February 26 – Scooter’s Big Day

 

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Do you remember the last time you tried to give your dog a bath? Our son Nathaniel tackled the job recently, and I was excited to be walking by the dining room window so I could catch some of the drama.

I have never seen a dog with such a stalwart opinion about getting wet, much less, being shampooed and combed with a brush! I can’t say that I would normally have equated a dog getting a bath with “discipline,” but the “not pleasant” and “painful” part of a verse in Hebrews I came across some time ago assures me I’m making a safe analogy!

Obviously, our dog hasn’t reached the point in training that she experienced “peace” while taking a bath. In fact, the comical part of the whole thing was her unwillingness to surrender to her present circumstances. She wiggled and squirmed like a greased pig.

Still, Nathaniel was stronger and determined, and the bath DID happen. Oh, how like that I can be. Wrestling with God like my arms are stronger, when all I have to do is take the plunge….fall into His loving embrace and ride the storm until the dawn.

Those stormy times train me to walk in peace and assurance, knowing that the Captain of my ship is fully aware and fully in charge.

You know, I don’t know who was wetter and soapier…Nathaniel, or Scooter. Make no mistake, God will roll up His sleeves and get dirty and wet right there with you, no matter where you are or what you are doing. And you’ll come out better for it by the end, knowing you weren’t alone!

Jennifer

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Biblical Meditation: John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

February 23 – Found to Follow

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One of the toughest things in the entire world is to get boys to follow. That’s the truth, even if I am a boy. Many of my lumps and bumps came from not following whoever was in charge of leading me at the time.

Very rarely was it because I was being willfully defiant or stubborn. On the contrary, most of the time, it was a matter of memory; I’d forget the instructions about as fast as they were given. At that point, I would follow the first fun-loving notion that popped into my head. Now I’m a dad raising my own crop of boys and nothing’s changed!

I’ll never forget the time my Caleb almost spent the night at the zoo. He was about four at the time and all he had to do was stick with his big brother. That’s it. But between big brother’s own set of distractions and Caleb’s desire to go another direction, when it came time to board and depart, little Caleb was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Just about the time Caleb realized he was lost, the park security guard and his big brother came to the rescue. Now, if you were a bit panicked reading this, imagine being the parents hearing about it after the fact! Like I said, getting boys to follow is no easy thing, but very necessary.

In the case of Jesus and Philip, I see Jesus, like a big brother, looking purposefully for Philip. Now, the Bible doesn’t elaborate a whole lot about Philip’s particulars, but it is clear that Jesus sought him and instructed him to follow. The amazing part of the story is Philip’s response. With no questions, no qualifications, and no qualms, he obeyed. God knows, I want to be like that!

The truth is all of us have been sought after by the Lord. And like a big brother, He is telling us “Come, this way.” May we recognize His demands as divine direction. The Father has sent Him to help us get to the right destination without too many “bought lessons.” Today, I make a fresh commitment to pay attention and follow His lead, no qualms. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. John 1:43-44 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

February 14 – A Lady Named Abigail

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I challenge you to read up on Abigail Adams. The wife of our second president, John Adams, Mrs. Adams has much to say to this present generation concerning our ability to control “self.” She was known for her ability to look a bad situation in the eye and say something good. One story I recently read told about her month-long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to meet her husband and son following a seven-year separation.

The trip was long and grueling in tight quarters with few amenities. After weeks of sailing through storms and fighting seasickness, Mrs. Adams became the encourager of the passengers and crew alike. Instead of giving into her anger at losing even their bare necessities in the storm and the almost disgusting state of the inside of the ship, she decided to pick one project a day that would better their surroundings until the entire ship had been scrubbed from end to end.

After the arduous trip was over, Mrs. Adams still faced another test. Upon arriving in London, she soon found that her husband wasn’t even there, he was in Paris. Many encouraged her to hop on a ship to France. And she was torn with misery at the prospect of waiting several more weeks for her husband after such a long time.

