Jessica is starting kindergarten this year and if you know Jessica, you would understand my apprehension about starting school with her. Jessica knows what she wants to do and she is pretty strong-willed about doing things she doesn’t want to do. For example, up until a month ago, Jessica insisted she could NOT count to 10. She said she was only 5, so she would only count to 5. Now I knew she knew how to count to 10, but she definitely wouldn’t do it. She would count to 5 and then backwards to 1 and somehow knew this was equal to counting to 10 for hide and seek games…she’s a smart cookie.
Much to my amazement, she has embraced homeschooling and so far, she loves it. I cannot come up with enough for her to do. All the things she has been stubborn about trying-writing, counting, etc…she is now eager to learn and do. Except the number 3. She is convinced that she cannot write a number 3. She will “try” but it always ends up either a 2 or a squiggly line.
I have seen Jessica make the letter B so I know that she is capable of making a 3, but it’s not on her agenda or she has convinced herself she is incapable…who knows. Her new thing is to copy down BIG numbers off things. She told me this morning, “I’m looking for BIG numbers to copy in my book, but not numbers with a 3 in them because I can’t make 3’s.” She feels the need to show me she can do these big things and is trying to prove to me that 3 just isn’t important.
I started thinking about how much we are all like that. We want to do something for the Lord. We want to serve or grow in areas and do great BIG things, but we often have a 3 somewhere in our lives. “God, I will do anything you want except _____” or “I can do this thing, just don’t ask me to do that.” We limit ourselves so much by thinking we are incapable of doing something or by being unwilling to do something. God is not usually asking us to do the BIG thing, but rather the small obedient thing. He is not asking us to do something in our own abilities, but asking for our obedience and then working through us.
Take a long hard look at the 3 in your life. What are you missing out of by trying to avoid it? Have you fooled yourself into thinking the big is better than the 3? Have you stopped growing because you refuse to tackle the 3 in your life?
Jessica and Chloe were getting ready for bed when Donald noticed a bucket filled with water in their room. When he asked them about it, they had been dipping little cups in the bucket to get a drink of water. Where did the water come from? Chloe had dipped the bucket in the toilet to get water, so they had been drinking toilet water.
Now I’m sure to my girls…they thought they were drinking clean water. It looked clean. It was clear. The potty had been flushed. It looked just like the water out of the faucet, but those of us who have lived life a little longer understand that toilet water is not the water you want to drink.
Why would a kid drink toilet water? Maybe they wanted to be “big” and get it themselves or maybe they thought if they asked me for a bucket of water, I would say no, so they didn’t ask and got it the only way they could. Either way, kids often do things like this…how many of you cut your own hair when you were little? Most parents have a nice photo of their kids with a hunk of hair missing.
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15
You probably didn’t drink toilet water or cut chunks out of your hair recently, but you make decisions every day. Who do you go to for advice? Who do you ask for help? Often we make decisions based on what we want or what seems right to us at the moment. But if we are just trusting our own judgment or the judgment of others around us…we will probably end up drinking some “toilet water.”
How to avoid drinking toilet water:
Maintain a close relationship with God.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Look in God’s Word
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. Psalm 119:9
Talk with your parents and other mature believers.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9
Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Proverbs 19:20
God will not lead you astray.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17
Living in the busy and transient area around DC, people often complain about having to live here and how they can’t wait to get transferred out. I understand that the traffic is bad and no one likes traffic. No one wakes up and says “I am so glad I have a long commute to work today” or “I’m so thrilled that my 45 minute commute will take 2 hours tonight.” Northern Virginia is a very busy place and there is a lot to dislike about the hectic atmosphere. Although we are military, we have lived in the DC area almost 8 years now, so I understand. But I came across a verse the other day…
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27
God in His sovereignty puts us in the exact places we should live for a reason, so that we might come to find Him. In each time of life, in each place we find ourselves…God has something for us that we don’t want to miss.
For some people the “You are here” is not a physical place, but a time of life. We are always waiting for the better place…when I have a boyfriend, when I am out of school, when I am married, when we have children, when I get the promotion, when we buy a house, when we get out of debt, when the children are gone…always longing for the next stage of life without really wanting to live the stage we are in.
I wonder how often we miss the lesson God has for us by quickly trying to get to the next place. But if we move on without learning what God has for us…we move on arriving handicapped. If a baby doesn’t learn to sit, how can she learn to walk? If you don’t practice the notes, how will you ever play the song?
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:11-12
Maybe that is why so many of us with easy access to God’s word are still so immature spiritually. We refuse to take the time to learn what God has for us and to find Him where we are. We don’t have the patience to learn the lesson before we move on.
So wherever you are today, know that YOU ARE HERE with a purpose. God wants you to find Him in your circumstances and it is worth the struggle of today.
