As I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning I glanced at the glass door of my oven and I didn’t like what I saw. It was dirty. Why did it look that smeary all of the sudden? I tell you why: the beam of the morning sun, shining brightly on it, exposed the stains that are usually hidden behind the dark glass door.
I thought of somebody I have shared the Gospel with a while ago. She was obviously curious and bombarded me with all sorts of questions about the Christian life. To be honest, that made me really happy. Why? Because I think whenever a person is asking us questions about our faith there is an open door. We should take the opportunity to share more about that precious hope we have. We need to be ready to give an answer about what we believe.
A little later on, that same week, we went for a walk together. At the end of the walk, back at where we had parked the cars, I took the gift-wrapped book out of my car and gave it to her.
Addressing her by her name, I said to her: “I want you to have this.”
Immediately, she got cocky and replied: “Is this a religious book? Because if it is, I don’t want to have it.”
“It’s not a religious book,” I told her, “It’s the Bible.”
She answered: “Well, that is a religious book. I don’t want to have it. Take it back home with you and give it to somebody else.”
I told her that I couldn’t pass it on to somebody else because I had written a dedication for her into it. Even though it contained a personal letter specifically for her, I left it right there at the parking lot in the hope that someone would pick it up, take it home and read it.
It’s about time to go back into the garden and pull some weeds. My mom actually enjoyed pulling weeds. You could literally see the joy in her face after she had managed to get to the root of each weed. Something I did not inherit, I’m afraid.
However, it is a job we will have to do. As long as we are on this earth we have to continue weeding. No matter how much we will ignore the weeds in our gardens, they will not disappear by it. They will grow as quick as lightning. The longer we procrastinate pulling them out the more stubborn they become; until they are almost unmanageable to handle.
As it is with weeds, so it is with problems in our families. What will start out small, if left unnoticed, will grow bigger and bigger and turn into a real threat for us and our loved ones.
One way of keeping them under control is through prayer and praises to God. Now what could offer us a better pattern for prayer than the Psalms? They are inspired by the One who knows all about us and our problems. Many who have gone before us have used these very words to express their needs and their helplessness to God. They have used them to offer their heartfelt praises to the LORD.
Girl, pull the weeds early enough to avoid unnecessary hardships in your life. However, if the weeds have become so unbearable and unmanageable, don’t despair. Instead, take the Word of God and sit down in a quiet spot — perhaps right now — and read, meditate on, and pray the Psalms.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring:
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:5-6 NKJV)
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Are you still in control of your finances? If not, who is?
I'm grateful that we do not owe money. We don't have to pay off credit cards or loans each month. We are not in debt. That hasn't always been the case, though. By God's grace, we managed to get out of debt and so can you. In my post Debt I have mentioned that I will share more on how to tackle debt.
Meanwhile, I'm taking a course on Home Economics which includes a workbook called The ABCs of Money Management. One of the books recommended for reading is called Kingdom-Focused Finances for the Family. It reveals truths about the way we are using money that I have never thought of before. In chapter 6, What Is a Financial Statement, Gary Miller explains using a financial statement. In it he is giving an example of buying a sofa and then updating his statement. This has been a real eye-opener for me. He deducts the amount he has paid for his new sofa from his checking account. Then he gets into the value of the piece of furniture after he has taken it home. He points out that buying this sofa just dropped his net worth a couple of hundred dollars.
Another thing that I keep bumping into during this study is debt. We need to stay in control of our finances even when we are borrowing money. There are times when we will have to get into debt, e.g. by getting a loan, but we will have to carefully discern our motive behind it. Do we need a new car or would a used one do as well? Did we borrow because we need a mortgage to buy a home? Or, are we in debt because we have made a couple of unwise decisions? Perhaps we kept spending money, charging our credit card/s again and again, on things we couldn't afford to pay cash for? Have we ignored that fact and bought them no matter what the consequences?
So, how do we tackle debt?
Be in control of your finances. Don't waste money. Don't spend it on paying high interest rates and making payments over a long period of time. Be content. Don't give in to every wish you might have, especially whenever that wish will cost a large sum of money. Instead, plan ahead: Set aside money each month, saving up for the day of purchase.
What Do They Say?
Imagine you have been told that you are supposed to get married to a guy named Mark Smith. What would the name mean to you? Would it reveal anything about your future husband? Yes, of course, if you would have met Mark before you would be able to associate some of his character traits with his name. Depending on how good or bad of an impression he had left, you would either be thrilled or terrified to marry this man.
