April 20, 2007

Oswald Chambers

I read Oswald Chamber's wonderful devotional book each night and last evening came to this meaty entry:

"For Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom." 1 Kings 2:28


Joab stood the big test, he remained absolutely loyal and true to David and did not turn after the fascinating and ambitious Absalom, but yet towards the end of his life he turned after the craven Adonijah. Always remain alert to the fact that where one man has gone back is exactly where any one may go back (see 1 Cor. 10:13). You have gone through the big crisis, now be alert over the least things; take into calculation the "retired sphere of the leasts."

We are apt to say - "It is not in the least likely that having been through the supreme crisis, I shall turn now to the things of the world." Do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing that is the peril. In the aftermath of a great spiritual transaction the "retired sphere of the leasts" begins to tell; it is not dominant, but remember it is there, and if you are not warned, it will trip you up. You have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent. Do not be morbidly introspective, looking forward with dread, but keep alert; keep your memory bright before God. Unguarded strength is double weakness because that is where the "retired sphere of the leasts" saps. The Bible characters fell on their strong points, never on their weak ones.

"Kept by the power of God" - that is the only safety.

Reprinted from http://www.myutmost.org/04/0419.html


If you are not familiar with Oswald Chambers nor his devotional classic, "My Utmost for His Highest", the I would suggest you check out the online version or purchase one of the slim paperback versions (available everywhere) and spend some time with this devout and deeply thoughtful man.

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was a Scottish minister and teacher whose teachings on the life of faith and abandonment to God have endured to this day. His wife collected his teachings and created this daily devotional format.

As I read last nights entry something struck me and it has sat with me this entire day. O.C. writes the following:

The Bible characters fell on their strong points, never on their weak ones.

How simply powerful, how perceptible, how utterly true. And, not just for bible characters, but for each one of us. We all fall or sin where we are strongest, not necessarily in our weak areas. We tend to think the reverse is true that we are weak and therefore easily tempted. In truth, however, we sin far more often when we no longer require the Lord's help, when we no longer need him to rescue us. We sin in arrogance, in haste, in self-confidence, in the times when we know we can do it ourselves. In our frailty we cry out to Him to save us, to help us, to sustain us. But in those times when our confidence is high and our strength is renewed, we choose to walk alone. This is when we fail, when we sin, when we go it alone.

I thought today of the times in my life when I have been riding a wave of enthusiasm, when I have been at the very top of my success or when I have been fully in-control. I was alive, I was well, I was moving forward, until in one swift moment, in passion and haste, I fell -- terribly--awfully--incredibly far down from that precipice.

Christ said that he is strong when we are weak. Yes, this is true. But we need him most when we are strong and self-confident and are tempted to walk alone. Let us remember to keep our eyes upon Jesus, no matter how good we feel or how strong we may be. We need him to keep our feet from stumbling and to keep us firmly grounded on the Rock of our Salvation.

Selah! (Amplified says...pause and calmly think of that!)

April 17, 2007

Material Thoughts

Forbid it, Lord, that our roots become too firmly attached to this earth, that we should fall in love with things. Help us to understand that the pilgrimage of this life is but an introduction, a preface, a training school for what is to come.

Then shall we see all of life in its true perspective. Then shall we not fall in love with the things of time, but come to love the things that endure. Then shall we be saved from the tyranny of possessions which we have no leisure to enjoy, of property whose care becomes a burden. Give us, we pray, the courage to simplify our lives.

So may we be mature in our faith, childlike but never childish, humble but never cringing, understanding but never conceited.

So help us, O God, to live and not merely to exist, that we may have joy in our work. In your name, who alone can give us moderation and balance and zest for living, we pray. Amen. -Peter Marshall

My thoughts have been running towards materialism the past couple days. I have been thinking of what we don't have and what I wish we did have and it bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I think it is ok to plan and to think and to dream about the possibility of "things." I just think that when you start to focus on "things" you begin to lose site of what you already have and you stop moving forward. You look in and behind but you don't keep looking forward.

Jesus told his disciples to follow Him, not wander around behind him, but to follow him. In Proverbs, we read over and over again: do not look to the left or the right, keep your gaze straight ahead. God knows that for us to be happy and content our source of joy must come from the One who can fulfill all our needs and supply us with every want.

