Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chocolate Flavored Bible Reading

This is a guest post from a very close friend in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.   I hope you enjoy her thoughts, and, like I did, come away with a delightful reminder of the all-encompassing GRACE that covers over our sins, and how great GOD's love for us really is.


Bible Study, Journals, Plans and Quiet Time With the Lord

I had recently received a new Bible—the newly published Lutheran Study Bible. I was so excited to have this new Bible because it was a version that I didn’t yet have and because there was such a wealth of resources and notes included in this book. I also received a journal to use along with it and had all sorts of plans as to how I was going to format my quiet time with this wonderful Bible.

What I didn’t realize was that this book would be the source of a new lesson from God, without even opening it up.

The next evening, I was relaxing with a delicious cup of hot chocolate in our living room. I reached to set my cup down on the end table, and a split second later, I heard an awful splash. My hot chocolate was flying out of the cup onto the floor. 

Only, it wasn’t just the floor. It was the side of the relatively new sofa, the curtains, the rug, the wall and my books that were on the floor between the couch and end table. And on the top of that pile were my new Bible and accompanying journal and prayer books, which were now dripping with chocolate.

I have a weakness for really lambasting myself when I make a mistake—especially one so seemingly careless. I flew off the couch and in a feat of strength heaved it out of the way to evaluate the damage I had caused by my own carelessness. Scolding myself and even crying as I discovered that the cocoa had splattered several feet in multiple directions, I worked to clean up the mess.

I got the chocolate off the couch, put the curtains into the washer, and mopped the wood floor. But my new Bible! The cover and sides and bottom of the pages were covered in hot chocolate. My prayer books were several years old but were also a mess.

As I dried off the books, I thought of how the mess reminded me of what a mess I really am and how much I need my Savior, about whom this chocolate-soaked Bible tells me.

I was tired and irritated with myself. But once the curtains were back up, the couch was dry with no evidence of a stain, and I had a fresh cup of hot chocolate to sooth my frazzled self, I reflected about how God teaches us in every circumstance, if we will only listen to him and trust that he always works for the good of those who love him.

Even though I confessed my foul temper and negative emotions, I still had lingering remorse about the damaged books. But the next day as I was sweeping the floor and muttering to myself about “what a dingbat I was,” the Lord helped me realize that I now have a chocolate-covered Bible and prayer books! What a delightful way to look at the mess I made and how it is covered in God’s grace—just like me.
2 Corinthians says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 
 I will likely sin again by beating myself up when I don’t measure up to my own standards. But oh, how thankful I am that God will redirect me, forgive me, shine through me, and teach me to rejoice in him always—especially with chocolate covered prayer books!

This article was written by Mrs. Jennifer Schwedler who lives in La Crosse, Wis., and is a member at First Evangelical Lutheran Church.   Jennifer has three grown children, one husband and dog named Bjorn.  The article appears in a women's column on the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website.  The WELS is a conservative church body founded 100% on the inerrancy of Scripture; Bible-based and Christ-centered.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Older Women: Listen Up!

God created Adam.   Then God created Eve--out of the man.   He put them together in a beautiful place.  God also created marriage.   He set Adam as the head-of-the-household.  He created Eve specifically to complement Adam--so that the two of them would be a complete unit.   Their marriage was perfect when they followed God's design.

God is clear in His word what He desires for our marriages and families and homes to be like.  When we follow His divine plan, we are MUCH better off;  when we learn and obey God's will for our lives, we are MUCH happier.  Our homes are sanctuaries of peace and hope.     

When we go "outside" of God's will and create our own design or follow the world's design--that is when we get into trouble, when our family life begins to fall apart, when we're dissatisfied with our "lot in life."  

In Titus chapter 2, Paul talks about "older women" training and teaching younger women to love their husbands and children in such a way that "no one will malign the Word of God."    This is another reason that all older women who believe in the One True God should be careful with the way we talk about our 

  • marriage, 
  • our husband, 
  • our children, 
  • child-raising, 
  • pregnancy, 
  • home-life.  

