When My Obedience Looked Like Disobedience

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Every week for over a year, I have met with a small group of women  from my church for a time of prayer.   On a week morning we gathered together in our church’s counseling room, chair bumping into chair, and we shared one another’s burdens and we prayed for our church. We prayed for the lost. We praised our God.  We wept together.  We rejoiced when the pleas to God had been answered.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.

But then I had to stop going.

The Lord began tugging at my heart with a burden for the shut-in of our church, for the sick, for the stragglers who visited, then were missing.  I wanted to do something for them that would be helpful and practical.  The Lord brought to my mind the thought of cooking or baking for these folks and periodically taking meals or treats for them to enjoy.  But with an already full schedule,  each day obligated to this or that, how would I ever accomplish this?  I began to pray and seek God’s direction.

One day my husband and I went on a little afternoon excursion away from home.  We had time to sit and talk and share our hearts.  I poured out to him the burden God had given me, and the frustration of not knowing how I could serve others from my home and my kitchen when every day was so full.  God gave him such wisdom and it was so clear to him as he said,

God has given you a burden to use your home to serve Him.  You need to focus your ministry out of our house.  You can pray in our home as well as at church.  Ask others to join you, if they’d like.  You all could pray and then cook together.  It’s what you love to do, and God is the One who has placed that burden on your heart.  Do it!

I felt as though a burden had been lifted off of me, and I knew at that moment that this was exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  But that meant that I could no longer attend the morning prayer meeting at church.  My next thought was, “What will my friends think?  It looks so unspiritual to stop going to prayer meeting!”  But I knew that my not going to this morning prayer time was in obedience to what God was asking me to do.  When I shared this with my prayer group, they rejoiced with me, as I should have known they would!

It’s so easy to think that I have to do it all. It’s easy to put the guilt on myself and worry about what others will think if my obedience looks like disobedience.  But God’s Word says~

The fear of man brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25

I could’ve let my fear keep me at our weekly prayer time (not a bad thing) but I would have missed out on the blessing that this step of obedience has brought!  From the very first morning when I began this new cooking ministry, I had absolute peace that I was obeying God!  My heart was filled with the joy God gives AFTER we obey.  We want it before the obedience, don’t we? After all, it would make it a little easier!  But no, we obey, then God gives joy!

It was truly hard to say “No” to that weekly prayer time in order that I could say “Yes” to this burden of baking, cooking and visiting our church folk. Another wonderful thing is that some of the ladies have been able to join me.  We stop and pray for each person we’re taking a meal to.  We cook and stir up delicious food, and then we deliver it.  It has been wonderful…even if it did start out looking like disobedience!

Do you ever feel like you’re responsible for doing it all?  There’s freedom in listening to God’s directives and obeying Him.  He gave us gifts to use that will never be contrary to His Word.  Are you serving Him in obedience?  There’s no greater joy!

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Training Your Preschooler to Sit in Church

Summer is nearly over and this is my last week to repost some old posts.  This week I’m highlighting some of the most popular ones. I trust you’ll find something here that you never read, or that you need to be reminded of!  The first one is about teaching your children to sit quietly in church.  Have your kids mastered it?  If not, here are some suggestions…

 

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You looked so forward to being in church last Sunday, but by the time the service was over you had wrangled with your preschooler in the pew, your blouse was spotted with juice drops, the floor was littered with Goldfish Crackers, and you’re more ready for a deserted island alone without food or water than you are for the Sweet By and By!

Been there? Most of us have! But there is hope for you and your child to be able to sit through an entire service and actually hear the message and get a blessing out of it! Read on!

