On these beautiful days with sweet breezes, I’ve been rocking on the porch and devouring my women’s magazines lately. I came across this intriguing recipe in a July issue for Fruit Ripple Ice Cream. With recipes, I mostly like to just look at the pictures and think about how nice it would be if someone made that dish for me (cook much? Not me!), but this recipe has only three ingredients. That gave me hope!
But as soon as I was about to say “agree” to the recipe, I got bogged down by the first ingredient: the fruit sorbet of my choice. My youngest son would want peach. My middle son would want strawberry. My daughter would protest that chocolate should be a fruit. My husband would be non-committal. Ugh. My three-ingredient recipe suddenly seemed too hard.
Sometimes I love the variety of life: genres of music, personalities, hairstyles, varying gifts and skills. But variety can create some interesting challenges when we’re trying to make everyone happy. What do we do? As for me, I’m going with one batch of strawberry and one batch of peach. But in the larger arena of life, it can get complicated.
Here’s some biblical wisdom: “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you (Ecclesiastes 7:21). Not everyone is going to love your choices, and sometimes either fairly or unfairly, people will criticize your decisions. Learn to sort through what is constructive criticism to strengthen your character and what is one person’s opinion expressed unkindly on a bad day.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
A lot of us are doing good deeds these days. In 2013, 64.5 million Americans volunteered close to 8 billion hours!* But why do we do it?
Do we do it to make the world a better place? (The world and the things of this world are passing away, 1 John 2:17.)
Do we do it to feel good about ourselves? (Our righteousness is like filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6.)
Do we do it to earn God’s love? (For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast, Ephesians 2:8-9.)
How about obligation? or habit?
Christians, let’s do our good works with a deep, abiding love. Next time you start to write a check to a ministry or get into your work clothes to volunteer your time, stop and pray; ask God to give you an unexplainable, undefiled love for the people you will serve with your gift of service. Do it all for love.
Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. Praise God! I’d love to tell you all the wonderful things that I love about my husband (message me if you want that scoop,) but the one thing I know is that we have a strong marriage only because of God. Today I’d like to share some marriage tips for the sweethearts of the world. (NOTE: This list is by no means exhaustive!)
1. Follow Christ as individuals and also as a couple. Both are critical. Christ must be the center of our lives and of our homes.
2. God really does know what He’s talking about: men need the respect of their wives, and women need the love of their husbands. Wives, respect your husbands even when they don’t deserve it, and husbands, love your wives even when they aren’t acting so loveable. It’s when a husband is struggling that he most needs the respect of his wife, and it’s when a wife is at her worst that she most needs the love of her husband. (Ephesians 5:20-23)
3. Want to change your spouse? If you’re serious about it, see #2 above. We can’t change our spouse, but God can, and He’s given us wisdom in His Word on how to bring out the best in our spouse. Wives, respect can make your husband a stronger man, and men, love can transform a wife. I can’t stress it enough: God gives the best marriage advice! (Also see 1 Peter 3:1-3) Note that improvements happen in a marriage when one spouse is so eager for change that he or she says to God, “Lord, change me! Make me a better spouse!”, rather than fixating on the flaws of the other person.
4. Honor your covenant. (1 Corinthians 7:9-10) Most married couples who are honest will tell you, marriage can be challenging. It’s not uncommon to have heavy trials or moments of weakness when the flesh says, “Give up.” It’s in those moments believers must remember their promise to God. Hard times will eventually pass, and problems can be resolved. A couple can withstand those tough times when both have made the agreement that no matter what, divorce is not an option. Taking divorce off the table encourages us to work harder to love and forgive.
I love my God, and I love my husband! Praise the Lord.
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
I’ve had many pursuits. I’ve been on a quest for a stylin’ dress. I’ve searched the web for the perfect vacation. I’ve invested countless hours pursuing higher learning. So when Proverbs 21:21 came across my eyes, I looked twice.
Christ followers want righteousness, sure. But are we chasing it? When we want something badly enough, we’ll sacrifice everything to get it. Here’s a heart check: am I making personal sacrifices in order to live in righteousness, or am I compromising my righteousness in order to get what my flesh desires?
Loyalty is another noble pursuit. Loyalty requires us to bestow God-sized portions of love, grace, and mercy upon our fellow man, and complete devotion to our God.
What are you chasing? Your daily choices will make it known.
Three weeks in, and it has already been a fun-filled summer. Baseball games, Vacation Bible School, sports camp, kiddo sleepovers with our favorite pals, friends at the lake…and I can almost taste that first summer tomato.
I made the comment the other day, “I already feel the summer slipping away.” My husband thought I was crazy! After all, I’m judging the summer by my children’s school schedule, while the official first day of summer hasn’t even come up to bat! But I treasure this summer season when my children are at home and the days are long enough to tuck in a few extra moments of fun with family and friends.
Holding onto time is like holding onto sand; we can feel it slipping through our fingers. That’s why I’ve resolved that this summer, I will treasure each day and will treat it with respect. I will be intentional to make every day count. I will stay close to God and talk with Him daily. I will give my children my love and attention, and I will spend quality time with my family. I will invest time into strengthening my friendships. I will keep my heart open to serve God whenever He calls, and be joyful in times of sacrfice.
What about you? Every day should be valued, no matter the season. Live intentionally.
