Sister to Sister: Do You Play in the Elevator?

elevatorWe were checking out of the hotel, Glenn and I, …pulling our loaded cart from the room on the 2nd floor, when we heard it. At first the shrieks were so piercing and frantic that we thought someone down the hall needed a spanking. You know, we thought we were hearing the typical out-of-control child. (You know this child. People call him “out-of-control”, but he really controls just about everything about his family.)

But the screaming got closer to us and, turning around, I saw a three or four-year-old curly-headed boy, tears streaming, panicked cries getting louder and louder, running and peering into every nook of the hallway. It was obvious this child was lost from his parents. I started toward him when the stairwell door opened and a young man said, “Charlie.” At that instant Charlie turned toward the voice and ran into the man’s arms. Charlie’s father said only, “See Charlie…that’s what happens when you play on the elevator. I told you.”

I know Charlie was having fun. The magic doors were open and it was such a temptation to run into the elevator. Then it was fun to push the “1” button when the doors began to close and make them open right back up again. I know his father, busy checking out in the lobby, had said “Charlie, get off the elevator. You’re going to get hurt….Now, Charlie!” But Charlie had to push just one more button. This time he pushed the “2” and the doors closed. This time they did not re-open. This time the elevator began moving and Charlie began screaming hysterically.

Do you play in the elevator? Oh, you know where this is going. I mean, when your Father tells you what to do to avoid being hurt, are you still lured into areas of experimentation with the very things your Father has told you to avoid? When your Father bids you come away from the dangers and draw closer to Him, do you sometimes procrastinate, intending all along to go to Him, but just “pushing one more button” or “watching the magic doors open” just one more time?

Sometimes I think we play in the elevator with entertainment choices. We know the Father is calling us to purity, but we forget that the choices we are making can move us farther away from His protection. Finally, while we are quite oblivious to the danger, the doors may close and we may no longer be even in close proximity to the Father and His will.

Sometimes we play in the elevator with physical lusts. How many teens, like King David, have figured out that lust leads to actions that you can’t undo? It leads to regret that you just can’t fix. Sometimes it puts you on a path that will keep you out of heaven. Sometimes, the doors close.

Sometimes we play on the elevator with our lust for material things. We know that we need to get our priorities aligned more perfectly with the Father’s, but we think, “Maybe I’ll just pursue this one more career goal, obtain this one more possession (that will require me to seek the kingdom second, financially, for at least 24 months, till it’s paid off), or try to get into this prestigious circle of friends. Once I’m there, I’m getting serious about Christianity.” The only thing is, once we’ve “pushed that button” there’s always one more to push.

Sometimes we play on the elevator with our parenting. We think about how we should be having Family Bible time. We know we need to get started. We know that we have got to be more consistent in discipline. We know we need to be memorizing scripture with our kids. We do hear His call from the “lobby.” But, you know, we’re just thinking about what’s right there in front of us at the moment. Playing around is just  more fun than being so serious and conscientious about listening to the Father. “There will be plenty of time later to step off the elevator and “straighten up” my act.”

And then, so often, it happens. The door closes and we are tragically separated from the Father. We’re not even on the same floor of the building. And, at last, we “get it.”  Our lifestyles have come to mirror the entertainment choices we made. We laughed at sin for so long that it became tolerable in our lives and homes and we are paying high prices for our lack of discernment. Our children did not think we were serious about morality, at all, when we were laughing at immorality. Or perhaps we look around and find that it is almost time to die and we are very rich in things that we are soon to leave behind, but we have no treasures in heaven. Our families somehow missed the importance of seeking the kingdom. How did that happen? Perhaps we, as parents, procrastinated the years of childhood away and we find that the door has closed. The opportunities to draw close to the Father are no more because the Father is nowhere in our proximity. How did we get on “the second floor”?

God doesn’t pull punches about playing around with sin.

“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” (II Cor. 6:2)

 “That’s what happens when you play on the elevator, Charlie. I told you.”