But she finally decided to stay right where she was, according to the original plan her husband had made. What she did not know then was that Mr. Adams was already on his way to meet her. Acting impulsively would have only prolonged their lengthy separation!

I think of Abigail Adams sometimes, in the day-to-day moments of needing self-control. I heard one woman speaking about this subject and I loved her take on it. She said, “Our response is usually that we CAN’T stop yelling, or cussing, or speeding, or whatever. But the truth is that we CAN!

Just watch a woman who’s been yelling at everyone open her front door to the Kirby salesman. Guess what? Her face totally changes, and she greets him with a smile as she says, “Come on in!”

Isn’t that a funny picture? You bet we can exhibit self-control when we WANT TO. I challenge you to read Galatians 5 when you have some time. Paul says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.

This means that you have the ability to control “self” inside of you, right now, if you have given your life over to the Lord. Self-control is internal. It’s all about putting the right things inside of your “toothpaste tube” so when pressure comes, the right things will come out!

Spend some time today in God’s Word, ask the Lord to “set a watch over your mouth,” and practice moment by moment putting “self” in its place. You’ll be glad you did!

The Character First I WILL’s for Self-Control:

I WILL not act impulsively

I WILL not equate desires with rights

I WILL set my own limits

I WILL see anger as a sign that something is wrong

I WILL walk away from things that aren’t right

Jenny 🙂

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-8 NIV

Biblical Meditation: Psalms 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

February 12 – I’m Not Ok When You’re Not Ok

 

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One summer I was chosen to lead about 20 young men, ages 12-14, on a “Wilderness Expedition” with three other counselors. The trip was a blast. We hiked, we rock- climbed, we bathed in the river, we slept outside, we cooked our food over an open flame, I mean, what more could you ask for, right?

There was just one smudge of a problem on the otherwise perfect outdoor canvas. The “whiner-boy!” This fellow took issue with every single detail of the trip. The hike was too long, the river was too cold, the rock climbing hurt his hands, and the food was horrible. By the end of the first of the three day journey, every counselor and camper was ready to blindfold him and help him get lost in the forest!

But on the third day, everything changed. Our last and final “wild trial” was an underground tunnel appropriately nicknamed the “birth canal.”

This thing stretched for thirty yards and you had to pass through flat on your stomach and fully extended. You crawled with your fingers and toes! It was so dark, you had to keep talking and touching the person’s feet in front of you so you wouldn’t lose your bearings.

Needless to say, it was an intense three hours. But when the whiner boy started trying to wiggle out of going through, a couple of the tough boys got in his face in a very firm but brotherly way. They refused to go without him. Those boys put whiney-britches between them and praised and pushed him every step of the way.

Before it was all done, that kid cried and cussed, but they didn’t give up on him. The rest of us were so encouraged and humbled by the action of these two boys, we all forgot about our own struggle and began to encourage our buddy in the middle. And I will never forget the look on the young man’s face when we all emerged from the canal covered in dirt from head to toe.

Without saying a word, everybody knew he would forever be different. He had experienced something that each and every one of us so desperately need. He realized that he mattered. Not just to his mom or dad, but to a group of people he barely knew.

His success and his failure in that canal affected us all. That young man tasted the privilege of responsibility. True responsibility’s core is made of care and concern for others. And in the eyes of God, that’s what living is all about (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:26-28).

Don’t be easily frustrated by the whiners today. And don’t make excuses for them either. Just take a stand as you can, right by them. And walk a mile or two. You and God will be glad you did!

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:2 The Message

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 5:40-42 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

 

February 8 – Order in the House!

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Many times as a parent I come across areas that need attention in my own life. This has proven true so many times that I’ve come to believe this is the primary reason for God giving us children. My parents refer to this as “paying for your raising!” Orderliness is one of these areas for me.

Recently, I walked through my boys’ room, and to my surprise (HA), the place had exploded once again. Automatically, I started to let them have it. “How many times do I have to get on to you boys about this room? This place looks like a tornado hit it! Now get it back together!” And I meant every word of it.

