12 October 2012

Sock Analogy

So my son and I were in a somewhat heated argument this morning.  Instead of getting himself dressed promptly, he chose to partially clothe himself, and then sit and read a Star Wars book.  Then, when I rebuked him for it, and noted that he spent fifteen minutes reading when he should have been getting dressed, he not only wanted me to give him "reading credit" for school, but he claimed that he couldn't find any socks, and accused me of being too harsh and controlling.

Ultimately, his argument was something like this:  You didn't provide me with the socks I needed to get dressed.  I should get credit for having done something good with my time anyway.  Along with his argument was the notion that he wanted to prove to his father and me that he is capable of taking care of himself and that he doesn't need me to stand around and tell him what to do or control his life.  The fact that I had showed up and was holding him accountable for his actions angered him because I "wasn't giving him a chance to prove himself."  

In the back of my mind, I knew that he wasn't going to find the clean socks he was looking for anyway.  (They were in the washing machine.)  And I felt pity for him because he had made such a wreck of a perfectly good morning and he was just making it worse for himself by the minute, not to mention destroying our fellowship with one another.  I even offered to him a clean pair of his father's socks, and as I gave them to him, I challenged him to "try to walk in his father's footsteps."  He became even more angry, at which point I rescinded my offer.  And then I began to preach to him.

He wanted to prove that he was manly enough to take care of himself, but in reality he had just proven the opposite by having squandered his time and then blamed others for his problems.  He thought he would be able to find clean socks on his own.  I told him that if he found any socks, they would be dirty.  If he wore the dirty socks, he would be mad at me and blame me the whole time he wore them, even though I offered him a perfectly clean pair of socks. He was unwilling to accept the help he needed in humility, because by doing so, it would be admitting that he needed help and couldn't get dressed on his own.  He needed to forsake this notion that he could do anything to really help himself.  He needed to recognize his need for grace and mercy, and accept it with gladness, knowing that he really deserved harsh punishment for having disobeyed (by not getting dressed earlier).  A real man admits his weaknesses and looks to the Lord to rescue him from an impossible situation.  A real man forsakes the foolish notion of trying to prove to people that he's good at anything, and instead recognizes that any good he does is a result of God's goodness and mercy shown to him.  And a real man accepts God's gift of grace, wears it with gratitude, and walks in a manner that shows his appreciation for such undeserved favor.

His arguing had stopped.  His anger had lessened.  He was listening.  And then I told him if he wanted the socks, he needed to ask for them.  Which he did.  My only hope is that the deeper message is sinking in to his heart.

24 September 2012

The Art of Marriage: In Review

I'm finally writing.  At least at the moment.  Let's not dwell on it, or else I'll get distracted from why I'm writing, and it will be a waste of verbiage.

Introduction/Disclaimer
My beloved husband of almost seventeen years and I just attended a marriage seminar this weekend hosted at our church.  The seminar was called "The Art of Marriage" (AofM) and was produced by Family Life Today (FLT).  I don't have a grudge against FLT.  In fact, Enoch and I are both thankful to God for their ministry, primarily due to a "Weekend to Remember" marriage conference we attended about seven years ago, when our marriage had collapsed and we were in the process of re-building.  I do not have a grudge against my church.  I'm very grateful that marriage is important to the leaders of our church, that they faithfully preach the Word of God and what it teaches concerning marriage.  I'm thankful that a good number of couples from our church attended and we had good times of mingling and interacting.  And I'm very thankful for some dear sisters in Christ who cared for our children so that we could attend AofM.

In a Nutshell
The AofM seminar is a six-session video event, accompanied by a 140-plus paged workbook that allows participants to follow along as they watch.  There are various breaks built into the videos to allow participants to answer questions from the workbook and think about the material being presented.  A live person (an elder at our church) also led some brief group discussion times at the end of each session.  There are also optional activities to do individually outside of the video time, and I'm looking forward to using these in the future to have good intentional discussions with my husband on some of the topics covered. 

