Thursday, April 17, 2014

Toiling On!

Marching on, marching on,
For Christ count everything but loss!
And to crown Him King, we’ll toil and sing,
’Neath the banner of the cross!
(The Banner of the Cross-Daniel Whittle)

For some reason this song has been stuck in my head since I was a little girl.  I'm not sure if we sang it a lot in church when I was a child or if my mom used it as a motivational song for me to get my chores done. Whatever the reason, it is stuck!  But, I have always sung the first line as "Toiling on, Toiling on" instead of marching on.  It wasn't until recently that I saw the song printed somewhere that I noticed I had the words wrong!  But did I?  I believe God had it planted in my head that way because He knew the mission He had set out for me.  Motherhood.

Being a mom is wonderful!  I love it!  Most days...



Here's the definition for toil:
toil
toil/
verb
  1. 1.
    work extremely hard or incessantly.
    "we toiled away"
    synonyms:work hard, labor, exert oneself, slave (away), grind away, strive, work one's fingers to the bone, put one's nose to the grindstone; More
noun
  1. 1.
    exhausting physical labor.
    "a life of toil"
    synonyms:hard work, laborexertion, slaving, drudgeryeffortindustry, 'blood,sweat, and tears'; More

This really does describe motherhood...but I don't look at this as discouraging but encouraging!  We all toil at something!  And I love that my calling is to toil at motherhood but I'll be honest-  some days are just hard!  Some weeks are hard!  It's not always how commercials, pinterest and movies make it look.  In fact, is it ever?  Like so many other things, culture likes to give us this "picture" to live up to in order to sell us something.  "If I just had that mixer, I could bake chocolate chip cookies with my kids and giggle as we get flour on our noses."  "If we could just go to Disney together, I know we could have some really great moments that would bring our family closer."  And, "If I just had that mop that makes life easier I can just shake my head and giggle at the milk and jelly that just crashed on the floor."  Sometimes we have those moments and SOMETIMES...nah...I never shake my head and giggle at the spills.  But, my joy and happiness in being a mom is not dependent on these things.  It's not dependent on the special moments...though we have plenty. I want my kids to know that.  I want to constantly remind myself of that.  My joy and happiness comes from my faith, hope, and trust in God, not in the atmosphere I can create in my home to show the world that we are doing it "right".



 I toil on for Christ! I rejoice in the good days and the bad days for Christ!  It's a shocking thing I'm gonna say here.  Prepare yourself.  My children are not the source of my joy and hope.  My children bring me great joy.  I love them more than I love myself (except when I get mad because I love myself more than I love them...but that is another post).  They are, apart from salvation and my godly husband, my most precious gifts from God.  But if I base my joy on them, I will be disappointed.  If they base their joy on me they will really be disappointed.  My joy is in Him and my only expectation is from Him.  "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." Psalm 62:5.  I want them to know that.  I want to demonstrate that to my children so that they never look for joy and happiness in anything but Christ.  Oh, temporary happinesses may come...but the rough days come as well.  I pray I will teach my kids to base their hopes, foundations, dreams-everything on Christ alone.  He is the only One who never fails!  He is the source of hope: Psalm 119:14;Psalm 23...and a million other verses.  I want my kids to look to Jesus for everything...not look for happiness in things, people or events.  Psalm 16:11 




So, I toil on in my calling of motherhood.  Not for their benefit and not so I will be mother of the year.  I toil, as the song says, to crown Him King beneath the banner of the cross.  Everything I do is to honor and glorify Him.  My children will benefit from that so much more than the vain things this world says makes a great mom. What makes a great mom, dad, family, or person is Christ and Him being the source and purpose for all that we do. 




Sometimes it's easy and all the world seems right.  Sometimes it is toiling.  But, with joy I will sing:

Toiling on, Toiling on,
For Christ count everything but loss!
And to crown Him King, we’ll toil and sing,
                                ’Neath the banner of the cross! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Take My Life and Let It Be

We are singing this in church tomorrow in response to Romans 14:13-19.  As I have been meditating on the words, preparing for worship, I am trying to sing them with thoughts toward my own life and heart so as not to sing numbly, but with a tender heart.






