Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 - The Summer of Change - Lesson 1

Today is July 15, 2016.

I am noting the date because I want my girls to look back and remember this day, this week, this summer.  I have affectionately titled Summer 2016 as  "The Summer of Change". Lessons that will be vital to their walk into adulthood.

Lesson Number 1: God Designed Seasons with Purpose. 

18 years ago this August, we welcomed our oldest daughter into the world. We entered the season of parenthood.  This August, we deliver her to the college she loves for the next season of her life. She is ready and we are excited for her! But to be perfectly honest, this graduation/moving to college/living on her own season has my heart on a continuous Space Mountain loop!

In this season, I am continually reminding myself of three things:

1. She is not really "mine".

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  

She is a gift from God, entrusted to us for a season. In order to complete the purpose HE has for her, she must step into the next season.  (And step into that season without a weeping mess of a mom begging her to stay!)

2. We did not raise her to stay at home.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.

An arrow does not make an impact until it leaves the hand of the warrior.  From the moment I held her, I knew my goal as her parent was to raise a child  that would leave our home as a world-changer. My prayer has always been that my children love God with everything they are and develop a heart that is sensitive to his voice and calling.  (And that I wouldn't mess them up!) That was all very easy to pray when she was 6 pounds of complete dependence!  However, when you are looking at a study full of dorm supplies waiting for move-in day, that prayer is sometimes accompanied by tears! We have placed our arrow into the bow and are preparing to let go.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1: 9-11

3. God is faithful to complete his purpose. 

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated  you.  (Consecrated is a nice "churchy" word that simply means set apart. can read that last line as "before you were born, I set you apart.")

As sweet and "good" as my dreams and hopes for my children are, God's plans are the best.  It is quite comforting to me to know, and BELIEVE in the deepest part of my being, that the Almighty,

the Creator of the Universe,

the Beginning and the End....


Knew ever detail of my child's life BEFORE her conception.  Each and every single day of her life was already notated in the Kingdom planner.  She was set apart for good works that God planned in advance!

And I am sure of this, that HE who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 

So we stand and quote Ecclesiastes, 3:1, For EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven....  

First lesson, Seasons have PURPOSE.  As our parenting season begins to change, I am so thankful. Thankful that God is faithful.  Thankful that I have an incredible husband who is active in the lives of our children.  Thankful for parents who modeled parenting with purpose and intention.  Thankful for a church that invests in our children.

But most of all, I am thankful that regardless of the season we are in, God is with us.  He has gone before us and made a way.

Now...remind me of this when I drive home August 20 with one less child in the backseat.  :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

But at your word

Simon answered, "Master we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the nets."  Luke 5:5

But at your word.

As our church prepares to enter into a season of fasting and praying, my heart is torn.  To be honest, fasting creates a bit of an uneasy feeling in me.  Not fear or dread. Not a lack of desire to spend concentrated time seeking God.... just an uneasy feeling. 

This morning as I was talking to God about all of this, he impressed something on my heart that I feel explained my uneasy feeling.  He said,

"Don't you dare enter into a season of fasting unless you are willing to COMPLETELY obey everything I tell you to do."

Perhaps that was my dilemma.  Perhaps I am not 100% sure I want to hear what God has to say. 

This morning I read in Luke 5.  The story is familiar. Simon Peter is cleaning his fishing nets. He and his buddies had spent the night before fishing. It was a disappointing catch.  Jesus comes by, gets in the boat, and has Simon go out just a bit in the water then Jesus sits down and teaches.

After Jesus finishes teaching, he looks at Simon and gives two commands:

1. Put out into the deep
2.Let your nets down for a catch

Simon's response, found in verse 5, is simple "We toiled all night, BUT at your word, I will let down the nets."

My response to the call to fast has been has been like Simon.  "I have been praying. I have been seeking you and your will for our life, our church, our community...BUT because you have instructed my pastor to call us to this, I will do it."

My attitude has not exactly been one of obedience.  Here is what I learned this morning.

1. The Instructions.    Found in verse 4.
A change of  location. (Put the boat in deeper waters) They fished at night! This was not the routine!

An action. (Let your nets down for a catch)

2.  The Results.     Found in verse 6.
They caught a LARGE number of fish.  The catch was massive!  Greater than they could have planned for or imagined. Taking place in the same waters they had been fishing in just hours before. Don't forget, they "took nothing" in that fishing trip.

The nets were breaking!  This is a beautiful reminder that God keeps his word.  Back in verse 4, Jesus told them to "let your nets down for a catch."  What a catch it was!

3. The Impact. Found in verses in 8 and 9.
A change in Simon.  His response was a repentant heart!

Simon and ALL that were with him, were astonished! Simon's obedience created an environment for a personal miracle, but also a miracle for those around him. 

Here is how God pulled all this together for me.

1. God will often ask you to change your location and daily routine for a reason.  Fasting will cause a change in our routines. It will remove distractions, but it will also create an environment for a miracle.

2. While fasting is intensely personal, the results of the activity of God in our life WILL impact the world around us.  We cannot even imagine what God has planned. 

3. Do not enter this fast unless you are ready to obey.  Just as blessings follow obedience, consequences follow disobedience. 

Life will be different the next 21 days.  I am sure walking away from the things God has impressed on my heart will seem difficult at first, HOWEVER:   

If God calls us to something, it for a reason.  He has a purpose in mind. He is beginning a good work and Philippians 1:6 tells that when God begins a good work, he is faithful to complete it. 

I can hardly wait to see how He  ASTOUNDS us!