Categories
Devotions

Don’t Despise Discipline from One Who Delights in You

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

Proverbs 3:11-12

My beloved child,

I despise little more than to see you hurting. But sometimes, pain serves a purpose, especially when it is allowed by God. Discipline is invaluable, if gets your attention and causes you to alter your course to be more consistent with the one the Lord has perfectly charted for you. Embrace it.

Your father and I corrected you when you were in our home because we absolutely delight in you and want the best for you. Your Heavenly Father cares for you even more and will continue to discipline and shape you into His image until He takes you to His home.

Turn toward the Lord when He brings correction into your life. Lean in. Learn well. Know that He wouldn’t be giving His time and attention to teach you if He didn’t love you immensely. Don’t despise discipline when it comes from the One who delights in you most.

You are truly and deeply cared for, by us and by your Lord.

This post is part of a series which was born the day my son moved out of the house. Please read Wait, one more thing! for the backstory.

Other posts in this series, which you might enjoy, are:
Live Long and Prosper
Fear the One You Trust
How to Measure your Treasure

Categories
Reflections

How Pandemic Protocols Encouraged my Heart and Improved my Eyesight

How are you doing? For real, how are you? If you follow my blog, you have probably noticed that I’ve been dealing with some tough stuff. If, with the Pandemic and ever-changing protocols, you are too, let me know in the comments section on any of my posts! I genuinely empathize and would love to pray for you.

You might enjoy this related post: Struggling with Disappointment Today

Amidst all that is going awry, I have been keeping a gratitude journal to help my mind stay focused on the things that are going right. One recent entry was a surprise, so I thought I would share the happy story and tell you how the Pandemic protocols encouraged my heart and improved my eyesight. We must find and celebrate the little victories, right? I hope it lifts your spirits today!

An important background detail to note is that I have a hard time getting honest feedback on my appearance from my family. It seems that everything I try on is “cute”. Since it is pointless to take someone to the optometrist’s office for a second opinion, I usually spend well over an hour by my indecisive self, choosing and second-guessing, every pair of frames they offer. That is until the Pandemic protocols changed the process to improve my eyesight.

Eyeglasses displayed for sale: how the pandemic improved my sight
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

The Pandemic protocol at my eye doctor’s office says I am no longer allowed to touch the sample eyeglass frames. Instead, I was met on the sales floor by the fitting specialist. She asked me some general questions about my eyesight and preferences, then took me to the different displays. I pointed and she weighed in heavily, telling me why most, which I would have tried, were not right for me.

She brought approximately 8 frames back to her desk. As I tried each of her picks, she gave me immediate feedback. Some were too big for my face, others sat incorrectly on my nose. We immediately narrowed the lot down to the three best fits. She told me the prices of each, and I ordered the one with which I was most comfortable. I was in and out in 10 minutes.

Three pairs of eyeglasses: how the pandemic improved my sight
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

My glasses arrived two days ago, and they are perfect! The optometrist’s Pandemic protocol had to go immediately on my gratitude list because it was a huge blessing for me to have the specialist’s assistance in choosing the correct frames. Because of her, my eyesight is greatly improved. I now realize that I haven’t chosen the right glasses or been able to see to my potential for many years!

Additionally, it occurs to me that her valuable input is not unlike what is offered by a wise Pastor or skilled Christian mentor. Just like I could wander around the eyewear showroom for hours, alone, trying to figure out what is best for me, I can spend a whole lot of time trying to make sense of God’s will for me in His Word.

Glasses sitting atop a Bible: how the pandemic improved my sight
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

I should, and do, devote time to the study and understanding of the Bible, but my heart is encouraged to find someone, more mature in their walk with the Lord, who is willing to guide me and help expedite the process. This is something I have been meaning to do, but my improved eyesight with the optometry assistant and her Pandemic protocol procedures has spurred my resolve.

I’m sure, if I perused the list of things for which I am presently grateful, I would see more examples of how people’s responses to Pandemic protocols have encouraged my heart. The fact that the Pandemic protocols served to improve my eyesight was a surprise to me. I’d love to hear some of the things that are on your gratitude list these days! Is there anything unexpected?

You might enjoy this related Post: Thwarted by Old Lenses

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Categories
Reflections

Is the Finish-Line moving again? This feels like Déjà Vu!