The picture below is the best place to train your preschool-aged child to learn to sit in church…

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This is your living room or family room couch. That’s right, the best place to train your child about church is in your own home. If you wait until Sunday morning to try to teach them to sit down rather than run the aisles and to whisper, rather than shout out their requests, you’re headed for disaster and major frustration. Here are my suggestions for training a preschool-aged child to sit in church:

  1. Clear the area you’re going to sit in and make it free of  distractions. TV is off and toys are stashed away.
  2. Get one or two quiet activities like a Bible flannel book or other quiet book, and perhaps one quiet toy like a coloring book and a few crayons (no markers!). These toys will be reserved only for your Quiet Time, so they’re “new” each time they’re brought out. Purchase or make several books/quiet toys to keep only for this teaching time and Sundays. Take a look at this! Find similar ideas on Pinterest!
  3. pocket sized magnetic fishing set | doodle craft - would be great little addition for quiet bag at church
    This is a magnetic fishing pond! Super easy to make and super fun for your child. Also super cheap!
  4. Set the timer for five minutes to start. Gather yourself and your child and tell him he is going to sit on the couch with you until the timer goes off. Give him one book or toy and tell him he may play with it while you sit on the couch, but that he may not get down or talk. It’s time to listen. Show him how to sit, and remind him this is QUIET TIME. Tell him If he talks the toy will get taken away – he must play without talking.
  5. Turn on a Podcast of your pastor, if available. If your pastor’s sermons aren’t online, use another broadcast. Have your Bible out and you sit still and listen.
  6. When/if your child starts talking, try not to answer with words, but put your finger to your lips and shake your head “no.” Don’t answer a question for those five minutes. Give a couple silent warnings the first couple of days, but after two heads shaken, take the toy away as you promised you would do. If the child throws a fit or screams, take him out of the room, go to his bedroom or yours and remind him what you’re asking. If he continues to disobey you may need to apply loving discipline to correct his disobedience. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Prov 29:15
  7. When the timer goes off, discuss how they did. “You talked to Mommy, but remember, this is Quiet Time; time to listen to pastor preach. Or, “Yay! You sat so quietly and played! I’m so proud of you and so is God! We got to listen to Pastor preach and that makes God happy!”
  8. The next day and for the whole week, keep up with the five minutes. The next week extend it to ten minutes. Keep at this until you’ve worked up to 30 minutes. A three or four year-old will be able to sit and play without food for thirty minutes. They’ll wiggle, they’ll sigh, but don’t give in and don’t give up! It will be worth it!
  9. If you have more than one child, have a separate bag for each child. Give only one toy at a time, and have each child on either side of you. Be consistent! If they talk, warn once, then remove the toy.
  10. If they throw a fit, discipline in another room, but then bring them back in and complete the five minutes. This will be the same routine once you take them into the service at church.  If they disobey, you must discipline, and it shouldn’t be just that you go out and play in the foyer – that’s what they want! Either discipline, then bring them back to the back row where you were wisely seated, or sit out there with your arms around them so they are not able to get down and play.
  11. Make this training time at home something to look forward to – not a miserable drudgery. That can be accomplished by the activity you choose to put into the bag, but again – just a quiet toy – not treats or lots of toys. Make it biblical, if you can, so they’re also “hearing about God.”

Who knows? You might even glean some wonderful Truths during your at home Quiet Times! It won’t be long – just a couple of months until you’re able to sit in church and actually enjoy the service. You know what? Your child will enjoy it a whole lot more, too!

Any questions? Any other suggestions?

Lovingly,

Endurance of a Counselor

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I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

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Someone told me recently that they had enjoyed reading my blog until they began reading my posts about The Foolish Woman! They were teasing, but the implication was that it’s not always easy to read things that hit home and bring conviction. I trust that you will read on anyway, and consider the description of the foolish woman from Proverbs 7.

Proverbs 7:6-10 reads, “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement. And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her (the foolish woman’s) corner, and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtil of heart.”

I see here that another foolish characteristic of this woman is the choices she makes. She’s going out in the evening when it is dark outside. This is a romantic setting and she is setting herself and this foolish man up for a huge fall by being out at this time of night. She has no concern how this might look to others who might see her standing on the street alone with this man.

What a warning this must be to us! We have to let our mind run ahead to look out for situations that could put our testimony at jeopardy. Some potential danger zones would be:

  • Having a man in your home when you are there alone.
  • Listening to a man tell you about his marriage problems or you talking to him about yours.
  • Sending private emails to men (Why not send a carbon copy to his wife?).
  • Having chats with men on the Internet.
  • Riding alone in the car with a man.

