Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The second stanza of the song I posted about last time begins with "Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul He leadeth."  My ransomed soul...what kind of soul?  Ransomed!  Oh the sweet mercies of God that abound toward me as He leads my ransomed soul where streams of living water flow!

Guess what?  Last night I crawled into bed with this stanza going through my head and I picked up the book Radical (by David Platt, which I am reading for the second time because I read it too quickly the first round and I want to digest it slowly, thoughtfully, prayerfully).  This book is a fantastic companion read while we are studying the book of Acts and I hope to write a few posts sharing thoughts from both. Gregg Matte, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Houston wrote this blurb about the book: "Radical will cause you to bounce on a spectrum between two words: ouch and amen. Tough truths do that. They challenge us to examine our lives and then choose to lasting over the temporary.  Read Radical if you're ready to live differently."  I ditto his remarks...ouch and amen!  But I divert with all this...what I really want to share today is what I read last night because it was SO ransom related.  Think on this:

(from pages 34-36) "Picture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As he kneels before his Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head.  Why is he in such agony and pain?  The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion.  He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him.
     Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for their faith.  Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there.  Many of them went to their crosses singing.
    One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, 'I thank you for this. Tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ's garment of righteousness.'
     As he prepared to head to his execution, Christopher Love wrote a note to his wife, saying, 'Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ.'  As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.
     Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself?  Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish?  We can rest assured that he was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead he was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.
     Listen to his words: 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.' The 'cup' is not a reference to a wooden cross; it is a reference to divine judgment.  It is the cup of God's wrath.
     This is what Jesus was recoiling from in the garden.  All God's holy wrath and hatred toward sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on him, and he is sweating blood at the thought of it.
     What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus' hands and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul.  In that holy moment, all the righteous wrath and justice of God due us came rushing down like a torrent on Christ himself.  Some say, 'God looked down and could not bear to see the suffering that the soldiers were inflicting on Jesus, so he turned away.'  But this is not true.  God turned away because he could not bear to see your sin and my sin on his Son.
     ....At the Cross, Christ drank the full cup of the wrath of God, and when he had downed the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, 'It is finished."

My RANSOMED soul He leadeth!  Oh what a Savior!

No wonder Peter and John responded to the threats launched against them by saying (in Acts 4:20): "for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

No wonder Paul could say with all sincerity and a life that proved it (Phil 3:8-11): "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

He "leadeth," and this ransomed soul wants to join all the others He drank the cup of wrath for in following Him with a life that proclaims His glory.  Radical is subtitled "Taking back your faith from the American dream" and I'm thankful for how the Lord is using it, and other books I've read lately like The One Factor, Same Kind of Different as Me, Crazy Love and most importantly Scripture to wake me up from the stupor I've let the American dream lull me into and awaken me to hunger for Him with a healthy appetite.  Ransomed and free...can't wait to see where God leads! He is so worthy to be followed!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The King of love my Shepherd is!

Our family does home school year round, following the schedule planned out by my good friend Melodie (and slightly modified by moi) can check it out on her website HERE.  A few years ago, she and another friend of mine, and myself, started up a group called Honeycomb Kids that meets once per seven-week term to give the children from our church family the opportunity to recite memorized materials in front of an audience, sing together, and eat and play together.  Each term we have a Psalm we learn before gathering together and this term we are learning this version of Psalm 23. 

The King of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of love my Shepherd is
whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
and He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
my ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
but yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
and home rejoicing brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill
with Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight;
Thine unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
from They pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing They praise
within Thy house forever.

It is a beautiful can listen to the music to it here.  Because the goal is to sing the song from memory when we meet on Honeycomb Kid day, our family takes a number of days to learn each verse, singing it repeatedly and talking about what it means until we "get it."  We of course try to make this fun and not far, so good on that front...we all love to sing still, whew!  Well, have you ever had a song stuck in your head?  This week, the first verse has been going through my head ALL THE TIME.  I'm not complaining.  To the contrary, what a blessing to be reminded throughout the day, all day long, of our King of love who shepherds us.  I've been thinking about that theme a lot as a result and I found myself in the midst of the congregation singing His praises with a heart welled up with gratitude and tears of wonder and joy in my eyes.  His goodness never fails, and He protects me and provides for me.  I am His and He is mine forever.  I just had to overflow that thought and encourage you to walk in His grace today.  Chew on these wonders with me...and fall at the feet of Jesus with praise.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More fun with synergism

Yesterday I rambled about synergism and I made a side comment that there are many marital implications, and there are.  Here's one.  If you've been reading my blog for a few months, you know that a year ago I began to desire rather strongly to adopt again, this time from Ethiopia.  My husband didn't share the desire, but loves me and listened and prayed and together we sought the Lord's leading.  After a period of months, with hearts more united than ever to follow Jesus wherever He leads, we concluded that at least for now, adopting for us is not on the agenda.  This is old news, but I bring it up because this is the very kind of thing that can drive wedges between people who have been made one flesh by God.  What we found was key in staying united was to keep submitting to the One holding the reigns, rather than setting our heart on the "field" we want to work; to remember God has united us and anything that threatens to divide us is also in opposition to His will for us.