Well…sickness has again come to the Buttram house. We don’t seem to be sick very often…which is a blessing. It also strikes me odd that we ALL don’t get sick. You would think with a house of 8 people…when one gets sick, we all do. BUT that just doesn’t happen…usually only a couple of us get the same thing…another blessing to be sure.
Jessica woke up in the middle of the night just to tell me that she is really sick. I never doubt Jessica’s mid-night revelations…they are usually true. She woke up once again this morning (she was sleeping late…not a good sign in my house), she sat up in bed and preceded to tell me again she was very sick, needed a stool beside her bed with a cup of tea, and the cup needed a lid and a straw. She laid back down and fell asleep. Such clarity of thought! I am convinced Jessica could supervise almost anything under any stress…it’s a gift. I wonder if they could use a 4-year old as a platoon leader in battle?
Jessica finally awoke at 8:30am to vomit. No fever. She handles it all in stride. She went to sleep for another half hour before repeating the event. Then she told me she needed me to fix her a bed on the couch so she could watch Playhouse Disney. She has vomited on schedule every half hour. I think she makes her body wait for commercial breaks. She hasn’t eaten anything yet and still has no fever. She really is a easy sick person to take care of.
Joshua on the other hand gets the sick person award in our house. He actually has medaled in quite a few categories: Most likely to vomit when not sick. Most likely to gag at any sight, smell, or thought. Most likely to take all day to vomit (after all he doesn’t want to throw up. This logic always seems to bother me…who WANTS to throw up?). Most likely to not make it to the bathroom to vomit (After all he is trying really hard not to throw up because he doesn’t want to). I would say he is most likely to be sick the longest, but I think I get that award. We are blessed that Josh doesn’t really get sick often.
So I guess some sort of stomach virus has made it into our house. Who will get it next? You will have to check back later to find out.
The table beside my bed is filled with books I have just read, I am reading, and I want to read. Some are Bible studies like “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver. Other books are for training such as “Children’s Ministry Leadership: The You-Can-Do-It Guide” by Jim Wideman. I love to read.
I just finished a book that I cannot help but tell you about. It’s titled “The Unexpected Journey: Converstaions With People Who Turned From Other Beliefs to Jesus” by Thom S. Rainer. Donald passed this book on to me after he read it for a seminary class. It contains interviews with people from various different belief systems that came to a relationship with Jesus. They are amazing testimonies that God is able to change the “unchangeable”…those we would easily give up on.
This little book offers great insight into how to reach people of all different faiths with the message of salvation. One passage that stood out to me…
Nine interviews had taken place. Nellie Jo and I agreed that two powerful truths has emerged. First, the power of Christian love was a story line in most of our interviews. In one way or another, the theme of love was sounded with clarity.
Second, my wife and I had become convicted that we should never assume that any person is too difficult to reach…We were discovering that spiritual hunger for truth was persuasive, even in the lives of people who seemed, on the surface, to have no interest in spiritual matters. (The Unexpected Journey, p. 154)
This book also shows how the acts of unloving Christians hindered earlier searches for truth in many of these people’s lives. It is quite convicting.
Give it a read. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
I am part of the Ladies Bible Study and we are reading “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World”. Sherry encouraged each of us to identify one area of our Christian walk that we need to work on and right it in the cover of our book. Then at the end of the study, we will look at it again and see what God has done in that area of our lives during our study.
Immediately the area I thought of was the area of prayer. I’ve been reading “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions” by George Barna (excellent book) and I was convicted that I am not more intentional in my prayers. Now I pray. If someone ask me to pray for them, I do it right away. If I feel a burden for someone, I will pray for them. I tend to carry on-going conversations with God off and on throughout the day. BUT do I intentionally pray for each child in our church by name? Do I lift up each family in our church in prayer? No. I don’t have a system in place that helps make sure I am lifting up family and friends in prayer on a regular basis.
BUT when I think about long sessions of prayer (I had a friend who was a mother of 6 boys and she would pray an hour each day before her kids woke up), it feels more like a burden than a pleasure to me. Several years ago, we went through “Power of a Praying Parent” in our study and trying to pray through every aspect of our child’s life felt more like a burden and a guilt trip then a loving, freeing experience with God. I know people who have powerful prayer lives and it brings them such joy and satisfaction and I think…what’s wrong with me?
As I was pondering these things on the way home last night, a verse from our study came to mind.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:38-30
Now I’m a server. My spiritual gift is the gift of service. I love to serve others. Over the years I cannot tell you the number of times people have said to me “You do too much. You need to cut back on the areas you serve in” or “If Kristie is doing all of this, then I need to do more too.” I have tried to tell people that I wouldn’t be happy doing less. I don’t serve because I am trying to earn something or because I feel guilty. I serve because it is my spiritual gift and using my gift brings me joy, satisfaction, and a sense of purpose.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I feel like when I serve, I am picking up the yoke Jesus has given me instead of the one I try to create for myself. It seems like too much work to others around me, but to me it is not a burden at all. I have found the place Jesus wants me to be and that has made all the difference.