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever.” (Psalm 49:10-11)
What do you own? Do you own a car? Or a house? We say “my house” and “my car,” but most of us pay the bank each month because they let us use things that they actually paid for in advance for us. And once we own our items outright, we can say they are truly ours, but ownership loses its meaning the day we take our last breath. No one owns a thing from the other side.
What is your attitude toward your possessions? If you invest your attention in “stuff,” you’re dealing in the short term. Invest in eternity by focusing on the kingdom of God. Your earthly house won’t last forever, but Christ is preparing a heavenly dwelling just for you.
“…because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you…” (Daniel 4:9)
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. Who could know another man’s dream? But Nebuchadnezzar demanded that someone be discerning enough to know the dream and also interpret it. When Daniel heard the news, he had no knowledge of the king’s dream. The dream of the king was a secret, but this secret didn’t trouble Daniel, because he knew whom to turn to for that bit of information.
The national and international news of late has been troubling to say the least. Scandals, injustice, dishonesty, missing planes, missing children…so many dirty lies, dirty secrets. Don’t give your heart away to the fear of the unknown. God knows all things, and He reigns. Let no secret trouble you.
But we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:11)
We moms just love to share all the cute quips our babies say! One day as we were passing by our local McDonald’s, my two-year-old son said, “French fry…where are you?” I looked in my rearview and he could not contain his grin. He knows he’s cute.
We attach an association with every business and entity in our communities. My son thinks “french fry” when he sees McDonald’s. I think about weddings when I pass by a gift shop, with all of the brides’ china patterns registered and on display. That made me wonder: since I am the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19), what do people think as they pass by me? What do people associate with me as a believer? Some well meaning elders have told us it doesn’t matter what other people think of us, but we need to think again! We don’t adjust our actions to fulfill other people’s expectations, but the opinions of others do matter if we are trying to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:11, lest we think we can fool God, we are well known by Him. He sees through our shadowy veils we use to hide our frailties, and He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Likewise, the people in our spheres of influence may know us better than we think. When they think “Kimberly,” or “Beth,” “Susanne,” or “Mary Ann,” the association they make to each person is not based on what we want to project to the world, but instead on what we truly project.
My laptop is fully equipped with 25 letters of the alphabet. It’s strange, I know. The “N” popped off, leaving only a silver electronic sensory chip where a very important letter used to be. When the letter first disappeared, I missed it every time my finger fell where the key used to be. I had taken the letter for granted, and was just beginning to appreciate what a valuable and oft used letter N really is, only after it was gone. Initially it seemed too much of a hassle to get the N key fixed, so I delayed, and finally after much awkward fumbling I adapted and learned how to hit the sensory chip just right in order to make a perfect N appear on my computer screen. I now do without what was once an important element of my keyboard.
Every Christian occasionally loses a letter N. Perhaps N stands for vision, or passion, or a hunger for righteousness. Maybe it’s the loss of a courageous spirit, or a daily commitment to bend the knee in sweet prayer. Sometimes we can name the date and time when the N disappeared, like when we lost our zeal for God’s people after a fellow church member inflicted a wound to our souls, or when we lost our boldness because an angry shouting woman at the airport took our loving gospel message of hope in Jesus and shoved it back in our faces.
For many of us, though, our N slowly slipped away, undetected in its going, until we suddenly realized it had disappeared. What should we do? We can do as I did, and learn to compensate. Of course my keyboard is in a weakened state because of the loss of the N, but my laziness and my belief that I was simply too busy to replace the N led to compensating, until finally I foolishly bought into the idea that doing it the hard way – the wrong way – is sufficient. Yet the N is still missing, and my typing suffers because of it.
What is missing in your spiritual life? Linger in prayer over the joys of following Christ, and seek God’s revelation of anything now lacking in your heart. Will you continue to suffer without God’s greatest benefits? Will you be content to compensate? It’s true: spiritual renewal takes an investment of time on your part, and a willingness to be still and yielded as the Heavenly Father refines and restores you, but He can make you whole and complete once again. It is then you will find yourself soaring to new heights, with God writing rich stories on the pages of your life – one keystroke at a time.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NKJV
While visiting my sister Carolyn and her family, my nephew Luke and I became big buddies. He was young, bright-eyed, and eager to please his Aunt Kim. On the last day of my visit, he spent much of the afternoon busily at work in the garage, trying to make a gift for me. He finally appeared, eager to show me the prize he was hiding behind his back. He first gave a disclaimer; his original intention was to create a jewelry box for me, but somewhere in the process the project had to be scrapped, and the result of Plan B was resting in his palms. With great enthusiasm, Luke then revealed the much-anticipated gift: a necklace. The jewelry was quite unique, because it was made of two-inch blocks of wood, still covered in splotches of spray paint from the lumberyard, and connected with metal hooks and screw-in “o” rings. The pride in his eyes was obvious, and I quickly adjusted my look of shock to a look of joy as I placed the “hardware store look” necklace around my neck. His gift, given out of a heart of love and sincerity, turned a rough-hewn woodblock necklace into a beautiful treasure, one that I still have today.
When we consider the treasures of God, we realize we have nothing to offer the Lord that compares to His matchless riches. We have nothing to present God that would meet a need of His, for God is in need of nothing. However, our gifts are precious and well received by God when we give them freely as tributes of love and sincerity. What are the gifts you are offering to your King?
– taken from Women of the Covenant