Think On These Things

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 

                                                                                                                             ~ Hebrews 10:19–36

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The Way We Do It

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Sometimes things become a thing that ought not be a thing. And sometimes there are things that ought to be a thing that aren’t a thing. I think Halloween falls into the becoming a thing when it ought not be a thing category.

 

Our family has been all over the spectrum about this day. Seriously, I don’t think you could choose a position and we haven’t, at one point or other in time, held it. But several years ago we finally found our spot and planted a flag so to speak. Before I tell you about our particular way of dealing with this day let me share two things that I think are important to remember.

Firstly, there is no day that does not belong to the Creator of days. They all belong to Him and we are told to rejoice in the day that He has made so rejoice!

Secondly, we are told to do all that we do, everything, to the glory of God. Now some will shake their head and declare that you cannot glorify God by dressing up and pandhandling for candy. Maybe, maybe not?

But I do believe there is a way to rejoice on the day of October 31st and glorify God in it that does not involve turning off all of your lights and pretending to not be home.

We choose to practice hospitality. Big hospitality. We open our home up to family and friends and bid them feast on mac & cheese and hot dogs. And we open our yard up to the neighborhood. We pass out candy obviously, but we also have a tasty treat of chocolate dipped marshmallows and either hot chocolate or lemonade (because Florida) and water available for thirsty visitors. It is not unusual to have 25 or 30 people gathered on the street in front of our house at a time. And a lot of them comment about how they were hoping we’d be back at it again this year.

Has anyone ever become a Christ follower because they stopped at our house for a marshmallow and cup of hot cocoa? No. But that does not change the fact that they have been given refreshment in His name. That hospitality has been given with sincere hearts because we have tasted the goodness of His table and been offered eternal hospitality.

I think to celebrate or not is a matter of conscience and not of faith so my thought about this day is mark it or not as you feel comfortable doing and whichever position you take do so with a song of rejoicing on your lips displaying the glory of our King.

And you are always welcome to stop by our house for a marshmallow and a cup of hot cocoa.

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Prayer

I really don’t understand how it works but I know that it does. I know that it is holy communication. I know that He hears us, indeed says we should pray without ceasing. I know it is not a magic lamp we rub and out pops the Holy Spirit to do our bidding but again, He listens to the cries and petitions of His children.

Sometimes, having an adult autistic child has its moments. Things can get edgy and volatile but I have learned that when it seems a storm might be brewing that I can shoot a text to my Mother and sisters asking for prayers on our behalf and Sam’s,  and things will typically settle down. It’s uncanny really, especially because I know that prayer is not some kind of magic trick but rather God hearing His children and granting what they ask in His Son’s name.  Last time this happened I asked them which one was not praying I would loose these last stubborn twenty pounds. (Okay, I know that goes back to treating prayer like the magic rub on the genie lamp but it was good for a laugh.)

But I know that sometimes praying can feel like the God and me version of the child tugging on your shirt who is incessantly asking for something all day every day. Or it just feels less than alive and genuine. Or like I am doing all the talking. Or that my words are thick and clumsy.

A friend recently shared this excerpt from AW Tozer’s sermon Make Time To Pray and I found it helpful:

Am I faithful in prayer?” Ask yourself that. “Well, I’m busy,” you say. Yes, you are busy. So was the Lord Jesus. So was Martin Luther. Luther said, “In the morning I have so much work to do that I am going to have to pray longer today.” Are you faithful in prayer, and do you meditate on the Word? How much of Scripture have you read lately? Have you read it with meditation and tenderness? These are a few questions. You can answer them evasively and the snow lies there. Or you can answer them honestly and see the springtime come to your heart. Put yourself in the hands of the One who loves you infinitely. If you have failed Him, you will have to admit that there is a rut or snow on the meadow. Tell Him so–don’t hide it. He will not turn His back in anger and say, “You disappointed me and betrayed me.” There is a balm in Gilead, plenty of it. The balm and healing in the blood of the Lamb will get you out of the rut.”

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My prayer life is so much fuller when I have been having a steady diet of His word. And honestly, it’s His words that often spark prayers and there is something comforting and powerful at the same time in knowing that I am praying His words back to Him.

What a gift prayer is to us.

 

Think On These Things

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His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 

                                                                                                                                  ~ 2 Peter 1:3–10

 

At The Same Time

There are several things about doing the Bible reading challenge that I love. Firstly, there are rather large chunks of Scripture being read at a time and there is something about taking in that much of God’s word, something about stepping back and reading the big picture. And always, no matter how many times I may have read a passage, there is usually something that stands out to me.

I have read the story of Moses being given the Ten Commandments a hundred times in my life but for some reason the timing of it all just clicked in focus so sharply that I literally had to stop and go back to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing. This blew my mind. Moses is on the mountain and God is giving him the law and explaining all the particulars about the Tabernacle and sacrifices and the garments for Aaron and his sons, and the sacrifices that were to be made on behalf of the people. God is literally declaring that He will be their God and they will be His people. He is laying out how they may come to Him and how Aaron will be their priest and what his duties will be.