My favorite verse is:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalm 37:4

The Lord will change our desires to match His and will give freely to us from His abundance. Our eyes need to be focused on Him and on His way. We are called to follow the Lord -- let us follow him with gaze firmly fixed and without turning to the left or right.

April 16, 2007

Scheduling Woes

I am once again stuck in "scheduling mode" and it is driving me crazy. I have this intense desire to plan everything out to the nth degree but whenever I sit down to do it, I get this uneasy feeling like the task is going to be too difficult for me. I know that it has to do with my V/S learning style -- I can see what I want our year to look like but find plotting the details to be excruciatingly difficult. I am not a details person and tend to "fly by the seat of my pants" a lot. I know that we need to be scheduled and organized because whenever use a schedule, we actually get a lot more done each day. However, the whole task is just daunting to me.

I have used Home School Tracker Plus (http://www.tghomesoft.com) before and it does work but I don't like the way the reports print out. I think I am going to give it a try again since it is a solid database program and it will keep us organized.

April 12, 2007

Reading List for Spring

Ok, now that I have my son's Y9 planned out, I guess I need to start reading some of his books. I probably will not get through all of them but there are a few that look very interesting. Just a partial listing:

Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials
by Marc Aronson

"Aronson has produced a legitimate piece of original scholarship that is at the same time an interesting narrative. Examining the events in the Massachusetts of 1692, and immediately discounting much of what readers may already know about the trials, he answers some of the questions they will bring, but raises even more. In the brilliant introduction, the author actively encourages the rethinking of past notions of the events leading up to the accusations and hearings. He sets straight the issue of Tituba's ethnicity, the motives and means of Cotton Mather and his colleagues, and the societal contexts and compulsions of the accusers. These participants are introduced and preliminary events are related, all culminating in the hearings. At this point, some readers may get bogged down in respectable yet monotonous he-said-she-said, while others may feel the copious direct quotes from primary sources are just right. Writing with an unabashed political bent, Aronson draws intrepid parallels between Salem and post-September 11th society (as well as the 1960s), and alternately charming and shocking connections between the 400-year-old participants and classic folk- and fairy-tale characters. In the charge to form one's own deduction about what happened and why, this bold book cautions that while readers' interpretations will vary and are valid, conclusions may not even be possible." Reviewed by Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library

Peter the Great
by Robert K. Massie

Against the monumental canvas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and Russia, unfolds the magnificent story of Peter the Great. He brought Russia from the darkness of its own Middle Ages into the Enlightenment and transformed it into the power that has its legacy in the Russia of our own century. THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction
by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Widely used and appreciated since its first appearance, The Christian Life not only expounds the teaching of Scripture, but outlines its meaning for practical Christian living. It is, as J.I. Packer writes in his preface, theology that is "practical, applying Bible teaching with insight and wisdom to the condition of plain people. Christian beginners will get the benefit and the Lords older sheep, grown tough and stringy maybe, will find themselves edified and perhaps tenderized too." ChristianBook.com

Minnehaha Alumni Pops Concert

For those of you who live in the twin cities area and are familiar with Minnehaha Academy, well, my father-in-law (former band director), is one of the guests of honor this month at their annual Alumni Band concert.

April 28th, 2006 (Saturday)- Alumni Band at the Pops Concert! Lelia Foote and David Hepburn return to conduct two pieces as alumni play with the current students.



My father-in-law is looking forward to this special night. I am sure it will be a blessing to him and will be a source of encouragement as well!

April 10, 2007

Serving God

I just had to share a moment...



I teach Awana at my church and this evening I had the most wonderful opportunity to see the love of God expressed on the face of a very small child. I love Awana for that very reason but this was so much cooler!!

We have had some of our high school missionaries come into our council time (worship/story time) and share what they will be doing this summer on their missions trip. So far we have had 6 girls and 2 boys come and share with our K-2nd graders. The girls who spoke tonight will be going to Alaska (to a camp) and to the Dominican Republic this summer so they talked about how they will be serving the Lord, what the focus is of their trip, etc.

