Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Provides, if we give Him the chance

The Israelites Gather Manna in the Wilderness ...
The Israelites Gather Manna in the Wilderness (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God provides all of the time. Sometimes we try to provide for ourselves. I think that when we do that, we miss out on God’s blessings. We work so hard in our own strength to do something that God would happily do for us. How silly is that? Why would we insist on doing work that has already been done, or that we know someone else is planning to do for us?

There are two main reasons I can think of that we might do this: pride and lack of trust. Pride says, “I can’t stand the thought of God doing something I may be able to do on my own if I work hard enough. That would make me look weak, lazy, etc. (fill in the blank) Pride also says, “I have to earn God’s favor and I have to pay Him back for the gift of salvation. I can’t ask Him for anything else.” Lack of trust says, “If I don’t do it, it might not happen.” We may believe God is able to provide, but we may wonder whether He actually will. Or we may believe that our problem isn’t big enough for God to care about. Maybe we take care of all the “small stuff” and only approach Him with things we can’t possibly take care of on our own.

Just because we can provide something on our own doesn’t mean God wants us to do it in our own strength. We can do a lot of things on our own, but we also may neglect relationships with God and people in the process. We may burn ourselves out. We may take responsibility for something someone else is supposed to be doing. We may rob someone else of the opportunity to serve. We may miss out on what God really wants us to do.

Could the Israelites have provided for themselves in the desert? Maybe they couldn’t have produced much food, but they certainly could have allowed hunger to drive them to the promised land in their own time, rather than in God’s. Or, they could have decided that they would rely on God’s provision of manna for a short time, but figured that God didn’t want them relying on Him for too long. They could have pressed on to Canaan too quickly because of their lack of trust and their pride. That would have ended in disaster! Surely their enemies would have defeated them, or they would have met with other challenges for which they were unprepared. Trusting God’s provision and His timing, though it was probably difficult to do, was the best course of action.

Trusting God to provide is always our best course of action too. God is the same today as He was in Moses’s day. No matter how bleak our circumstances look, God is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.

Heavenly Father, I don’t always know how you’re going to provide. Right now I’m in a season of having to trust You because I know You’ve called me to make a change that looks kind of crazy in the world’s eyes. But I trust You will provide, and I will give you the glory for it.

Walking by Faith for Baptism and Beyond

ImageToday our church had a special baptism service. Baptisms occur every weekend, but there was a special emphasis this weekend. I especially loved one of Pastor Kyle Idleman’s points: He said that there are many great questions about baptism, but the one he doesn’t like people to ask is, “Do I have to be baptized?” Baptism is a privilege–a response to receiving the very great gift of salvation which was purchased with Jesus’ blood.

When I was baptized 20 years ago, I did so in response to God’s amazing grace. I came to a realization that I could never do enough good deeds to win God’s favor or to spend eternity with Him. I understood that I would never have peace without accepting the free gift of salvation He was offering me. I remember being very nervous about getting baptized, but then feeling so much peace as I came up out of the water. I knew that I was a new creation in Christ and that something was totally, radically different. Other people could tell too. So many things changed about me on the inside and on the outside.

Since then, many years have passed and many changes have taken place in my life. I have become more comfortable in my faith. That may sound like a good thing. We consider comfort to be positive, right? But in this case, it’s not. Christians should never become comfortable in their faith. Believers should always be reaching out of their comfort zone and allowing the Lord to stretch them. They should be characterized by doing things that they can’t possibly do without God’s help. When we live in our comfortable Christian circles and don’t share our lives with unbelievers, and when we only do what we know we can do in our own strength, God gets very little glory.

I was convicted today during the baptism service that I need to be more dependent on Jesus. That I need to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) That I need to listen for His direction instead of being so self-reliant. That I need to trust Him completely. If I can trust Him with my eternity, I certainly can trust Him with the details of this life. 

Jesus, forgive my complacency, my fears, my doubt, my self-reliance. Make me into the person you want me to be. I want to do whatever you want me to do. I want to know You.

 

 

The Path of Faith vs. the Sea of Doublemindedness

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Sometimes I have faith that seems like it could move mountains. Other days I second guess that same faith. The thing with faith is that it is, by definition, not about what we can see. It can be very hard to keep moving forward when we can’t see what’s ahead.

Recently, I made a significant decision out of faith. But then, I started to look at all of the things that could go wrong (kind of like Peter having enough faith to step out of the boat, but then sinking when he took his eyes off Jesus and started looking at the waves), and I started second guessing that decision.

When we make a decision in faith, though, we shouldn’t second guess it. We really can mess up a lot of things when we do. We should simply walk forward, in the knowledge that God has good plans for us, “plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

So, thanks to some wise counsel from some very patient advisors, I am making a decision to continue on the path of faith, trying hard to keep my eyes on Jesus, rather than the waves, for “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6). James goes on to say that the man who doubts is “double-minded, unstable in all his ways.” (1:7) That’s a pretty harsh pronouncement, but it’s absolutely accurate. I know how it feels to make a decision in faith and then to second-guess myself. Only, if a decision is made in faith, it’s actually God I’m doubting. When I do this, I feel very unstable. I don’t imagine it’s pleasant to be driven and tossed by the wind. Sounds terrifying and excruciating. But this is what happens in an emotional sense when we don’t exercise faith. There is no rest for the mind and our thoughts are all over the place. Sometimes we lose sleep, but we always lose valuable time for ourselves and for nurturing relationships.  

