A Thought About Thankfulness

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So, conversely, complaining could be said to be a powerful witness about two beliefs hidden in our hearts:
1.) We don’t believe God’s purpose is being worked out, which means our God is not all powerful.
2.) We have taken it upon ourselves to interpret what God’s purpose is, subjected this purpose to our own judgement, and have found it wanting.

Thankful for a sobering heart check.

To love with all

Fall break means more time for reading!  This week I started Dr. Helen Roseveare’s book ‘Living Sacrifice’.  In the preface, Dr. Roseveare expounds on what it means to be “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12) and show love for God (John 14:21). At the end, she writes thoughtfully about what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

To love the Lord my God with all my heart will involve a spiritual cost. I’ll have to give him my heart, and let Him love through it whom and how He wills, even if this seems at times to break my heart.

To love the Lord my God with all my soul will involve a volitional and emotional cost.  I’ll have to give Him my will, my rights to decide and choose, and all my relationships, for Him to guide and control, even when I cannot understand His reasoning.

To love the Lord my God with all my mind will involve an intellectual cost.  I mist give Him my mind, my intelligence, my reasoning powers, and trust Him to work through them, even when He may appear to act in contradiction to common sense.

To love the Lord my God with all my strength will involve a physical cost.  I must give Him my body to indwell, and through which to speak, whether He chooses by health or sickness, by strength or weakness, and trust Him utterly with the outcome.

The sum of these apparent costs… could be considered as the sacrifice that I am invited to offer Him as the response of my whole being to His love for me in that one “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” (pgs. 27-28

How counter this seems to our culture that places emphasis on seeking personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy, whether they be in relationships, jobs, or even the church.  This is also contrary to our too highly prized personal autonomy, even where God is concerned.

Dr. Roseveare’s writing prompted me to asked some questions to examine how I view and live out the call to love with Lord my God with all:

1.) How have I loved the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength in the past?

2.) How am I loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength in the present?

3.) In what areas am I unwilling to love the Lord my God with my all? Is God calling me to sacrifice my affections to be obedient to Him?

4.) How do I see others loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? How can I encourage them in that?

5.) Am I putting my sacrifices in perspective by meditating on the great love of the Lord my God abundantly displayed on the cross and throughout my life?  Do I consider it a privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings? Do I consider the sacrifice not worth comparing to the weight of glory waiting for me?

The Heart of a Single Woman’s Home: Hospitality Outside the Home (part 5 of 8)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

The last post in this series touched on lessons God has taught me as a single woman hosting company in her home – whether a dorm room, apartment, or house. Seasons come and go.  Sometimes my home is not available for hosting people.  This school year has been one such season.  Work has been so much more demanding that the time and where-with-all to have people over is not available as much as I would like. Instead of wishing and wallowing in self-pity that my home is going to waste (although, there has been some of that…), God reminds me that He has given me other venues of practicing the Christian art of hospitality: my car, my workplace, my church.

One of my biggest material blessings from God is my car.  Eleven years, 98,000+ miles, a new roof, new fender, and new windshield later, and we’re still going strong. Now, I can tend to take a more utilitarian view of my car. The car is meant to transport people and things.  I don’t often think of keeping it as clean as my home, or decorated like my home.  So, I’m usually more mindful of the readiness of the house than the state of my car. (OK, who am I kidding?  I’m always more mindful about the cleanliness of the house.  The only time I think about the cleanliness of my car is a brief twinge of guilt whenever I happen to look in the back seat… which isn’t that often). I don’t think about it needing the same kind of peaceful atmosphere for hospitality that my home does.  That is, until I suddenly need to give someone a ride. If I have half empty water bottles, a Kleenex box, items to be returned, and dishes (I know, right?) scattered around the inside of my car, I have a feeling that my car will speak of stress much louder than my cheerfulness will speak of peace.  Granted, I’m not going to decorate or invest as much time in my car as my house, but now I ask myself: Is the car clean?  Does it smell good?  Am I a safe and courteous driver?  Do I tend to let the gas needle get dangerously close to empty? What purposeful conversation and music happens during the drive? Do I give people rides begrudgingly? Am I giving rides out of Christ’s love in my heart? It’s not unreasonable take a few minutes to make sure my car is as hospitable as my home.