Twenty-seven years is a long time to work toward something. I have been running hard, with my mind set on the finish-line at the end of one particular race for more than half my life! But as the ribbon is coming into focus, I see movement there. Are they moving the finish-line? Can they do that? Will God allow it? As I prayed it over, I couldn’t shake a feeling of déjà vu.

I looked back in some files and found the following, which I wrote in 2012. (Note the photo of my now-almost-21-year-old-daughter, in blue, about to win her 5th grade track meet.) You know that feeling when someone uses your own words against you? Yeah, well, that is how I felt reading this. Finish-line déjà vu, indeed!

Girl about to break the ribbon: Finish-Line Déjà Vu
Sprinting toward the finish!

Victory! Conquered! Completed! I am a finish-line type of girl! I love the sense of accomplishment and the adrenaline rush at the finish-line of a race, a project or a goal. But God has been talking to me about being an achievement junkie… because, while I love triumphing over a “to-do” list, there is always more to do.

Arriving at the end of my “Chronological Bible in a Year reading plan” will not terminate my need for daily Bible reading. Finishing the laundry will not end the accumulation of dirty clothes. Even the glorious salvation of a loved one is only the beginning of the long and beautiful road of discipleship. God is faithfully helping me to realize that the only real finish-line is death, or the rapture (and even that finish-line is really a whole new beginning, but that is another subject for a different time!).

Words like endurance, stamina, strength, fortitude, perseverance, determination, diligence, and resolve are replacing ideas like “end in sight”, “light at the end of the tunnel” and “almost there” in my perspective. I need to be in it for the long haul – however long it will be – and realize that heavy leaning on Jesus is crucial. I don’t have the kind of devotion in me to tirelessly persist, but He is tenacious and steadfast and where I am weak, He is strong!

I knew it back then. Déjà vu – I know it now. I certainly can’t blame God for not preparing me in advance when there is evidence like this to prove that He has been teaching me this vital lesson for years.

My finish-line is not being moved. I am looking at the wrong ribbon. The one I need to be focused on is stretched across the edge of eternity’s shore. I’ll be finished when I arrive there, not before.

I’m so thankful for this finish-line déjà vu. And I’m so appreciative for your visit here on the Back Porch. I wonder… are any of you feeling tired and spent, but not yet done? We have Living Water available to us, for this race, through Jesus (John 4:10-14). I am pouring myself a big, tall glass. May I offer you one?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3
Categories
Devotions

How to Measure Your Treasure

“My son…
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Proverbs 3:9-10

My beloved child,

Let the Lord teach you how to measure your treasure. If you honor Him with your wealth, He will see you as a trustworthy candidate for more. He said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

But don’t exercise faithfulness with your money just for increase. Learning to measure your treasure goes so much deeper than that.

When you bring the first part of your paycheck to God in tithes and offerings, your heart will connect with His. Isn’t that what He said? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).

When you measure your treasure by His ability to use it, you will begin to see that what you have is more than enough. You will be content; therefore, every new blessing will be overflow.

God may choose to increase the amount of your wealth as you honor Him with what you have, but you can bank on this for sure: what you have will be magnified when you view it from a heart in step with the Lord. Let God show you how to measure your treasure; it will go far, and so will you.

You are truly and deeply cared for.

This post is part of a series which was born the day my son moved out of the house. Please read Wait, one more thing! for the backstory.

Other posts in this series, which you might enjoy, are:
Live Long and Prosper, and Fear the One You Trust.

Categories
Devotions Emotions

How to be More Certain I Won’t Egotistically ‘Lose my Jesus’

I wish I could remember his name. He came to church a time or two and made an impression because he used unusual expressions, which were amusingly great! I specifically recall when he spoke about something tough he’d experienced at the hands of unkind people and said he’d chosen to walk away because he didn’t want to ‘lose his Jesus’. It was an engaging way of saying that he didn’t want to lose his cool – his integrity – for which he gave all credit to Jesus.

I’ve ‘lost my Jesus’ in the way this young man described. Have you? Maybe after being cut off in traffic, passed over for a promotion, or being told the lockdowns were going back into effect? Lately I have been trying to figure out how to be more certain I won’t egotistically ‘lose my Jesus’ in moments of selfishness.

I am genuinely impressed by the expressive truth in the phrase, ‘lose my Jesus’, which I have adopted into my vocabulary. Because here is the thing:

If we are going to lose our temper, we have to push Jesus aside to do it.