I know my desire to adopt was not a bad desire, but it certainly could have been used to bear bad fruit.  Instead, the Lord used it to prompt greater intimacy and clearer vision for my husband and I.  We love the three children God has grafted into our family and in no way stand opposed to Him adding more to our number if and when that pleases Him, but the vision He gave us for now at least is to do what we can to come alongside and encourage other Christians who are in the process of adopting.  We are pulling together and seeing God at work through our meager efforts and it has brought us so much pleasure in the process.  In yesterday's post, I mentioned we were going to get to go hug and kiss on a little fellow adopted recently be friends of ours...what fun that was this morning!

Little "J" is no longer one of the orphans of the world.  Praise the Lord who does marvelous things!  My friend Erica suggested I post pics so you can thank her, or better yet, go visit her blog and see what she is up to so you can consider coming alongside her and her family as they try to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.  We cannot individually play a role in helping all 147 million orphans in the world get into Christian homes, but we can have parts in the amazing stories of some of them.  I know I'm looking forward to seeing the pics Erica will post one day of another little girl smiling in the context of her family, and knowing God gave me the privilege of helping her get there.  Would you consider helping too?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I've been thinking about synergism.  In general, it may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.  Think of two oxen.  If they plow separately, they work harder and less efficiently than if they are yoked together.  Yoked, and pulling together, their synergism provides amazing power to get the job done well.  Of course, if they are yoked together and pulling in different directions, you've got big problems.  There are many marital lessons here, but that would be a different post.  Let's stick with synergism in a broad body-of-Christ sense for now.

Our family has been reading in Acts together this month and repeatedly we have been coming across the idea of being of "one accord." Here are a few examples from the first few chapters:
  • Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication...
  • Acts 2:1-2  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
  • Acts 2:46-47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
  • Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them...
  • Acts 5:12,14 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch...And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
Amazing things can happen with synergistic activity! When people are reconciled to God and catch His vision for spreading His glory and goodness and love in this amazed at His gracious hand at work!  In the book of Acts we see people daily getting saved, healed, set free, etc.  And today we get to be part of His continuing story of grace ...amazing things are still happening.

Tomorrow morning the kids and I get to go hug and kiss on a little one adopted from Ethiopia, a little one who now has a mommy and a daddy and a big brother that he didn't have before.  Amazing!  Some folks caught the heart of God for the fatherless, prayed and labored with one accord, and a child was shifted from the status of orphan to family member.  How cool is that?  Our family has personal experience in this realm and I assure you it is pretty amazing!

One month ago, two young people I've known most of their lives married each other.  I was bursting with joy: twas one of the most beautiful wedding day's I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.... the ceremony, the singing, the dancing, the feasting, the eagerness of so many friends working together to bless this couple in so many ways radiated the love of Christ with so much evidence it was nearly tangible....amazing!

Last night we got to go to a shower celebrating two new babies born to families in our a day when the world mocks you after 1.2 children, it is beautiful to watch families eagerly entering into the joyful labors of raising many blessings up in His covenant of love.  Amazing!

A couple weeks ago, the kids and I did a garage sale to help raise some funds for a number of friends who are currently in the process of adopting.  It blows my mind that the God who made heaven and earth would be pleased to use the likes of me and my family to spread His glory and goodness, but He is pleased.  And we have a blast being a part of His redemptive work on this earth.  Here we are getting ready for the sale:
Leading up to the sale, we got sick.  The day of the sale was wet and cold.  Reality in a fallen world, yes...but a world that God is lovingly redeeming. That morning my kids and I talked about God's goodness and His sovereignty over germs and weather and how many people would show up and whether a single item would be sold or not.  We prayed and asked His blessing, we asked Him to arise on behalf of the fatherless according to His word, and we committed ourselves to serving Him with trusting hearts.  We did the sale for one day and in the providence of God raised about $300, for which we gave thanks to God.  We heard comments about how that was a lot of work for such a little return, but we just see it as one of the good works God prepared before the foundation of the world to walk in.  Then our neighbor offered to add some of our remaining stuff to her sale the following week and raised almost $100 more.  Someone else is taking the other remains to do another sale to benefit adoption. Other friends are collecting change for a month or making donations directly or collecting pop cans or skipping Starbuck's or whatever...synergism..."working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently."  How glad we are to play a part, to be of one accord with those who have our Father's heart for the orphan!  Amazing!