Sister to Sister – The Good News: Always NEWs!

LSEventSpringSeminar2014Sitting in the seminar this weekend on the trials of Jesus, it struck me again. It really doesn’t matter how many times you read the gospel, there are truths for spiritual growth each time that are just as new and fresh as if you had never heard the story. I sat spellbound and amazed at the way my simple mind had never fully connected the two cleansings (John 2, Matthew 21). I had never even known that archeologists have unearthed a sign in the temple that translates “Bazaar of Annas”. This high priest who, in an act of disregard for the current legal system, turned Jesus over to be crucified without evidence, without witnesses, at an illegal time and place, did so because Jesus had hit him in the pocketbook when He turned over the tables of His own moneychangers and drove His extortion-filled merchants from the temple on two occasions. He was mad at the one who had vehemently objected to his temple market…the place where he was “making a killing” off the killing of sacrificial animals.

I had never really thought about the fact that when Caiaphas asked Christ “Is this the way you speak to the high priest?” (John 18:22), that my Lord, in His mind, must have responded “Is this the way you beat and mock and kill THE eternal high priest… the One who, by the way, formed you in the womb?” But he was the silent lamb led to the slaughter.

I hope you can take the time to go and watch this seminar. It will change your perspective of the last few hours of the life of Jesus. It will make you realize the gravity of the fact that God has entrusted you, as his priest, with the care of His modern-day temple, the church. If you are in the Digging Deep study, it will provide an excellent finale to your study of God, the Son.

If you’re doing the Digging Deep study, and you do not have the time to listen to the seminar in it’s entirety, may I especially invite you to hear the Saturday night lesson. As we pivot from our study of God, the Son, to a study of the Spirit, this lesson is particularly timely. The first half of this lesson goes into a bit of detail about the amazing work the Spirit has done in giving us the Word. The second half is a great close to your study of the Son.

If you do not have the time to listen to any of these lessons, do not despair. Keep plugging along at whatever rate you are able. I hope that we are all so immersed in matters of the kingdom that we have to pick and choose carefully which good things we are studying and doing. If this is the case with you, I know He is richly blessing you and filling your days with opportunities to grow the kingdom.

Sister to Sister: Borrowed Blog about Diaper Depression

pregnant-woman-in-greenYesterday my grandchild’s mom (Did I mention I am a grandmother??!!) wrote the following about pregnancy. She’s going to be a good mom. Find my response below her piece:

17 Thoughts on Gloom and Doom (a post where I ask you for something different)…

About three years ago, I was busy making last-minute preparations for one of the most important days of my life—the day I became a wife to my best friend. I was excited, happy, ecstatic, joyful….but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I was scared because as a Christian, choosing the one you’ll marry is the second most important decision you’ll ever make in your whole life (the first, of course, being to give your life to Jesus). When you understand what God’s Word says about marriage, you are absolutely certain about the gravity of this decision. It’s not just a fun, spontaneous rash decision that you can rethink and get out of later if it doesn’t work out (although many today view marriage that way)—it’s forever. It’s an all-in commitment that means when you say those vows, you’re not just making a promise to your new husband—you’re making a promise to God.

But I’ve always known all that.

What surprised me was how many people talked about marriage like it was going to be SO hard. I heard story after story about how hard the first couple of years is, how marital strife was inevitable, how we were going to realize we didn’t know each other at all. Now, as a disclaimer, let me just say that I know and appreciate that all of those people who warned me about all the scary parts of marriage had my very best interests at heart, and sincerely wanted to help prepare me for this mega commitment. And I thank them. But what I’ve discovered since then is that they were right about marriage being hard—it is super hard sometimes—but it’s also fun, rewarding, enlightening, and cozy in all the best ways. Yes, it’s different from dating. Yes, it’s a learning process. Yes, it’s probably the biggest adjustment you’ll ever make. But it’s so worth it. When you marry someone who loves God more than He loves you, the bond you will develop will be stronger and deeper than anything you could have imagined while you were dating. When I look back on the trials my husband and I have faced together–all the times we hurt together and cried together–and I consider how we’re still able to laugh until we can’t breathe when we’re hanging out together, I know that God knew what he was doing when he designed marriage. More than anything, it’s a friendship, deeper and richer than any other.