So intercessory prayer may be like that. For some it is a spiritual gift God has given them and it brings them a joy and satisfaction that I could not experience if I tried to do what they were doing. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t pray just as it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t serve. I do believe I need to strengthen my prayer life and focus on it. God wants us to pray and there is power in prayer. What should my prayer life look like?
As I shared all this with my husband, his immediate response was “You need to read Philip Yancey’s book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?” Donald said the book covers all those questions I have. So I am starting to read it and looking forward to finding out what perspective Yancey has on the discipline of prayer.
Pray for me 🙂 as I journey to discover what God wants from my personal prayer life.
This is the time of year when we scramble to finish our Christmas shopping list. Some people just buy something to give while others agonize over “the right” gift. They say it’s “the thought that counts,” but it’s always nice to give a gift that has that “personal touch.”
In Genesis 1, we learn that God created the world and all that was in it. He SPOKE the world into existence. With just a word, God’s vision became reality. How amazing!
But there was something different about how God created man:
The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
God seemed to add a more personal touch when He created man. He formed Him and breathed life into Him.
I’ve heard people say that they believe there is a God, but they don’t believe that God is involved in their daily lives. Their belief is of a God who set things into motion and then sits back to see what happens…kind of like watching TV. But I believe that God is very involved in our creation and our daily life. I believe He adds His personal touch to each of us from the beginning:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
Dave Ramsey (in his Financial Peace video) said he could picture God with knitting needles knitting together the strains of DNA to form each and everyone of us. Now I’m sure God isn’t really knitting babies all day, but I believe the idea that He is personally involved in our creation is in line with Scripture:
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
So what? If God has put His personal touch on you, then you are not an accident. God has a plan for your creation and you can take comfort in the fact that He can use you. We are not cookie cutter people who all fit one mold…we are unique individuals formed with a specific design and purpose in mind. What has God created you to do?
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. 1 Thessalonians 4:1
Am I living in a way that pleases God? Paul tells the Thessalonian church that they are living in a way that pleases God. Certainly that is the way I want to live.
But then I wonder, what are they doing that so pleases God? When I turn back a chapter, I think I discover the answer:
But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. 1 Thessalonians 3:6
Their faith and love…a winning combination. It is not enough to just have faith.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2
Faith without love does not draw people to Christ. Some people get so caught up in their great faith in God that they become intolerant of those who do not believe. They can be very judgemental and lack compassion and mercy. The message then becomes twisted and turns people off. God wants us to have faith but it must be balanced with love for people.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6
And love itself without faith doesn’t produce anything lasting. Yes, there are people who love without having faith in God. But what good does love really do if it doesn’t draw people to Christ? What matters is eternity, and if love is just for the sake of love (being kind, compassionate, showing mercy) in the end, it really doesn’t do any good. I could go through life loving everyone I meet, but if I don’t have a faith that points them to Christ, then although I may improve their earthly time, what about their eternity?
Paul was always commending this whenever he saw it in any of the churches.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. Colossians 1:3-6
When we have faith and love, then we are reflecting God’s character. The Psalms are full of songs of God’s love and faithfulness towards us. We need to have the faith in God and the love for others that will point others to Him and then we are living a life that pleases God.
I can’t believe it’s been this long since I last blogged! Life has been really busy for us. Here is what I’ve been up to:
I got a surprise reading through The Message. I am just over halfway through. I LOVED The Message paraphrase of the book of Job and I am loving the Proverbs, too. BUT I really got bogged down in the Psalms. I didn’t expect that at all. I don’t know if it is because the Psalms are so familiar or it was just the modern day wording isn’t as poetic, but I really didn’t enjoy the Psalms very much. I found myself constantly trying to compare it to the NIV version in my head while I read which made it difficult to concentrate of what it was saying.
15 years! Donald and I celebrated our 15th anniversary yesterday. It was fun because Donald planned a whole evening out and didn’t let me in on any of it. We drove to Old Towne Alexandria and strolled through the shops. We visited the Torpedo Factory and looked in all the windows of the artist shops. We visited the Christmas Shop and resisted the urge to buy. At this point we also decided it was time to take out our Christmas music at home…not waiting till Thanksgiving this year. I love Christmas music! Then we just strolled through any interesting shops we found on the next few blocks. Donald made reservations for us to eat at a very nice restaurant. The food was delicious. I really enjoyed it!
Running errands, weekly coffee with a friend, homeschooling my little kids, playing taxi for my big kids, planning Bible lessons, attending Life Groups, and just everyday housework…that’s pretty much it.
Tomorrow night our ladies evening Bible study begins a Beth Moore study Loving Well. I am so excited about this study.
I’ve previewed the first session and I found it convicting and very applicable to every area of our lives. I can’t wait to start the study and see what God is going to do.
We’re meeting on Monday night at 7pm. Hope to see you there!
For more info, see the Ladies Ministry Blog.