Who Is Your Flock?

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1 Peter 5:2-3, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you, watch over it willingly,……..lead them by your own good example.” Peter is talking to the elders of the church in these verses, but they can apply to everyone.

Everyone has a flock. God has given each of us people whom we watch over. You might be a Sunday School teacher, you might lead a small group, you might teach school, you might be a team leader at work, you might pastor a church, you might run a business. In life there are people God has entrusted to you.

One of the most important flocks God gives us is our children. As parents God entrusts our kids to us. We are to watch over them. Watch over them, what exactly does that mean? For Chris and KC as parents of a new born, it means watching Milo constantly, attending to every need he has. God has entrusted them to feed, bathe, dress, change and meet every need in his life right now.

For Brittany and Will, as parents of an almost two year old, watching over Bella means something different. They are still responsbile for providing food for Bella but she can now feed herself. They just have to watch and make sure she eats and doesn’t choke. Watching over Bella means starting to set up boundries for her. Making sure she is safe, yet allowing her to make choices and small freedoms.

As our children get older the watching becomes more about observing them and not doing for them. About allowing them to do things for themselves, and not doing it for them. There are times when just doing it is easier. Easier for us, than easier for them. When my kids were growing up, they were responsible for chores and had to help with housework. However, I really never made them do laundry. It was easier for my OCD to do it myself. I liked things folded a certain way and hung up a certain way so I liked doing it myself. Looking back that probably wasn’t the best parenting choice. They did not learn by me doing it, and that wasn’t a good example.

If you don’t want to be doing your child’s homework in high school, then watch them do it in grade school, don’t do it for them. If you don’t want to be calling in to work for your 30 year old son when he is sick, then don’t start making all his calls in his teens.

Your children are your flock, watch over them in appropriate levels based on their age, lead by a good example. It doesn’t work to just say, “do as I say and not as I do.” They are going to mimic everything you do. Bella repeats every thing you say now, and copies every action, that will continue for many years to come.

God entrusts a lot of people into our lives. But none watch our lives more closely, or more regularly than our kids. So, watch your kids, observe your kids, don’t enable them, and lead by good examples.

The Wait

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This morning, I was reading in 1 Peter 4: 7-11 “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spirtual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himsef were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen!

There is a lot in these verses. That first sentence should generate some type of reaction from you, fear, excitement, confusion, joy? When I first read it my response was, “Am I ready?”

The end of the world is coming SOON. For just a few seconds my mind said, if it is really soon are you ready? Are you really one of the chosen? I believe there are a lot of “good” people headed to hell. They think they are ready but they don’t really know Jesus. There are people in all denominations playing church, that are not ready. So, what makes me think I am any different? Sometimes, like in those brief seconds, Satan likes to play with my mind, and make me doubt. Because, if I doubt, my energy goes to that, to the doubting.

So, what makes me think I am different? Because, I know Jesus died and rose again for me. I know by no power of my own could I get to heaven-only by the blood of Jesus. So, yes if the end of the world is coming soon I am ready. (If you do not know for sure please go to my home page and look under the picture, there is a link in the menu called Roman Road. Check it out.)

So, the end is coming soon according to Peter two thousand years ago. What should we be doing in the mean time, while we wait? According to these verses we should be praying, and he tells us how, earnstly and with discipline. Do I always pray that way? NO. My christian life is sometimes like my everyday life. Sometimes it feels like trying to keep all the plates in the air at one time. Some seasons my reading is good, sometimes my prayer life is good, sometimes my serving is good. But in reality I struggle with finding a balance in all areas.

Our church uses a great app that can help in that area. It’s called Echo. If you are part of Redemption and not on the app yet check it out. It will help you be more disciplined in your prayer life.

Peter goes on to say we should continue to show deep love for each other, because love covers a multitude of sins. Continue, that would indicate that I am already doing that. If I am loving others I am going to to be more compassionate, more patient, quick to forgive, less likely to judge, less likely to want justice when wronged. When I first read this I thought it meant my love for others would cover their sins. I think my love for others may cover my multitude of sins.

What else should I be doing in the wait? Sharing from my blessings, my home, sharing a meal. Brett and I were just talking about this while walking this morning. Someone we know just broke their foot, Brett said we should take them a meal. I said yes we should, we should take one to them, and the person we know struggling with cancer, the widow down the street, the couple with the new baby. Those are the types of things I should be doing in the wait, have I this week? Not yet.

