Tomorrow's Topic: Are you diluted?

The "befores"

living room

living room looking into dining room

dining room



breakfast nook


our bedroom

The "afters"


living room

breakfast nook

our bedroom


breakfast nook

living room

dining room