Some may say, “My goodness! Are you suspicious of everyone?” No, but we need to make good, wise choices before we are in a situation that destroys our testimony and possibly our marriage.   What seems harmless could lead to other things.

If we guard our hearts and are also thoughtful enough to protect the men around us, we will know that our choices will label us as wise instead of foolish.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Make wise choices and guard your marriage.

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Bringing People To Jesus

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I’m one of those strange people who enjoy grocery shopping.  I love to walk the aisles and see new items and also find the best deals on the things I’ve written on my list.  Sometimes, though, it can be difficult when you’re trying to find something you don’t usually buy.

Such was the case this week when I went looking for Gluten Free tortillas.  Would they be in the Organic section?  No.  How about the Ethnic food aisle?  Not there.  An employee at the Kroger store where I was shopping must’ve seen my desperate searching and came to ask me if I was finding everything I needed.  I explained that I was looking for Gluten-free tortillas, to which she said,

“I think they’re over in the dairy (I would’ve never looked there!).  Follow me and I’ll take you there.”

I told her she could just point me in the right direction, but she insisted that she was happy to walk over with me to be sure they were really there.

As my cart and I shadowed her steps across the store, the Lord brought to my mind that this is exactly how my life should tell others of Christ!  It’s not enough to just give an explanation of who He is and what He did!  They need someone (me) to say, “Follow me and I’ll show you where you’ll find Him!”

How and when does that happen since He’s not simply on the other side of the building?

  • At home –  I engage in people’s lives and have a hospitable heart so that I can invite others into my home where I can share the Gospel.
  • In my neighborhood – I invite my neighbors to my church and church activities.
  • In my social contacts – I give them a Gospel tract and a testimony of God’s goodness to all of us.
  • At church – I engage in conversation with visitors at church and I look for a opportunity to ask them about their relationship with Christ.
  • At the grocery store, bank, doctor’s office – I learn the names of the people who work there and build relationships so that I can share the Gospel.

It’s such a privilege to share Jesus with others.  Why? Our lives are empty and searching for something and He is the answer!  He came to die for the sins of the entire world, yet each person individually.  He came to take our place on the cross.  He took the punishment that should have been ours so that we could have a relationship with God and go to heaven when we die. He’s the only way to heaven.   Having a relationship with God now makes life’s trials have purpose, and makes this life here abundant and purposeful!   This is a message that every person needs to hear, and it has to come from people who know the Truth!

I love Kroger for lots of reasons, but their personal touch is one thing that always stands out when I’m there.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, others should constantly be receiving a personal invitation from me to come to my Savior.  It happens when I invite them into my life and ask them to follow me.  “Oh, Lord, open my life and my lips to bring others to You!”

It’s my duty, but it’s also my highest privilege!

I struggle with this – I really do, but I so want to bring people to my Savior!  Are you inviting others to follow you so you could take them to Jesus? How are you accomplishing that?

Lovingly,

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Family Friday – Keep Your Marriage Safe

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Recently in the late hours of the night, while a subdivision of residents was fast asleep, a thief entered the quiet of the street and began making his way up driveways looking for unlocked cars. All he was interested in was cash, and any he found was taken.

What the thief didn’t know was that a security camera was right on him, taking footage of his sinful deeds.  Aside from seeing him enter unlocked cars, one thing noted on the security tape was that when he approached one vehicle that was locked, he simply moved away from it. There was no attempt at breaking in.  The security of the car door locks, kept him from taking what was not his.