Afterwards, a little boy came up to me, a kindergartner (about 5), and asked me if he could help me next week. I am the director of our Sparks club and each night I hand out awards, introduce our speaker, etc. At first I was a little unsure of what he meant so I asked him:

"Honey, what do you want to do?"
"Help you"
"Help me with what?"
"Help you with stuff"

so I said Ok and then out popped the most beautiful thing from his mouth. He said:

"I want to Serve God"

I was almost in tears because you know...out of the mouths of babes and all. I had my co-director tell him (after we had discussed what he could do to help us) that next week he could serve God by handing out awards during our council time. He was overjoyed and so excited that he was going to be serving God just like the big kid missionaries.

God is so good.

April 8, 2007

April 2, 2007

Forming Spiritual Habits

Besides this you know what [a critical] hour this is, how it is high time now for you to wake up out of your sleep (rouse to reality). For salvation (final deliverance) is nearer to us now than when we first believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Christ, the Messiah). Romans 13:1

I will admit that I spent a great deal of my life dealing with bad habits. I didn't set out to be lazy, it just happened. It didn't happen all at once either. It was a slow progression, a little bit here and a little bit there. One day, I woke up and found that I was plaqued by a myriad of bad habits, everything from oversleeping, to procrastination (putting things off), to neglecting my spirital life.

Last year, a friend in one of my home school e-groups passed away suddenly. Her death came as a shock to all of us. She was a young mom in the very prime of her life. She died in child birth. Her death shook me up and reminded me that the time of salvation is nearer now than ever before. If I wanted to stop being lazy and really start living, I had to make some serious changes to my life starting with those darn bad habits.

I have spent the past year working on replacing those bad habits with good ones (a la Charlotte Mason). I started reading my Bible each day and spending time in prayer, alone in my prayer closet. I started to manage my time better and not be so lazy. I started reading good books again. I started to find that I had more time each day to do the things I enjoyed and felt less pressured to always try and catch-up. I started living again and my life has taken on a new shape, a new dynamic, a new outlook.

I will always be grateful to my God for allowing me to experience the loss of a friend because in her death, I became alive and took hold of the miracle of life and recognized that life is all too fleeting. My desires changed and now I long to please Him and to do the things that bring Him pleasure.

Make a habit today of reading your Bible. Make a good habit today to replace a bad one and wait and see how much better you will feel. There is power in choice and power in overcoming the world. Jesus Christ has already done this for you and He is graciously waiting to give you His power to overcome every challenge you will face today.

Complaining....Again!

Whoso is wise [if there be any truly wise] will observe and heed these things; and they will diligently consider the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord. Psalm 107:43

Ok, I admit it. I have a problem with complaining. I don't really even know that I am doing it until out pops some whine or whince and I complain. My nature is melancholy and I tend to see things as either black or white, wrong or right. I have a critical eye for detail and find that I am a pretty good judge of character. So while these traits may be good and even welcome under the best circumstances, they often turn out to give me motivation to complain.

The dictionary defines the verb 'to complain' as follows:

to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault

Using this definition as a guide I realize that about 50% of the time I complain to express my dissatisfaction or due to pain (oh, how my shoulders do hurt right now!) I probably find fault more than I do find resentment, but even still, I think I am guilty of doing this far too often.

I have found that when I take my complaints to the Lord, He graciously listens to me. However, I have been reading through the Old Testament and I realized that there is a fine line between complaining and grumbling. The Lord was not happy when the Israelites grumbled and He let everyone know about it. I decided I needed to know what the verb "to grumble" means. Well, here you go:

to murmur or mutter in discontent; complain sullenly

Oh my...so it is one thing to complain and it is quite another thing to grumble. The way I see it is that the missing ingridient between the two is ATTITUDE. Grumbling adds that extra special does of attitude, a sullenness, to the matter. My mental picture is of the teen that stalks out of the room muttering under his or her breath, "it's not fair." It is like saying "ok, you may be right, but I don't like it and I am going to sulk about it."

I have decided to keep my attitude in check, and if I do complain, I need to make sure that I am simply stating the facts -- my back hurts, the service was unacceptable, the company has poor managers, etc. I have got to keep my attitude out of the complaint because it is just a short walk from expressing dissastifaction to sullenly muttering (grumble, grumble, grumble)!

April 1, 2007

Psalm 92:13-14



Planted in the house of the Lord,
they shall flourish in the courts of our God.
[Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth
fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap
[of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].


May we all learn to live fully satisfied in our God!