The Positives
The workbook and videos were high quality stuff. Not your typical pink, blue, and goldenrod copies of church paper; theses were glossy-paged, fancy-fonted, and as artsy as can be.  The photos were professional, and coincided with the video on every page.  The pages contained quotes from the video, articles and/or stories from the video, and places to answer questions during the video.  The video was also as high-quality as they come.  It was a combination of dramatic vignettes acted by paid professionals, real-life testimonials of bad marriages that were transformed, and instructional and informative contributions by well-respected and well-known Christian men and women, many with PhD's.  It was replete with kinetic text,  references to the workbook to keep us on the right page, and well-designed features (like soft theme music which played while we worked on our workbooks, visible timers to help us know how much time we had left, and a gentle crescendo when that segment ended and a new one began).

The Negatives
You know there had to be some.  I jokingly said to my husband that the 15-minute refreshment breaks with the other participants were "boring" compared to the cutting-edge camera that refuses to stay still or stay focused in the video.  (It's a style preference; I'm not a fan of it.)  It was so well edited that it was itself a work of art. The scripted vignettes, well-acted and professional as they were, were so dramatically and humorously captivating, I forgot we were at a marriage seminar and felt like we were at a movie theater.  It's difficult (for me at least) to transition mentally from "entertain me" to "teach me" to "analyze me" and back and forth.  That might not seem like a big deal, but it's at the heart of the problem, in my view.

There were a number of well-respected Christian men and women who gave their "talks" on the subjects, but it felt, honestly, like a bunch of smart people giving their best advice and opinions and supporting those ideas with Scripture, only some of the time.  In the workbook, verses were quoted and sprinkled generously alongside quotes by all kinds of people.  In general, I don't recall anyone saying anything that was blatantly controversial, but in my opinion there were only a few very deep and profound comments, mainly pertaining to believing that if God could raise a dead to new life, He could restore a dead or dying marriage.  The fact that it was all "layered" together made it difficult to filter the important stuff from the fluff.

For instance, throughout the workbook there were "helpful" tips for addressing the various issues being stressed.  Tips on "receiving your spouse," "twenty-five ways to spiritually lead your family," and "how a satisfying sex life is built," read like modern magazine articles and were mostly absent of actual Biblical content whatsoever.  In fact, I'd venture to guess that the most verses read in some kind of "context" were the ones from Song of Solomon during the "Love Sizzles" segment.  Even then, the verses were used mainly as tantalizing text rather than examined as holy Scripture meant to instruct us about our relationship with God and with one another.

So What?
So what?  Why is it such a big deal that I'm staying up past midnight to write about it? (Especially since I haven't written anything on either of my blogs in over a year.)  Why am I picking on FLT and their excellent resources?  Because this issue is really hitting home for me, I suppose.  And because I think there is a better way.  

I'm not saying "my pastor's better than FLT" like some 6-year-old kid would say to another one about their hero father.  But I am saying that my pastor(s) could have done a seminar and taught what the Scriptures say about love and marriage and sin and conflict-resolution and living with an eternal perspective, and it would have been grounded entirely in the truth of Scripture.  Not only that, but it would have been beneficial for unmarried participants as well as the married ones.  Of course it would have been without the glossy pages and dramatic stories, worldly wisdom, and edgy camera flashes and fades, but they would have had my attention and my full appreciation, for what it's worth.  (And as I'm reading this through, I just want to add that I think that is what our pastors are currently doing this month and next month as they preach and teach on the Biblical roles of men and women, so there!)

Words of Encouragement
So to my pastors and elders, I want to encourage you to preach the Word.  Remember that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).  It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, is altogether righteous, and is more desirable than any material thing (Psalm 19).  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene (2 Timothy 2:15-16). If you commit to doing this, people might complain that it's too boring.  They might rather look at glossy photos and read magazine-like tips than listen to the likes of you.  You probably won't become famous or better looking by the world's standards because of it.  But don't be discouraged by that.  Instead, call us out to forsake our lack of appetite for the Word of God.  Challenge us to trust in the sufficiency of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives!