We put Mark aside for a moment, shall we, and talk about the man Jesus. Have you heard of Him before? What did people tell you about Him? Did you believe them? Have you ever met Him personally?
Let's travel back in time when Jesus was in the region of Caesarea Philippi, asking His disciples: "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Then, He wanted to know what His disciples are saying about Him:
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Matthew 16:15 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
Listen to what Peter replied:
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Matthew 16:16 (NKJV)
What Do You Say?
Immediately before baptizing a person, my former pastor would ask: “Who is Jesus to you?”
Have you met Jesus before? What are you saying about Him? Who is He to you? If you have never thought about this question before, I urge you to do so this day. Look to the Cross and hear Jesus ask: “But who do you say that I am?” What's your answer?
Lyrics are available at Graham Kendrick's Website at: The Servant King (From Heaven You Came)
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
We need to hear the Word of the LORD, what He tells us to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
According to verse 7,
Your husband and you decided to start family worship at home but you are unsure of how to do it? Don't worry. There is help out there to get you started.
Joel Beeke, writes in the second chapter of his booklet Family Worship* about Joshua 24. Later on he refers to Deuteronomy 11:18-19 which is a review of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. (Ever heard a preacher tell you that if it is repeated it is very important and that we need to pay special attention to the words?) Later on, in the same chapter, he tells us a little more about the how-to of family worship: Instruction in the Word of God, Prayer, and singing praise to God. He continues to give more practical tips on time and place of worship.
If you are not yet in the habit of doing family worship at home, I urge you to take the opportunity to download this 35-page booklet which will give you a great insight into the importance and will give you a good start of how to do it. At the end of the booklet he will get into Objections Against Family Worship and Motivations for Family Worship.
*Family Worship, by Joel Beeke: You can find, read and download it at NTS Library
The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible: This Study Bible contains the complete KJV text, notes/comments on verses, and at the end of each chapter you will find Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship which digs deeper into the chapter and how it relates to other parts of the Bible and offers some questions/thoughts for (Bible study/family/worship) discussion. You can find the eBook there: The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible - EBOOK where you can also take a look at a samples that contains 64 pages.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
Some of us had been raised in Christian homes, while others had not been. Some of us had been brought up in the training and admonition of the Lord, others had not been. No matter what, after we are born again, we need to be very careful not to fall into the same trap that some of our fathers did.
In Judges we are told over and again how Israel turned away from the LORD. After a while they were in deep trouble. So, in their despair, they cried out to the LORD. He saved them. Then, for a period of time, they served the LORD. But later on, again, they turned from the LORD.
I regret just how often and how easily I have given into peer pressure in my 20s. And then I often wondered how different my life could have been, had I been growing up in a Christian home.
George Grant, author of In the Shadow of Plenty says that the bad influence the pagan nations had on Israel after they have come out of Egypt was not the problem. No, it was that the people of Israel did not want to rely on God alone. They made alliances with others, they did not what God had told them to do, they did not let go of things that God had warned them about. They did not trust that God would supply all their needs and that He would be their King.
I would say that my grandma was definitely a Christian. She read her Bible every morning, and she prayed with us children. She reminded my mom to keep on praying with us and to make sure we would learn the things of God. Well, my parents prayed with us until we were about ten years of age and they sent us to Sunday School and they made sure we had confirmation in the Lutheran Church. But that was about it. I often thought: What happened from one generation to the next? Have you ever asked this question? Maybe you have come to the same conclusion than I did: The next generation was rebellious and did not listen to their parents. So they went astray.
Well, that could have been one of the reasons but perhaps not the reason.
Listen to what Judges 2:10 says:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
They did not know the LORD? They did not know the work which He had done for Israel? Why not? Surely not (only) because they did not want to listen later on in life. Surely also because their parents had not taught them. Their family might have told them bits and pieces but wanted to leave the decision (of whether to be a Christian or not) to their children. Or, their parents have left it to the Sunday School teacher to tell them about God. Yes, of course, a Christian home does not make you a true Christian. God tells us that we must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. However, God has given these children to us so we will teach them His ways.
More coming up on Monday: Family Worship Time - Part Two, which will include some practical tips and a booklet suggestion.
