Friday, February 27, 2009

Driving Miss Megan - part 2

Well, it has been a week since the challenge of obeying all traffic laws to the exact letter of the law was given. I failed. As I said in the last post I believe myself to be a good and obedient driver but did not follow all the laws all the time. I found out I often don't drive with my hands at 2 and 10. I often drive with one hand or one hand at 10 the other at 5. I don't always obey the speed limit on side roads and I found out I am influenced to disobey by others. Whether those people are in the car or other drivers I sometimes change the way I drive based on the people around me.

Two questions were given to reflect on: 1. Is there a benefit to following the rules? and 2. Is it possible to do everything right? Both questions seem to have easy answers and maybe I should leave it at that, but if I am taking time to blog about it you know I won't leave it at that.

1. Is there a benefit to following the rules? Yes, obviously. There is a great amount of protection to ourselves and others when we obey traffic laws. As I realted this to the spiritual assignments in the study (Starting Point) I recognize the same is true of God's laws. I spent some time reading through Psalm 119 which is all about God's laws. I was taken aback by how much the Psalmist loves God's laws. I can't say I am always crazy about the commands and instructions God gives in His word on how I am supposed to live my life but I do know that there is unbelievable benefit for those who do. I deisre to make Ps. 119: 7 which says "As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!" (NLT) be my life motto. I want to be refined and shaped by God's laws that I may have a more intimate realtionship with Him.

I believe unfortunately that God is often seen by many people as a big guy in the sky waitng for people to screw up and make mistakes. Rather God gave us the law to benefit us and help us grow closer to Him. Andy Stanley states it this way in the companion message that goes with this lesson, "God gave us the law not as a condition of a relationship but as the confirmation of one." I love that. I heard it first a few months ago and it completely rocked my world. God doesn't want me to obey because it is the only way to have a relationship with Him but because I already have one. He has already made a way to heaven through Jesus Christ and it has nothing to do with how well I obey His laws. Praise God!

2. Is it possible to do everything right?

James 2:10 tells us "For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws". Pretty powerful verse. God loves me enough to have made a way for me to be in a personal realtionship with Him and He gave His commands as confirmation of His great love for me.

The question that has been asked by people since the time of Christ then is this, why do we need to do what is right? If we live by grace why not keep sinning? It is true that we have a war going on inside of us between the Spirit of God who lives in us when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and our own human nature. It is also true that we can choose which of those voices to listen to. Romans 5-8 speaks directly to these issues. The encouragement I find among these verses is this, "Therefore, dear brothers and sister, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live." (Rom. 8:12-13) I can choose to live by the Spirit rather than my sinful nature. The more I understand that God puts in place rules that will benefit my life because of His great love for me the more it is my hearts desire to listen to the voice of the Spirit rather than the often louder and more obvious voice, me.

No, I did not follow the exact letter of the law this week but you can be sure that I thought about it a whole lot more. Each time I broke the law I was aware of it and had to give an account as to why I broke it. I hope to gain a close enough sensitivity to the Spirit of God that I am aware of my sin, I grieve over my sin but that I live in the freedom of grace to recognize that nothing I do can earn me a realtionship with God. His grace shows a love so amazing there is nothing I could ever do to earn it or lose it. Thank You God for Your amazing love!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Driving Miss Megan

Eight years ago when I got married I had to take a driving test. Being from out of state I was required to take the written test again. I figured I would pass since I had been driving for 4 years already but there was a little bit of doubt. I did pass with flying colors. The questions seemed easy enough and I had four years of experience so there was no problem.

Our small group is going through the Starting Point curriculum and this week we are studying law as it is found in the Bible. We were given a very interesting challenge. We were challenged to follow the exact letter of the law when driving this week and report back. I would consider myself a good driver and a law abiding citizen but I was shocked by some observations I made on the way home last night. Within 2 miles of leaving the house we meet in I was met with a realization that I don't know traffic law as well as I thought I did. I can blame it on PA roads since they probably don't have as many of these signs, but I was met with a sign I didn't really understand. I saw the yellow curve sign with the speed 15 posted on it. I was not sure if that speed limit was a caution/warning, a suggestion or the law. I was obedient and slowed down to 15 MPH which seemed super slow. I came across several of these signs before I got to the interstate. I also noticed that on many of the back roads I didn't even know what the speed limit was. Luckily that is not a problem for me when driving WV back roads at night.