Then, as God would have it, I immediately walked back into my OWN room, only to find my closet strangely resembling my boys’ room. OUCH. How did this happen? I know full well how necessary order is in our life, and yet I found myself once again “behind on the basics.” Maybe you can relate.

And if so, there is great news. God never reveals what He, with your help, can’t heal. This is true with any issue we face. So I didn’t take much time whining over my shortcomings. I simply admitted them to myself, AND my boys. I had dropped the ball. And from there, I didn’t spend another moment beating myself up, NOR did I let myself off the hook by making an excuse.

 I believe as long as we are on this planet, we will all have adjustments to make. So, if you are human, there is a possibility you have some unorganized areas to fix. Order is the key component to anything God has set before you.

But don’t panic. If anyone understands our challenges, He does. And He’s already made provision for our lack of vision. So before we can say “help,” wisdom and comfort will come running to meet us.

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.

 

January 22 – Ears to Hear

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Mr. Alexander wouldn’t let me off the hook. I had a habit of making excuses for my irresponsible actions.

I realize now that my behavior stemmed from a reluctance to obey authority. It wasn’t blaringly obvious, but it fueled my occasional tardiness and lack of excellence in the classroom.

When I would walk through the door to Mr. Alexander’s office, ready to give an array of excuses for being late, he would say, “Close the door and read the sign.” The sign on the back of the door read:

EXCUSES

Excuses are tools of incompetence

that build monuments of nothingness

Those who are good at excuses

are seldom good at anything else.  After having to read that sign in my teacher’s office more than a hundred times, I began to see some real change in my habits. I wasn’t “cured” overnight, but I did begin to take responsibility for my actions.

Mr. Alexander would say, “When you make excuses for poor behavior or for lack of obedience of a command, you are seeking to persuade the other party to be okay with your behavior and lack of consideration of their time. “ Wow.

Obedience is crucial in every arena of life.

It is one of the highest forms of responsible living. We all have a higher authority we must submit to, and ultimately, as a believer, God is that authority. But if we can’t obey those who are in natural authority over us, chances are we aren’t following God very well either.

Take time to do a self-examination of your attitude. You might even ask your spouse or a close friend to help you (if you are really brave). Are there areas in your life where you are making excuses for disobedient behavior?

If you find anything, don’t let shame beat you up. Just tell God you apologize and ask for His help. Start practicing by “letting your yes be yes and letting your no be no.” (Matthew 5:37) The following “I WILLS” from Character First help enforce an obedient attitude:

 I WILL obey my authorities immediately

I WILL have a cheerful attitude

I WILL complete all that I am expected to do

I WILL not complain

I WILL go the extra mile

When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. John 10:4 The Message

Biblical Meditation: John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

January 19 – Pattern of Three

of-three-strandsIn all God does, He weaves layers of meaning. That’s why studying how it all began on planet earth yields so much insight for daily living.

For instance, take the account of the day when God hung lights in the heavens. In my estimation, it is not coincidental that there are three elements of light; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars.

Based on an underlying 3-in-1 theme that occurs throughout the Bible, I believe God is giving us a clue to building a sturdy foundation of bond and balance.

Think about the dynamics that constitute a family: dad, mom, and children. In the order God prescribes, the male (dad) comes before the female (mom) and the children are the result of their union.

However, each role is beautifully bonded by necessity. Neither is more important than the other, yet role-respect is key and vital to their overall success. That’s why it is a sad and sick strategy when modern culture strives to manipulate the delicate strands of this holy institution.

Blinded by selfish intelligence gone wild, the ignorant and in-charge often seek to make changes that would in essence eliminate life as God designed it. Thank God for divine intervention!

Today, look for the “pattern of three.” It may come in the form of three individuals seeking your help in same, yet different, ways.

It may be the same piece of news coming to you via three different people in three different locations. And it could even be something as simple as the eggs you whip for breakfast.

Whatever and whomever might be used to remind you, let it be just that; a reminder of how God braids, bonds, and balances life. For if He cares about the little details like “1-2-3,” surely, He can and will take care of you and me!

 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Genesis 1:16-19 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.