Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Treasure Verse Tuesday ~ Redeemed and Ransomed

Thankful to be the redeemed who can cross over
and the ransomed with everlasting joy!

"Are You not the One who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
That made the depths of the sea a road
For the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness;
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away." 

Isaiah 51:10-11

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well-Trimmed Hair and A Prayer

“They shall neither shave their heads,
nor let their hair grow long,
but they shall keep their hair well trimmed."
Ezekiel 44:20

My girlfriend, Lori, recently said, "There really is a scripture for everything!"  So true!  We teach our children that, as they open God's Word each day, He will always give them His satisfying portion.  As we seek Him, He will give us the perfect, fulfilling truths our hearts need.  They have seen this happen so many times already and it makes our parental hearts jump for joy!  Joy in the Truth.

Last week, God amusingly gave me the perfect scripture to share with Joshua.  For the last two summers, we have permitted Joshua to "grow his hair long" and be hair-cut-free for the entire summer.  Then, just before the new school year begins, we take him for a hair cut. 

My plan for this summer was to take Joshua for his hair cut on the day of our school's Open House for "Meet The Teacher Night", which is the end of next week.  But his hair had really gotten long in the front and he could barely see.  With football practice starting this week, I wanted to take him for his hair cut earlier than originally planned.  Knowing this would be a disappointment for him and that my revised plan might meet with some resistance, I chatted with God one morning and asked Him to give Joshua an understanding and cooperative heart.  Either way, the hair was getting cut.  A cooperative heart would yield a peaceful day.

In my journey through the entire Bible in one year, that morning's reading included several chapters from Ezekiel, and I laughed when I read Ezekiel 44:20 ~ “They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed."  God has a great sense of humor!  Thank you, God!  This was the perfect scripture to back up my parental earlier-than-expected hair cut for Joshua decision! 

When he came downstairs, I excitedly shared the well-trimmed scripture with him with a big smile on my face and an intentional hint of light-hearted banter in my tone.  He looked at me in amazement.  "Moooooommmmmm, come on!"  He couldn't hold back the grin acknowledging the uncanny timeliness and appropriateness of the scripture.  His heart steadily warmed up to the revised plan. 

So yesterday, ten days earlier than originally planned, I took him to get well-trimmed.  He was not thrilled at first as the woman cut it shorter than we both requested.  His handsome blond hair was a little more "well-trimmed" than we both wanted, but he was consoled knowing that his hair will grow.  And, in light of the big stuff of life, this is easy. 

Lori is right ~ there really is a scripture for everything...even hair cuts!  Lori is a wise, wonderful woman.  Friends, I am asking for prayer for my girlfriend, Lori.  For almost five years now, she has been battling cancer.  She is brave, and her unwavering faith in God just humbles my soul.  She never complains, and she always views her battle in light of eternity.  She is having a significant surgery tomorrow, for which she has waited over a year.  Would you please pray for her?  May God's perfect provision, faithfulness, love and truth minister deeply to her heart and body.  May His healing touch bring her to complete health.  Thank you.  Lori ~ I love you!  Jim, the kids and I will be praying and can't wait to deliver your Tab to you soon!  

Friday, August 19, 2011

@ ~ Quiet Satisfaction of His Fulfilled Purpose

"The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me..."
Psalm 138:8

Sending an email from my Droid the other day, the joyful reality struck my heart.  The @ symbol is fulfilling its purpose.  Once a rarely-needed character on the keyboard, "@" has become the most useful symbol on keypads everywhere.  For years, we would search the keyboard looking for the obscure symbol, only to find it humbly sitting on top of the numeral 2.  Quietly and patiently, @ sat for decades.  Did @ know what plans were in store for it?

To be loved, needed, cared for and know we have purpose is, I believe, the common cry of every human heart.  And all of those desires are satisfied in the person of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Grace and Truth.

God does have His purpose and plans for us, and that is clear throughout scripture.  A heart led by the Spirit is a life with eternal purpose.   

"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of His heart through all generations." 
Psalm 33:11

"I cry out to God Most High, to God,
who fulfills His purpose for me."  Psalm 57:2

The @ reminded me of His truth and His promises.  The @ symbol on my Droid cell phone has its very own key now. The @ enjoys a place to call its own given by its maker...to serve and be useful.  I don't even have to press shift or alt first to use @.  It has been given a place for its unique purpose.  The @ is needed and useful.    