See…those were the things I would have liked to have heard more about before saying, “I do.” But even with all that gloom and doom I heard while engaged to be married, I hadn’t seen anything yet.

I thought that was bad, but now that I’m pregnant with our first child, the gloom and doom warnings are disheartening and daunting, at best. These are some things I’m hearing over and over from well-meaning people:

  • Nap when you can now, because you’ll never get a good nap again for 18 years.
  • I hope you have a good delivery, because I sure didn’t—this is what happened to me…[insert horror story here]
  • You’ll never have a normal body again.
  • Try to do fun things with your husband now, because when the baby comes, your marriage is pretty much over. Date nights will be a thing of the past.
  • Breastfeeding will hurt so bad you’ll cry every time your baby’s hungry (which is all the time).
  • You’ll cry other times, too, because you’ll probably have PPD disorder like I did.
  • Get used to wearing poop and vomit for hours at a time.
  • Good luck EVER traveling again.
  • You’ll never have a normal grocery shopping experience again. It will be a nightmare every time.
  • Oh, and enjoy that shower because once the baby comes, you’ll never have time for a good shower….or any bathroom privacy time whatsoever. You can forget the bubble baths. And pedicures. And any other luxury you enjoy.
  • Finish that whole book, because you’ll never have time to read anything once the baby’s here.

I could easily keep going…and don’t even get me started on general parenting warnings (“You just wait…you think you’ll be a great parent NOW…”). Once again, let me say that I know good and well that all these warnings are legitimate and necessary. And I’m sure I need to hear all of them.

But sometimes…I need to hear some good things, too.

Because right now…I’m starting to wonder why in the world people have kids. If it’s this miserable, why am I even going through these nine uncomfortable months? Why am I signing my life away to trade my easy breezy independence for the motherhood prison?

I’m just a little discouraged. You see, I LOVE naps. I LOVE laughing with my husband. I LOVE traveling. I like alone time sometimes. I like long showers. I LOVE bubble baths. I like going to the bathroom by myself. I like reading.

So if I’m going to trade in all the things I love for this little kicker in my womb, I need to know why it’s worth it. I figured all that out with marriage, and I’m totally at peace with the little things I gave up for marriage life and I feel blessed beyond measure to have made that decision and completely undeserving of this abundant life I obtained when I married my husband. And it could very well be that I have to wait before I’ll discover this same is true of parenthood. Hard, sacrificial, scary—WORTH IT. I’d just selfishly like to expectantly feel that now, rather than 3 years from now. That might be unrealistic.

Anyway, this post obviously isn’t poignant or profound or even necessary. I just feel like I’m speaking out for not just me, but for the thousands of us pregnant-for-the-first-time gals out there who could use a little encouragement.

So, if you took the time to read my morning ramblings, I hope you’ll also take a second to leave a comment for me and all other preggo girls who want to hear about things to which we can look forward, not just dread. We still want/need your warnings. We still need to hear all the tips/advice you can share to help us figure out how to navigate our way through all this new crazy baby stuff. But, for the sake of our sanity, make sure you qualify the gloomy doomy warnings with a little sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine, it’s 60 degrees here in Louisville, so while baby’s still in my belly, I’m gonna get out there and enjoy it today. Kids or no kids, I hope you get a chance to do the same before the day’s over!

