Thursday, January 19, 2012

Make It True

"That was excellent, Alex," I applauded. "That was exactly right. I'm so proud of your hard work! You're becoming a terrific musician."

Six year old Alex beamed at my praise then sighed deeply with contentment.  "Will you write that down in my book so it will be true?"

Even my adult piano students appreciate having me write comments and praises in their assignment books. Encouraging words among the goals and assignments train them to see themselves beyond the present day. It helps them build bigger dreams. Hope springs to life in the promise that they can be much better musicians in years to come if the practice and determination for improvement continues.

I picked up a pen in his favorite color and wrote:  Alex, that was excellent. That was exactly right. I'm so proud of your hard work! You're becoming a terrific musician.

God does the same for His children, His students, doesn't He? The Bible shows us everything we need for life and godliness, the goals and assignments for following Jesus. He also helps us to look beyond where we are today so we don't become discouraged by our mistakes and weaknesses.

I dream of someday being truly excellent in my spiritual walk. My hope is continually renewed by His promise that I can be much better at following His commands in the years to come. My practice and determination for improvement will continue until He finishes His good work in me.

"Gonna play your songs a bunch of times this week, Alex?"

He looked at me and grinned. "Yep. And people all over the world will clap for me when I play piano and they will sing my songs."

It's a big dream. Somehow, I think the student will far surpass the teacher.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Whirlwind Disciple

Walk by faith, not by sight.
I remember the shining eyes and exuberant grin of my two-year-old whirlwind as he dashed out the door in his faded overalls and worn tennis shoes. "Mommy, me and God are going for a bike ride to catch the bad guys. Be back by lunch!"

How far can the bad guys go in a fenced in yard?, I wondered, and then the magnitude of his words soaked into my heart. My child had his own faith in God, the sureness that God is there and that He cares about people. My son, in his own small way, wanted to make a difference in the world. Standing in my kitchen, I was so overwhelmed with the fullness of praise and complete joy that I had to sit down.

The discipling home is a world where children of God grow at their own pace. To impress upon a child's heart the importance of having faith in God will be one of the hardest things you ever do. Create a soft place for your child to fall, to make mistakes, to learn disciplines while walking alongside of you. God is there and He cares about people. Teach your child to make a difference in the world.

My son just returned home from the fire station. He spent the early morning hours on the icy snow covered roads searching for people who were in need. He walked in the door, laughing, contented though weary. Grabbing a bottle of water out of the fridge, he drained it, visiting with me for a few minutes. As he headed off to bed for some well earned sleep, my mother-heart was left to ponder.

Parenting is a long winding road. You will be overwhelmed at times with the sharp curves, blind corners, and deep potholes. God is faithful. He is both the Author and the Finisher of your child's faith. He is guarding that life you have trusted to Him. Standing in my kitchen, I was so overwhelmed with the fullness of praise and complete joy that I had to sit down.

He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart;  He gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:11

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Make My Lifesong Sing

Make My Lifesong Sing.

That's my "One Thing" for 2012. It fills me with hope and excitement. What might God do in my life this year?

Billy Graham's excellent new book, Nearing Home was written when he was 92 years old.  It was a delight to read a book about being elderly written by such a trustworthy elderly Christian.  He offers the challenge to live a well-ordered life and to finish the life race strong.

I will be 55 years young in April.  I am enthusiastic about getting older and becoming the woman God is creating me to be.  But I have not adequately prepared myself spiritually for old age.  This year with much help from God, I will change that fact.

There are entire industries and hundreds of books dedicated to preparing ourselves for our senior years.  We get plenty of advice on how to prepare financially, medically and legally.   We plan ahead to ensure adequate housing and to provide for our families.

But are we devoting as much attention to preparing ourselves spiritually for old age?  Why is it we seldom hear sermons or read books with specific advice on how to prepare for a faith that will sustain us through our elderly years?

It's January now, and I'm thinking and planning and brainstorming ideas on how to train myself to sustain my song of praise through all the seasons of my life.  By December I will have a year of training behind me and be much better prepared for the years ahead, whether they be few or many. 

Losing my hearing doesn't mean I need to stop listening to God's Words.  Losing my eyesight doesn't have to take away my spiritual vision. Losing my independence doesn't have to be overwhelming if I am depending on Him.

Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Father's Apprentice

I have been  doing a lot of rubbing elbows with the Creator of the universe lately. In His ongoing challenge to mold me into His likeness one day at a time, there is an increase of His activity. I am being wooed into His presence and becoming enthralled with Him in new exciting ways.

He is the Author and the Finisher of my faith. It is no surprise to me that He is changing me. Indeed, I have asked Him to do that very thing. What surprises me is discovering how much I am allowed to be aware of the process.

Joy constantly overflows from the heart of God and it is splashing onto me. He works in my heart showing me how to love more fervently. My brain is being challenged to dig deeper into His Words for wisdom, insights and knowledge of His ways.  My hearing becomes more acute and I find myself hanging on His every word. As I ponder what He is teaching me lately, my vision of the world is becoming more clearly focused.

