let them see Jesus

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” –Psalm 91

This chapter has been our Circle Time reading this week. We are pausing from the year’s routine of Scripture memory to meditate on the entire chapter, and I love hearing the kids make observations and find favorite parts. William pointed out yesterday, from the end of the chapter, that when it says we will trample on young lions and serpents, it means that whether the enemy attacks us with strength or with cunning deceit, we can overcome. How amazing is that thought? God is speaking to my kids.

My observation yesterday was from the first few verses: God, a secret place, a shadow, a refuge, a fortress, a protective wing — pictures of places to hide and find safety, but places also in which I must choose to stay. A secret place and a refuge are no good if I’m running around full of panic and anxiety. Do I trust Him? Will my soul rest in Him, no matter the terror, arrows, disease, and destruction all around?

We also are memorizing “A Mighty Fortress”, words packed with power that just thrill my soul. The fun part is realizing that those words thrill their souls, too. They read lines that jump out at them, and their voices are full of conviction and strength. “And tho this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us!” Jameson couldn’t help but smile the smile of a winner when he read, “One little word shall fell him.”

This is an opportunity, mamas. You are not their shield, and this is not the time to hide them away, pretending we’re on a big holiday, hoping it all ends before they find out. You are not their shield, but He can be. Hebrews says, “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” We are no longer afraid of death! We are living in a hope that goes beyond the grave and, in its eternal power, speaks to our todays. This is the time to say that loud, to point to Jesus as hope and joy and peace and life. It’s an opportunity to equip them with the truth that in this world we will have tribulation but! But! We don’t have to be afraid because He has overcome the world! We need not hide them, hoping fear won’t find its way in. No, we must equip them because they will face fear, and they must learnt to be overcomers. This is a chance to pour out love to the world around us, to set aside previous agendas and make room for cards and phone calls and prayer. We have hope, and we can’t keep it to ourselves.

There are so many things stirring in my heart as we are all home together in an even more “focused” way (isn’t that nicer than “isolated”?), but if I miss this — this amazing opportunity to lead these little ones through the reality of life in Jesus — who cares about the read alouds and new recipes? God works all things together for good to those who love Him — and I know that I know that the first item on His “good” agenda is calling children to know Him in a deeper, more real way.

a month to remember

How the month began

Suffice to say this has been a strange month.

Ryan talks to the kids all the time about not putting our hope in this world. About holding things loosely, knowing that what we have today might be gone tomorrow, and only Jesus is a sure thing. We read stories of days gone by, and so our children know that indeed what Dad says is true — one day you’re living a carefree childhood, and the next day, Nazis march into your town. One day your family is warm and snug in a house in the East, and a month later your parents are dead on the Oregon Trail. You are the prince of your tribe, your world no larger than the village borders, and suddenly slave traders descend and drag you halfway around a world you didn’t even know existed. We live in an incredibly safe and insulated world, but so have others, and their worlds were disrupted. And we all know that.

But how strange to actually watch our world get upended in a way that we just hadn’t imagined. Quarantines, hand washing, rules about who gets the mail, food supplies, letter writing — the things my kids see. Questions about our personal responsibility, economic forecasts, caring for a business and all those it represents, praying for grandparents, checking in with parents — the things on our hearts. Will this end in 4 weeks? Four months? Are we doing enough? Are we doing too much? Will the curve flatten? Will the numbers stagger? Will the numbers have names that we know? Will we all emerge from our houses and return to normal, or will the infrastructures we’ve known be decimated by months of economic stagnancy? What is going on?

And with all of those questions, the foundations of our souls are asking none, really. We have long known the answer that settles and gives peace: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. All things work together for good to those who love Him.

I don’t know, but He does.

When I was a little girl, my dad would occasionally invite me to come with him for a daddy-daughter date. These weren’t elaborate events, but usually just an errand he needed to make which could easily accommodate the company of a daughter. Maybe he’d add an extra stop for a donut or some such thing, but regardless, you better believe we all jumped at those opportunities to go with Daddy.

He didn’t tell me where we were going. I didn’t grill him for details of our destination, the roads he would take, how fast he would drive, or whether or not there would be stops along the way. I just got into the car, happy to ride with him to the ends of the earth — or Munro Muffler.