Peter also says that God has given each one of us gifts. A gift from his great variety of spritual gifts. When I read this I had this funny image in my head. I imagined God standing in front of this big closet labeled spirtual gifts. As each baby is conceived God is standing there holding up different gifts deciding which one is right for each person. I don’t think that is quiet how it goes but, I do believe he does give each of us certain gifts. Robin Tarleton has the gift of organization, Robbey has the gift of evangalism, Brett has the gift of servanthood, my grandfather had the gift of giving.

Each person has a gift and when we use those for God everything we do will bring glory to God, through his son Jesus Christ. And, that should be our goal in the wait, to glorify God. Whether in my prayers, my love for others, sharing what I have or using my gifts. If I am doing this with all my energy and strength then the wait should be that, just a wait. A wait for something greater to come. Are you ready in the wait?

Bitterness Builds A Wall

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This is my third draft of this post. I have written it general, and vague, but that is not what this blog is about. It is suppose to be about being real and being more transparent. So, here goes.

Last Sunday as I was getting ready for church I was thinking about my relationship with Brett. It has been OK the last year but it hasn’t been great. As I thought about that, I admitted alot of that is my fault. I have let bitterness and jealousy build a wall between us. I have been bitter and jealous about his new job as a full time Pastor. How is that for honest? Great job as first year as a Pastor’s wife huh.

As I was getting ready I was saying, but God I have taken this to the alter many times this year. And that is a true statement. I have, but each time I walk away with it stuck to me, just like toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

I have been bitter and jealous, because he has Friday’s off and gets to spend the whole day with Bella just the two of them, having fun. He is pretty much free to make his own schedule and come and go as he pleases. I am stuck to a work schedule each day Monday through Friday. His job is different every day of the week. I do the same thing each day.

Ironically, those are our personalities. I like routine, and a schedule and knowing what I am doing. He is more go with the flow and what ever comes up. So, I know God has each of us in the right positions, some days his just looks better from my side of the fence.

So, as I was getting ready I said God I will take this to the alter this morning, and leave it there. God, spoke to my heart, and said no deal with this now. So I knelt down in my closet at my clothes hamper and prayed. I didn’t miss that I was kneeling over my dirty clothes. I was reminded of Isaiah 64:6 that our good deeds look like filthy rags to God. If that is the case, I wondered what my bad deeds of bitterness and jealousy must look like. I asked God to remove those thoughts from my heart, to tear down the walls I had build up, and help me love my husband completely again.

Later that day, I apologized to Brett. My husband is so easy going and forgiving all he said was, “Does this mean you love me again?”

I know why God had me kneel at my hamper, in my closet that morning. Because, I don’t see the alter where I knelt numerous times every day, but I see that closet and that hamper each day and am reminded to lay it down, if it starts to rear it’s head.

Bitterness is an evil thing. It must be something that God knew we would struggle with, because it is mentioned over and over again in the Bible.

Hebrews 12:15 “that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble” Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you. Acts 8:23 “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness” Romans 3:14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness” Job 7:11 “I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” James 3:14 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts”

The verses go on and on. Bitterness creeps in, you might know its there, but just like weeds if you don’t pluck it out when it first sprouts up it takes over. I knew I was jealous of Brett but I thought I could deal with it. My way of dealing with it was to let a wall go up between us.

I am not naive enough to think it will just go away, I know it is something I need to watch, and address right away if it starts to rear its ugly head. But as I step in my closet each day I am reminded, God gave me a wonderful husband, and I am one lucky wife, with a blessed life.

Are These Words True?

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It is one of those mornings where I feel like a deep thought is forming in my head but I just can’t catch it. We have a friend who is not doing well. I know this person is not afraid of dying, but I believe he is scared for those he will leave behind. What lies in store for them. I have another friend who just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy today. How exciting, but also daunting, to be totally in charge of a tiny human being.

Life and death, and the in between. What do we do with the in between? As those thoughts were tumbling around in my head I read in 1 Peter today. These verses caught my attention, 21-23, “Through Christ you have come to trust in God, and you have placed your faith and hope in God, because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

As I read these few verses, I thought about how they sum up the christian life so well. I had one of those moments (maybe a moment of doubt), where I think, everything I believe in, everything I base my life on is build on trust that the words in the Bible are true. My life revolves around something I cannot see, I cannot hold, I cannot touch. The world would call that crazy.

I am reminded of something I read that says something to the effect of, “If I am wrong about God, then I wasted my life. If you are wrong about God, then you wasted your eternity.” If I am wrong about what I believe then there will just be nothing when I die. But if you are wrong then what?