Our Maker has purpose for each of us.  He has gifted us each uniquely and purposefully.  He desires to use us for His glory and to bear fruit for His kingdom.  As we humbly abide in Him daily, keeping Him on the throne of our hearts whether we are sitting atop the 2 or have our very own keypad not requiring the use of alt or shift, He will fulfill His purpose for us. 

The silly little @ spoke volumes of His love to my heart.  On days when I am feeling unuseful, overlooked, shunned, unneeded and without purpose, I will remember the @.  I will think of His truths in scripture about His plans and His purposes for each of us.  The @ wasn't looking for prominence or glory, rather simply to be utilized by its maker and know that it had purpose when it was made.  We desire the same thing, to be used as a vessel of honor by our Maker for His glory and His purposes. 

The Lord will fulfill His purposes for us.  And no purpose of His can be thwarted.

Thank you @ for speaking His truth to my heart!

"I know that You can do everything,
and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."
Job 42:2

"The LORD has done what He purposed;   
He has fulfilled His word 
which He commanded in days of old."
Lamentations 2:17

 Do a word search on "purpose" www.blueletterbible.com or www.biblegateway.com and see His beautiful plans and purposes for us.
© 2011 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sibling Squabbling

"Yet I will show love...I will save them—
not by bow, sword or battle...
but by the LORD their God.”
Hosea 1:7 
(Camp of The Woods - 2009 Carnival)

Wanting to soak in all the joys of summer, in the spring I prayed for long, slow summer days. Indeed, we have enjoyed the summer's blessings of family, friends, vacation, lazy days and toes splashed in waters of pools, lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. As July's final curtain call took center stage, I covered my eyes to the turning pages of the calendar showing August on the horizon. Surely the arrival of August means September is fast on her heals.  September ushers in the end of summer break. And I don't want summer to end.

But the siblings are starting to pick at each other a bit now.  Literally, a poke here and a poke there. A poke.  A scream. A becoming-frazzled mom. A summer break starting to set like the evening sun while a new school year dares to peak over the horizon.

Truth be told, the cherubs have done very well together all summer.  Jim and I delighted in how they have been lovingly playing together, enjoying each other's friends, serving the Lord in new ways together, building puzzles together, learning new things together, doing morning devotions and cheering one another on during their special summer activities.

But, like an expectant mom rubbing her over-stretched belly during the ninth month of pregnancy, the increased sibling squabbling is signaling to me that it is almost time. Time for summer break to come to a close and the new school year to begin soon.   I don't need the calendar to tell me that.  For the first time the other day, during a sibling squabble, I had the thought:  "It must be the middle of August...the siblings are squabbling...again!!"

They love each other dearly and care for one another deeply.  I'd like to think when they squabble with other it is because they know each other is a "safe place" for their transparency.  That may be true, but I can't sugarcoat it.  They squabble because they are little sinners.  Cute, adorable, precious, saved-by-His-grace sinners.  And when their squabbling heightens to a more frequent pace this time of year, it's a sure sign that summer break is nearing its end. 

So I am writing on the chalkboards of their hearts: "Yet I will show love..." (Hosea 1:7) That is what I want to teach them and model for them as their parent. When they get on each other's nerves, "Yet I will show love".  When both want their own way, "Yet I will show love".  When crankiness oversteps gentleness, "Yet I will show love".  That's what saves us from ourselves - God's love.  Not bow or sword or battle -- not pokes or screams or taunts.  The Lord's Love.

I am praying this momma reflects His love to them as summer closes and the birth pangs of a necessary new school year frequent themselves in our home.  Yet I will show love.  As we savor the sweetness of the last few weeks of summer and feel the warm afterglow of the season's memories, that's the prayer I want to quiet our hearts as a family.  Yet I will show love. "Yet I will show love...I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle...but by the LORD their God.” Hosea 1:7

"Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs."
Proverbs 10:12
"Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

Friday, August 12, 2011

Splashing By The Sea

"...He gave the sea its boundary 
so the waters would not overstep His command...
He marked out the foundations of the earth."
Proverbs 8:29

We are humbly blessed to be enjoying part of summer's homestretch in Ocean City, New Jersey, one of our most favorite places on earth. God's beauty and the simple pleasures of the Jersey Shore make it the quintessential summer vacation for our family.  Summer's delights are fully satisfied once we have splashed our toes in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the beaches of Ocean City, NJ. 

