"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Psalm 46 : 1-3; 7; 10-11
"The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth. He who fashions the hearts of them all. He who understands all their works. A King is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength, A horse is a false victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. Let the lovingkindness of the Lord be upon us according as we have hoped in thee." Psalm 33: 13-22
The past few days have been filled with twitterings, muses, ponderings, projections and all sorts of opinions on blogs and newsletters. It seems that many are pleased about Obama being elected president and many are very disappointed and fearful. It is so very difficult for us in this age to not look at life from the short term perspective--the temporal and now. We want our lives to be happy and secure and stable. We want there to be a leader to meet our needs now and to provide for our well-being and of course there is discourse and differing of opinion about who that man would be!
Yet, no matter which man you are for, or what country you live in, a man will never be our fulfillment. Only God is designed to take that place. We should all know that there are great difficulties ahead no matter who had won--financial crisis with the huge governmental debts and failures. Moral devastation of families and children (We personally have 3 friends in our lives who are pregnant or had babies out of wedlock in the past 3 months! How many children are going to be born without a family to surround them? How many more precious single moms will end up in homeless situation without the support or help of a father or family)
Turbulence in the Middle East with rumblings of attacks on Israel or Israel preempting an attack by attacking first. Or the fall of the European market. Or the North Koreans escalating pressure. Or the Russians developing more missiles and becoming a hostile nation. Or rights being taken away from Christians. None of us would ever ask to be born during a time of great war or disaster, yet, Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulation--tribulation has been the norm for all people in all generations.He did not deceive us about the reality of living in a fallen world--but culture did. Culture promised happiness and wellness and a beautiful body and and and all of this now--if you just found the right formula!
It is just such times, when the glory of God is most evident. When the mountains are about to fall into the sea--when the giant is attacking, when the Red Sea needs to open. It is also during these times, and God knew we would be born in these times, when those who love God may stand in faith, boldly share His love and compassion and give their lives generously--that the reality of Christ shines forth.Times like these produce opportunities for us to restore and redeem a fallen culture to the God who created it! But the key in it all is what Jesus also said about living in a world of tribulation--take courage--a choice of our will--a choice of a warrior--Take Courage--why? Because He has overcome the world!
When the Jews felt most forlorn, lost in Roman oppression and under so many burdensome taxes, Jesus came in the "fullness of time" to redeem a world that seemed forgotten and lost. His light shined so brightly of hope-amidst the darkness. When Babylon had demolished Jerusalem and the army dragged a few "royal" Jews to live in the courts of the wicked king, it provided a perfect platform in which Daniel could live a life of integrity--a platform in which the God of Daniel would bring great glory to himself and to a pagan nation. God always brings His light into the dark places of history--that is when heroes are made.
We need to stand back and look at this time in history from God's point of view--history is always about Him--are people coming to know Him and serve Him? What place must our country and our nations have in history to thrust us forward toward the last times? How does what is happening in history fit into His plans? When we ask Him these questions and pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," we gain a whole different perspective. What is your will for this time, Lord? How can I best live boldly for you? How do I best need to prepare myself, my children, my priorities in order to stay faithful and minister to the lost and bring your light to bear? How can I finish faithfully? Perhaps when we are forced to look at the troubles of life square in the face, we come face to face with the fact that this isn't home! This is not the place we will live forever--we were made for a better place!
History can be a helpful tool for us! We see so many times in scripture when a nation would depend on a person or their own ways and methods to provide for themselves or to seek for a man to champion their cause and the substitution of a man or king for the place of God always wreaks havoc. When the Israelites rejected God as being king over them, and asked for a king just like the other nations, God warned them that when they turned away from His leadership and got what they asked for, it would come at great cost. (I Samuel 8:16-22) He forewarned them there would be great calamity--They could indeed get what they asked for--but there would be other consequences for their choices---the king would provide for himself and His palace, by taking their sons and daughters as servants for his kingdom; he would tax them a tenth of their seed and wine and produce, he would take their children for his army and so on (a whole list of verses of the consequences of getting their own way.)
Whenever man tries to provide for his needs in some way other than by following God's ways and serving Him by living by faith, the consequences are devastating. We have lived in a time when everyone wanted everything for free--a house and car and things without money to pay for it, sex without marriage and without the burden of having a baby; stability and security without fighting a war against enemies of their own stability and freedom; children without the responsibility of spending personal time to discipline and train them and so on. In the times in history of great freedom or prosperity always came with a high price. Even as we were given the grace of salvation we must always recognize that it came with a great price.
Yet, there is an interesting parallel--when parents lack character, their children and the next generations always pay a great price. When Germany sold their soul to a tyrant, and refused to love the Jews, the young and infirm and the aged, they ended up with the death of hundreds of thousands of people. When Rome turned to sensual pleasure and violence and the abuse of Christians, they fell and the whole nation was devastated. When Russia turned to a godless dictator, millions of lives were devastated, faith was lost , families became broken and oppression of every kind overwhelmed the country.