As I thought about the crime, the Lord brought a truth to my mind about my marriage.  No one can steal away from our relationship unless we leave areas unlocked.  So then, we must check to be sure that we’re keeping our marriage safe.  Here are some security locks that need to be checked regularly:

  • Keep your marriage vows.
    • Love
      • Love is a choice, not a feeling. If you’re not “feeling it,” pray and ask God to help you love your husband – He will. Keep praying about it and don’t quit!
      • Love him thoroughly, the way you want to be loved. Accept him and don’t have any expectations of what he should be or should do.  Would you and I want to be held to our husband’s list of expectations?  We must accept him in the same way.
      • Love him physically. Don’t withhold your physical love as punishment.  Doing so could cause ramifications that could cause the thief to come in and steal what is supposed to be only yours.
    • Honor
      • This is the same as respect. A husband doesn’t earn it as the world says he must – you give it because God commands you to.  Eph 5:33 Honor him as unto the Lord, or as you would the Lord!  Your words, your reactions, your decisions – your whole married life is to show the man you married honor – the highest esteem.
    • Obey
      • He has ultimate leadership for your home. Whether you like his decision or disagree, God says the husband is the head, and unless what he is asking is sinful, then you must come under his authority. Period.
    • ‘Til death do you part
      • Never should we use the word, “Divorce.” Nor should we threaten to leave.  Marriage is for a lifetime.  Considering divorce is leaving an open door for the right situation to enter so we have an out.  (I realize divorce for fornication is allowed, but often lesser things cause those words to be spoken.)

So, how secure is your marriage?  Are you leaving an unlocked door in any of the areas above?  There are many other safeties we could discuss, but I believe if we’re  honoring our marriage vows, most of the other scenarios will be safe from danger.

Marriage is a gift from God that is a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ.  He keeps us secure for eternity.  I’m pretty sure I know a subdivision of people who will now be locking their car doors at night.  Don’t you wait until the thief comes to steal from your marriage before you do what is wise!  Keep it secure all the days of our life, “so long as you both shall live.”

Happy Easter!  Rejoice; He is risen, and that makes a difference in every area of life – even your marriage!

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Do you have a Teachable Spirit?

Little toddlers are becoming independent little people and they will often struggle trying to accomplish a task and do it the hard way.  Have you ever tried to step in and show them an easier way?  Their response is often,

“No, I do it!”

and they push away the very counsel that could make their task easier.

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Toddlers aren’t the only ones who push away help.  Often when we are making our way through our Christian life, a pastor stands to preach, or a teacher gives God’s Word in a Bible study, or a friend pulls us aside to speak Truth to us, and we become stiff and resentful instead of teachable.  We like others to think that we’re just fine.  We don’t think we need someone to tell us what to do,  or how to live!

Are you like that?  I must confess that I’ve fought with this very kind of spirit over the years.  How about  a little check-up to see if we’re teachable or not?

When you hear Truth given by a wise, godly person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting, do you…

  • Turn a deaf ear?  – Proverbs 13:1 a scorner heareth not rebuke.
  • Hate the instruction itself? – Proverbs 5:12 – And you say, “How I have hated instruction and my heart spurned reproof.”
  • Hate the one giving it?  Proverbs 9:8 – Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.
  • Think about how you’re going to defend yourself while the other person is speaking?  Proverebs 18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  • Stiffen up when you hear it?  Proverbs 29:1 – He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

If these traits are true of us, here is the sad result…

  • Destruction – Proverbs 29:1
  • Punishment and Death –  Proverbs 15:10 – This doesn’t necessarily mean physical death, but it could bring that or spiritual death, death to relationships, death to fruitfulness, etc.
  • Broken fellowship with God – Proverbs 1:24, 25
  • Unanswered prayer – Psalm 66:18

If we continue in sin after we’ve been admonished, we can be sure we are headed for destruction.

The flip side of all this is that there are wonderful blessings from heeding Godly counsel:

  • Increase in learning – Proverbs 1:5
  • There is safety –  Proverbs 11:14
  • Wisdom – Proberbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20
  • Happiness – Proverbs 3:13
  • Gained a friend – Proverbs 27:6
  • Gained precious treasure – Proverbs 20:15
  • Deliverance – Proberbs 28:26

If we want to be wise, we’ll all lean in, and not away from the one who desires to instruct us in godly wisdom.  Pride is the culprit that whispers in our ear, “You don’t have to listen to THAT!”  Rather than being like an unteachable youngster, let’s keep a humble, mature heart that listens and then responds.  Even if you don’t think the person is on target about what they’re saying, listen, and then talk to God about it.  He will always give the right counsel!

When is it most difficult to receive godly counsel?

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