Our population seems to feed on this need for artsy, edgy and dramatic, but has little appetite for understanding the Word of God and looking deeply and intently on what it says and what it means by what it says.  So to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious(1Peter 2:1-2)!


06 July 2011

Change

Here's a post highly worth ignoring. I haven't posted anything here for so long, it's rather sad to me. I can count on one hand the number of people who might also think this is sad. So I'm not going to shed tears over it. I just thought I'd post something, to prove that I'm still alive to those who don't bother with facebook (where I frequently post more things, highly worth ignoring as well). I often comment on other blogs, and always prefer to see recent things on people's blog links when I click to find out more about where they are coming from.

Just a quick thought this morning about "change." Here are two somewhat common statements about change: Change is difficult, and Some things never change. If some things never change, is that a good thing or a bad thing? It's both, I know, depending on a number of factors. Is change always difficult? No, again it depends on what is being changed. I know that's just an opening, and I'm unable to develop the rest of my thoughts on change, at least for today. But the subject of "change" might be an interesting thing to study in the Bible.

Lastly, before I go to change my almost 3-year-old from his pajamas to his clothes, I thought it would be noteworthy to mention that we are expecting our 5th child on December 28th of this year. So we will be looking forward to more, ahem, changes in the near future! (Probably not many posts, however, unless something else changes in my life.)

04 April 2011

Open Doors

I'm posting the following letter with permission from Joe Mellon, a good friend and missionary who has been serving the Lord in France for many years. Joe does the work of an evangelist. Among the many things he does on the mission field, he actually shares the gospel with people, personally. For that reason, it is always encouraging to read his letters, because I am reminded that I, too, should be doing the work of an evangelist in the location God has placed me. And Joe's faithfulness and boldness encourages me to be the same.

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Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ......

Colossians 4:2-3

Dear Enoch & Merrilee; April 4, 2011

What does an open door look like? How do we know when it is opened? Do we need to push on the door or does it open automatically before us? Have you had any open doors recently? If the door is open and we don’t speak, is that sin?

Having lived in France for 25 years where the topics of God, Christ, Bible and such are treated with mild scorn and continued irrelevance, I constantly pray for God to open a door for me to explain the gospel to lost folks. At times, it is not always easy to determine if God has opened a door or not. But, when He does, it is a magnificent thing to observe and experience.

I have two stories to relate to you about open doors. You ought to be thrilled to read these; after all, this is what you sent us here to do. Read on.....

Open Door #1..... FINALLY!

As you are aware, I have been involved with the American football Club in Chambéry, first as a consultant, and more recently as the Head Coach. The personal goal of my involvement is to talk to the men about Christ, nothing more--nothing less. I also put an enormous amount of effort into coaching football. In this setting, waiting for the open door takes time and in this case, about 19 months. Let me be clear, when I say “talking to folks about Christ”, I don’t mean short conversations on the existence of God or why the catholic church is worthless. Those are frequent, easy and probably useless discussions. I’m talking about presenting the truths of Scripture centered on Jesus Christ with a gospel presentation including the consequences of unbelief.

On Saturday, march 23rd, we went south to Toulon for a Saturday evening game. The bus trip was about 4 ½ hours. About halfway thru I was absorbed in a book about the raid by the Israeli commandos on Entebbe in July 1976. That was the year that I got saved. The fellow sitting in the aisle next to me tapped me on the shoulder and said “Joe, can I ask you a question”. Of course, I responded. Greg continued, “What’s a Protestant”? (Did you just hear that door swing open?) That launched a half hour conversation with Greg, his girlfriend and Tony who was sitting in front of them. We covered everything, The truth of the Scripture, the person of Christ, evil in the world, the atoning work of Christ and the need to be converted or one goes to hell for eternity.

Then, all of a sudden, the door closed. I could hear it shut. That was it. Game Over. I just reveled in the joy of having seen God’s Hand at work on that doorknob. And I said, “Yes, the 19 months have been worth it”. Do you know how often that happens? But it did. We lost the game that night, 7-3.