"Take my life (truly, Yours Lord) and let it be
Consecrated (sacred, holy, set apart) Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days (each moment, second-not being on auto pilot in the mundane; every part of my days and all my days)
Let them flow in ceaseless praise (Oh, that we(I) would praise Him with each moment, regardless of what it brings, with my life in obedience to Him.)
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hands (clean hands, with a pure and holy heart-I lift them up to You, Lord) and let them move(not idle, but working for my Lord!)
At the impulse of Thy love(listening to the prompting of the Spirit, the One you left to lead and direct us)
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Swift and beautiful for Thee(beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel of PEACE)

Take my voice(You gave me a voice!) and let me sing(A way to worship you audibly from the outflow of my heart)
Always only for my King(Doesn't the pot do all the Potter created Him for?  Oh may I never use my voice for what doesn't please you, My Creator!)
Take my lips (may I repent like Isaiah of my unclean lips )and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee(May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight)
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold(It's all Yours, Lord)
Take my intellect (all I have comes from you) and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose
Every power as Thou shalt choose(Lord, help us to seek wisdom for Your glory and not intellect for man's applause)

Take my will(my will?  Would I have ever sought you?  Now that you have saved me, let my will be lost in Yours) and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine(I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me)
Take my heart(You made my heart of stone a heart of flesh) it is Thine (I am His and He is mine! )own
It shall be Thy royal throne
It shall be Thy royal throne(Isaiah 66:1-Let my heart be Your throne!)

Take my love(any love I have comes from the One who IS Love), my Lord, I pour(I pour it all out for You...poured out, yet You continue to fill me til my cup overflows)
At Thy feet(where I long to stay, bowing before You, my All in All) its treasure -store
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only all for Thee (You are always enough for me...)
Ever, only all for Thee(You are all I need.  Hallelujah, all I have is Christ!)

Francis R. Havergal (thoughts mine) 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vessels Unto Honor


I love the old song from Steve Green called “The Refiners' Fire”.  The chorus is:

The Refiner's fire, has now become my sole desire.
Purged and cleansed and purified,
That the Lord be glorified.
He is consuming my soul,
Refining me making me whole.
No matter what I may lose, 
I choose the Refiner's fire.



In Zechariah, it says, "... in all the land, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left. And I will put this third into the fire, and Refine them as silver, and test them as gold. They will call on My Name, and I will answer and say, 'They are My people'; and they will say, 'Yahweh is my Elohim!!!'." (Zec 13:9) .

God is also called the Refiner's Fire in Malachi, and Job mentions that God will try him and he shall come forth as gold.  Isaiah, Daniel and  Nehemiah also make reference to the refining fire.
Much can be gleaned from meditating on this name of God.  But, He is not just called “fire”.  John Piper points out,
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.”

A friend and I were recently discussing this very thing, sharing about different trials and struggles we all go through.  There are so many “self-help” books and worldly philosophies out there to combat any problem, addiction, or dysfunction you or your family may have.  The reason this is such a booming business is because people flock to it.  We are a “quick-fix” society.  Any type of band-aid or solution to make our life easier or explain away our sin will do.  Why?  Because it seems so much easier than the Refiner's fire!
No one wants to go through the fire.  No one wants to be burned.  But, as we all know, the quick-fixes are just that.  They may be a temporary solution and bring a season of false hope, but it is false and temporary because it is superficial.  God's desire for us is for refinement.  It is a wonderful thing and a beautiful example of His great love for us.

When we go through trials, when we have struggles, when we have questions, our first response needs to be to run to the Word of God.  No matter how convicting or heart-wrenching it is to see our sin through God's Word, it is Truth.  Modern philosophies and methods are fleeting, but God's Word is “ living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Human wisdom appeals to the flesh, but God's Word will pierce us and find the root. The Refiner's fire will cauterize the wound and bring complete healing.  This refining is a gift, this fire is a balm.  We shall come forth as gold!  And as the silversmith knows just when to pull the silver out of the fire, our Great Refiner knows just how to bring us to the place where we reflect the Son. Then we will be fit for the Master's use.  Then, we shall be vessels unto honor.



But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:10



All for Jesus!






Monday, March 31, 2014

God's Design: Holy Living and Prayer Part 2




The idea for starting this blog originally came from my husband.  I am thankful for that.  He is a godly man and a strong spiritual leader for me.  Not only that, he is my pastor!