In It Takes Time I said that It is important to take time. Now that time I had been talking about the time factor for a good and successful marriage. Today I want to emphasize that we have to set our priorities right (Setting Priorities) in how and where we are spending our time.
I drove somebody to town the other day so that she could catch a bus to go to the airport. It was at an early hour but it was time well spent. On the way back I dwelt on these thoughts...
We have an appointment for a job interview, a job we really want to have. Won't we do everything in our power to be there on time?
We want to meet with that special friend who we haven't seen in months. Won't we go through all the efforts to arrange a meeting with her?
It would all depend on the work we are willing to put into our assignment the teacher said. Oh, and how seriously we had taken his words.
She had to get up at 5 in the morning. But she didn't mind. It was her wedding day and all worth it.
They made sure to leave early to head to the airport and to catch their plane. They made sure it would not leave without them because it would take them to Hawaii.
What about meeting with God every day? Do we take this lightly because, after all, He is there all the time anyway? Or do we think we can be there as we please because He will understand and forgive us if we are not?
Why do we pressure ourselves to the extreme to meet certain deadlines and to rush to appointments but when it comes to our time with God we procrastinate? How about just setting aside 5-10 minutes of quality time with the LORD every day?
I'm very much preaching to myself here, too. I have often caught myself putting God second, third, even last. We are tempted to push God off His rightful place in our life when we forget about Him. We are in danger of forgetting the One who has saved us, whenever we are of "perfect" health and well-off financially. We are tempted to hold on to our money and stuff, thinking more highly of our own "capability", and we are craving for other gods (things and people can become our gods).
God's Word offers us such an abundance of advice how to live: no matter if we are poor or if we are rich, whether we are young and full of energy or whether we are getting old. God, through His Word, talking to us today. He wants to be our one and only Father. He loves to spend time with His children. Are we making the time for Him today?
Emotional or spiritual turmoil fragments a marriage.
Both, men and women, long to have peace in their marriage. So why, at certain times and in certain cases, doesn't it work? Are there any "tricks" to make a marriage work?
1 One evening per week to work on problems.
Meet for a few hours, once a week, to discuss differences in your marriage and to workout solutions. This is absolutely not the time to criticize your man. Pray before and/or at the start of each meeting. Be patient. Remember problems that have a deeper root may take a good amount of time to get solved. Peace might not be restored all at once.
Beware that if problems are not dealt with they might turn into bitterness and pride. Don't let this happen.
Talking about working on problems, we have to watch our words. We know that. But we often forget to check on our thought-life. We need to do that not just once a week but daily. Readjust as necessary. Read and remember Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
2 One date per week, or at least one in every two weeks.
This is an extra special time you spend alone with your husband. Remember the days when you have just started dating? Oh the hours you could talk to each other about so many things. Drive to a nice cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Sit across from each other. Talk, looking at each other, holding each other's hands. Be close. Plan a special meal together, take a long walk, or go on a day-trip. Be together to enjoy each other's company.
Yes, of course, it could also be a time of having breakfast in bed or a planned ahead time to be intimate. You don't always have to feel like it. Surprise him now and then! Put your man first and go the extra mile for him! Imagine him bending over backwards to create an amazing romantic time with you. (Think: candles, dinner, fragrance in the bedroom) How would you feel? Would you be convinced? Your man might not care for all of this but he will go the extra mile to show you his love. Treat him. "Think man"... let him know you are about to hop into the shower, just for him. Tell him that you are ready to meet him. Give him the assurance that he is your man, "the" man for you.
"We have small children," you say. Then take them to their grandparents for a few hours or half a day every other week or so, or hire a babysitter. Or bring your children to your close friends to stay overnight. And at another time you can pay them back by taking their children into your home. How about that?
3 Go For Success! Let him know...
In German we have a saying: "Liebe geht durch den Magen." In English: The way through a man's heart is through his stomach. That may or may not be true. But it isn't the only way to reach out to your husband. Men like to be praised. Don't focus on what he can't do or what he isn't. Instead, capitalize his strengths. Focus on what he is good at. Let him know his unique qualities that you so love. Let him know that you appreciate them, that they are precious and that you find them wonderful.
"He doesn't have any," you say. Really? What about the things you so loved when you first started dating? That's a long time ago... That doesn't matter. Surely you can recall one or the other quality. Go from there. Even if it is just one small thing you can praise him for. Tell him! Show him that he is your man. He will appreciate it when you are proud of him. Give it a try. You will see your marriage improve and your man grow.