Open Door #2.....Captive Audience

I led a camp in August 2010 for 10-14 year old French kids with the goal of teaching them some English. We had a week of simple English lessons, games, Bible stories and crafts. Each staff member had a Bible study group in the evening. I had the older boys cabin that consisted of 5 young men. Our Bible study consisted of me answering any questions they had. We did not lack for topics and I remember covering Creation/Evolution, Cults, Why do I have to go to church, do we have to put up with Arabs in heaven, etc. No matter where the discussion wandered for the evening, I always finished with an explanation of the New Birth and an urging for them to be right with God. One of the young men in my group was Benjamin Orset. Read on.........

On January 22, 2011, 14-year-old Benjamin Orset died after eating two contaminated hamburgers at a Quick Restaurant in Avignon, France. An autopsy report concluded that Benjamin died from food poisoning. Traces of staphylococci were detected in the boy’s body, as well as in five of the eight employees. Quick’s managing director, Jacques-Edouard Charret, has refused to accept responsibility for the death of the boy.

Was there an open door for the gospel? Yes. In fact, it was easier than the door for which I waited to be opened with a few of the football players. At the camp I had a captive audience, and they were wired with questions. Did Ben make a profession of faith at camp? Not to my knowledge. But he heard, that is for certain.

What if I had quit the Football Team because there was no interest? Or I was tired! What if I had not talked to the 5 boys constantly about their souls? Or better yet, I developed a gutless and hell-less theology that allows everyone to enter heaven by his or her own merit. Then I could be a super nice guy, coach football, run camps and watch people slowly slide into a Christ-less eternity. No urgency, no appeal for their eternal souls. No Thanks. I will stick with being the odd man out, holding to a message of forgiveness through the Savior alone.

Jesus said, "Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut....”

Revelation 3:8

Yeah, they were OPEN DOORS for certain. Let us not grow weary of praying for, anticipating and walking through OPEN DOORS with the Gospel message.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will

dine with him, and he with Me”.

Jesus Christ

Pressing on in Chambéry.......

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31 March 2011

Check, 1, 2...

Wow. Even I was shocked when I looked at this blog for the first time in ages and realized how long it's been since I last posted. Well, that's the bad news, and I won't focus on that. Because the good news is doubly good. First, I have been working hard at getting my home under manageable condition and getting some better homemaking habits in place. I'm pleased with the results so far, and am working on getting not just months but years of experience with these new habits so they don't feel new anymore, if that makes sense. I still have a ways to go yet, so I won't claim "Mission Accomplished," but I will pat myself on the back a little. Second, with these new habits forming, I'm thrilled to discover that I have time! It's amazing and wonderful! Sometimes I can actually look at the clock and feel like I've got the freedom to do--whatever--without the guilt for not having done--whatever! Now that's like a blank check to a shopaholic when you're a recovering procrastinator like me, so I have to be very careful about how I choose to spend those newly discovered precious moments, and that's probably the next area of self-discipline that I'll be working on. But in the meantime, that means that I might just have more time to blog to my heart's content!

So this was just a copy & paste job from my other blog (for family and friends, by invitation only), but in the future I hope to post things here with deeper content. We'll see where it goes. In the meantime, it's good to be back, dust off the ol' place, and get the fire started back up again. Hopefully you'll come back to be warmed from time to time.

01 December 2010

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I could look at the number of posts I've put up for the year and hang my head in shame.

Or I could look at my pantry shelves and my laundry baskets (which are at very manageable levels), and hold my head high.

Even if I could do a single post every day in December, I'd still be at my lowest number of posts ever for my blog. But I'm not hanging it up. Not yet anyway. This season of my life will pass into another one, and perhaps then...

But thanks for checking in. I haven't forgotten about this place. Really.