He put His Holy Spirit in us, and He bears love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) In order for us to act differently, we have to ‘lose our Jesus’ and access our sinful, fleshly habits instead.

It is common to hear worship songs and sincere prayers which express the sentiment of wanting more of Jesus. I’ve sung that, I’ve prayed for that. Have you? I wonder if we really know what it means. Do we really expect more of Jesus? Wouldn’t that imply that we weren’t already given all that He has to give? Before He left the earth, He said:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John 14: 16-17, 25-26

He didn’t say that He would send part of the Holy Spirit and we would be given more of Him, little by little, if we asked. He said that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and remind us of everything Jesus said. We were given access to the whole of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, when we accepted Him as our Savior.

Related post: Gospel in a Nutshell

But I wasn’t a big space of nothingness walking around before He came in. I was completely full of me. I had my fleshly desires and selfish ambitions, and it was all-consuming. When I surrendered my life to Jesus, the lump sum of everything He promised became accessible to me. So why do I still get egotistical and ‘lose my Jesus’ sometimes when the going gets tough? I believe the answer is that:

I can only be filled with the Spirit to the extent that I empty myself of me. Sometimes I am predisposed to ‘lose my Jesus’ because I’m full of myself and pushing Him out.

Some days, my rights and my pride and everything to which I selfishly feel entitled, stay safely laid to rest and the Holy Spirit can surge in with power. He washes over me, fills me, and flows from me. But other days, I stubbornly resurrect my earthly treasure and I’m just so full of ‘it’ that there is very little room for the Holy Spirit. And that is when I ‘lose my Jesus’ at my kids, or at the TV, or wherever – maybe even at myself. When I’m shaken, that which fills will be what spills.

Photo by Viajero on Pexels.com

It is wonderful to sing and pray for more of Jesus, so long as we realize what we’re implying. We are not saying it is His duty to give more of Himself. We are stating that we want to surrender to Him more of what we’ve been holding out. We are purposing to drain the vanity and ego and make space in our lives for all that He has given us.

We are certain not to egotistically ‘lose our Jesus’ when we are filled with Him. His presence will be what shines through to others. He will be noticed, especially, by the people who expect our temper but get our Jesus instead.

I wish I could remember that guy’s name. Maybe one day he’ll read this blog and let me know. Somehow I don’t think he’d mind that what lasted after our chance meeting was a greater understanding of how to be filled with the Holy Spirit as I have determined to be more certain I don’t egotistically ‘lose my Jesus’. He’d probably be thrilled to know that it was the name of Jesus, and not his name, which gets the remembrance and the glory.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:30
Categories
Devotions

Fear the One You Trust

“My son…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:5-8

My beloved child,

I never want you to be afraid, but I pray for you to fear the One you trust. Fear in this sense, is a reverence – a deep respect, and a healthy realization of how powerful the Lord is. He holds everything, knows everything, and you cannot fool Him. If you think you’re wise enough to pull the wool over His eyes and get away with sin, you’re not wise at all. Don’t trust yourself to ever be more clever than God.

You’re accumulating knowledge and God is giving you increasing wisdom but know the difference between your thoughts and His. Trust His. Give your whole heart over to what the Lord has to say when you read His Word, converse with Him, and seek counsel from fellow Christians.

Black coffee mug with Proverbs 3:5-6 on it: Fear the one you trust

As you listen and learn, His plans for you will become clear. But even then, there are several ways to arrive at His will, and if you continue to acknowledge and follow Him, He will lead you on the most direct path to get there. Take His route and you will avoid many potholes and pitfalls along the way.

When you boldly fear the One you trust, it benefits you mentally and physically. Being afraid is a whole different thing, and will have the opposite effect, so be sure to recognize the difference.

There are two forces in this world – good and evil. Be intentional about which you entertain. They are opposing powers and you cannot embrace both. To worship the Lord, you must shun all evil; otherwise, you are divided and not able to wholly submit to the One you trust.

I desperately want to see you healthy and nourished, physically and spiritually. I desire for your every path in life to be straight and sure. I pray you will always fear the One you trust.

You are truly and deeply cared for.

This post is part of a series which was born the day my son moved out of the house. Please read Wait, one more thing! for the backstory.

Another post in this series, which you might enjoy, is Live Long and Prosper.

“Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

Psalm 34:9