**********************************************************

And the word from the grandmother in me:

Dear Han,

IT IS SO WORTH IT! Every time that little boy brings you dandelions and kisses, it’s worth it. Every time you lie down with that little girl for nap and she falls asleep on your breast and drools on your shirt, it’s worth it. Every time she fills in the blanks when you tell her the story of Noah or David and the Giant, it’s worth it. And, especially, the first time you tell him about the cross and tiny tears roll down his cheeks, it’s worth it a thousand times-plus. Every time you blow bubbles and she chases them, every time you build towers and forts and tents under quilts pinned to chairs in the living room, it’s worth it. When you are drinking lemonade that you paid for at the grocery, made this morning and then carted out to the end of your driveway for that lemonade stand, and then you paid for it again (only it was more expensive the second time around), it’s still worth it. Every time you see tiny hands folded in prayer or hear that little shrill voice beside you in worship singing “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, this I know,” it is worth it. And, oh, for that one moment…that moment when you take her in your arms when she’s fresh up from the waters of baptism…just that moment is worth it over and over and over again.

But you know what? You don’t even really start to understand how much it’s worth till the day she comes to you and says “You’re a grandmother.” See, Hannah, it’s something about knowing that you’re going to get to keep making investments in a little heart…investments that will not fully render their dividends till we’re with Jesus one day. Which missed naps? What pain in childbirth? Nursing soreness? Very short-lived. Scarcity of alone time with your dad? Okay, maybe a little scarce, but I barely remember. (We have wonderful catch-up time now.)

It’s that thing you said about crying together and still being able to laugh till you can’t catch your breath. It’s all the tears you invest in your kids that make them all the more valuable to you. There are plenty of biological moms out there who don’t really get much joy. See, when you don’t put in the time and tears and occasional missed naps (but, anyway, naps are more fun when they start with a fairy tale), you don’t get the return of two hearts bonded for life in a relationship that only moms and kids know. And you don’t generally get heaven together, either.
Somehow, I think there’s a sense in which I can’t even know how “worth it” motherhood is yet. But I think I will know when I’m sitting around the throne with you and Caleb (and the little people who grow up for Him) and I hear all those voices (with a sweet familiar tone) blending together. “He loves me. He loves me. He loves me, this I know.”

Love,
Mom

Sister to Sister – Coming Up: God, the Spirit

1948445-LThe most challenging part of the Digging Deep study for 2013-14 is coming up soon. May 1st begins our study of the Spirit. While I’m sure we won’t know all the answers at the end of the summer, I’m pretty sure we’ll all pack up and leave with more than we brought into the study.

A benchmark book, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption” by Franklin Camp has provided many insights for the study. While it is unnecessary to the Digging Deep study, I do want to make it available to those of you who would like to have it. In my judgement, It’s the best book I’ve studied on the subject. I know I perhaps have a bias, because I grew up under the preaching of Brother Camp, along with the excellent preaching of Bob Duncan. Brother Camp was one of the most personable, humble, REAL men I have ever known. He was also THE man who was in the Word more than any I’ve ever personally known. It’s no wonder he knew so much of the Spirit. He was full of His teachings.

I do believe there are areas of judgment about which faithful men and women can disagree when we study the Holy Spirit. There are some things we can know for sure, through the Word. I hope the study will be beneficial in helping us differentiate the areas of truth and the areas of opinion. I hope you can get excited about a study that will explore one of the subjects of Christianity about which the religious world, in general, is most confused. I, for one, can’t wait.

We’ll be answering questions like:

  • Have miraculous gifts ceased?
  • Are miracles occurring today?
  • What is/was the purpose of the miraculous?
  • Is the Bible inspired in its ideas or also in its wording?
  • What was the Spirit doing during Old Testament times?
  • Do we have the Spirit individually today and, if so, how?
  • How does the Spirit speak today?
  • What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

If you want the book, it’s available at The Colley House. The price is $19.95. If you’re in a group placing an order of five or more copies, they are $16.00 each. Here’s the link!

Tomorrow’s Church, Today

1394034107The teens in our congregation are extremely worldly.” …

The kids in our homeschool group are so much more spiritual than those in our church.” …

It hurts when people make fun of you for doing the right thing, but it is so much more hurtful when it’s the kids in your youth group.”

