Hello, there! I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation. The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana. However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool. I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between. Thanks for reading!
In this game, one person’s hands are held palms up. The other person holds their hands hovering above with palms down. The person with their hands below tries to slap the top of the hands of the other person by either being fast enough or by being tricky. My kids love this game!
Once, when we were playing it, I had a thought from which an impromptu lesson flowed.
It was my turn to be “the slapper.” My hands were on the bottom and I was trying to slap the tops of my son’s hands. His two brothers watched in excitement to see who would be the victor. I was bringing my hands up every few seconds, not letting much time lapse in between strikes. My son sat on the edge of his seat in full alert mode, laser-focused, soberly watching for my next move.
I was missing his hands quite a bit!
Then I changed my strategy.
I just let my hands be still. I didn’t strike. Instead, I let time pass while I calmly lay in wait. I waited until my son started to relax. He began to nervously giggle and even exclaim, “Mommy! What are you doing?”
I just smiled at him, kicking back my feet. Then I started to jerk my hands a bit, but no movements that alarmed him enough to be overly concerned. It didn’t take long for him to become used to even those jerks and so comfortable with it all that he let down his alert and relaxed his guard almost completely. When I saw that happen, with a maniacal laugh, I swooped up and SLAP!
I caught him off guard!
Laughter all around!
The Trickery of Sin
Once we settled down–and I did my victory dance–I told them the game was like the trickery of sin.
I pointed out how I frequently missed his hands when he was on high alert, watching me like a hawk and pulling his hands back often. This is like a person who practices this verse:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
This person is watchful, looking out for the deception of sin. He pulls back from it when he sees it coming. This person also reads the Word of God so that he can discern what sin is, right from wrong, according to the Word and flee from it.
But when I changed my strategy to staying still, I pointed out that he became relaxed and let down his guard. Even when I jerked a little every so often, he got used to that movement also and let his guard continue to fall until SLAP!
This is like a person who becomes numb to the sin in their life. They let down their guard enough to let in “little sins.” Sins that they might consider unharmful. At first, the “little jerks” of the Holy Spirit stir their conscience, but eventually they become used to that stirring. They relax even further, letting in more and more sin until SLAP!
Bad things start happening and they wonder how they got to where they are. The bad things can be obvious, like going to jail or falling into different life-controlling addictions. Or perhaps the bad things are more subtle, like a dead prayer life, a lost desire to know God and read His Word, or an inability to even recognize sin anymore through justification of actions.
How Little Sins Lead to Bigger Sins
I now open up, saying that at different times in my life, I have been both of these types of people. Already fully knowing their mother is a seasoned sinner, they look unsurprised (Ha!). A good discussion followed on how little sins might cause numbing in our hearts. We talk about how little sins can lead to bigger sins, followed by a hard SLAP–either in this life or in eternity.
On a personal note, I know I need to read God’s Word more diligently. By doing so, I will be able to discern right from wrong and know Him more. I know I should memorize more scripture so that I can use it against the enemy’s lies about sin.
Since the beginning of this school year, I have started praying this verse over my children, myself, and my husband. Now I pray it over you who are reading this right now.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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.
To what sins have you become numb?
Do you consistently do anything contrary to God’s Word?
Do you know His Word well enough to know if you are acting contrary to His Word?
Feel free to share in the comments and we will pray with you.
Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Occasionally I find myself in a rut of general laziness. Do you ever get to that place? As a homeschooling mom of four little ones I often tell myself that I deserve a much-needed break. Sometimes I say to myself that I’ve earned this time to read for five hours a little while. If I’m being honest, there are days my break times are exceptionally long and my work times exceptionally short. I can easily fall into this trap of allowing myself time to “rest” or telling myself that I’m relaxing, when in reality I’m just wasting time.
Wow! There’s a lot of depth in this proverb. Let’s consider for a moment that we’re looking beyond the obvious overgrowth of thorns and disorder that encompass my home when I’m in my “resting” time. I’d even like to look past the deeper implications this has on my relationship with my husband and my children. Let’s look past my husband’s dissatisfaction when he finds himself scrambling for work clothes through days-old stacks of laundry. Look past the broken hearts of young children whose favorite things have been trod on and broken by scurrying feet that are undisciplined by the keeper of the home. I’d like to look all the way inside my spirit as it sits unattended and unfulfilled during my laziness.