OK, doubleminded detour time is over. It’s time to get back on the path of faith.

Prayers for Rick Warren and Family

Mental illness is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care how good or godly one’s family is. The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy, and mental illness is one way he does this. 

Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in California, which is the eighth largest church in America. Warren authored the best selling devotional book, The Purpose-Driven Life, which I found to be life-changing.

One might expect someone like Warren to have a near-perfect family. However, Warren’s son, Matthew, 27, took his life yesterday after a lifelong battle with depression. What a tragedy this family is going through and has gone through for Matthew’s entire life! I really feel for them. I have been through depression and I know how serious it can be. But I can’t imagine battling it for 27 years. 

I also know what it’s like to have children with special needs. I know how much of an impact it can have on a family. Though the Warrens are in intense pain right now–unimaginable pain–their pain didn’t start yesterday. I know they have struggled for 27 years with the pain of watching their son battle an unseen enemy and with the family dynamics that come from having a child with special needs.

Here is a link to the letter Warren wrote to his congregation concerning his son’s death: http://twitpic.com/chhl8v

I will be praying for the Warren family. I also will be praying for people I know who battle with mental illness. Will you please join me?

Lessons from Spring Break

Today I took the boys downtown to go to the science center. I was bummed when I started to park and realized that I’d forgotten my purse, which meant we couldn’t park anywhere within a reasonable walking distance and we didn’t have our membership card. Then I remembered that there are some very nice playgrounds near the river, so we went there instead. We had a fabulous time, unhurried by the demands of the regular school year schedule.

Hanging out with my kids this week has confirmed my decision to return to homeschooling. I have enjoyed having the time and energy to play games, take them places, and just listen to them. Even though I have a job that gives me 16 weeks off each year, I still feel like I miss out on so much with my kids. I realize that homeschooling has its own challenges, but I sure am looking forward to spending quality AND quantity time together.spring break 13 1

ADHD–Medicate to educate?

I’m not against medicating for ADHD. I am opposed to it, however, as a way to keep children in educational situations that don’t work for them. That’s a major reason why I’m returning to home education. I’ve had two of my children diagnosed with ADHD in the past couple of months (one of them just today) and I want to provide them with a more individualized education that considers their personal learning styles, talents, and bents. I don’t want to medicate them in order to have to sit still for 7 hours a day learning in a way that doesn’t fit their learning style. I want them to love learning, not dread it. One day recently, my 6 year old came home from kindergarten and said, “Mommy, I HATE learning! Learning is boring!” What a heartbreaking thing to hear from anyone, especially a Kindergartener! I’m a teacher, and I know how hard teachers work to provide lessons, so that makes it even more heartbreaking for me. I’m confident that I can reverse my son’s opinion of learning as I provide an atmosphere more conducive to him.

My Journey Away From Homeschooling … And Back Again

I homeschooled for 5 1/2 years before calling it quits. I loved it at first, and felt called by God to do it. But it was hard, especially with a child with ADHD. I got burned out. I remember leaving the kitchen table to put in a load of laundry while the girls were doing their work at the table. I’d come back and they’d have run out the back door to play. Not just once … this was the kind of thing that happened regularly. Eventually I got burned out because I began homeschooling in my own very limited strength, rather than depending on God’s endless strength. I was tired and I had two babies, and I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. So, rather than getting first-time obedience from my children, and rather than seeking God’s strength, I sent them to school.

It’s been five years since I made that decision. In the meantime I got my Master’s degree in education, worked part-time at a couple of part-time programs for homeschoolers, and worked for two years as a special education teacher. It’s interesting that I struggled to educate my own special needs child, but I decided to teach other people’s special needs children.

What’s even more interesting are the reasons I’m returning to homeschooling. First, it’s time to go back and fix the problems in my relationship with my children that caused me to quit homeschooling the first time. (Amazingly, sending them to school did not fix the problems, as I had thought it would.) Second, my 6 year old has been diagnosed with ADHD. His teacher says it will be very hard for him to be successful in the 1st grade because there will be 24 kids in the class and he needs more attention than he will get. My boys go to a Christian school that is not equipped to deal with attention issues or learning disabilities.

So now I want to establish the proper relationship with my kids and give them the BEST possible education. I know the importance of individual attention and individual education.  Even though most teachers are fabulous people who want to give the best to their students, it’s so hard to give your best to 24 students! I absolutely believe homeschooling can be the BEST educational choice.

Another goal I have is to help other people to be able to homeschool their children through difficult circumstances, like ADHD, behavior issues, and learning disabilities. I want to help people not to give up, like I did the first time. I don’t know exactly how God wants to use my experiences, but I trust that He does.

I’m looking forward to homeschooling in the power of the Holy Spirit this time!

homeschool mom girl 2

A New Perspective and a New Venture

After two years of teaching public school and a couple of years of prep-work that came before, I am making a radical change after this school year. I am going to teach part-time at a cottage school so I can homeschool three of my children. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, because I absolutely love my teaching job. But I love my family more, so after spending a couple of years giving my best to other people’s kids, it’s time to give my best to my own kids.