We Have to Be Foolish

We Have to Be Foolish

You may be wondering what I’m going to talk about today. Well, I was reading my Bible this morning and when I came to 1 Chronicles 15:29, I remembered a praise and worship song I dearly loved when I was a teenager. It says, “And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating and she despised him in her heart.” The song is called “Undignified (I Will Sing)” and it’s performed by many different Christian artists, but I love Matt Redman’s rendition. This is it with lyrics.

When we read God’s Word and obey it, we appear foolish to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Verse 27 goes on to say, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;”.

If we truly want to be Christ-like then we must be willing to be to look foolish to nonChristians. They thought Jesus was crazy! Why should they think different of us if our goal is to be like Him? Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to study the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how we are supposed to be. We are to love others, even those who hate us. We are to worship Him with our brothers and sisters, without fear of what others will think of us. We are called to fellowship together (attend church), but we are to worship Him without ceasing. My favorite place is when I’m in the car or my home with my three children. I want to raise them to be foolish to the world, too.

Why I Use the English Standard Version Bible

ESV

There are a lot of Bible versions out there including the King James Verson (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New Internation Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV), and lots more. If you have followed my blog you have likely noticed that I only use the ESV. Or seem to.

I used to be a KJV-only type because that’s what I grew up with and what we use at church. The problem was that I struggled to understand it and I was missing the meaning because of that. For my birthday this year, I was given an ESV Bible so I started reading it.

The first thing I noticed was that it was saying the same thing as my KJV, but in modern English. This makes it super simple to follow along in church. I also don’t get distracted by the lingo so I retain more of what I’m reading. This makes me want to read more and I can spend more time doing so.

It does have the same issue as most modern translations, verses are missing. I did my own research and agree that they were likely added after the original manuscripts. I do have a journaling Bible so it’s simple enough for me to write them in. I did that when I realized my Bible was missing four verses in 1 Thessalonians.

I’m definitely not saying that you should choose a translation and just use it, I certainly do not. I use the NIV, NLT, KJV, and ESV personally. Occasionally I’ll use the CSB (Christian Standard Bible) on my Kindle. To make things simpler on this blog I stick to ESV unless I make a note otherwise.

Just Participate, Don’t Anticipate

DontAnticipate

“Just participate, don’t anticipate” was the mantra on my Walk to Emmaus. It made us slow down and not overthink our weekend, just enjoy the surprises that popped up along the way. I find that doing this now is almost therapeutic. I thought I was crazy, until today.

Every afternoon I start my Bible study with Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young. Today it says, “Concentrate on keeping step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you”. It references Proverbs 16:9 which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”. This means that it’s okay to make plans as long as you allow God to guide your steps.

That’s what we have done with Berry Cottage. We asked God to show us where He wanted us and He showed us Berry Cottage. Then He blessed us financially to be able to move there. We serve a loving, merciful God who wants to bless us, but in His time and in His way. That’s what He’s teaching me.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I still have my struggles. I’m still praying to be content in our current circumstances, but I’m learning that contentment is really a choice. Some days I have to ask Him to show me the way, but it’s getting easier.

Fighting a Spiritual Battle

SpiritualWarfare

For over a month now my family and I have been struggling financially. I have made cuts that were somewhat painful, but I have also prepared to lose things that so far we have arrangements made. We have food, electricity, internet, both homes, and our vehicle. All of this time God has given me verses on not being afraid. I thought this was a physical fight in the sense that we’re struggling to keep things.

Last night God got my attention through a dream. My husband and I had just bought a house that was way more than we needed, but it was an old house. I’m talking two stories with a basement and a full attic. Everything was fine until it got dark. Then things started moving, I heard voices, and I was being attacked with our youngest child beside me. When I went to rebuke the dark spirit I was too weak, it laughed at me.

I ran to where my husband was sleeping with our other two kids and the spirit was after them, too. My husband and I stood there and pondered what to do at three in the morning in the middle of a spiritual battle. I called my dad, who I lost in February. In true Dad fashion, his response was, “You aren’t bringing that $%^& here!” So we loaded up and went to Berry Cottage.

When I woke up I realized that even though this feels like we’re dealing on the physical level, we’re actually dealing on a spiritual level. This fight is about Who we are going to listen to and where our trust lies. Do we trust God? Or are we going to let the devil take away our joy and our faith?

I haven’t been praying for strength, I have been praying for answers. I haven’t felt like reading the Bible so I have neglected it. So I’m not prepared for this spiritual battle at all and I’m not doing anything about it! I’m too focused on myself.

This realization was more terrifying than the nightmare I had woken up from. I stayed up a few hours praying and reading my Bible. God had my undivided attention and I was shaking too bad to fall asleep.

I realized that my husband and I need to come together to face the devil, he’s already fighting us and we’re letting him win. Every time I look at our budget in fear and panic, the enemy is winning because I’m not trusting Jesus. He’s got this. All I have to do is let go and remind the devil that he has no place here. Jesus always wins. Always. He already conquered hell and death, there’s no power in either one.