10 November 2010

Such is Life

So life does go on. You know, sometimes we take that idea for granted. I have so many thoughts going through my head right now, and putting them into words is sometimes therapeutic for me, and not great reading for others. Oh well. At least you are taking the time to read, and for that I say thank you. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

My parents were just here visiting for two weeks from Oregon. Since 3,000 miles separate us, we only see one another about once a year or whenever I have a baby, whichever. And every time we say goodbye, we know that it could be the last time we see each other alive. Morbid thoughts, I suppose, but they do cross my mind. And usually after every visit, there is a letdown. For lack of a better word, a minor depression takes place. I think it is an adjustment period (for me) to recover from being spoiled by their presence. I've gotten so used to having my Mom wash the dishes, or my Dad to keep the coffee pot going, or my Mom to fold the laundry, or Dad to take us out to dinner--that by the end of their visit, I have a lot of re-training to do!

And aren't we all that way, to some degree? We have our habits. Our routines. We like things to be a certain way, done in a certain order. And when things get off-kilter, we sometimes get off-kilter too. But the strange thing is, that my parents' visit mainly had an influence on my personal routines (and theirs), but the rest of the world continued on with business as usual.

I'm reminded of a briefly dark time in my adolescence, when I was about to take an exam for my Calculus class, and exam for which I was not prepared to take. As I sat at my desk, waiting for the bell to ring to mark the beginning of class, I contemplated ending my life. (I had many other burdens to bear besides the test, but I am just remembering that moment in time.) I looked out into the hallway, and saw the face of a friend passing by, smiling and sharing a friendly conversation with another classmate who was out of my view. And in that moment, I realized that while I was having that rock-bottom emotional experience and wishing that I was dead, others were having a happy-go-lucky kind of day, unaffected by the Calculus exam I was about to take. And I knew that even if I died right there at my desk, next week, that same friend would likely be walking the halls at the same time, talking to the same people as she had before. Life goes on.

That idea is often difficult to see when you are in the position I was. And now in my thirty-some years, I have experienced other situations that were, comparatively, much worse than a Calculus exam, believe me! When you are in the midst of it, you wonder how you will ever survive. You believe your life will come to an end, or that it will be disastrous, whatever. I just heard heartbreaking news that a friend of mine was abandoned by her husband at an amusement park. He left her there with their two young kids, packed up the things back home, and later told her that he wanted a divorce. My head and heart are reeling from the news. I don't know what to say or what to do. I don't know how I would handle such deep disappointment and humiliation. It's painful to think about, and yet my friend is living with it as her reality.

So why am I writing all this? Like I implied earlier, this writing is cathartic for me. Whether this post actually gets published or forever stays in the archives, I just felt the need to get it out. Life does go on. And life is worth living. But the only kind of life worth living is the kind of life that has few regrets--the kind of life that desires to align itself with the Word of God to live in such a way that honors the Lord. The only good reason to be made a fool in the world's eyes is when one chooses to follow in obedience to God, regardless of what the world thinks. There is no dishonor in that.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18

20 October 2010

Starting All Over Again

I'm only giving myself about fifteen minutes to come up with a post, so I apologize in advance if this one is a disappointment. In fact, I apologize if my lack of posting in general has been a disappointment for any of you who enjoy reading here. I don't really have a good excuse. I suppose my explanation is that my habits have changed. And the results have been unintentional. Not only that, but I am not happy with those results. So now I have to learn again how to develop this habit called blogging. Because I do desire to do it often. And I desire to do it well. But all that desiring is worthless without some actual ACTION on my part. So here I sit, typing this post.

Some things have gone on this year that have caused me to think about those areas of my life that I do well (or at least think that I do well), and those areas that I do not do well at all. Some things in our personal lives we can look at and pinpoint how or why we got to be that way. And knowing that might be helpful to understand ourselves, but it might also be a dangerous way of excusing ourselves from facing our faults. I know that this paragraph is a bit self-analytical, but I have to face the reality of who I am, and no longer blame others or excuse myself, but to take full responsibility for my short-comings. I don't need to feed my ego by reminding myself of what I do well so that I don't wallow in despair. I think it's time for me to own up to those areas of my life that only I can be held accountable for.

So this is not easy to write about. I want to be able to make a nice sermon out of everything. I want others to share in my convictions and see those same faults in themselves. I want to be right all the time. I want others to look to me as the shining good example, rather than the dinged-up bad example. And I care what others think about me. But that's not even the issue I want to ultimately focus on.