 A week ago, our family went to visit Mike's sister and her family for a couple of nights.  She had invited us to come witness her baptism, and we were happy beyond words to do so.  That week we spent time meditating on the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son...there is so much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents, right?  Well there was a whole lot of rejoicing in our family right here on earth too as we witnessed Mike's sister profess God's redeeming grace in her life.  Redemption is amazing!  God is still saving people.  Her church had eleven planned baptisms that day, and then an invitation was made to others who believe in Jesus and wanted to get baptized...we didn't count, but a number of people went up, our nephew being among them.  I cannot even begin to tell you how delighted we were.  Each one of those people have a story, each one had people in their lives sharing Jesus with them over time...simple deeds of love, words of truth shared, compassion...and who can deny that the fruit of changed lives is amazing?  When Peter and John were put into prison for healing a lame man in the name of Jesus, the rulers had a problem...their problem was that everybody knew a miracle had occurred.   There was no denying it.  They wanted to shut Peter and John up, but God was making Himself known in the stories of men's lives and there is no shutting God's people up.  We, like them, can't help but marvel at these things and talk about the amazing things our Father is doing.  We've prayed for years for Mike's sister and her family and now every one of them is walking by faith...God is still making Himself known today.  He's on the move...His kingdom is advancing...there shall be no end to the increase of His government (Is. 9:7).  There are others in our family we continue to pray for, that they too might taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I was talking to a friend last night, telling her I think it is time for me to take another walk in a cemetery with my kids.  God tells us it is wisdom to number our days, and it has proven a healthy exercise to walk around a cemetery and consider that one day our bag-o-bones will be lying in the earth and we will face our Heavenly Father to give account for how we used the time and breath and strength and every other resource He so freely gave us stewardship over.  It does wonders to look ahead, consider what matters, and live life backwards.  I know many areas of my life where I will stand ashamed because of how I have wasted or hoarded the things He has given me.  He has granted me much grace!  I want to exalt the God who redeems and gives us the privilege of walking together in one accord, representing Him with words and deeds that proclaim the glory of His manifold perfections to everyone around us.  As we do it, orphans are grafted into families, people are made new in Christ, people marry in a way that honors God and give their lives to raising up godly seed, the hungry are fed, and on and on.  

So this is a very long and rambly post and only a few make it this far in a sound byte world, but for those of you who have persevered, let us seek the Father with one accord and enter into those good works together ( that a word?) which He amazingly prepared for us.  How can we do better at pulling together with our brothers and sisters in Christ as our Father gives us mission?  In what areas do we need to repent of working in opposition to our Father's will?  There are many more amazing stories to be lived many of them can we play a part in?

One day we will stand before our Heavenly Father to give an account...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bekah's birthday

My Sweet Rebekah is now 8 years old...
We have been doing a little celebrating around here this week.  Rebekah has a friend who is like a second pea in the same pod, affectionately called Sarah Goose by us.  She and her sister came to spend the night and they had a grand ole time together until the wee hours of morning.   Daddy took Paul out for a "man's night" and us girls had a whole evening of girlie glory.

Rebekah wanted to frost her own cupcakes.

Our Friday School friends celebrated during our lunch break with more desserts and presents...woo hoo!

Then on her actual birthday, we celebrated as a family with a tradition all of our children enjoy...through their 10th birthday, they get one present from mom and dad per year old they are.  So here you see Bekah waiting with anticipation to open her stash:

One of the gifts was a necklace with a heart pendant which she was showing off to Grandma (the two of them spent the morning shopping together while the other kids and I got ready for our family party...the fun just keeps a-comin'):
One of the beautiful things about our Rebekah is her giving spirit.  She is a generous soul and she took her Daddy a little by surprise this year.  Just about every birthday that comes up, he will jokingly ask "what are you going to buy me for your birthday?"  Of course, we all know he's joking, but this year Bekah bought him something while out shopping with Grandma.  Paul had a sword and now Daddy has one too:
Happy birthday are a beautiful, generous, Jesus-loving 8 year old and I am soooooooo pleased that God added you to our number.  You are a daily reminder of God's goodness.