So, how do you fight a spiritual fight? Start with Ephesians 6 and put on the whole armour of God. Pray, preferably out loud, without ceasing. Get in His word and stay there. Go to church and ask your church family to pray for you and your family, too. The enemy comes to see who he can devour, don’t let it be you. Fight back! Remind him what God’s Word says.

On another note, I think seeing Berry Cottage as our sanctuary and refuge was a pretty clear sign, too. When we’re there you can feel the presence of God. It’s beautiful! Anyone who has been there has felt His peace, even in the yard! We haven’t heard from the mortgage company there yet, but I know that God’s got this. No matter what happens.

 

What Makes a House a Home?

HouseOrHome

This is a pretty simple question that could have millions of answers because home can mean something different to each person. It could be something as simple as where your family lives, your address, where your belongings are located, and any combination of these things.

For me, it is where I worship and talk to God the most (I’m only at church four hours a week), where my family lives, and our piece of land. The past few days I have realized that in spite of the problems our current home has, I love it. It may be an old tin can, but it’s where I brought my last baby home, where my kids have pretty much grown up, and where I have grown in Christ the most. To me, that’s worth far more than I’ve paid for the house.

If God chooses to allow us to stay here, I will be grateful for the rest of my life. If He doesn’t, we own the land and we can figure something out. My husband loves alternative, preferably off-grid, housing.

Tent

My point is, home is what you make it. It can be an apartment, an old house, a manufactured home, or even a tent. If you’re glorifying God that’s all that really matters. Yes, your home is a way of glorifying Him because that’s where you spend most of your time with Him. Or it may be your car if you travel a lot.

Of all the things that we as a society take for granted, I think the home is the biggest one. When was the last time you thanked God for the space you live in? Or do you think the size isn’t right, it’s not perfect, or you don’t like your neighbors? I have said those things about almost every place we have lived and we have moved as a result. I can’t remember the last time, before now, that I just thanked God for the blessing that is my home.

As a final note, if your house has problems, you will feel better if you fix them. Organizing does wonders, too. I’m horribly disorganized and our home was a mess! It’s still not perfect, but I love it anyway and I’m fixing it.

About Prayer

Prayer

Today I want to talk to you about prayer. I know this can be a pretty broad topic, but I’m going to try and simplify it. For the record, I am a Christian so I’m talking about praying to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As always, I will be using the ESV because I feel it is the easiest to read and understand. Feel free to use your favorite translation.

When should we pray? In Luke 18:1, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. “And He them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” We are to pray constantly, without ceasing. Praying is not just bringing our needs to Jesus, but it’s a conversation with Him. How would you feel if a close friend only spoke to you when they needed something? Pretty bad, right?

How should we pray? I encourage you to read Matthew 6:5-15, but I’m going to focus on verses 9-13. “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

That’s all that is required because He already knows our needs and the desires of our hearts. He also knows how we have sinned better than we do. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

I also like the ACTS format.

Adoration worship God for who He is, not what He has done.

Confession confess your sins to God

Thanksgiving thank God for all of your blessings

Supplication bring any needs or desires to Him

Psalm 77:11-15 goes along with adoring God and it says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORDyes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.”

You can always come to Jesus and talk with Him, especially when you are hurting and feel broken. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. Never feel like you can’t talk to God, He loves you.

I highly recommend keeping a prayer journal listing prayer requests with the dates when you first started praying and when God answered them. I have had to wait years for God to answer many of my prayers, but when He did I was more grateful to Him. It is always in His time and not our own, but seeing His faithfulness on paper is incredible!

 

 

The Importance of the Sanctuary

BerryCottage.blog

Yesterday we went to Messiah’s Mansion with a group from our church. Their website is here and I highly recommend that you check it out because I don’t remember all of the scripture references, but they’re on their website. There are Bible studies on the sanctuary there, too. I completed the first one today and I felt that it was very informative. I have never really studied the sanctuary because I, wrongly, thought that it was no longer important. So I learned a lot yesterday.

Messiah’s Mansion assembles a portable sanctuary wherever they go so that you can see the temple that God had Moses build in Exodus 25. The altar was constructed on the north side of the temple, as instructed by God. It is symbolic of Christ when He took our sins upon Himself and died for us. When Jesus was crucified, He was crucified on the north side of the city.

When the sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant, the blood was sprinkled on God’s back (the cherub was symbolic of God). When Jesus was sacrificed for us He became sin, so when His blood was poured out for us, God’s back was turned. The gentleman leading our tour said that this was why in Mark 15:34 Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was the first time that He could not see or speak with His Father and it broke His heart. If you go back and read my post, Unexpected Blessings, you can read another reason that He cried out.