And so it is for those whose trust is in the Lord. We are with Him, and He is bringing us somewhere special. The details of how, when, and what path need not shake us. We shall be like Mount Zion — not moved, not shaken. We can look at tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, and know that neither those things, nor death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a way to live! Today, whatever new legislation may come down, whatever numbers from Italy, whatever the current case count in our state — let us be found persevering in tribulation and rejoicing in hope..

Our God reigns.

Fiona helping Cecily with her devotional reading

perfect peace

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” –Isaiah 26

The word translated “mind” is YETSER. Here it means, “purpose, imagination, device (intellectual framework).” I love that! This is more than a “guard your thoughts” exercise. It is a question of where my purpose, my imagination, indeed, my entire intellectual framework stems from. Do I absolutely, down to my core, at the inception of my thoughts trust in the Lord?

Because I can trust Him. He is unchanging — and that unchanging nature is goodness. That’s truly amazing. He is a shield to all who trust in Him. He invites us into a gated city, surrounded by walls and ramparts: salvation and an eternal reward that nothing on earth can destroy.

Let your trust in Him sink deep and change your imagination, your entire framework. Let all you think, feel, process flow from a place of incredible peace. (Not peace that the world gives. His peace.)

A mighty fortress is our God. Let our minds find a home in Him.

faith comes by hearing

Faith comes by hearing.

What are you listening to?

Are you growing in a belief of discouragement and despair, or of confidence in the faithfulness of God?

What are you listening to?

I’ve thought about that a lot this past month, as my soul has felt stretched and the ears of my heart have been ringing with the testimony of others whose lives point to the truth of God. My reading this past month has included several amazing stories that have been more than stories: they have been voices from that cloud of witnesses, testifying that God is more than enough. They tell me that one person, set free from living for self, liberated into a lively hope, can affect the world — even if that world is simply their young child, their neighbor, their fellow believer. I cannot recommend highly enough that you consumption, your soul diet, include stirring reminders that we really can live for Jesus.

Faith comes by hearing. What are you listening to?

here comes the sun

The Psalmist tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God, that day after day pours forth speech.

Some mornings, you can’t help but hear all of that clamorous praise.

Other mornings, like yesterday, I have unbiblical thoughts: “Well, this is kind of a lousy day.”

Even as that thought formed in my mind, I felt chided. “Day after day pours forth speech…” That means this day. This tired, gray, slumpy old day. It’s declaring, but I’m missing it. Those trees are pointing fingers to heaven, but I just see branches. The skies are heavy with praise, and I just see ordinary.

Thing is, it might be gray today. Our souls may be tired. Our worlds may be crumbling. Our skies may be flashing lightening and thunder and pouring torrents of weeping tears. Or maybe it’s all just feeling ordinary and long and trivial and like not much more than the accident of atoms meeting in a swamp of nothingness millennia ago.

But the Bible says this day is telling of God, and even your night reveals truths of who He is.

So regardless of how the sunrise astonishes or doesn’t, we can be people of faith, whose hearts set on God are evidence to the world around us that His glory is eternal, His coming is sure, and that this very day we will see His goodness. Let’s carry His praise in our hearts. We don’t need to wait for Mr. Sun. Let’s beat him to it.

act of worship

“Discipline, for a Christian, begins with the body. We have only one. It is this body that is the primary material given to us for sacrifice. If we didn’t have this, we wouldn’t have anything.
Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender

It’s so easy to over-spiritualize life, and to under-spiritualize our bodies. I ride that pendulum regularly. Wrong motives, lack of understanding, discouragement, laziness, disobedience — just a sampling of the issues I sort through regularly when it comes to caring for this temple called me.

This quote made me smile, sigh, and repent. As much as I want to live my life for Jesus, the reality is that can only happen if my body sticks around. Not complicated, but easy to forget.

A temple. A sacrifice. A tool. A vessel.

Not: A model. A beauty queen. A gold medalist. A fashion plate. A fountain of youth personified.

Most importantly: Not my own. I don’t get to say, “Who cares anyway.” I need to care, but in the right way. I need to care, because “if [I] didn’t have this, [I] wouldn’t have anything!”

These things once again being pondered as I pull out of a month of tired, slow, and who-cares-anyway. My alarm goes off and no snooze allowed. Core exercise done before I’m fully awake. Boots and hat and podcasts ready to go at 7am, and what do you know — God has that sun finally rising in time to greet me. My, but that makes a big difference in my soul!