I had no problems the rest of the way home but it was amazing how much I go on autopilot when driving. Do I really know the law when driving or do I just do what feels right? What good is a sign to me if I don't know how to read it and what it means? I am looking forward to studying law this week and know that God has new and exciting things to teach me. I'll keep you posted about what I learn.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mmm, Mmm good

I had tomato soup for lunch today. Now, I've made homemade tomato soup and store brand but in my opinion there is nothing quite like Campbell's tomato soup. I don't know if it is the nostalgia of Sunday night soup before choir practice that I often ate growing up or what but I still prefer it above anything else. I was just recently able to convince my non-picky eater to eat it by adding pasta alphabets and calling it alphabet soup. I have also branched out to get my picky eater to eat tuna melts by just calling it a cheese melt instead. (my girls LOVE cheese) Truth be told I am blessed to have two girls that eat most anything I put in front of them. Of course they have favorite foods but for the most part they are not picky. My philosophy of continuing to put food in front of them, whether they eat it or not has proven to work for me. I kept putting green peppers in front of Emma and now she eats them, she acquired the taste. It is a work in progress, I suppose, to get my kids to eat the way I know it is healthy for them.

I am also a work in progress and am so glad that God keeps working on me to get me to be where He wants me to be. I love the verse in Philippians 1:6 where we can really see that God is not done working on His children, "And I (Paul) am certain that God, who began the wood work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (NLT) There are several things that I love about this verse. God is not done with me. I wanted to title this post as "I know that He knows that I know that He knows". For me that is part of what this verse is saying. God is letting me in on the secret that He knows that I am a work in progress. Although it is obvious by my thoughts, actions and attitudes that I am a work this is proof that it is His plan to be that way.

I just got a NLT Bible for Valentine's day and really like the way it was translated in this verse. "...will continue his work until it is finally done..." I don't know about you but sometimes I am waiting for that finally to be here now. I desire more than anything to please God, to know Him and to do His will, yet sometimes I get easily distracted by my failures in all those areas. His work in me will not be final until Christ returns. I am a work in progress and I am so thankful for that. God's Word is full of hope that He is working on us and that we are not alone in our struggles. Paul confessed to the church in Rome that "I have discovered this principle of life- that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:21-25b NLT) I can't count the number of times that I have thanked God those words are in the Bible.

God is working on all of His children. His word tell us that He is not done yet. Scripture also reminds us that we will have to turn to Jesus Christ as the answer to give us power in this war that we all fight within ourselves. The question I asked myself as I served my girls food they didn't like at one time but now eat willingly is what is God continually placing before me in order to help me choose the things that are healthy and good for me? Recognizing the consequences of my words and actions, recognizing my pride, recognizing my judgemental attitude are all areas that God is placing before me and working on me so that I would make the wise choice. As my Father I know He is giving me good things to "eat" when I read and apply the Scriptures to my life, but I don't always want to change. I sometimes want to keep eating my own diet of selfishness and pride because it is easy and tastes good. Yet it is in His grace that He loves me enough to discipline me towards a righteous life (see Heb. 12:5-11). May I continue to grow in my awareness of the things that God wants to continue working on in my life until the final day comes. His scripture really does have very tasty morsels and to that I say it is Mmm, Mmm Good!

***As and aside, if you do have picky eaters in your house don't consider me an authority on how to help change that. My girls really don't fall into the "picky" category.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life together

I love my Church Family! I have that as a piece of flair on my fb page and I really mean it. I enjoy learning and growing and developing relationships with the people I go to church with. I just got back from our small group game night and had a really fun time. We played a rather short game of cranium in which the guys prevailed and then played Rock Band. Although (as I've posted before) I'm not much of a video game player, in the right atmosphere I do find them entertaining. Tonight was one such time. I played the drums and also got a chance to be the lead singer once. I would need more practice to do well at the drums but got a pretty easy song to sing. It was so much fun to just hang out with friends and laugh together.