Boogie boarding, sand castle building, wiffle ball, relaxing on beach chairs.  Kohr's soft ice cream, boardwalk rides, Johnson's caramel popcorn.  Marathon Monopoly games, puzzle building, simple meals.

And quiet time. Lingering quiet time with the Lord. 

The other morning as I was sitting with His Word, the sun shone brightly through the window and lit up The Lamp Unto My Feet.  The morning sun warmed me as I soaked in His Word.  God is so good. My heart is thankful. 
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:130

I pray you are enjoying these August summer days and that whatever prayerful wishes you have had for your summer have come true!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gentle Nudges

"What do you prefer?
Shall I come to you with a whip,
or in love and with a gentle spirit?"
1 Corinthians 4:21

This summer and last, Gabrielle has been blessed by her Heavenly Father and her earthly daddy to be able to participate in a week-long horseback riding camp. All week, they learn and refine their equestrian skills. The highlight of the week is the show on Friday afternoon when all the young riders demonstrate their horsemanship for family and friends. 
Each afternoon when I would pick Gabrielle up from camp, she would excitedly tell me which horses she had the opportunity to guide that day.  She was learning the personalities and nuances of each of the steeds and how each one responded to her signals. Something she said to me one day as we galloped home from the farm in my car will stay with me forever.

"Mommy, one of the horses I was riding today was not responding to my leading when I was using the crop (small riding whip) to get his attention.  After spending more time with him, I learned that the horse responded to my gentle nudges instead of more firm commands." 

Gentle nudges.

I want to respond to gentle nudges.

God's gentle nudges.

I want to spend lavish time with Him such that I hear His whispers.

"...learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29

Just like the horse responding in obedience to Gabrielle's gentle nudges, I desire my heart to be yielded so desperately to the Holy Spirit that I respond to God's whispers in quick and fruitful obedience.  As I respond to His leading immediately when I feel His gentle nudge, I will run in the path of His commands with a freed heart, and I won't require a more firm command.  "I have run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free."  Psalm 119:32

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27

Oh Lord, keep my heart humble and teachable so that I can hear Your soft whispers and respond to Your gentle nudges. I pray that I don't often require more firm direction from you.  May I always listen for Your tender voice and follow only You

My young equestrian also unknowingly caused me to pause and reflect on my parenting commands. How often am I harsh when rather a gentle nudge will usher my children to obedience? Lord, by Your grace, allow my heart, my life and my mothering to reflect Your gentleness.   "...we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children." 1 Thessalonians 2:7 

Watching Gabrielle in Friday afternoon's show and rejoicing in all she learned that week at horseback riding camp, I couldn't help but thank the Lord for what He continues to teach me through our children.  I am humbled and blessed to trot through life with them.  They guide me as much as I guide them sometimes!

As He reigns in our hearts, may we respond to His gentle nudges and may we rein our children according to His truth.

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near."
Phil. 4:5 

"...the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God’s sight."
1 Peter 3:4

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Simply Delighted

"Blessed is the man whose...delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."  Psalm 1:1-3

Earlier this year, I received criticism that, in essence, God's Word is too much a part of my life. When I heard that said, my heart literally ached.  My feelings weren't hurt, and I wasn't offended.  Rather my heart was deeply grieved.

You see, the underlying tone of the criticism from this sibling in Christ was that he or she mistakenly felt that I thought I had arrived spiritually or that I was "holier than thou".  Oh how my heart ached that their misunderstanding and inaccurate estimation of me could be a stumbling block. 

Arriving spiritually or being holier?  Nothing could be further than the truth.  He keeps me close to His Truth.  He lovingly and graciously holds the mirror of His truth up to my face daily in His Word.

 "Oh, how we need to know ourselves.  
Are we alive in Christ?
There is only one instrument that creates,
detects, and confirms eternal life in the soul of man;
namely, the Word of God." ~ John Piper

"I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word." 
Psalm 119:16

"Your statues are my delight; they are my counsellors."
Psalm 119:24

Yes, I delight in God's Word.  

I love His Word.

I believe His Word is truth and life. 

I share His Word. 

I speak His Word.

I teach His Word to my children.

I am compelled by His Word.


His Word is truth and life. 

His Word convicts me.

His Word breaks me.  "Every time we open the Word of God, it should be for the purpose of brokenness." ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

His Word faithfully, and often painfully, unearths the wretchedness of my own heart so He can lovingly refine and restore me.

His Word grows me.

His Word comforts me.