I guess since he was the instigator of my blog, and since he is my strongest spiritual influence, it makes sense that God would use the things he has taught me to be the basis of most of my blog posts.  I have sincerely prayed and asked God to use this space for His glory alone and solely for His purposes.  My prayer is that He would direct the when and what to place on this blog.  I know He will always accomplish His perfect will when we subject ourselves to Him:


So, one of the many things I learn from him is the importance of holy living.  Not living according to rules that man (even Christian man) has made, but being a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship." ( Romans 12:1b)  He has taught me, through the Word, that we are free: free from the bondage of sin!  We are now free in Christ to live righteous and holy lives! (Romans 6:22)


I love our Wednesday night prayer meetings.  It is one of the sweetest gatherings at our church (well, they are all sweet...but you know what I mean!)  Jeff always gives us a short devotional usually having something to do with prayer.  A few weeks ago he highlighted for us the life of George Whitfield and his heart for a life of holiness before God.  I would like to share with you something from George Whitfield.  It is a sort of "run down of the day" list from his diary that he went through in his mind each evening.  The reason I named this post Holy Living and Prayer Part 2 is because this list covers both!

So here they are.  I pray they are a blessing to you as they have been to me.  I'm not always faithful to go through them each night, but a few of them have stuck with me and caused me to keep my mind stayed upon Jehovah during the day.

Have I,

  1. Been fervent in private prayer?

  2. Used stated hours of prayer?

  3. Used prayer every hour?  (This one has stuck with me!  I feel like I am constantly sending up red flare prayers to God, but I am working on having a deliberate time to pray and thank God every hour.  I need Him every hour!)

  4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God's glory? (Yeah, this one got me!  Has definitely caused me to pause and consider Him and His glory through my day)

  5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks? (Mmmhmm....this one too.  I better stop the commentary or this post will never end!)

  6.  Planned business for the day? (Planning...God is a God of order)

  7.  Been simple and recollected in everything? 

  8.  Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?

  9.  Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did? (convicting...)

10. Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others? (convicting...)

11. Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep? (okay...they all convict me!)

12. Taken time for giving thanks according to [William] Law's rules? See this

13. Been diligent in studies? (2 Timothy 2:15)

14. Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?

15. Confessed all sin?


What a way to end the day, huh?

Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Living Out God's Design-A Clean Heart











In learning how to live out God's design for us as women, one of God's gracious methods is by pointing us to the Proverbs 31 woman.  Too often, we read those verses with a predisposed idea that she is perfect and we could never measure up.  Our error is in reading the text with our feelings instead of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the heart of God's will for us as we rely on His grace and power to sanctify our lives.  There is so much to say on the Proverbs 31 woman, but I love what a new acquaintance of mine has to say on a portion of the passage and how she beautifully exposes a heart issue in all of us.

Sunny Shell is a blogger at Abandoned to Christ and My Second Love, as well as a writer for the Christian Post.  She has given me permission to share her blog post here on my site.  I know you will be blessed by it.  Sunny writes:

A Proverbs 31 Woman Does More Than Keep Her Home...


...she keeps her heart "clean" for Christ so that what flows out of her mouth is most pleasing to the Lord (Matt 15:18-20Ps 19:14Eph 4:29-32).

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue...God shows no partiality..If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors...So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." ~Proverbs 31:26Romans 2:11James 2:8-9,4:17

We women "open our mouths" not just with our physical mouths, but also with our pens and keyboards. And too often, we "show partiality" as we ought not. We pay attention only to those we think "love" us just because they serve us and make us feel good. We don't tend to care very much if what others say are from God's Word (Ps 19:7), His wisdom (James 3:17) or that the teaching of God's kindness is on our tongues (1 John 3:18). Too often, we only keep close company with those whose words soothe our flesh and boosts our already overweening egos (2 Tim 4:3-4).

So what's a girl to do? Cry out to Jesus for help!

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [in Christ], but with the temptation He will also provide the Way of escape, that you may be able to endure it...For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Below are some of the questions I ask myself to test my own heart:
  • Do I prefer those who will openly and lovingly rebuke, wound and sharpen me with God's Word (Prov 27:517)?
  • Do I trust, appreciate and prefer those who exhort me (through speech and by their living), to travel the narrow road (Ps 1:1-3)?
  • Or do I prefer, respect and give honor to those who lavish me with "kisses" that make you feel good but does nothing to inspire me to do good (Prov 27:6James 1:22)?
Often, our husbands are the ones whom God uses to do all these things. And deep down, we all know it, so what do we do? We hide things from them so they can't lead, rebuke, hold us accountable and "sharpen" us. Instead of biblically submitting under our husband's God-given headship, and openly and honestly seek their wise counsel 1; we gossip and chatter with girlfriends who'll do nothing but feed and nurture our Eve-complex rather than encourage us to live as daughters of Sarah (1 Peter 3:6).