Rick Warren says, "Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing." I've found that to be true in my own life. Although my relationship with Christ is personal it is not meant to be lived in private. I need other people around me to share with, laugh with, cry with and hold me accountable. I've grown so much by learning from the people God has placed in my life. I am truly blessed to go to a small group that encourages me and accepts me. I want others to experience it too. I am a work in progress and I am so glad He continues to bring people in and out of my life to refine me and sharpen me in order that I reflect Christ more. Thanks to all who have been and continue to be part of my process.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finding Epaphras

I love the word of God. I've been reading it daily for 10 years now and I am always amazed at how much God continues to speak to me when I listen. It never seems to fail that I can read something over and over again and yet learn new things. Something new will pop off the page at me as though God is speaking directly to me. In fact, through the gift of the Holy Spirit inside of me, He is.

Yesterday was another one of those days. I've been reading through the new testament over the last month and am in Colossians. I ran across this verse in 4: 12 -"Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills." This is an obscure verse about a mostly unknown guy. I found out from my Bible dictionary that Epaphras was a friend of Paul's who helped evangelize cities and found churches. It was his news about the churches of the Lycus valley that moved Paul to write the letter to the Colossians.

What spoke to me about this man is that he was a man of prayer. Mentioned in other scriptures as a slave of Christ and fellow prisoner he obviously devoted his life to the cause of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. He prayed for the church of Colossae. I think the fact that I've just finished reading a couple good parenting books and have been increasing the frevency of my prayers for my kids that this man stuck out to me. I am so very fortunate to have a Epaphras in my life and in the lives of my children. My mother (and father for that matter) pray daily for my family. They, like Epaphras, pray that we would mature and be assured of God's will. I can't thanks them enough. That is may prayer for my children as they grow. I desire for them to know God and experience Him in a personal and life changing way. I desire so much more for them than I can sometimes even attempt to pray so I am grateful that I am not the only person praying for them.

I want to be an Epaphras for my children and even pray for the future generations that are to come in our family. I believe everyone needs people in their lives to contend in prayer for them. We can all learn to pray more fervently and passionately because we pray to a God who really cares. I must admit I often pray selfish prayers that focus only on myself or I want to pray for so many things that I get overwhelmed at where to start or what to pray for. Epaphras prayed I am sure for many people but most importantly for those he loved and knew. Chances are that if you read this blog that I know you well or am on a journey to knowing you well. I am letting you know that I want to be an Epaphras to you, I want to contend in prayer for you and your family that you would stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. I hope you have other Epaphras' in your life and I ask you to ponder if God is calling you to be an Epaphras to someone else in you life right now. Please feel free to let me know if you have any specific requests that I can lay before the throne of our very great God. Grace and peace be with you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Our small group is going through the Starting Point curriculum right now and one of the going deeper sections suggested looking at this website

I was very touched by the images. Enjoy!

P.S. Sorry I don't know how to make the site a link. My computer skill are once again shown as inadequate.

Monday, February 2, 2009

More closet space

Well, I have started the venture of potty training Emma. We actually started last Wednesday to be exact. I am pleased to announce that she had an accident free day today. I am so pleased with the progress that she has made in a few short days. I began with the thought that if it didn't work this time I could always start again in a few weeks or even wait till summer. (I had a false start with Lydia once before the real thing). Emma has proven able and willing on this venture. I thought about calling it quits on the second day but I am so glad I didn't. I even got her to use a public potty yesterday at church. I know that there are many who would call me crazy to even try at 19 months but both my girls have done very well at this age and it saves on the cost of diapers. My attitude with Emma has been much better with Emma than it was with Lydia. I was so stressed about it with Lydia but this time I have truly been able to keep a level head and haven't been upset once. I know I have grown. There are a number of other things I have grown in recently, but more on that later.

Now I have to decide what to do with all the extra closet space I will have once the changing table is moved out of Emma's closet. I am so excited to have more space for toys and other kid stuff and be able to get it out of the way. Yeah for more room to organize. Also, if anyone knows of someone who needs a changing table let me know.