I have the blessing of a classroom in which I can practice hospitality to students, parents, and co-workers every day.  I have the freedom to pick out the decorations, set the behavior rules, arrange supplies, and decorate to a certain extent.  I keep notecards, gum, and chocolate in my desk for teacher friends that may need them. But, as I mentioned in “Hospitality in the Home”, that is not enough to make a place hospitable.  Do I welcome students or co-workers when they interrupt the other work I have at that moment? Do I greet others with a smile — a genuine, glad-to-see-you smile? Does my desk speak chaos or peace? Do my ears listen for the well-being of those who come by or are my lips quick to encourage gossip? Hospitality is possible whether I have a classroom or a cubicle.

Another place to practice hospitality that may get overlooked is the local church.  All who enter need to be welcomed, visitors and long-time members.  Is there someone habitually sitting alone?  Is there a new visiting mom who needs someone to help get her kids to Sunday school? Is there someone who needs to be cheered? Hugged? Encouraged? How can I contribute to the needs of the saints on Sunday mornings?

God has given the means and the grace for me to practice what He commands.  Hospitality in the home is so important, but, praise God, my ability to practice hospitality is not limited to the home.

Blog Series- The Heart of the Single Woman’s Home: Introduction (part 1 of 8)

I had the opportunity last Saturday to share some of my testimony at my church’s women’s conference.  The topic of the conference was the heart of homemaking, so my topic was the heart of a single woman’s homemaking.  Preparing for the talk was a wonderful process of remember the past faithfulness of God and again searching my heart to tease out the lies and misperceptions still there.  So many times I had to stop and thank God again for how patiently and completely He has loved me.

In my continued thinking about this topic, the 15-20 minute talk has grown.  In this little blog space, I would like to posted excerpts of the talk with extended ideas that have come in the week following the conference.  It encourages me to think on these things, and I hope that it might encourage others – especially single girls – in their pursuit of God and godly homemaking.

This post will just be a brief introduction to the series.  Since I’m talking about the heart of a single woman’s home, here is a little background on my housing situations: after graduating from college in 2008, I moved 9 times in 4 years. (This seemed a bit excessive to me… and also probably to the ones who helped me move.)  Those living situations included apartments with 1-2 roommates, a large house rental with 4 roommates, transition months when I lived alone, and my parents’ house. Almost three years ago, through God’s provision, I bought a house, made move #10, and I haven’t moved since. I’m 30 now and in my 5th year of teaching at the same school, so I feel pretty settled now.  In all my different situations, however, the constant has been my faithful God, who has lovingly and patiently molded my thinking about making and running a home as a single person.   It is not as if I never struggle now, nor that I don’t foresee struggling in the future, but that God is faithful. So, in the upcoming posts I’d like to share a lie I believed about my homemaking, the truth to that lie, and some examples of what making a home has looked like for me in the areas of money, safety and protection, hospitality, and buying a house.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23

Psalm 34 (part one)

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34)  If the heart and mouth were so full of the praise to God and the mind so occupied with His goodness, what contentment and blessing that person must feel.  What joy must be felt within.  Bitterness, complaining, self-pity, and self-seeking cannot live long in the presence of contentment focused on God’s grace.  It is not that this person had less grief than others — King David certainly knew his share of heartache from enemies, family strife, betrayal, and his own sin — and it is not as if he never faltered.  It is, however, that he fixed his gaze on the One who bore all our griefs and carried our sorrow.  Self-sufficiency will disappoint at every turn, but not the One from whom true, lasting life and all other gifts come.

Saturday Song: O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire

O Christ, our hope, our heart’s desire,

Redemption’s only spring,

Creator of the world art Thou,

Its Savior and its King.

How vast the mercy and the love

Which laid our sins on Thee,

And led Thee to a cruel death

To set Thy people free.

But now the bonds of death are burst,

The ransom has been paid;

And Thou art on Thy Father’s throne,

In glorious robes arrayed.

O Christ, be Thou our lasting joy,

Our ever great reward;

Our only glory may it be

To glory in the Lord!