And it’s not like God was talking to Moses with His backed turned to the people of Israel and didn’t know what they were doing. Do you know what they were doing at that exact same moment? During those days that Moses was before God, learning all about how God was making a people for Himself, and they were down there throwing gold into the fire and worshipping a golden cafe.

The two things happened simultaneously. At the same time God was declaring His faithfulness man was declaring his unfaithfulness. Like I said, I have read that story numerous times but for some reason the timing of it was such a stark contrast. It literally left me breathless.

Have you ever stopped and considered what was going on the same moment you are sinning? What we are declaring in the midst of our sin, at the same moment that Christ is declaring His faithfulness over us? His love. His forgiveness. His restoration. His reconciliation. Our unfaithfulness. Our willfulness. Our un-forgiveness. Our brokenness. He declares life even when we declare death. His sufficiency drowns out the voice of our insufficiency.

Doesn’t that simply blow your mind? His mercy and grace is so great that in spite of our sin yesterday, our sin today, and our sin tomorrow, He has not only called us out to be His people and He to be our God but He has created good works for us to walk in. All for our good and for His glory.

What an absolutely glorious thought to consider.

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Think On These Things

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

                                                                                                                             Ephesians 5:14–21

Monday’s Musings

You know how sometimes you just have random thoughts bouncing around in your brain? Well, that’s one of the reasons I have a blog, because sometimes I need to make room by putting stuff somewhere.

One thing I am thinking about in particular since I am going to start up the photography business is exactly what services I will offer. Specifically, my niece is due any time now with her second baby and I am delighted to be on call to photograph the birth, a genre of photography that I absolutely love and want to do more of. But I have had more than a few moments of what-would-I do-if-she-goes-into-labor-while-I-am-doing-such-and-such and wonder how in the world you handle that if you do birth photography on a regular basis. (Total side note…all of the births I have photographed have been in the hospital. Would love love love to have the opportunity to do a home birth so if y’all know of anybody doing a home birth who’d be open to pictures hook a sister up.)

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Also, related to those thoughts I am doing a product shoot of sorts today that I am pretty excited about. A friend of mine makes these incredibly lovely hats and sells them in her Etsy shop. I have photographed some of her hats before but today we will be working with her model and I think it will be so much fun!

 

 

Sarah is also coming home today from a four day cruise to Cozumel. I can’t wait to hear all about it and hopefully see some pictures. She was seriously hoping to see sea turtles and sea horses. While she has been floating on a big boat with friends, Emily has been apartment/cat sitting. I can say without any hesitation that I am not ready for another child to move out and I am glad Em isn’t going anywhere just yet.

Also, can I just say that I am soooo over this summer heat. I have a friend living in Oregon and she got snow over the weekend, people. Snow. We had such a lovely spring and June was so mild but man, the heat showed up in July and has made itself way too comfortable. I’m just ready for a bit of cooler temperatures but that sounds a bit whiny, doesn’t it? Sorry about that.

All righty then, moving on.

So we watched Back To The Future with our kids over the weekend and all I can say is man, do we have selective memories! I think the story got caught up in the nostalgia of being part of our teenage years or something because I sure didn’t remember the language being so salty. Nor did I recall the thing with his mom being such a major theme in the story. Our children were properly appalled and took great delight in ribbing us for watching such a movie. They were also quite amused by the rather dated special effects and overly dramatic acting. Rob decided that if we want to share a movie from our childhood with our kids again we better watch it first.

Some parenting stuff I have been thinking about and piecing together starts in chapter 6 of Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places and 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (Emphasis is mine.)

I also keep noodling on all the times in the OT that we were told so and so was a righteous king but he failed to tear down the high places, that is the worship places of the Canaanites.  And how our weapons of choice are prayer and worship. Intangible things that have a very concrete impact and literal affect in real time.

If we confess that our battle is not of flesh and blood, and we do, and if we confess that we fight with things that are not made of metal and stone, and we do, what does that mean about other intangible things in our lives? Our secret thoughts, hidden feelings, and tucked away sins?

I contend that those secret sins that take up that dusty dark corner of our heart will somehow manifest itself in our life in a way that is passed on to our children. We want our children to want the right things, to make the right decisions, to choose the right things, and for the most part we want the same thing for ourselves. Except for those little hidden things that no one knows about but God and we like to walk around as if they’re not there. I guess I am wondering how those insidious weeds in my own life spread their roots out to my children and others in my life.

May we have the courage to confront our high places, the desire to bring to light what we want to keep hidden and be humble enough to destroy them.

Lastly, something not quite as deep and heavy. We live in a world where words of affirmation are everywhere. Random vandalism tells us we’re beautiful. Graphic tee’s remind us to let nothing dull our sparkle. But this I saw and knew it to be the best of all encouragement ever.

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Have a great Monday!