So yes, I believe these words, and I believe these three verses sum up the very basics of my life’s believes.

I trust God, and what His words say.

I put my faith and trust in God because he raised Jesus from the dead.

I believe I was/am cleansed from my sins when I obeyed the truth and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life.

I believe God’s greatest command is to love him, and love others.

Because I am born again I believe I will live eternally.

Those verses sum up the basics of everything I believe. My life does revolve around believing everything in the Bible is true, believing something I cannot see, or hold, or touch, and if I am wrong, then when I come to the end there will be darkness and nothing. But, I believe I am right and there will be light and rejoicing. What do you believe? Will there be dark or light?

Daddy’s Hands

So this is one of my favorite newborn pictures of Milo. Partly because he is adorable, but mainly because of his and his Daddy’s hands. I love the way he has his little fingers wrapped around Chris’s finger.

I am trusting this is just the beginning of a lifetime of these two hands joined together. As Milo starts to pull up these fingers will be the first he grasps. When he begins to walk these hands will help him balance.  They will also pick him up and comfort him when he falls. Psalm 103:13 “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”

His Daddy’s hands will be there to encourage and support him, and discipline him when he needs it. Proverbs 13:24 “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” Daddy’s hands will wrap around his small little hands as he learns to write, as he learns to swing a bat, maybe even as he learns to drum.

Those hands will teach, and mold, and guide and direct. Proverbs 22:6 “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” When he starts walking they will hold tight to keep him safe, to protect and shield him from danger. When he’s headed toward a road they will stop him. In a crowd they will not let go so he stays near. 

Those hands will wipe his bottom hundreds of times, and his nose just as many. Those fingers will wipe away tears when he is hurt.  They will tousle his hair when they are playing.

As he gets older I imagine those hands high fiveing, or giving fist bumps at many Cubs games. Clapping with delight as he learns something new. I hope his Dad teaches him to extent his hand in a firm handshake when he meets someone.

I see Chris teaching him to fold his hands as he bows his head to pray. Teaching him to carry a bible in those hands as he goes to church. There’s nothing that warms my heart more, than seeing Brett lay his hand on Chris’s shoulder when they kneel at the alter to pray together. I imagine seeing Chris there one day with Milo will be just as heart warming. 3 John 1:4 “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

God as Milo grows, I pray he always knows his Daddy’s hands are a safe place to run to. God I pray as Chris starts this lifetime journey of Fatherhood, that he depends on your example of how a Father’s loving hands guides his children. 1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.”


The Running Prophet

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As I finished reading the book of James, I came across the following verse in chapter 5. “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield crops.” It made me want to study Elijah more closely. I want my prayers to be that powerful. So, I have been reading 1 Kings 17-19 over and over the past week.

There is so much in these three chapters. I know there are only three chapters, yet those three chapters cover a time span of at least three and a half years, because the drought lasted that long.

There are so many neat and miraculous stories in those few chapters. God sends Elijah away so he is protected from Jezebel. He sends him to a brook where he has a water source, and God sends ravens to feed him meat and bread. Daily birds come and bring him food. He stays there until the brook dries up.

Then God sends him to a widow, who is getting ready to make a loaf of bread from the last of the oil and flour she has. Her and her son are going to eat a last meal and then die. Instead, Elijah stays with this widow, and every day there is always enough flour and oil in the jars to support Elijah, the widow, and her family.

While Elijah stays with them the widow’s son becomes ill and dies. Elijah the prophet of God is able through the power of God to bring the boy back to life. Raising someone from the dead, one of the most miraculous miracles there are.

Next comes the contest at Mt Carmel, between Elijah and Jezebels prophets. Their gods against Elijah’s God. A contest involving calling down fire from heaven. I won’t give it away and tell you who wins but trust me it is worth reading. Look it up 1 Kings chapter 18.

Then in chapter 19 is one of my favorite passages. The part where the Lord speaks to Elijah. But God was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. God was in the gentle whisper. So often I look for God in the big and the bold, yet I know he comes in the whisper. When he whispers, I have to listen intently to hear.

In the middle of all these great and wonderful things happening, is the following verse 18:66, and God’s sense of humor comes through, the reminder to keep it light. That I serve a God who says don’t forget to smile. Because verse 66 says “Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot, all the way to the entrance of Jezrel.

God has done all these amazing things through Elijah, then he gives him the super natural strength to outrun Ahab’s chariot. I get this picture of Ahab in his chariot, with the fastest horse, and he is smacking the horse to go and Elijah just goes jogging past him. If it were a movie the theme from chariots of fire would be playing in the background. I hear Ahab saying, man that little prophet man sure can run.