In whom or in what do we put our trust in?
Sitting in an airplane, going to and coming back from Germany, I was reminded how easily we trust in people and/or things. Sure, some of us are afraid of flying but not many will question the pilot’s skill or ask if it’s truly safe enough to take a flight.
Without much comment we’ll board the plane, we’ll take our seats, we’ll look out the window, we’ll more or less enjoy the flight and we are ready to put our lives in the hands of technology and pilots…
The picture above was taken during the flight back to Dublin, just before takeoff. There were about 200 people on board of that plane. How many of them would have been ready to meet Almighty God? How many love the creature, the things people make, more than the Creator? How many of us Christians board a plane, take a flight, and then pray and thank God for a safe trip afterwards?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
In whom or in what do we trust? Finances? Insurances? Skills of people? Or do we put our trust in the One who is above all, the Word?
The following is a repost of "The Homemaker's Kitchen" which I had posted on my former blog back in December 2018. It talks about my struggle of not liking my kitchen anymore and how I have solved this problem. I hope you will enjoy reading this post and perhaps gaining some useful tips out of it.
A homemaker will spend many hours of her day in the kitchen. What a joy for her if she loves to spend time in it. It’s the place where she stores her food supplies and where she bakes and cooks her family’s favorite meals.
Imagine for a minute, how much more is going on in this part of her home. Look at her kitchen table where she can do her arts and crafts and sewing projects, or where her children sit down to do their assignments. It’s there that the family gathers for daily worship, to play board games, or to host their guests.
What do you think of your kitchen? Do you like it? Or do you find it would need more cupboards? Perhaps its front doesn’t have such a lovely color as you might wish and/or the countertop reveals its age by now? Say, would you like to spend more time in it again and transform it into a cozy, clean and pleasant place for your family and guests?
“You don’t understand. We don’t have the money to buy a new kitchen,” some of you might say.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." This is exactly what I’ve reminded myself of when I struggled very much with my own kitchen (we are renting the house we are living in).
You see, shortly before Christmas time I had just received the workbooks of my new home economic course and began working my way through a section called Efficient Kitchen Organization. The more I read, however, the more I frustrated I became. Why couldn’t I have a different, a better kitchen? One that works? I longed for a bigger and nicer one with new appliances; one that would have more than one hanging cupboard; one that would have a sink with two basins. It was no fun baking and cooking in this place. Oh my goodness! After taking a break and slowly reading through the same section again, I rolled up my sleeves and began to work with what I have and where I was at. By the end of the day the job was done and I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Yes, I did struggle and, to be honest, it wasn’t easy at all to rearrange everything and reorganize my working space according to what the workbook said, especially since my space is quite limited. But, I did it. Now it makes such a huge difference and working in it is so much fun again.
I worked my way through the lesson about Efficient Kitchen Organization which suggests to divide the kitchen into several areas. Here is what I have come up with:
The storage area for dry food and the refridgerator are to the left. In this area I keep everything I need to prepare bread, cakes and meals: measuring tools, mixer and its attachments, bowls, wooden spoons, baking pans, cupcake liners, dry ingredients like flour, sugar, seeds, recipes and cookbooks.
The workbook of the home economic course says to use a round tray for storing spices. However, I’m using a small box for salt, pepper, herbs, etc. (see on the countertop) and a small tin box that contains baking powder, soda, cinnamon, vanilla and so on (see right-hand side of top shelf inside the cupboard).
Here is where I store the frying pans and cooking utensils (hanging on hooks to the right), pots and colander and slow cookers (in the cupboard below), and where I’m baking and cooking (see the double oven with built in stove to the left).
Washing Up Area
There is a dishwasher on the right-hand side but I’m actually washing my dishes by hand. I find this more efficient and hygienic.
Dishes and Cutlery Area
I keep coffee, tea, bread and oats in the cupboard above and the coffeemaker, foodslicer, etc. on the countertop so I’m also calling this the Breakfast area.
I stack the plates that I use daily in the front and the others in the back. Cutlery, towels, cling film, aluminum foil and bags are found in the drawers.
I’m very happy that I was able to arrange all of the areas right next to each other and that I can continually work my way from left to right. You might doubt at first that dividing your kitchen into these specific areas will change anything. I did, too. I can tell you now, though, that this does make such a big difference. Give it a try and you will see!