There is also an opposite principle of the cost of decisions. Always before, when there were parents who sacrificed and worked hard so that their children could have more, great freedoms came. When the heart of a family is great and spiritually disciplined and moral and hard working, the nation becomes a place of freedom and productivity and also develops a great soul. The status of the homes always determines the status and character of a nation. Blessing and harvest come after much labor and perseverance, faith and duty.
Yet, it seems as though this time in history, people have borrowed from their children's future so that they could selfishly have all of their needs met now--and their children will be paying for it for generations to come. The debt we have accrued in America has been building and building for many years--there had to be a day of reckoning. Evolution, the sexual revolution, the destruction of moral values and the tearing down of family will have its consequences. Foolishness will always have consequences. Christians have wanted freedom and blessing without working for God's ways in the world and against the warfare of Satan. Is it pessimistic to write about such things? No. If someone had cancer, it would be wrong of a physician not to tell the patient the state of his health so that he could look for ways to be healed of his disease. We cannot close our ears and our minds and pretend away the issues like Scarlett O'Hara did when she said, "I will not think about this now. I will worry about it tomorrow!"
These issues will not go away by ignoring them. Yet, we are are true believers in Christ, when we spend time with Him in His word and with other believers, will find a renewal of our passion for things of His kingdom-we will have the resolve in our hearts to spend and invest ourselves to be a part of His solution. Perhaps he will bring about great revival of which we have the honor and privilege of being a part. It has been my children who have had a part in keeping me focussed. I am definitely in the passing of the baton to the next generation stage. It is worth it --worth all the work and sweat and tears--to see the spirits of my children emerging with passion and understanding and willingness to seek to serve. There have been bumps and I don't share this to make anyone feel like my children are perfect, because they are not, but in their hearts, they "got it" and love the Lord within their young and growing and maturing hearts--they don't see life as a picture of getting a job and just existing until they go to heaven--they see their time on earth as a time to invest in His kingdom--somehow, some way.
Nathan and I talked for 45 minutes this week about what he is learning in New York and how God is putting a burning in his soul to be godly in front of people--that his life will have integrity and that he will have more love and heart for the lost. He asked me to pray for his friends to become believers and for God to open doors. (any prayers for him or my other children are always appreciated!) Joel put up on his face book:
sees a future with a hope, because there is only one person who will unfailingly bring true hope and change, and His name isn't Obama or McCain.
He is being stretched in thinking how he can reach his generation. It was in being with some believers who have sadness and depression about what is ahead, that he was energized to stand up for His wonderful God. it has spurned him on to wanting to really hold on to the Lord and to find how to live by faith. (eucharisto.wordpress.com his blog--musings on his work at a Bakery and on the beauty of life)
Sarah and I meet most Saturday mornings for breakfast and walking. She is on fire with ideas and light and thoughts and a desire to reach her generation. The depth I see mulling around in her soul makes me wonder about what God has ahead for her. (itinerantidealist.wordpress.com ) Joy and I and also our history group have been discussing the need for believers not just to be knowledgeable, but also winsome and gracious. How do we get into the mind of this generation? What messages will make sense to them? How to take our ideals and still find a way to exercise them in a culture who desperately need to have foundations of truth and life.
In each generation, it is the children who give us hope. This has been after many, many years of talking, sowing, correcting, praying, affirming and waiting for the seeds to take root and produce. Yet, now, seeing them look at the future with hope, courage, desire and a knowledge that things are pretty bad, but they want to be used to bring about redemption and light has been such an encouragement to me in the last few days. I see that God knew this is the time my family would be born into--even if I don't think I would have chosen this time--maybe He has a special work for us to do--maybe we can burn brightly now--Oh Lord, I keep praying, use me, use us, help us to be energetic and faithful and courageous. Thank you for letting us be born for such a time as this.
A sweet friend asked me yesterday, "How do you know the balance between exposing your children to the lost and immoral and to seeing them as a part of God's light in this world?"
I don't think there is a formula and I have been pondering this, but I believe it is building on the right foundations--building your own life on the knowledge of God's word every day and every day; loving Him and cherishing Him and worshiping Him from the heart and not living from a heart of law or moralistic obedience; living in integrity; learning the faith way, living every day to exercise believing prayer, cultivating fellowship with believers so that there is support and life-giving fellowship, choosing to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, confessing sin and a few more essentials.
It is understanding the importance of building our homes on Biblical foundations and establishing our homes on the rock of His reality that will help us build homes that will have a living legacy for many generations to come.
This is why Clay and I decided that this will be the theme of our mom's conferences this year! We want moms to feel the joy of knowing that they can indeed build surely and soundly--that God is on their side, that there is important work to do, but that even the doing of God's will is what builds our souls and invigorates our health. We also hope to uplift and affirm all who are tired, weary and feeling inadequate! There is something wonderful about being a room full of like-minded moms who are all committed to similar ideals--makes you feel that you are a part of the movement of the hand of God. And of course our conferences are for all moms--young and old, every kind of educational philosophy, but all committed to wanting to be a godly mom right where they are!