I serve a God who is full of strength and power and miracles. Yet I feel he is a God who says don’t forget to smile and learn to enjoy life.

God may I see the miracles, hear you in the soft whisper, and always find the joy, in the funny things in life.

FaceTiming God?

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Sometimes in the mornings, before I get to work, I get calls from drivers or some of our customers, while I am still at home. There are times when I get those calls and I am just getting out of the shower. One morning this week when I took a call, I had this fear, what would happen if I accidentally answered one of those calls as a FaceTime. How embarassing could that be?

When we FaceTime, we become aware of things that are in the background of our screen, of our lives. We become aware of how messy our house is. We are more aware of what we are wearing when we answer the phone, what we look like, maybe what we are watching on the TV behind us.

It gives the person on the other end of the call a glance into our private life.

So, I thought, what if God were to FaceTime me? Would there be anything behind me I need to shield from his vision? Would I be moving the phone to conceal anything? Would I need to clean up anything before I answered? Would there be anything embarassing in the background? Would I be rushing around to “hide” anything?

As I thought about that, it hit me, God FaceTime’s us constantly all the time. He is after all, omnipresent. He sees everything, that we might try to hide from the screen. I wasn’t feeling too bad about myself when I thought about that, because there wasn’t anything that I thought I would need to hide, or put away, or conceal in my house. (As if I could).

But then I thought about the other ommi word, omniscient. Then I began to be convicted. The fact that God knows everything. God also FaceTimes our thoughts, and heart everyday. I became less confident about that.

When someone cuts me off in traffic, God hears that name that I call them even though I don’t say it outloud. When someone doesn’t live up to my expectation, God knows I judge them, or write them off. I cancel out giving them a second chance, when on the outside I smile and say, it’s OK, God knows. When I am angry with someone and smile that fake smile, but on the inside I am thinking bad thoughts about them, God knows. When someone gets something I wish I had, and I smile and say congratulations but on the inside my jelousy runs green, God knows? When Brett does something that annoys me, and I lie and say, no I am not upset, Brett and God both know.

God FaceTimes my life, my thoughts, and my heart all day long. How do I measure up? Somedays OK, somedays not so well. Lucky for me there is a third omni word, omnipotent. Omnipotent means, unlimited power, able to do anything.

God is able to do anything. He is able to forgive those days I don’t do so well. He has the power to help me improve in those areas, that I constantly fail in. He is able to love me when I think I have messed it up to bad to be loveable. I am thankful I serve a God who is omnipotent, who has the power to overcome, fix, and heal anything.

Luke 1:37 “For Nothing will be impossible with God.””

Are You Quick To Obey?

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This morning I got woke up by a work call before the alarm went off. I answered it, then rolled over hoping to go back to sleep. I am not a morning person and don’t like getting up before I have to. Then I received a work text, still before the alarm went off. I had to make a call to answer this one, so I just went ahead and got up.

I did my reading, actually had a really good morning read. I was still ahead of schdule so decided to get ready for work and go in a little early. Bella was coming to work today anyway, and that would give me time to get payroll done before her Mommy dropped her off.

As I was driving to work, I noticed this woman walking the streets of the small town I live in. I had noticed this woman three or four times this week. I have a feeling this woman has been walking our streets for awhile, and I have just never noticed her. She has just been a fixture of our downtown that I ignored. Shame on me.

As I drove by, I had that sense that I needed to stop and give her some money. (This is not a look at me blog post, quite the contrary. And I am not someone who stops and hands out money very often. Sad to say I tend to be more judgemental than giving in those situations). At first I just drove on by. As I approached the next street I had that nudge that said you can turn around. I kept going. I was already beating myself up for not listening and responding right away. That small voice said, “It is never too late to be obedient.” I turned at the next street and headed back the way she was.

By the time I got back there I didn’t see her. I was stopped at a light and noticed her in a bank parking lot to the left of me, but there was a car behind me so I couldnt back up. I waited for the light to turn, afraid I would miss her. she had already started down the street again by the time the light changed. I was finally able to turn into a street right before her, she was on a corner.

I parked and jumped out, walked over to her and said, “I don’t know your story, but I have seen you walking all week, and think it might not be going so well.” I gave her some money and told her to buy herself breakfast. She said she already had breakfast. I told her to keep it for something else that she might need.

