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 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! 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, 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 " 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 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 - " 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 - " zealous therefore..." (vs. 19)
14. Little conviction or repentance of sin - "...have need of nothing...", " 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'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