There are tender ears (either our little or teen daughters or young adult-women) who hear our complaints and sadly we are maligning God's Word--AND we are showing and telling these young women that being a wife and mother is a miserable, wretched job.

  • WATCH WHAT YOU SAY!!! Your words "instruct" and "train" and "teach" those who are listening when you jest and tease and make "off-hand" remarks. Nix the complaining. Nix the angst. Rejoice in the LORD!
  • WATCH WHAT YOU DO! Not only are infant eyes eagerly following you around the room as you putter with making dinner, little daughters model themselves after you, teen girls, your daughter's friends, your son's girlfriend or fiance,--yes, they are ALL looking to you whether they ask outright or just watch you from the other side of the room. 
  • WHAT YOU LIVE MATTERS!   It affects your actions and words.   If your attitude is deplorable, work on changing it.   I just saw a quote worth repeating:  "What would happen if you woke up this morning with ONLY the people and things you thanked God for yesterday?"     Cultivate a "Gratitude Attitude."
  • HOW YOU LIVE MATTERS!   Tremendously!!   You are affecting not only your own children, but their spouses, your grandchildren and the people who pass through your life.   What legacy are you creating?   
  • LOVE your husband and children--love in words, love in actions, love in deed. Love in truth. Put the BEST construction on what you do or say or think.


"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, 

as working for the Lord, not for men,

since you know that you will receive an inheritance 

from the LORD as a reward.

It is the Lord Christ you are serving." 

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are You Wandering Aimlessly?

God gives us JUST what He knows we can handle. 

When I look back on the path I've walked SO FAR in my life, it is amazing to see that each step has been actually GOING somewhere.  Even when I think I must be wandering aimlessly---when I look over my shoulder and see how they all work together, it is simply amazing!

There's NOTHING random at all about my life.   Every detail is significant to Him.  

"It has given me great joy to find some of your children 

walking in the truth...

love one another.  This is love:  

that we walk in obedience to His commands.  

As you have heard from the beginning, 

His command is that you walk in love."  

2 John: 4-6 NIV

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Catchy Theme: Teach, Train and Carry

The following is a slightly edited version of the opening devotion shared 
at our homeschool moms' support group kick-off meeting.

The passages chosen for this year’s theme are taken from Titus 2:3-5 and Galatians 6:2.   Just look at the verbs and “commands” within these verses:

Teach the older women to

be reverent in the way they live (not gossips or addicted to much wine), but

to teach what is good.

Then they can train the younger women to

love their husbands and children, to be

self-controlled and pure, busy at home, kind, and subject to their husbands,

so that no one will malign the Word of God.


Carry each others’ burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Paul wrote this to Titus, a young pastor, instructing him to TEACH the ‘older’ women who were (in turn) to train the younger women.     These women were believers within his congregation.   
Older woman—the Greek word used here means presbutis –same as presbyter (aged) – means chronologically as well as spiritually mature.    This would refer to two generations.  The “older” woman would be one who has–by virtue of age—been “seasoned” and has picked up a few things over the years—knowledge and experience; she’s “qualified” to teach these things!  

Probably no longer has young children at home, thus more time on her hands (thereby the warning about the dangers of being idle:   gossiping, false accusations and getting drunk—these are tempting to all women—and if we have TIME on our hands?—these things do NOT fit with the definition of “godliness”).   

Older women are those of us who have younger women in our midst, whether our daughter is still sleeping in a crib or married with children of her own.   Our daughter’s friends and our son’s girlfriends.   Our sister and our sister-in-law.   Young moms at Bible class or sitting on the sidelines at soccer games.  Gals at church or co-op, in the neighborhood or at the grocery store.   They are EVERYWHERE!

The older woman's knowledge and experiences in life should have helped her gain some wisdom.   Different translations:   KJV says older women should be TEACHERS of what is good, to give good counsel; Amplified version says to wisely train; NIV says to teach what is good.

Being young has great moments (one-handed cartwheel, running, unbridled enthusiasm and ENERGY), but age has benefits, too.   The parts wearing out isn’t very much fun, but gaining wisdom is priceless!

Older women—please, take seriously the “commands” listed here because those of tender years and ears ARE watching your actions, listening to your words, and modeling themselves after you (or not).   What a joyful burden to carry—God will enable you!—do it to His glory.  