She started telling me this story about how she had run into some trouble, and had an insurance claim coming in, and the money should be wired to that bank today. I hope that is the case, but I think that as women, no matter what our status or situation, we try and make things appear better than they really are.

I listened to her a few minutes then said I had to get going. I got back in my car and headed to work. I realized after I left that I should have prayed with her, but I forgot. I did pray for her on the rest of my short drive to work. I prayed that God would protect her, and provide for her needs.

I don’t know if God got me up early today to meet a need for that woman or not. I do know God used that woman this morning to teach me a lesson about obedience, that it is never TOO late to be obedient.

2 John 1:6 ” Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.”

God may I get better about noticing those around me, those who blend in and become part of the fixtures. May I get better about being obedient quicker.

Missed Calls.

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Weekends mess up my quiet time, time spent in the mornings with God. Isn’t that ironic, that Sunday should mess up my quiet time? But they do, during the week I am more in a routine and get up and spend time reading, praying, or just listening. Saturday and Sundays I get up and don’t immediately go to it. I feel like I have the whole day and it gets away from me.

The thing is when I miss on Saturday and Sundays I have a harder time getting up on Monday mornings, and if I am not careful three or four days go by and I am starting my week out bad. And the thing is, I know what a difference it makes in my life if I take that time each morning to spend with God.

My life runs so much easier when I start my days out with Him. My life runs easier. Does my life run easier because I am spending time with Him or because I feel better about myself? When I am reading and praying am I mentally crossing them off an imaginary list in my head that I don’t even realize exist? So, I feel better about myself and don’t feel guilty?

I don’t really think that is it – when I am reading and praying, then God is at the center of my life and not me. My decisions and actions and responses come from a life less me centered and more outward centered. So, I know he changes me when I spend time with him. I am growing there, but there is an area lacking.

I haven’t reached that point yet that when I miss a few days of reading or praying, that I don’t feel guilty. I want to grow to where when I miss a few days I don’t feel guilty for missing my reading, but that I feel sad because I have missed time with God.

If I look at my phone and see a missed call from Brett, or my kids, or a good friend I feel let down because I missed the call. I don’t feel guilty because I didn’t get to answer it, I feel sad I missed talking with them. I missed what they had to say, what they wanted to tell me.

There is a difference. Being sad I missed it comes from the heart. Feeling guilty I missed it comes from my actions. Feeling sad about missing it is conviction, feeling guilty is condemnation. Conviction comes from God, condemnation comes from Satan.

I have reached a point in my relationship with God that I know spending time with him changes my heart. I still haven’t reached that point yet where missing time with him breaks my heart.

God fill my heart with a deep desire to spend time with you, break the cycle of guilt when I don’t. Let me be lead by conviction and not condemnation.

Are You Tied To Anything?

hanging lifesaver
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James 4:7 & 8 “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God , and God will come close to you.

In chapter four, James is talking about we can not be friends with the world, and friends with God. We have to choose one or the other. It doesn’t mean shutting ourselves out of the world. If we did that how would they ever know we are different? We can be in the world but not of the world.

I feel like we throw this verse around to people. We throw it out as a life line not attached to anything. If we just say resist the devil and he will flee from you, we aren’t really helping, if we don’t give them tools to go along with it.

What are the tools we need to resist the devil? The things to tie our life line to?

  1. Read your Bible – If I want to know something, I pull up my phone an google it, research it. If I want to know how to resist the devil, I need to know what the Bible teaches. I can use my phone for that, I can google verses about certain subjects. I can also have a Bible downloaded on my phone. There are so many free Bible apps out there, with Bible reading plans. Pick one you like and download it.
  2. Pray – If I want a good marriage, I spend time talking with people who have one. If I want to learn about running, I talk to people who run. If I want to know how to resist the devil, I need to go to the expert. Who is better at resisting the devil then Jesus? Pray, and ask Him how.
  3. Be accountable – If I am trying to diet or exercise, I need accountability. If everyone at work is dieting it is easier to diet. If I want to walk in the mornings, it is much easier to do if Brett and I both do it. Want to resist the devil? Be accoutable to other believers who have the same goal.
  4. Study a Master – If I want to learn a new skill like painting, or pottery, or karate, I want to study from someone who knows what they are doing, someone who can teach me. Study Jesus, study his life, study his example. A great place to start is Mark 4, or Luke 4, both are accounts of Jesus being tempted by the devil, and how he resisted.

Do you want to be able to resist temptations when they arise? Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Tie your life line to the one who knows how to make the devil flee.