And there it lies, the very scene this proverb spoke of. I see the thorns sprouting and covering over any beauty that once was. I see the weeds poking through, disrupting the order that could still be. The stone wall that Jesus so carefully guided me in erecting around my soul as a veritable fortress is crumbling. Little bits of mortar have flaked off and lie sprinkled across the ground as stones begin to sag in defeat. When this fortress of diligence was left unattended it began to break down. And each day I choose to neglect it in favor of laziness, it crumbles a little more.
Building Back Up
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We are so very blessed to serve a forgiving Savior. Just as a parent continues to guide their child after making the same mistake over again, so the Lord guides us back to Him. The beauty of my relationship with Jesus is that I can repent and be set right immediately.
My dear friend challenged herself, and I challenged myself to use August as a fast against laziness. The premise was simple: As we looked through our days and saw ourselves doing something lazy in place of something useful, we would work to choose the useful thing instead. The very first day that I woke up twenty minutes early and opened my Bible to spend some time with Him, my Savior began to trim back the thorns. Throughout the day as I chose to be diligent in teaching my children the word and how to apply it, He began to pull the weeds. As I went about my work within my home with a happy heart and a soul contented, He gently pushed back the sagging stones and patched up the holes.
The glory of my Savior can radiate through me when I have a firm foundation of discipline and diligence. When I choose the next right thing to do at each turn of the day, I am blessed by my work and by His work through me.
Do you find your diligence slipping in your time with the Lord like I do? Don’t despair! It only takes one right choice to get back on track.
This life question will haunt many at one point in time or another: What is my purpose? The amount of time I have put into this thought alone accounts for over half my life. A haunting feeling always rising to the surface which begs the question of enough. Am I doing enough? Is what I am doing enough? This train of thought can suffocate and eventually destroy the drive that propels one into living out the purpose-filled life.
Over the last couple of years, I have come to a better understanding of what my purpose is and what it isn’t. Purpose has taken on a different meaning and I see life through different lenses. The process has led me away from the draining and approval-seeking path to one that is fulfilling and grace-filled.
Chasing the Wind
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:11
If I could, I would throw out quite a few verses from the book of Ecclesiastes. I feel like I have a really good grasp on what Solomon was agonizing over in his deep contemplation of life. I too have sat back and taken assessment of my accomplishments, my possessions, and accounted for those gifts that are precious to me. People, things, decisions, awards, positions held–every moment of life–meaningless? Perhaps we search so hard for purpose, because we innately recognize the meaninglessness of everything. We were designed for purpose. Yet when that purpose is not understood–or worse, when it has been distorted–we mar and waste said purpose.
The effort and time we put into things, even good things, can all amount to wind chasing. Our work and our accomplishments are futile and they exhaust, with no hope of rejuvenation. When purpose is left out, all of the good and important things we do wash away like sand. We are left contemplating the thought of meaningless and enough.
An Established Meaning
The first question found in the Westminster Shorter Catechisms asks: What is the chief end of man? The answer then given is: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
If we could let the knowledge of our prime purpose sink deeply, would it change us? We were created to bring Him glory and to enjoy His glory. I don’t know about you, but the knowledge of that is freeing and beautiful to me. This purpose, once known, makes all other decisions in life a little more clear–it is this ultimate purpose which drives.