But this year, we decided to experiment and see if we could reach a much wider group of moms by connecting on the internet to moms that we may not ordinarily reach--it could be fun to see how far the Holy Spirit could go to reach moms--but you will be an essential part to helping us make this happen. Our ministry has always been so much a part of so many families who work with us, help us, pray for us and befriend us to help us get the messages out. So thanks ahead of time for being a part of our experiment!
Because of some of the financial issues, we decided not to send out brochures by mail for our conferences this year--as it will save our ministry more than $10,000. (When we send brochures to thousands and have them printed, it is a great cost and we have to register so many just to pay for our printing bills!) But we are stepping out in faith with this and need to enlist our cyber space friends for help. You can help us! If you have a similar heart for Biblical encouragement for Moms, you can help us reach more people by putting announcements on your websites, blogs, newsletters and giving the information to your support groups.
My friend, Brenda, from coffeeteabooksandme gave me a good idea for a fun contest. She offered my books to those in her blog by telling them they could enter a drawing for receiving them if they left her a comment. It was a lot of fun.
So Clay and I decided to offer 6 $50 gifts to be drawn from a list of women who can enter this contest by putting out announcements to their own audience--this $50 gift certificate can be used toward a conference registration or to apply to books or cd sets. (You can also apply this to an already registered mom-we will refund the money up to $50 if you register early and then win!) We will pick two December 1, two in January, and 2 in February. Of course this is an honor system issue. We want to offer this to women who have a mailing list or blog list that is sizable and we do hope that if you enter you will really help us to reach lots of moms.
I am so excited about our conferences this year. It feels timely for women to group together and to focus on the foundations together and to see us corporately really build a godly heritage in our homes, and countries and to truly change history for the glory of God!
It is also our hope that we will be able to start an international ministry of small groups where moms can be encouraged, inspired, have accountability, get help. We will be meeting with women in our conferences who would want to be a part of this. We are working on a new website for moms, looking for people to come along side of us in this as writers, a web developer who has a heart for our messages and the skill to manage a very interactive website; group leaders and who can help us reach more moms, and more. We will be talking about some of these issues at our conferences this year and know that it will again be a place where the Holy Spirit will renew and refresh hopefully hundreds and hundreds of moms. The Lord has brought a team of 4 other women who will be speaking along with me at most of the larger conferences (Charlotte, Irvine and Dallas/Ft. Worth) and a number of great messages at the Colorado Springs, Raleigh, Baltimore conferences) and I will also be speaking at the Heart and Home conferences in Illinois. We want moms to feel empowered to stay the course, feel confident, find grace and practical ways of raising godly children. The team of women who are working with us on this and who are speaking at our conferences are passionate about encouraging moms.
I will put a new blog up early next week if you want to wait for more information for all of this--but we are gearing up and trying to get all the information online. Clay, Sarah and I are all in the midst of book contracts as well as so much more, so if we seem inefficient, it is only because we are! But we are moving ahead every day to try to get all the information you need to know what to expect about the conferences ahead. We do not have all the details of the Colorado conference yet. We just added it because we got so many emails from moms who wanted to come here again--so we are waiting on the church where we will be speaking for final details. Stay tuned and know we are working every day to make this a special time for so many of you. We also hope to record the conferences and make available cd's of our messages to those of you who can't attend.
Meanwhile, take courage today, know that the Lord loves you and has a wonderful plan. He will be faithful and bless us--it is His nature! Must on to other things!
P.S. Stay tuned as the first of next week, we will have the details of all of this. If you are interested in sending out an announcement, we will have email flyers and brochures that you can download for your group. We will also set up a way for you to enter our contest--by sending your name and address and the group you announced the conference to, to our wonderful secretary Jennice@wholeheart.org. You may also enter once a month for three months--each time you send out an announcement. Moms tend to be overwhelmed with Christmas and sometimes don't register until after Christmas is over, so that is why we have to send multiple announcements. However, Clay has set an incentive for those of you who do register early--you can save $20 dollars if you sign up before December 1! and another $10 before January 1--though you must read online to see what applies to the conference you will attend as there are different deadlines for each one. Go to www.wholeheart.org for information. Also, from that point, you may go to events and click on that to find out about the specifics of the conferences. The Information option will give you the details and resources option will take you to the printable handouts. Or just write your own enthusiastic announcement and send your friends to the website. (I was so blessed by a friend who did that the other day--made me want to go to a conference! :) )
I will also be sending out an email newsletter to those on our mailing list about Mom Heart, so if you want to be included in that letter, go to www.wholeheart.org to sign up for my newsletters and you will get our ministry newsletters where I also write some articles.