The harder He works, the better I feel! I am increasingly intrigued by His love for me and how personal it is to Him. His merciful patience in changing me shows a God who is willing to finish what He starts. I am His apprentice and it is a marvel to watch Him work.

I love that God is an action God. This is my Father's world and He is out to change it.

Pray First. Dream Big. Live Joy. Work Hard. Finish Strong.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Work That Thing!

Work your "One Thing" into being.
"We cannot dream ourselves into what we could be", I explained. "You have to have a plan of action to make things happen. Dreams are of great worth, but only when they're carried out in practice."

But I'm not an organized person like you," Melissa said sadly, shaking her head with disappointment. "I just want a clean house! Is that such a big dream? I'm drowning in chaos."

With tears in her eyes, she said softly, "Will you pray for me?"


I smiled at her look of surprise, then explained. "It's not prayer you need. You have faith without action. We have been praying about this for years. You need discipline. You need to roll up your sleeves and work on the problem."

Melissa nodded, smiling sheepishly. "I'm lazy. You're right."

"Satan says you're lazy. He's a big fat liar. You work very hard, Missy. You are teaching your children, caring for your family, reading the Word, cleaning your house, cooking meals, helping out at church."

I refilled her tea cup, praying for wisdom and the strength of gentleness in my salty words. "You need to stop hoarding things that God could be using to bless the lives of others. You need to have your children work much harder than they do. I will help you empty your house of stuff and I will encourage you and cook for you and teach you a method that works. But, I won't pray for you about this until you decide that you are ready to give all your possessions to God. You gave Him your heart, Missy. Trust Him with your chaos and clutter."

What keeps you from living a well-ordered life? What clutters your mind and life, holding you back from excellence?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Dating Dump

Get out of the dump!
How do I know if God wants me to stay single or get married? If he wants me to be married, how do I find the right person?  Is there just one person, a soul mate, for me? I love the wrong guy, now what do I do?

Being alone is a breeding ground the evil one uses for discontentment. Typically my counsel on this topic is for college women, but the same discouragement is found among single moms, lonely wives and elderly widows.

Let's throw all these questions in the dumpster, shall we? They're the wrong questions! Your life is not about any single decision (pun intended) such as finding a mate or where you live. Are you becoming the person the person you are looking for is looking for?

God has a plan to give you a largeness of Spirit, a ministry to fulfill and a triumphant life. Don't you sense the potential to do great things in your heart? If you look around the thought clutter, you'll discover it!

Discontentment is a diminishing of who you are to be in Christ.  You are a child of God.  He has a plan for your life! The evil one has a plan for your discontentment, discouragement, depression. How much time have you spent listening to Satan's lies that you can't have something when you have a God who is able to abundantly, victoriously thrill you with an amazing life?

When you're disappointed, fight back! When you're disappointed, dream bigger! Get to work becoming the woman God has called you to be. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Not in a "woe is me-I have nothing to offer-settling for the 'whole religion thing' kind of way....but in a genuine, "I can take this mountain!" kind of way. Choose a well-lived life, not a life lived in the dumps.

I have put before you life and death. Choose life."~The God of Joy


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Patience Waits

"You  have the most beautiful hair on the planet!" I told the young woman at our worship service. (I know, right? Sometimes I am so spiritually minded it's amazing!)

On the college campus I see girls like Amy all the time. A cheery smile and sweet laugh softens already lovely features. A splatter of freckles and wavy brown hair give a Hollywood appearance of a girl-next-door. Amy looks like everyone's favorite brunette cheerleader with a bubbly personality to match.

Last night Amy sat on the front row in the prison chapel where my husband and I spend our Monday nights providing a worship service. Her heart seemed to burst with gratitude and delight as she sang and encouraged the friend she brought with her to join in the discussion during my teaching time.

Women in the prison have jobs, classes, activities and responsibilities. Amy used to regularly attend Monday Night Worship.  She loved the singing and teaching, the friendship and encouragement provided. When her work schedule changed she had to stop attending for awhile.

Ten years was a long time for Amy to wait. Every Monday night during that decade she knew we were there singing, praising, encouraging and learning together. And Amy worked and waited, missed us and hoped for the day when she could worship with us again.
Ten years. Sometimes I have difficulty waiting for my toast to brown before my egg gets cold.
Humility is having a teachable heart~Lord, teach me to be more like Amy when I grow up.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-3

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Thing

What you do, every day, makes a difference. My most recent article was published in the January 1, 2012 issue of Lookout Magazine. I hope it encourages you to change your world in the coming year~

The article is entitled One Thing

"As I select a resolution for the New Year, my heart swells with hope. He is not only the author, but the finisher of my faith. A year from now God will have done a mighty work in me. It will make a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of others." 
~Karen Joy Robertson