Since I'm guilty of having done these things (because who doesn't like to have their ego stroked?), to keep me from continuing in this sin, I tell my darling husband everything regarding my relationships with: our sons, friends, co-workers and anybody I come in contact with and especially how I'm doing with my relationship with the Lord.

For example, if someone sends me something in writing, I ask my husband to read it for himself, rather than me telling him what someone wrote or said because honestly, I'm aware that my reading may include negative voice inflections, or that my retelling may not be completely accurate and possibly skewed by how I happened to be feeling at the moment. In order to get the true, untainted, godly counsel from my husband, I confess I'm struggling with something and I'm not sure if it's me or "them" and I need his wise counsel. Then I present him with whatever is necessary for him to lead me in the Way. 2

Now that I've openly shared the depths of my heart with you, it's your turn. Ask yourselves the same questions (above) that I ask myself.

God says true friends will love us enough to give us His truth fully aware that we may lash back in anger or give them the silent treatment. Those who truly love you will always sacrifice themselves and subject themselves to your abuse—all for your eternal good. Remember that, and take time today to thank your husband (if you're married) or your friends who express God's love to you. If you've returned their kindness with unkindness, be a big girl...confess your sins and ask them for forgiveness.

 Note: None of our husbands are perfect and give wise counsel all the time. Only Christ the Lord is perfect and is able to do that. However, God commanded and has provided protection and blessing (1 Pet 3:1-246) for all His girls who choose to be strong and courageous enough to submit to their husbands in everything as unto the Lord (Eph 5:24).

 Caution: If you are married, do not engage in deep spiritual or emotional conversations with any man but your husband (whether a pastor, family member, childhood friend, co-worker, etc.). Doing this will damage the sacred intimacy God has granted only between a husband and his wife. No matter how hard you try, you will disobey God by disrespecting your husband (Eph 5:33).

(article also published at My Second Love and The Christian Post)

*This was reposted by permission from Sunny Shell



Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review : Four Cups
















Book Review of Four Cups by Chris Hodges

From the back cover:

"What if God has a plan for you from the very beginning?

The God of the universe has made you some big promises. He made them first in the Old Testament,  but they remain at the core of his heart and have never changed.  They're the key to your fulfillment and to his plans for you, both in this life and the life to come.

*God wants to rescue you from bondage
*He wants to deliver you from whatever holds you back
*He wants you to discover his original intention for your life
*And he wants you to be a part of a family that is making a difference.....

Steeped in Jewish history and tradition yet breathing the transforming hope of Jesus on every page, Four Cups will help you move forward through the four stages of faith.  Your thirst for more will finally be quenched-and you will experience a wellspring of joy, hope and purpose."


While the historical background of the book is interesting and the basis for the book seems biblical, there are some errors that keep me from being able to highly recommend it.

I appreciate that the author makes a point to explain that Jesus is our deliverer and that it is His death on the cross that secured our redemption and the other three cups-Sanctification, Deliverance and Praise are rightly defined.

I also applaud the fact that he pointed out that our freedom from the bondage of sin allows us to be free in order to "love Him, to be in a relationship with Him, and to live out the fulfilling purpose for which He created us."  Many authors/speakers today do not teach this 'freedom' in a biblical way.

Concerning the cup of Sanctification, the author points out that, "He sees every person on earth as His child, though some are still lost."  This is biblically incorrect.  The lost are never referred as God's children.  They are His creation, but they are called "objects of wrath" in Ephesians 2:3.  Romans 9:8 says, "this means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of promise are counted as offspring." Also in 1 John 3:10 it is clearly stated, "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one that does not love his brother."

Another area of the book that gave me great pause is that the author used a known atheist/secular psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow and his 'heirarchy of needs' to prove a point of one of his four cups.  He even went as far as to state that he believed Maslow was right that we need our basic needs met before we can be functional in this society and be used by God.  We must be very careful here! First, there is no place to use humanistic and ungodward thought to prove the promises of God! His Word is enough!  Authors must beware of using a little secular thought and a little of the bible and mixing it to make a perfect and palatable morsel.  His Word is enough!  And God never ever says we need our basic needs met to be usable and fulfilled in His kingdom.

While I believe the authors intentions were to write a book to encourage and aid Christians, I would only recommend the book to a mature Christian who has learned to discern and one who will read it (as we should read EVERY book other than the bible) with their bible open to prove it against the Word of God.

