Friday, August 29, 2014

The Fruit of our Labor

This summer has been glorious, warm, and filled with fresh produce.  Our backyard garden yielded plenty of  zucchini, yellow summer squash, carrots, green beans, broccoli, spinach and the sweetest corn.  In addition, we've filled our freezer with raspberries and strawberries.  Before I moved to the mid-west, I had never really had a garden (growing up in the arid southwest, it wasn't much of an option), so I had a lot of learning to do.  We fertilize our garden plot in the fall (and sometimes spring), prune apple trees in the fall, till up soil each spring and plant our favorite veggies in nice straight rows.  If it's a dry summer, we water the garden in the evenings and around the middle of July, we start picking, chopping and freezing the fruits of our labor.  Often, there are jars of strawberry, raspberry or grape jam made along with our traditional fall applesauce making day.  Someone peels, someone cooks up sauce, someone measures out ingredients, someone boils jars, someone mashes up the cooked sauce and we all help clean up the sticky floor at the end of a day of canning.

Whew!  It's so much work to make all of these foods; why not just purchase them from the store?  The labor of growing and preserving our own foods really does make them sweeter.  I think no candy in the store can compare to the fresh sweetness of homemade strawberry jam.

When I feed on the fruits of my own labor, I appreciate and savor each juicy bite.  I am eating wholesome food and I'm an active participant in every step in the process.

How does that translate to our spiritual walk?  Are we fed a constant diet of "fast food," spiritually speaking?  If short, cute snippets of God's word are all we ingest, we aren't having a balanced diet.  Do we pretty much just "eat out" all the time?  Is our spiritual growth dependent upon whatever the pastor is preaching or what we hear on the radio or read online?

Or are we digging into the word, getting our nails dirty, harvesting the power of repeated words, searching for deeper understanding, cutting apart paragraphs to find the juiciest truths?

2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."    We can all be workmen in our own spiritual garden of truth as we handle the word of God correctly.  

The more we labor over God's word, studying it on our own, reading it as if it were candy from the store, the more we will grow spiritually.

Psalm 119:103 'How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

In a world of constant communication, it can be easy to live of pre-digested, neatly packaged truth.  But, if we want to be spiritually mature, deepening our faith, moving on to a new level, we must spend time studying God's word.  In deep study, we dig up treasures in God's Word and feed on the meat of Scripture.

"But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."  Hebrews 5:14

Let's dig in!

P.S. If you want to get started studying God's word, but aren't sure how to begin, just ask!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Prayer for the Woman in Ministry

Dear Woman in Ministry,

 This prayer is for you. I’m praying for you today because I know how valuable you are to the kingdom of God and I know your tender heart for God’s purposes.

Lord, bless my sister with the peace that passes understanding. When things get busy and life is crazy with demands that seem unending, remind her to sit at your feet like a Mary (instead of a Martha; Luke 10:38-42). Give her the peace that passes understanding as she lays her burdens at your feet (Philippians 4:6-7). Remind her that Your burden is easy and Your yoke is light (Matthew 11:28-30) and gently guide her to the cross where she can unburden herself and trust in You.

Father of our hearts, give this woman grace. Grace to respond kindly to those who criticize or judge unfairly, because You know Lord that those people are hurting and need Your grace as much as the rest of us. Mostly, give her grace as she judges herself. Let her know the overflow of Your grace (2 Corinthians 9:8) when she makes mistakes and when she drops the ball, or gossips, or hurts someone’s feelings, or doesn’t communicate well. Pour out your grace on her and remind her that You don’t use perfect people; You use people who are broken and poured out for You.

Lord, guard her heart from the arrows of the evil one. May Your cloak of righteousness protect her from the temptations of the world: temptations to lose heart, to give up, to despair; or to find comfort in any place other than You. Guard her mind, Lord, from the thinking of this world and the lies of Satan (with the helmet of salvation). May she keep her mind focused on You and take every thought captive, committing her inner dialogues to You (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Shield her all about with the protection that comes from faith. Let her hope be in You, for You will not let her down. Oh Lord, please protect her marriage and make her home a refuge from the battles she fights for You. Guard her children and pour out Your blessings upon her home as she commits her life to You, Lord.

Give her a spirit of readiness, that she would be willing to serve You when You call. Oh Lord, give her wisdom to distinguish between what opportunities are from You and which are only going to be more BUSYness. Grant her compassion for the lost, the hurting, the helpless. Give her Your eyes and Your heart for the world that she might say, “Here I am Lord, send me ” (Isaiah 6:8).

Above all, Father, make her a woman of prayer, an intercessor for the people You love. May she battle for their hearts in prayer and be a warrior alongside You to see victory for Jesus. God, strengthen this woman You have chosen to serve You. Make her courageous and powerful for Your glory (Ephesians 6:10:18).

Dear Lord, use this woman to further Your kingdom, to glorify Your name and to spread the truth of the gospel far and wide. Lord, make her wholly YOURS, committed to Your purposes and completely sold out for You. May she fall deeply in love with Your Lord, that all her service to You becomes merely an act of pure love (2 Corinthians 5:14). Pour out Your love, Your grace, Your truth upon her: fill her with Your Spirit so that she lives only by Your Spirit and not in her own flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Fill her. Use her. Strengthen her. Empower her. Bless her. Protect her. Live in her and work through her.

By the power of the risen Lord, I pray. AMEN

P.S. Did you need me to pray anything else for you? ;)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Fourth!

I've been recounting the past week with lots of smiles, despite my soreness.

After a grueling 3 weeks, I completed 6 graduate credits and had one week off before school starts up again.  We started our holiday on Saturday with a pool party at a friend's house.  It was wrapped up with a vicious game of kickball, girls v. boys. 

Then, we spent Sunday afternoon at the lake, tubing with the kids.  Two days in a row in the water, no one turning into a prune yet.

Monday was warm, so went to a nearby beach and played in the sand and water for several hours.  Day three in the water.

Tuesday night, the 3rd, was our family get-together for fireworks on the lake.  We had a barbeque and then hopped into the pontoon for the fireworks.  After waiting for half an hour, the kids begged to hop into the lake in their clothes.  So, day 4 in the water (before it got too dark).

We had planned to go camping for the remainder of the week, but it was supposed to be near 100, so we scrapped that plan and made new plans to go to Wisconsin Dells waterparks instead. 

The next two days were insane amount of fun, sliding down tons of waterslides and soaking up the sun.  Maybe too much sun.  Well, since my skin turned a few shades of lobster red, I might have spent just a tiny too much time in the sun. 

I'm recovering, and the kids haven't grown fins yet, even after six straight days in the water.