And...what do you know? The timer is beeping at me. I have to go pick up the kids from school, and my quiet moment of writing must come to a stop. For now. So consider this an introduction, and let's see where it takes us. In the meantime, think about an area of your life that you have struggled with--call it a weakness, a besetting sin, a shortfall--and think about how it has affected your life. Maybe we'll have a discussion. Or I could be talking to the crickets. Either way, I plan to return.

10 September 2010

Book Burnings and Bumper Stickers

I encourage you to read the post at Biblical Christianity here regarding this subject.

While I was playing UNO with my 3-year-old yesterday, we had the White House press conference playing on the computer in the background. I was mostly interested in hearing what was being said about the issue of the flamboyant man in Florida who was planning to burn a particular religious book on public display, an activity that has received world-wide attention.

As I listened to the reporters ask their questions, I got the eerie feeling that we (the USA) might be headed towards a communist state, at the urging of our own people. You think I'm exaggerating? I heard suggestions that book burning (this particular book) could be considered a "hate crime," which could be determined to be illegal. There were also suggestions that the leader could be "detained indefinitely," basically until they determine what particular laws (that they haven’t come up with yet) has this man actually broken. And there was plenty of talk about various "commanders" and "the Commander in Chief" as people were grappling to figure out who has authority to tell this man what (or what not) to do.

I seriously got the sense that the people asking the questions were trying to help the White House figure out a way to get rid of this man, and make it appear to be legal. And the best things they could come up with were to either dismiss the Constitution, particularly the part ensuring our freedom of religion and freedom of speech, or lock the kook up under phony charges just to keep the peace. The next thing I expect to hear in the “brainstorm” of ideas might require all religious groups to be monitored by some branch of bureaucracy or military, and perhaps forced to take courses in diversity and tolerance and sign statements that denounce their exclusive and narrow-minded beliefs.

I don't consider myself to be particularly outspoken in political matters. But as a Christian, I should be particularly outspoken about religious matters, to some degree. And part of my time spent thinking about this issue had me imagining what would happen if that man went forward with his plan. And it's not a pretty thought, but one worth considering. The world is rapidly changing, as are public opinions. What actions, reactions, events and public pressures could we be facing sooner than we think? It's probably only a matter of time before another fool tries to one-up this one and another opportunity to preach the gospel presents itself.

I don't think American Christians should roll over and surrender their liberties, but we are generally pretty blind to the fact that they have been protected/given to us through the Constitution, and that document will not endure through eternity, nor does it have supreme authority over Christians. And let’s not forget that a large portion of the world's Christians exist/survive without such liberty. We may need to learn from them how to live for the glory of God while being oppressed, because it could be just around the corner. Better yet, we can learn from the early church and how they endured the persecution that came after Christ’s resurrection, by studying it in the Bible.

So Christians, prepare your "official statement." What is the 15-minute version, the 2-minute version, and the bumper-sticker version of the message you are commanded to preach? Why do you preach it? And Who is your commander? Are you prepared to preach it to the world, and suffer for it?

19 August 2010

Love, Merrilee

Well, it's been about a month, so it's time to post again, right? (I kid, I kid.)

I've been thinking lately about the way I sign my name when corresponding with people. You know what I'm talking about:

Dear So-and-so,

Blah blah blah blah blah.

Sincerely, Me.
But of course, if you've ever received such a correspondence from me, you would usually find the words, "Love, Merrilee." (And let's face it, my correspondence would have a LOT more than five words in it!) Not always, but most times, I sign Love. Why? I'm so glad you asked.

I could write a lengthy post explaining the differences between the various meanings of the word love. You know, the four loves (phileo, agapao, storge, and eros)? But since I'm not a Greek scholar but in fact a mother of small children (who need to be attended to, by the way), I'll just keep it simple for ya.

When I sign Love, Merrilee, I'm not thinking "I love you." (Though, some of you: I do love you. You're my family--or adopted family. Or you're my best friends. Or you're my neighbor. Or you're reading this blog. Thank you; I love you!) Usually, if I'm thinking "I love you," I'll write I love you.