“A sunset seen from the top of the I.D.S.—that’s glory. Or the I.D.S. itself almost invisible, like crystal against a grey-blue sky—that’s glory. A perfect performance on the balance beam by Nadia Comaneci—that’s glory. A perfectly executed 30-foot jump shot with one second to go—that’s glory, too…The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of his manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on his different attributes from time to time—like his power and wisdom and mercy and justice—because each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.” –John Piper, God Created Us For His Glory
A Covering of Grace
I think of the years I spent looking for purpose, I think of the years I spent hiding from purpose, and now, I think of the years to come with an understood purpose. It is a covering of grace that can take wasted years and use them for His glory. It is a covering of grace that takes the new and untouched years for His glory, too. That is the thing about our purpose…it is not separate from Him. His grace is woven deeply in a tapestry of a life lived for Him and enjoyed through Him.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men… – Colossians 3:23
Sometimes, the purposeful life may tempt us to feel “less than.” Often, our perspective of this life is measured by great success in the eyes of man. We might even struggle as we look to the right or to the left and see others living out their purpose-filled life…and we may feel as if ours does not measure up. We might see those who lead thousands to Christ, we might see those who are glorifying Him while the world watches, and we may see those whose lives look so much more important than our own. When this temptation of comparison befalls us, we surrender to Him and press forward, looking straight ahead. We keep our gaze on Him and we complete every task for His glory and we soak in the joy that He offers. It is then and there that we will know we are living a life of purpose, because everything we do is for Him.
“To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us.”
I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Now, some of you may be saying I’m blaspheming and others may be excitedly cheering. However, before you come to any quick conclusions, listen to my story. Then tell me if you believe we heard God correctly or not.
A No-Brainer Decision
After getting married and settling back into our hometown, my husband and I automatically started attending the congregation we grew up attending. Why wouldn’t we? It seemed perfectly natural and logical. This congregation had a lot of things going for it:
It was the closest location to our residence.
We grew up in that congregation.
My mom and dad attended that congregation.
Since we grew up there, they were our spiritual family.
Before placing membership, we never stopped to pray and ask with which congregation we should be involved. Again, why would we? All the other pieces fit.
Fast forward eight years or so into our marriage: Our prayer life had totally changed. Changed so much so that instead of asking God to bless our ideas or to shut a door, we were asking Him to be our guide and show us what to do in all areas of life. He was turning everything upside-down or right-side up, depending on how we looked at it.
Stop Going to Church? What?
It was not even on our radar when God told us to leave our church family. What? Surely, we didn’t hear You correctly. This is our family–physically and spiritually. It doesn’t make any sense. This is where we’ve grown up. We’ve planted ourselves and our little children here. We are active here. Why? How does this make sense?
Honestly, my first reaction was not one of instant submission and acceptance. Instead, I argued with God and tried to convince myself and my husband that we must have heard God wrong. He would never want us to leave our church home, right? Isn’t that why He created the church, so we would each be part of His church family? Why would He now ask us to leave the church family He put us in? My interaction with God sounded a bit like this:
God, You’re surely making a mistake. This is one of those “test the spirit” moments that 1 John 4:1-3 talks about and since it doesn’t match up to my plan, I’m sure we are misunderstanding what You are saying.
But my tried and true, faithful husband gave me that “You’re being stubborn and digging your cute little heels in where they shouldn’t be dug” look. Did I also mention I’d been working on submission for many years? God was definitely using this as a time to mold and shape my heart to fit His will and not mine.
Heeding the Call to Obey
So after a year or more, I was convicted of something that I never realized played a part in our choice to stay at our home congregation. I realized I was putting my physical and spiritual family ahead of God.Matthew 10:37-38 kept ringing through my heart:
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
How could I not be convicted? I was putting my own comfort of being with “my family” over God! Wow!! That hit me like a ton of bricks. Finally, I was ready to accept that God did intend for us to leave this particular church family. For some reason, He wanted us somewhere else.
Where Should We Go to Church?
I’ve learned that when God asks you to trust Him, He doesn’t lay out His entire plan and then wait for your approval. No!
Instead, He says, “Follow Me. Trust Me. I’ll get you to where you need to go.” So without a game plan or a direction to follow, during the summer of 2012 we began visiting different congregations every other week. We went all over the city and to small towns up to forty minutes away. Where He would plant us, we didn’t know, but we knew we wanted to obey.
We landed in a place that neither of us had ever heard of before, a congregation born out of adversity and challenge. When the church began, they started out meeting at a park, where every Sunday they would pray for God’s guidance and praise Him for how He was working in their lives. Years later, when we came to them, they were located about twenty-five minutes from our house in a different city than where we lived. The first time we walked in. we knew that this might be the place for us. Through prayer over the next month, we realized this was the congregation where God wanted us to be involved.
Why did God tell us to find a new church?