His Word encourages me.

His Word changes me.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

Have I arrived?  Hardly. Yet, "The Way, The Truth and The Life" leads me on this journey with Himself, the Word made flesh.  

Am I "holier than thou"?  Oh please...that's laughable! (Ask my family and friends!)  I am on my face, bowed down before the Holy One, aware of His perfect holiness and silenced by His mercy and grace which cover my sin. With reverence and awe for Him, I am ever mindful that I am a sinner saved by His grace.

If His Word is too much a part of my life, it is because I am aware of my great need for Him and humbled by His great love for me, for all of us.  I need to be steeped in His Word.  If I share His Word, it is because I know it is Truth and Life for everyone who receives it.  Psalm 138:2 says, "You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word."  I believe that if we live in reverence for His Name and His Word and exalt them above all things, our lives will be in order, we will be made holy by Him and we will arrive at our destination holding His hand.

If someone again criticizes me that God's Word is too much a part of my life, I humbly hope I am always guilty of that assessment. 

I am delighted.  That's all.  Simply delighted.
"But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these I delight,” says the LORD. 
Jeremiah 9:24

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nuggets From She Speaks 2011

"...that we may gain a heart of wisdom."Psalm 90:12

My three girlfriends and I chatted, laughed, cried, sang and napped our way home on a longer-than-expected 11.5 hour journey home from North Carolina two Sundays ago. Arriving back at my home just after midnight, I was greeted enthusiastically by my husband, cherubs and doggy. They had waited up to hug me, and they welcomed me with signs and decorations. I am blessed.

Like I imagine most women did, I hit the ground running upon my return from She Speaks 2011. While it seems like a luxury to stop and take the time to re-read my notes and all that God ministered to me during the conference, it also seems necessary and wise to stop my world for a few moments and retrace His workings in my heart.

Sharing these nuggets here on Joy In The Truth, I pray they speak His truth and love to your heart as well.

From Michael O'Brien (the worship leader -- former lead singer of New Song):
Never let your gifting from God overtake your calling from God.  "I Do" is in the doing.  God's first calling in our lives, if we are married, is "I Do". 

From Susan Meissner's session:
In real life, like the writings of a good fiction book character, when someone's passion is at stake, a conflict occurs.  The pursuit of the passion or letting it go is where we trust God and hold on to Him.  What's important is a life of integrity and integrity in relationships.  I wrote down some of my passions:  God's truth, my relationship with Him, my relationships with family and friends, loyalty, fidelity, truth.

From Mary DeMuth's session:
Do not despise the way God made me.  Look for the work of the Holy Spirit.  Be who He made me to be.  Great writing is simple writing. Discard bad advice. Don't push against wise criticism - if we are always pushing against wise criticism, something is wrong in our heart.  Be faithful in the little things.  Do the work.

From Jenny B. Jones' session:
Joy is used over 250 times in the Bible.  Humor is good.  Establish your tone.  Tap into humility.  Establish that it is good to laugh.

From Nicole Seitz's session:
(I want to read her fiction book "The Spirit of Sweetgrass"!)
"I am not chasing a dream -- I am on a journey with God." - NS
"Even when things don't make sense as I obey God, He may have a plan for someone else as I am faithful to Him."  NS

From Lysa TerKeurst's session:
"Sometimes we have to let God chisel our hearts.  Sometimes He asks us to participate as He chisels someone we love." - LT
"Be courageous enough to surrender and let God write your child's testimony."  - LT

From Whitney Capps' session:
"Everything that encounters my world comes with the permission of God.  He is in the refining and redeeming business."  - WC

From Glynnis Whitwer's session:
"Your story is not the story.  The story is God's testimony."  - GW

From Holly Good's session:
Holly is an amazing assistant.  Her example inspires me.  I heart Holly.

From Karen Ehman's and Whitney Capps' skit:
Receive with thanks and humility any gift God gives me.  Rejoice with and encourage others in their giftings.

From Micca' Campbell's session:
Competition has no place in ministry.  (Amen!!)  You can't minister to or with someone with whom are you in competition.
"When I am jealous, I count someone else's blessings rather than my own." - MC
"Stop wanting what others have if I am not willing to do the hard work to get there." - MC. 

I still want to go through all the scriptures taught and all those I journaled at the conference.  So much truth to soak in.  I am thankful.

He Speaks.  She listens.  I have lots to hear.

 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,

for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 3:13-15