Archive for May, 2013

Through a Storm

Storm then wind then dust then rain.

Do you like road trips?  I do.  Except when there’s bad weather while you are on that road trip.

The other day we were driving on a road trip (“We” meaning my husband.  I was reading next to him.) and as we drove we noticed that we were heading toward very dark skies.  We could tell that there was a storm up ahead, but we had to keep going even though the skies were becoming darker and darker.   Soon we were in the storm.  It was just rain and some lightening, but some of that rain was very hard rain.  You know the kind of rain that makes it difficult to see while you’re driving?  Yep, that kind of rain.  The storm lasted for a very long time and I was thankful that my husband is a good driver.  Finally, the rain slowed down and we saw brighter skies.  Suddenly the temperature outside was quite a bit warmer, the sun was out and the rain was gone.  Everything was dry and sunny again.  And guess what?  All of the bugs that were covering our windshield before the storm had been washed away by the rain.  We were driving on dry streets in the warm sun and a with a clear windshield.

Driving through that rain storm reminded me of going through other kinds of storms in life.  Not literal storms, but the times in life when things don’t go the way that we planned and we feel like we are in a storm – covered over with dark skies, not really being able to see what’s ahead very well and having no idea when it will end and when life will be better.  But if you know Jesus as your Savior, then you can know that God is always with you, even through that storm.  He knows what is ahead and when the storm will end.  You can trust God in the storm that He is always good and that He will never leave you.  And you know what?  God can even bring good things out of a storm.  Like a clear windshield.

Psalm 34:17-18 is a good reminder for us when we are going through storms, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (NIV).

There are a lot of good songs about going through storms in life, but I like “Not for a Moment” by Meredith Andrews so here it is:

Trees and Truth

treeHave you seen the movie, “The Lorax?”  I just watched it the other day.  If you’ve seen it, then you’ll remember the town of Thneadville that was made of plastic.  And you’ll remember how the people liked their plastic trees that were filled with air.  And that they had forgotten about real trees.  Ah, yes.  The real trees.

You see, there was once a beautiful land full of trees.  Then a well-meaning young man allowed people to cut down a few trees, but the people got a bit carried away.  You see, after a while they realized that all of the trees were cut down.  The Lorax tried to stop the people from cutting down the trees, but the people didn’t listen.  They did what they wanted to do.  And what was left wasn’t very pretty.  Just an expanse of land filled with tree stumps and, after everyone else left, one lonely young man.

Then we see Thneadville.  This town had no real trees.  The trees in this town were made of plastic and filled with air.  A man in that town had convinced everyone there that they didn’t want real trees, that the plastic trees were so much better.  This man knew that real trees were good for the people, but he didn’t care about the people.  He was getting rich by selling air to the people for their plastic trees.  And the people were enjoying the plastic trees, until they realized that real trees were actually good and better for them than plastic trees.  Who knew?

Well, that air salesman knew.  And he was very good at deceiving the people.

So here’s my thought.  What if we are being deceived?  What if someone wants us to cut down all of our “trees?”  To stop believing that God knows and wants what is best for us?  Whether we believe in God or not, what if we’re cutting down the trees of truth?

Is someone trying to sell us “air” today?  Not because it’s particularly good for us, but to keep us away from wanting what is good for us -the real trees, or real truth?  Are we believing lies about things that seem fine and good – like plastic trees – when really they are not good at all because we were meant to have real trees?

Our culture today tells our young people that purity isn’t that big of a deal.  That they should be able to do whatever they feel seems right at the time or to look at whatever they want and it won’t matter.  That seems like a plastic tree – something that sounds good, but isn’t really true.  After all, now we have many depressed teens and lots of diseases.  Maybe we shouldn’t have cut down that tree of truth about purity.  What if it really is the best thing for us after all?  God has made it very clear in His Word that purity is important.  Not to spoil anyone’s fun, but because it is good for us.  I think our young people are much smarter and more capable than our culture seems to believe today.

And what about marriage?  In the beginning God created a man and a woman and married them and told them to be fruitful and multiply.  Only one man and one woman together can do that.  Marriage requires one husband and one wife.  Are we filling up another plastic tree with air when we choose to redefine marriage?  How do you redefine a word anyway?  You can’t change what something is just because someone doesn’t happen to like it.  Words have meaning.  And so does marriage.  Or do we want to cut down another real tree and replace it with a plastic one that looks nice, but really is not what is best for us?  I have volunteered with kids for years and I have seen that children do best when they are raised in a home with a mom and a dad.

What about the godly heritage of our country?  Here in America many of our founding fathers believed in God and formed our government on biblical principles.  Look at what George Washington said on September 19, 1796:  “We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.”  Today our nation is disregarding many of the “eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained” and I feel like we’ve been cutting down a lot of trees.