No, when I sign Love, Merrilee, I'm usually thinking of love in terms of a verb. Not in the first person indicative, but the imperative. You love. Go do it: love. Be about the business of our Heavenly Father: love.

So what? What's the big deal about it anyway? I don't know, really. I guess I sometimes feel the need to explain myself so that others will understand why I do strange things. I don't usually sign Love, Merrilee to perfect strangers. But I do sign off that way when I'm corresponding with a fellow Christian with whom we share the evangelical commission to go and make disciples. Our little correspondence has been a blessing to me. Now, let's go love. Merrilee.

13 July 2010

Worship and God's Word

Just as a brief glimpse into my world: I've been (since December or so) reading in the book of Matthew for my personal Bible reading. I usually try to daily read 4-5 chapters at a time, over the course of a month or so. While reading the same few chapters over and over, I've also been supplementing my reading by listening to John MacArthur's sermon series on the book of Matthew while I'm doing my household chores. It has been a delight to read and be taught from the word of God. I am so thankful to be part of a local church body that is also faithful to the teaching and preaching of God's word, and it is a wonderful experience to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in the home as well as in the body of Christ, the church.

All that to say: As I was recently listening to a couple of excellent messages, I was shouting AMEN in my heart when I heard MacArthur say the following:

For those of you who are visiting with us, it is our custom at Grace Church to worship the Lord in the instruction of His Word. Sometimes I’m asked if I feel that teaching is a part of worship. And I guess I constantly answer that I think teaching is the most important part of worship because you can only worship a person that you know and you can only know Him as you understand His Word. And if we are to truly worship God, we are to worship Him as He is understood and as He is known and according to the worship which He demands which, of course, is revealed to us in His holy Word. So, as we come to worship this morning as always we open the Word of God to be instructed by the One we worship and I guess the essence of worship itself would be to listen to the One who is, in fact, the object of our praise.
The above quote is from the message titled Jesus' Personal Invitation, Part 2 (from Matthew 11:27-30). If you click on the quote above, it will take you to the website where you can read the whole message, or even listen to it for free. I was truly blessed by it and I hope you will be, too. May your heart worship the Lord in spirit and in truth!

12 July 2010

Rulers or Slaves

This morning as I spent time in prayer before my kids got up, I was praying that I would be able to instill in them a good work ethic, and an attitude of diligence. There are so many projects and things we'd like to accomplish this summer, and the only way it seems possible is to either 1) get rid of the kids (which is not really an option), or 2) get the kids to help in some meaningful way. And I was praying that I would have the right attitude about this as well. Sometimes I'm reluctant to dive into a project because I think I know how much work must be required, and I just don't feel like I have the resources to do it all at once. (Never mind that I could pace myself and get the job done over time; being a big-picture kind of person, I sometimes can't see the trees for the forest!)

And then at breakfast, we read Proverbs 12. Over and over was a contrast of a diligent person and one who is often referred to as a sluggard elsewhere in Proverbs. And there's a lesson in there for me. I connected these verses together.


verse 11: He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.

verse 14: A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.

verse 24: The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.

verse 27: A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.

Paying close attention to verse 24, there are two types of people: those who rule, and those who are slaves (put to forced labor). So I made two lists:

The Slave's List:
  • pursues worthless things
  • lacks sense
  • has slack hands
  • is forced to work
  • doesn't roast his prey (doesn't make the most of his opportunities)
The Ruler's List:
  • tills his land
  • has plenty to eat
  • uses his words wisely
  • is satisfied with good
  • has diligent hands
  • understands the value of diligence
And of course it's a rhetorical question, but what kind of person would I rather be? What kind of person do I want my children to become? So now, I make a composite list:

To Be THAT Person, One must:
  • pursue important, valuable, virtuous things
  • be sensible
  • be busy with one's hands
  • work voluntarily
  • make the most of what one has, improve on what one has
  • work hard
  • reap what one sows
  • plan for the future
  • enjoy the fruit of one's labor and the blessing of one's actions
  • keep one's hands from being idle
  • appreciate hard work
Rather than be the slave to my stuff, I want to be the ruler, how about you? I know this is short and sweet, but I want to now go and practice what I'm preaching! May God bless you in the pursuits that He's given you and the work that He's given you to do today, tomorrow, next week, and all summer long. And I'll end with this passage from Galatians to reflect on, in light of the verses in Proverbs:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

20 May 2010

No Title Necessary




This one photo says it all. My house is in a bit of chaos, and I have a very active toddler. This is part of the reason why I haven't posted in so long. That, and I have spent too many precious hours reading about other people's lives on facebook. But no more. I have one week left to prepare for the arrival of Enoch's Mom and sister, to celebrate a particular boy of ours turning seven, and to complete some demo craft projects for our church's upcoming Community Bible School next month. So while I'm supposed to be cleaning the house, I'm also supposed to be making things with glue and Popsicle sticks, while at the same time not neglecting my motherly and wifely responsibilities and keeping everything else running as smoothly as usual. The good thing is that as a born procrastinator (16 days overdue and born on the last minute of the hour), I supposedly work well under pressure. Emphasis on the word work. And so thus I go.

15 April 2010

No Greater Joy

Amid the chaos that is inevitable in a home such as ours, I have much to be thankful for. I have been particularly blessed lately by the conversations that I've been having with my 8-year-old. He is a deep thinker. He really wants to know the truth about God and the Bible and eternal matters. He wants to obey, to please God, to forsake his sin. But he is constantly brought back to a place of being reminded of his sinfulness. And sometimes he seems even tortured by the battle. His passions run high. He is strong-willed and challenges authority. He is a natural-born leader and people-person. And yet he has such a tenderness in his heart to the things of God. He regularly takes his Bible to school and reads it to his classmates. He shares the truth about God's word as he is learning it at home and in church. He is concerned that he might not be telling his friends all the right things. He keeps coming back and asking me, "So what exactly are the things I should be telling my friends that they need to know to get to heaven?"

Recently he asked me if I had a choice for Jesus to return right now or sometime in the distant future, which would I choose. I thought briefly before answering. And I said, "Right now, of course!" I can remember being his age and tormented by the thought of death and eternity. While I knew the right answer would be to choose heaven rather than stay here on earth, I remember really wanting earth more. I wanted to fall in love and get married and have babies. I had much to look forward to that I didn't want to miss. And I didn't really look forward to dying!

I'd like to think that my answer now is due to the fact that I truly love the Lord so much that I can't wait to be in His presence. In my heart, I think that is my honest motivation. And I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that I have fallen in love, gotten married, and had babies. I have also tasted the bitter parts and felt the pain that comes from living in a sinful, corrupt world. My fair portion, I think, although I can say with confidence that there will be more to come. While on the one hand I still have so much to look forward to in this life, I have been blessed to have reached some of the major milestones that I have always dreamed of. And I would be happy, even thankful to the Lord if He were to bring it all to an abrupt end by returning or calling me to be with Him.

Some might call this musing a little bit morbid. Perhaps it is. But this is my point, I think: I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4) I am not only confident that we are leading our children to walk in God's truth, but I am hopeful that they will desire to do so even after we are gone. And whether we go now or 50 years from now, or if Christ returns before then, I have that desire in my heart and it gives me hope and joy to see it begin to show signs of fruit in their lives now.

06 April 2010

Divide and Conquor

Well it seems that ever since I went from one blog to two, my frequency of posting has nearly come to a standstill! I could blame it on a lot of things. Right now my excuse is that we're out of batteries. Every batter-operated thing: toys, TV remote, camera, has run out of juice at the same time. Actually, I took the batteries out of the camera to put into my computer's wireless mouse so it would still function. And now even those batteries are fading. (Sigh.) So that's all. Nothing profound to write today. Just thought I'd update y'all on a little-known fact of our lives today. (Please e-mail me if you know of any good battery coupons or deals going on!)