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

God's Design: Prayer












I realized recently that, for a blog entitled Living Out God's Design, I have never taken the time to point out, specifically, what God's design is for us as women.  Of course, most of you already know.  There are multiple books and blogs written on the subject and some wonderful conferences as well.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming, though, to see it all and apply it to our lives.  


Someone taught me, years ago, to begin the practice of highlighting in my bible-using a pink highlighter- every verse or section of scripture I came across that deals with specific things God has ordained for us as women.  I have even gone a step farther, as there are many commands that are to both women and men.  I highlight those too!  So, when I am reading my bible and see a pink highlight, I think," Pay attention!  This is specifically for me!" (disclaimer:  Yes, I know the whole bible is for me :)  I also know not everyone thinks it proper to write in your bible :)...so another alternative is to keep a journal specifically for this task). 


I have decided to take time on this blog to periodically point out specific things God has purposed for women in His perfect sovereignty and glorious design.  The first one is one that I love yet fail so often to do: Prayer.  Specifically:  Prayer for our children.  We do so many things for our children, but this is by far one of the greatest things we can do for them.  So many scriptures tell us to pray:




 Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” 


1 Timothy 2:1 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”

Luke 18:1  “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

These are just a few of the commands for us to pray.  It is only through His Spirit and power that we can accomplish anything...and the same goes for our children! Oh how we need to pray for them! 


Here is a list of things to pray for your children that I find so helpful to keep me on track. I don't always use it and it is not meant to be a ball and chain, but a great resource to help us be more consistent. If you don't have children, I am sure there are a lot of children in your church, neighborhood and family that could benefit from a godly woman praying for them!  


I don't remember where I got the resource, and wish I could give credit to the source, but I do remember that it was sent with the blessing to share at will!  I pray it will be an encouragement to you and a catalyst to live out God's design  y as a woman of prayer!


P.S.  If you can't print out the list from my blog, please fee free to email me at JeffnShell10@gmail.com and I will send it to you!




Praying for the Children (Rooted in God's Word)

Acts 19:20.........I thank you Father that Your Word prevails over our children. 
Isa 54:13...........That they are taught of the Lord and continue to be 
Prov 13:1.......... the fruit of godly instruction and correction. 
Isa 54:13...........Great is their peace and undisturbed composure. 
Prov 2:6............ Father, give us counsel and wisdom in bringing up our children.
1Pet 1:14.......... I say they are obedient, not conforming to the things of the flesh,
1Pet 1:15.......... but holy, in all conduct. 
1Pet 2:2........... desiring the pure milk of the Word that they may grow thereby.
Jas 1:19............That they are swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.
Heb 13:5.......... Their conduct is without covetousness,
Heb 13:5.......... and they are content with what they have.
Heb 13:16......... They do not forget to do what is right and to share. 
2Pet 3:18.......... I pray that they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord,
1Thes 4:1......... and abound more and more in how they should walk and please You.
1Pet 5:5........... That they submit to their elders, and to one another,
1Pet 5:5........... being clothed with humility.
1Pet 5:7........... That they cast their cares upon You, Father, for You care for them.
Jas 1:22............I thank You that they are doers of the Word, and not hearers only,
Philemon 1:6...........effectively sharing their faith. 
2Tim 1:7 ..........not having a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
2Tim 1:9...........Father, You have saved them and called them with a holy calling, 
2Tim 1:9 ..........not according to works, but according to Your own purpose.
2Tim 4:18.........Deliver them from every evil work and preserve them.
John 10:5 ........They will by no means follow strangers, not knowing their voices. 
2Tim2:22 .........They abide with others who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,
Jas 3:10 ..........and cursing comes not out of their mouth.
1Jn 5:18 ..........Because Jesus keeps them safe, the wicked one does not touch them. 
Ps 91:11..........Give Your angels special charge to accompany, defend, preserve
Ps 4:8.............and provide safety for them, day and night.
1Jn 2:5 ...........Because they keep Your Word, Your love is being perfected in them.
1Jn 2:15 .........They do not love the world or the things in the world, 
3Jn 1:11..........and they do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. 
1Jn 1:7 ...........They walk in the light as You are in the Light,
Jas 4:8 ...........cleansing their hands and purifying their hearts, 
2Tim 2:22 .......They follow after righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
Heb 13:18........They have a good conscience and desire to live honorably,
Prov 3:4 ..........having favor and high esteem with God and man