As in the movie, the people who cut down the trees meant no harm.  They were not evil people with ill-intent.  They were good people who truly thought they were doing something good.  Today I believe we are in that same situation.  Many well-meaning people are doing what they think is right.  But is it right to go against God?  Does He not know what is best for those He has created?  Are we unknowingly buying air that we don’t need just to fill up our plastic trees that we think will make us happy while what we really need is real trees, or real truth that never changes?

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10 NIV).  Will we continue to allow our “trees” to be stolen, killed and destroyed?  That young man in the movie that thought he was doing what was right and good was left all alone with tree stumps as far as the eye could see.  Will we believe a lie and just do what we want as he did and end up with something we didn’t expect or want or will we believe truth and have life to the full?

At the end of the movie the people learned about real trees and planted the last tree seed – and soon many trees grew.  What a beautiful sight the real trees were!  True trees standing for all to see and enjoy.  I want to see that, too.  Trees of truth so that we may have life to the full.  That will be beautiful!

IMG_4286Okay.  I admit it.  These are my favorite shoes.  I’ve worn them all through the fall, winter and now the spring.  And last year I wore the same shoes, but a different pair.  They were so comfortable that when they started to wear out I went to the store hoping that they would still have them.  And they did!  What a happy day!

And now this new pair looks worn out, but they are sooo comfortable.  I will say that I have nice shoes when I need to look nice, but these shoes are my favorite and even though they’re getting kind-of embarrassing to wear, I still wear them because, well, you know, they’re comfortable.

Which makes me think, what else am I getting comfortable with?  I know I should get rid of these shoes for good, but they’re so comfy.  And after all, they’re just shoes.  But are there things in my life that maybe I’ve gotten too comfortable with – like with this pair of shoes?  Are there things in your life?

It’s a good question to think about.  It’s nice to be comfy, but what if God is calling you to give up something like a bad attitude or to do something new that may not be so comfortable?

A lot of the things that I’ve done have not been so comfortable.  Like when I agreed to lead worship for children and I showed up to find 350 children gathered in front of me and a microphone.  That turned out to be one of the most fun things I’ve done.  Definitely not comfortable, but fun.  And I think that’s the point.  When we’re not comfortable, we have to count on God to work through us.  We have to remember every moment that God promised to never leave us and that He will help us.  And we learn to trust the Holy Spirit to comfort us and give us courage.  And that is the best thing about serving God.  Watching what He does through us when we are definitely not comfortable, but willing to serve Him and do our best.

So as the weather warms up here, it’s about time to get rid of my comfortable shoes that I have enjoyed wearing for so many months.  Why is that so hard to do?  I will say, though, that I’m looking forward to wearing sandals and flip flops.  Shoes that are cute AND comfortable.  I am so ready for that!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mis...

You know how you can read a passage of Scripture a hundred times and learn something new each of those times?  Well, the kids that I teach ask really good questions so I like to anticipate their questions and study more than just the lesson.  And I learned something really neat that every parent will appreciate.

The lesson this time was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  I knew that when these teenagers arrived in Babylon from Judah that they were given new names, but I hadn’t noticed before what those names meant.  Or what their original names had meant.  This is what’s really neat.  Their parents gave them names that had to do with God, the one true God, which means that their parents were probably teaching them about God and encouraging them to follow Him.  We know that these young men knew the one true God.  Here are the names that their parents gave them:

Hananiah:  Yahweh is gracious.

Mishael:  Who is what God is?

Azariah:  Yahweh is a helper.

Now look at their names given to them in Babylon:

Shadrach:  I am very fearful of God or Command of Aku (the moon god).

Meshach:  I am of little account or Who is like Aku?

Abednego:  Servant of the shining one (Nebo, a Babylonian god).

The leaders of Babylon must have wanted these young men to forget their God and worship the false gods of Babylon, but would they?  No.  Even when persecuted by being thrown into a very hot, fiery furnace made for baking bricks, they still stood up for God.  They said that no matter what would happen, they would worship only the one true God.  Go Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!

Here’s what is really neat to me.  (Well, besides the whole amazing true story.)  Sometimes we as parents can wonder if our children are listening to us, but we can know that they are.  We can teach our children about God, train them in godly ways and encourage them to live for God and to stand up for Him.  And when we need to let them go we can continue to pray for them.  I’m sure the parents of those three teenagers were praying for their sons while they were in Babylon.  And just like in Babylon, when our culture encourages our kids to forget about their God and choose the ways of the world, they will have the courage to choose to trust God to help them as they stand up for Him and for what is right.  Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

* The name information is from the ESV Study Bible.

IMG_4258In case anyone was wondering after my previous post (, my tulips have bloomed!  It took longer than I expected, but they are wonderful!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).