June 19, 2008

Being humbled

Tonight, while I was helping my second daughter get ready, she said to me, "You look like a grandma to me." When I asked her why she thought that, she replied, "You are getting gray hair."
I sputtered, "But I only have four gray hairs at most (I've counted them). Do you think Daddy looks like a grandpa?"
"Yes," she replied and went into her room to pick up, leaving me to tend to my wounded pride and self esteem. Of course, I had to tell my DH when he returned home from band practice.

I think the Lord uses our children to humble us the most, in so many ways. It is good for us too :-).

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained by a righteous life."
Proverbs 16:31

Renewed Hunger

I confess that I have been in a spiritual sulk for a while. We have had a hard year in our church, we have witnessed good friends and godly people seem to turn away from God and follow their own desires and I have dealing with personal setbacks. My head tells me, "Remember, Romans 8:28 says that all things work for the good of others and the glory of God.". Even with that encouragement, it is sometimes hard to live out that faith in my heart. It has been tempting to join my friends and turn away from God. Yet I know better because, in the past, I tried living without Jesus for a relatively brief , terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time. I thought I could live life fine without God and He used that time to demonstrate conclusively that I couldn't: I couldn't make better decisions, I couldn't navigate through life very well, I couldn't even keep the promises I made to myself about being a good person. Therefore I know that however hard a place God has put me, I know that living without God in my life would be much worse. Recently, God has been wooing me out of my sulk, mainly by pouring out His grace into my life to prepare me to pour it out on others. During the Illinois Christian Homeschooling Conference, He really opened the floodgates and started lifting my eyes up to the hills and realize that my help comes from God (Psalm 121:1&2, read all of it sometime when you really need your spirits lifted).

As a result, I have felt a renewed hunger for God's word and for loving Him with my whole heart mind and strength. My husband and I are starting to go through the "Experiencing God" Bible Study (which I highly recommend) and when I get the chance, I am reading My Utmost For His Highest as a midday break to carry me through the remainder of the day. Today's devotional is about the service of passionate devotion and is based on John 21:16. The comments from Oswald Chambers that really spoke to me were the following (italics are my thoughts):
  • Jesus Christ call service what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. (He values us, not our works. Even though I have experienced it personally, it is still hard to accept because I don't consider myself to be much of a prize and I have a tendency to be task oriented.)
  • People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. (It is easier to do the works than to figure out what it means to be devoted to God--I know this personally)
  • Our Lord's first obedience was to the will of the Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. (Deeds are the natural result of devotion but deeds can not come first)
  • If I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door mat. (because it is Jesus' love that pours out of me into the people around me. As His love pours into me, I have no room left for overweening pride, selfishness, or personal agendas.)

Praise God, who knows how foolish and prideful and inept I am at truly loving Him as He ought to be loved. Praise Him for showing me, little by little, with great patience, how He wants me to love Him. Praise Him for walking with me through this time and keeping me on His path. Blessed be the name of the Lord!


June 12, 2008

Being Born Again

When I was 12, I was introduced to Jesus by my Grandma and Grandpa Carmichael. Actually, it wasn't my first introduction. I had people telling me about Jesus since I was a little girl and sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Jesus Loves Me." I had pored over a Bible story book and best loved the picture of Jesus holding a little child in his arms with an expression of loving bliss on his face. However, no one told me that I had to pray to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and receive him in my heart in order to be saved. In the two weeks I spent with Grandma and Grandpa Carmichael, I heard this message every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening at church, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They took the words of Deuteronomy 6:7 VERY seriously. I remember thinking "Every discussion we have returns to the Bible and God". And yet, the last Sunday morning, when the pastor was preaching, a little voice (not a physical voice, just that little voice in your head that tells you things like not to put the glass that close to the edge of the table) told me that I needed to respond to Jesus' message of repentence and forgiveness. I whispered to my Grandma that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and she hightailed us to the preacher. He questioned me to make sure I really understood what I was wanting to do and led me in the sinner's prayer. After I was done, I immediately felt a great weight being lifted from my body and being filled with untainted joy.

This weekend, at the Illinois Christian Home Educator's Convention, I had another "born again" experience. For the last two years, I have been trying to figure out what I believed about creation: Did God make everything in six, twenty-four hour days or was it six indeterminite periods of time, which is another translation of the Hebrew word, as my former pastor had mentioned in a sermon many years ago? I was taught as a child that "scientific evidence" in the form of carbon dating, reported that the earth was much older than what would be considered by taking the times and geneologies mentioned in the Bible. There were also passages that supported the "old earth" theory", mainly Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 and the fact that the sun wasn't created until the third "day". How could God count 24 hours without the sun? On the other hand, any Being that could create everything out of nothing could do it all in six days or even less. At stake was my credibility (a.k.a. pride) as a graduate with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois. How could I (gasp) turn my back on all of my scientific training? Grammer was the key to my "salvation" (forgive me for getting melodramatically silly). One of the keynote speakers whose focus was comparing Biblical Creation against Evolution, starting making arguments for the young earth theory. He talked about the passages in Genesis dealing with creation and mentioned the fact that in Hebrew, when ordinal numbers are used (first, second, etc) combined with the Hebrew word for day, it always refers to a 24 hour period. Secondly, God defined day and night in Genesis 1:5, before He even created the Sun, Moon and Stars. But the final convincing evidence was when the speaker mentioned God's words about creation in Exodus 20, when He gives Isreal the Law. Exodus 20:11 states "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." A connection was made: If God uses the word "day" in Exodus 20:11 and if He doesn't change as Numbers 23:19 and James 1:17 says, then God is saying that he created it in six days. There is definite logic in that argument. Sure I may look like a fool to people like Richard Dawkins and the Carl Sagan wannabes and even my dad, who is an evolutionist; but as that great philosopher, Connie Stevens sang "Everybody's somebody's fool". I would rather be a fool for Christ than anybody else's fool. I felt that same sense of release and joy that I did when I first asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, mainly because I was no longer double minded.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20:
Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness" ; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."