We still didn’t know. We were still trying to obey while He revealed that plan. In the meantime, we got to know people and became involved in the congregation’s work.
The Blessings of Obedience
We have been there a little over 3.5 years. As we look back over our time there and the friendships and family we have made, we can see why he put us there…or at least partially why so far:
We became adoptive parents of an awesome college student. This twenty-one-year-old student’s father tragically passed away from cancer last year. My husband also lost his father to cancer when he was twenty-one. We feel God put us at this congregation to be a support for this college student. Especially since my husband has been through such a similar situation, he can relate and encourage him more.
Some amazing friendships have blossomed, stemming from our involvement with this congregation. Friendships that have even affected this blog. Before attending this congregation, I didn’t know Britnie, McKenzie, or Julie, but here we are sharing our lives together publicly because God sent our family to that congregation.
Our children have had the opportunity to reach out and serve families in a poorer part of Oklahoma City through Cross & Crown Mission. Our family has been fortunate to meet many who are Christ’s hands and feet down there. We were even encouraged to bring our kids to serve with us instead of discouraged because of their young ages.
We have been blessed to be part of a congregation that rejoices in praising our Lord, is led by the Holy Spirit, and serves without hesitation.
My husband and I believe that God can restore any marriage if a couple is willing to let Him work. I think our willingness to stick our necks out, to get to know people and be intentionally prayerful and encouraging in their marriages, even when they are falling apart, is part of the why too.
I’m sure there are some that I’m missing or things I just don’t see yet, but one thing I know for sure. Without obedience we would have missed so many blessings.
A verse from one of my favorite hymns resonates one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during this experience…
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
Have you been trusting God in your life or have you been dismissing His calling?
Don’t miss the blessings that obedience brings. No matter how uncomfortable it might make you, the rewards are so much greater!
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Do you ever hear songs on the radio but you do not actually listen to them? I do it all the time. I hear the music but I do not pay much attention to the words. Recently, I was listening to the radio while driving and “Start a Fire” by Unspoken came on. As I began singing along, the words just hit me.
Start a fire in my soul,
Fan the flame and make it grow.
So there’s no doubt or denying.
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see,
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need.
Start a fire in me.
When did we lose our fire?
As children, we learned “This Little Light of Mine.”
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Is Your Light Shining?
These songs have the same basic message, so we have learned this from an early age. Is our light shining? Do we share the love of God with people who come across our path? What does this look like? Shining your light can look like kind words or actions to people we know or people we do not know. Encourage those who are having difficulties. Mow a neighbor’s lawn. Babysit for a friend. Of course, these do not have to be overtly “Christian” acts. We shine our light by words and deeds. We should be asking God to put in us a fire burns so brightly that our light shines for all to see.
Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Their words drip with thanklessness and bitterness. We think to ourselves, “How could they possibly have forgotten what God has done for them? What God is STILL doing for them?”
And yet, don’t we struggle with the very same thing?
Don’t I complain of the mundane when my eyes should be lifted heavenwards? Haven’t I grumbled about my thorn in the flesh, when God has healed the entirety of my sin? Don’t I too grow complacent?
I think of the rest of that passage in Numbers. God sent fiery serpents which bit the people, poisoned them, and ultimately led to many deaths. The irony and the imagery is uncomfortably close to home. Just as they had spread such poison from their mouths, they were subjected to poison. They cried out to God and God provided a solution:
So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:9)
Lift Up Your Eyes
The solution to the problem was tough. Because the Israelites had to be reminded to lift their eyes to the symbol of suffering. The symbol of their sin. The symbol of why they needed God.
And yet, we must do the very same thing.
In order to drag ourselves out of the muck of the world, in order to continually live gratefully, joyously, truly for Christ, we need the reminder–that serious, weighty reminder–of the cross. If we don’t remember how very costly and serious our sin is, we won’t be grateful. We won’t be humbly submissive to him.
So today, remember with me the cross. Remember how much we have to be grateful for. And think of how much we can look forward to seeing the One who hung on that cross for us.
Does He still feel the nails Every time I fail? Does He hear the crowd cry Crucify, again?
Am I causing Him pain? Then I know I’ve got to change I just can’t bear the thought Of hurting Him.