I know. I hear these statements over and over again as I travel about and speak to moms and teen girls. I know there’s worldliness in our youth groups. I know there’s texting going on during worship services. I know there are sleepy kids on the Lord’s Day because the devil had the night before. I know that persecution is sometimes sitting on the same pew with perseverance. I know.

But the good news is that there are hundreds of our young people who’ve not “bowed the knee to Baal,” (Romans 11:4). I know.

I know Terrin, who recently read a tract about the works of the flesh in Galatians 5 and then went home and told her mom she was done with dancing–no more prom, no more homecoming dances– no more. And she meant it.

I know. I know Kaylee, who plays volleyball on a public high school team in knee-length shorts.

I know. I know Hannah, who gave up a part in the play because she was unwilling to be onstage during a single worship service of the Lord’s church.

I know. I know Jack, who walked across the auditiorium to meet a young man he’d never seen before–a visitor–and invite him to come up and sit with the youth group.

I know. I know Andrew, who went home alone on Sunday night after worship because his youth group was going to see a movie that contained language that was inappropriate for Christian consumption.

I know. I know Camron, who, finding out that the man who sat near him each Sunday was not a Christian, asked him to study the Bible and, later, baptized him into Christ. I know.

And I know Daniel Webster and Samuel Thrasher. Daniel’s just a regular thirteen year old, who likes to play ball and board games and sometimes just likes to veg-out on the couch and look at facebook. He’s also kind of a prankster. Samuel is eighteen. He likes theater, public speaking and hanging out in fun places with Christians. He plans to go to Freed Hardeman University in the fall. Together, they’ve made time to jump start an incredible website for all of the Terrins and Kaylees and Hannahs and Jacks and Andrews and Camrons–all the kids who really are trying to seek Him first, make good choices for His glory and lead others to Him. It’s called Tomorrow’s Church, Today. There you will find articles by Daniel about prayer, by Song Nicholas about evangelism, by Kayla Barker about gossip, by Samuel about God’s majesty, and so many more. You’ll find upcoming youth activities around our nation, complete with details and maps. You’ll find a question and answer section and a prayer area. Best of all, if you’re a teen with holiness in your heart, you will find a great youth group–a group of Christian teens who are just like you–determined to be a light in a dark world. Suddenly the light will seem brighter and your support group, while it still may not always be on the pew with you, will always be a click away.

So are you one of the hundreds who’ve refused to bow the knee? You’re going to love this site. You’re going to find people who think like you do and places to be with kids who will encourage you. You’re going to like this page–on facebook, and in your heart. You’re going to be stronger just knowing there are others–lots of others–who are praying to the same Father for the same help through their days, as you are. You’re going to find ways to help people around you to be more Christlike. Who knows? Those kids on your pew may be open to reading from this site, too. Share it! There’s potential on your pew for tomorrow’s church!

Apron Strings

DSC_0008Apron Strings

Her apron was meant for protection
From a spatter, a splash or a stain
The things that could make her best Sunday dress
Unwearable…ever again.

But when they were on her old apron
She could give them a really good scrubbing
And that old apron was no worse for the wear,
No matter the washing and rubbing.

Aprons were also a blanket
For the baby she held at her breast.
When the apron was wrapped snug around him
Secure in her song. He could rest.

Its pockets were all about keeping.
A tissue, a receipt, a safety pin,
The Baby’s pacifier, a toggle toy tire,
A ribbon, the address of a friend.

And aprons were also for tugging.
For toddlers who wished she would hold them
She decided the clothes would just have to wait…
Till the holding was done. Then she’d fold them.

Aprons were also for wiping.
Noses, counter tops or damp platters.
Aprons were tied to the heart of her life
To each part of Grandmother that mattered.

That old apron hangs in my kitchen now
And it still teaches lessons I need:
The importance of being unspotted.
The security His children need.

The things that are really worth keeping,
The fondest and best things in life
Are still tied to the strings of the apron
In the jobs of a mother and wife.

CCSig