Younger women—seek out and pay attention to those spiritually mature older women whose lives are “teaching what is good.”   Their knowledge and experience, sensibility, faithfulness.   Learn from these ladies:   what is good, what has or hasn’t worked for them.  Then, LOVE the life you’ve been given and keep busy making your home a place of refuge for your husband and children.   The everyday burdens will be lighter when you have an older friend helping you lift the load.   

Likewise – means “similarly” -  Paul starts verse 2 with this word....which refers back to the previous paragraph where he addresses how Titus should train older men; these are qualities he describes which we “older women” are to emulate:
  • Being temperate or reverent which KJV says “as becometh holiness” (mental sobriety), dignified & WORTHY of respect/mature (a big responsibility!!!),
  • self-controlled, sensible, well-balanced, 
  • sound in faith (sound means “healthy”) – trusting God, 
  • sound in love (selflessness or “charity”) and 
  • sound in endurance (patience).
Other qualities Paul mentions for the older MEN which can parallel our roles at home include having exemplary behavior, attitudes and characteristics, and being good leaders.

Oh yes!   Women fill an important place in God’s kingdom:  think how important our homes are—as training ground for future families, future “warriors” for the Lord; so please:  train by example and words.

Younger women – NEED to be trained in
  •  loving their hub and children – not the “feeling” part of love, but the “action” part of love…..love is SACRIFICIAL – not about “personal fulfillment” – ACTIONS  (refer to 1 Cor 13--stated below in the POSITIVE)
o   patience
o   kindness
o   contentment
o   quietness & gentleness
o   humility
o   polite & courteous
o   sacrificial
o   good-natured
o   forgives & forgets
o   pure
o   protective
o   trust-worthy & reliable
o   hopeful
o   consistent & persevering
  • Self-control and being sensible (KJV – discreet)
  • Purity and chastity – FLEE temptations (impurity kills marriages, families, faith) - "flee" means to run for your life--serious danger!!! 
  • Kindness – (Ampl – good-natured), kind-hearted, goodness—wants to do ‘good’
  • Busy at  home (KJV – keepers at home; Ampl – home-makers) – noble work; your role is NOT determined by society but by the Lord who created man and woman and established the family!  
  • Subject to her husband, submissive – not demeaning as a door-mat; rather UNITY and WELL-being of the family (think of the chain-of-command; organizational chart at a business--the buck has to stop somewhere...God says it should be your Husband--not you!).   Ampl – adapting & subordinating herself to her hub.   KJV says obedient to her own husband.
So no one will malign the Word of God:   ungodly, pagans looking for reasons to belittle Christians.  Dear sisters, we must give them NO opportunity!   Ampl – exposed to reproach/blasphemed or discredited. When we Christian women buck against the job description God has given us—we DISCREDIT the role, too—make other Christian wives and mothers look bad!!!    

Have you ever said "welcome to the real world" when a young mom asked for advice?  Or told horror stories about labor & delivery?  Have you ever whined about your inconsiderate, irritating, or thoughtless (but dear) husband?   

Careful, dear sisters!    We may be joking, we may be exaggerating.   Maybe our peers understand – but tender hearts can be injured by our careless joking words!    Malign the Word of God?  Never!!!  But are your words and actions in line with God’s Word?  

Carry a burden for someone, whether in word or deed.   Be mindful of those near you and the struggles or fears they face.  Encourage and praise and thank one another and your children and your friends; submit lovingly to your husband.   Seek to please God in every word you speak or think and every action you do.   

Finally, dear ladies, young and old, keep busy with fruitful projects, be kind to others, daily turn to God’s powerful Word.   When you find yourself swept up in gossip, hypocrisy, laziness, or impurity flee to the cross!    Only there will you be able to fulfill Christ’s command to live in such a way that through you, others will come to know of Him!   Build friendships with those on the path to Heaven, be accountable to one another.

May God’s richest blessings shower you with confidence 

as you set off on another year of teaching, training and carrying … 

and in family leadership as a woman who lives for the Lord!