I do wish that there was a bit more interaction because my little ones lost interest after the first two sets, but my husband, my twelve year old, and I really enjoyed it. It ignited in me a desire to really study the sanctuary and learn how it points to Jesus. Jesus is our sanctuary and if He lives in us then we become a temple. We should know and understand why.

 

 

 

When Plans Change

PlansIHaveForYou

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21 ESV

Like most people, my husband and I try to plan everything. We have a budget to plan our money, a calendar to plan our days, and a list to plan what we’ll eat. Where we fail is when we don’t give our plans to God and wait for His approval. Sometimes He approves things, but then He shows us that we need to change those plans to follow Him.

Unfortunately, we don’t know if His plan is for us to move into our cottage. We have prayed, we’ve had others pray for us, and we just don’t feel like we have a definitive answer. We’re praying for guidance because we don’t feel that He wants us to stay in this big, metal can anymore either. Or we’re hoping he doesn’t because the utilities are expensive. We have made big cuts (no dishwasher, we turned the hot water heater down, and we hang our clothes on a clothesline) and our electric bill is still the same as someone who lives in a 3,000 square foot house with three HVAC units, a washer/dryer, and two hot water heaters running on high.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow wil bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16 ESV

So, we will pray for guidance and see what Jesus has in store for us. I know that it will be far better than anything we can plan for ourselves. We are also praying for the person who buys Berry Cottage, if that’s what He wants, and we hope that it blesses them abundantly. My husband thinks that maybe God gave it to us and allowed us to make some repairs because the next person may not have the money or ability to do them. Only God knows and that’s okay.

If you are looking for guidance, trust in the Lord and wait. He will lead you in the way that you should go. He knows the plans that He has for you.

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Trusting God in the Hard Times

Trusting God in the Hard Times

Everyone goes through hard times, Christians are no exception. Sometimes God uses hard times to shape our character and mold us into who He wants us to be. There are examples of this throughout the Bible.

My husband and I are climbing a mountain right now, knowing that God is with us and that the view from the top will be worth it. It doesn’t make it any easier to pray or read my Bible right now because I’m scared and hurting. That’s why today’s blog post is late, I don’t want to write this now, but God placed it on my heart so here we are.

You see, my husband is disabled and is not able to work at all. Not even part-time. We bought long term disability insurance from his last employer and they paid us faithfully for two years. Then, towards the end of April, they told us that they would not pay us until we jumped through all of their hoops. We hired a lawyer and he said that it may be November before we get paid again and this is going to happen again in two years.

We are taking everything one day at a time and trusting God to meet our needs. He knows our circumstances and He cares about us so we know that He’s got us. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t scared, we have children to clothe and feed as well as bill collectors who don’t like to hear that you may be broke for six months. So far they have been willing to work with us.

This isn’t even our only problem. I just lost my dad in February and I’m still coping with that on top of this. I know if he were here that he’d shake his head and fuss at me for not putting money back and then say he understood that we thought we could count on insurance. Then he would gruffly remind me that you can’t count on anyone. He always said that, but there is One we can count on. That’s God.

Genesis 25:22 – “The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.” My point with this scripture is that there was a struggle within Rebekah and she went to God. No matter what you are struggling with, go to Him. He loves you.

So, when you are going through difficult times, lean into God. Don’t let the devil convince you not to read the Bible and talk to God. You can tell God that you’re mad at Him. David did many times. Pour your heart out to Him and then listen, He’ll take your hand and lead you over the mountains.

Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected Blessings

This morning I had plans to pray, read my Bible, and finish the blog post I started last night. Preferably just before or while I drank my first cup of coffee. Instead, my power went out as I finished my devotionals. I thanked God for the rain but prayed the lights would come on soon because kids don’t do well without power.

The first estimate was 1pm to have power restored. So I sat with my littlest one and shared something a friend taught my small group on the Walk to Emmaus. I want you to open your Bible and read Mark 15:34. In the ESV it says, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In Jesus’ time, there weren’t chapter numbers or verses in the Torah and there weren’t any hymns. They sang Psalms and the leader would start singing the first line to get everyone singing the same one. Go to Psalm 22 and look at the first line. Read it and see if it doesn’t sound familiar, remembering that it was written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

As my other children came into the kitchen, bored, I shared that with them. My eleven year old son was floored and I think it really opened his eyes to what I have been trying to tell him all of these years. I hadn’t had time before now to show him how the Bible backs itself up and really that should be my priority.

After that I picked up the book my friend bought me a month ago that I haven’t finished and read three chapters. I love this book (and my friend), but I never seem to have time to read it. If you are looking for an incredible book, Love Does by Bob Goff. It’s on Amazon and ChristianBook.com probably has it, too.

Today was such a blessing without coffee, electricity, and hot food. It gave us time to do things that we won’t do when the lights are on (and WiFi is working). It was so nice that I may start turning off the power supply after my coffee is brewed every morning.