This week my husband and son are attending a Homeschool Symposium at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX. The story behind the man who founded the school is an inspiring story. In one of the buildings hangs this tapestry:
Not How Much of Mine Money Do I Give to God.
But How Much of God's Money Do I Keep for Myself.
R.G. LeTourneau was a man who was blessed with great wealth. He however, did not see this as his money, but rather God's. He lived on only 10% of his income, giving the remaining 90% back to God.
He is also quoted as saying; "I shovel it out and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel." This quote is appropriate for a man who is known for producing earth moving machines. He literally was shoveling it out! R.G. LeTourneau left behind quite a legacy; he invented nearly 300 machines,he founded missionary efforts in Liberia, Africa and Peru, South America and he founded LeTourneau University (a school that is unapologetically Christian).
I don't know that we are ready to start living off of 10% of our income, but we can look to this man's example and adjust some things in how we live.
We need to remember that all we have comes from God.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
If every good and perfect gift is from God, we need to remember not to hang on so tightly to the things of this world. We don't want to be like a toddler who picks up a toy and yells, "Mine!"
Wants vs. Needs
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Whenshopping we need to ask ourselves is this really a need or is it just a want. This is a tough one because we can justify our purchases. If I'm buying clothes I can say I NEED a few new shirts. That may be true, but do I NEED 10 or do I NEED designer clothes? When buying a car, do I NEED a brand new one with all the latest gadgets, or would a used car work just as good?
You can't out give God! Try it and see for yourself!
My husband and I are currently teaching through a book by Randy Alcorn that addresses this very topic. It is called Money, Possessions and Eternity. If you are looking for a book to read this summer, I highly recommend this one. It is full of God's word and applies it beautifully to our lives.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to pray continually. For the most part I know many of us are good at praying for the big stuff; health, kids, marriages, finances, salvation, our friends. We even pray often for these things, but I feel there is a prayer category that we often forget...our pastors.
In Ephesians Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus. In Ephesians 6:19 he says these words: "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel."How often during the course of a week do we stop and pray for our pastors? I'm married to a pastor, so you think I would know better. I struggle to remember to pray specifically for him and the other two pastors on staff. I don't always think to pray Ephesians 6:19 for them. They minister daily on the front lines. They meet with people often who need to have the mystery of the gospel explained to them. Pastors need prayer more than just 5 minutes before the sermon on Sunday morning. We need to be lifting up the men that God has put in leadership at our churches. My husband is the Family Life Pastor, so his time preaching from the pulpit is limited. However, he teaches Sunday School and works in Children's Church most weeks, he still has an audience and still needs prayer that he can present the Gospel to those entrusted to him. Think about your church and the pastor(s) on staff there. What hats do these men wear in your church, how do they minister; for every area you can think of, there is an opportunity for prayer.
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:8.
Satan is a crafty one. He knows that since pastors are on the front lines, they are the ones that make the best targets. I can attest to this, pastors and their families face spiritual battles, life is not always easy for ministry families! If Satan can knock down a pastor in any way, he can prevent the Church from doing its job. Let's not let Satan win this battle. Pray for these men who willingly serve God and the Church so sacrificially.
The day started out just like any other day. Brian left for work and I loaded up the kids for story hour at the library. It was a nice fall day outside, late September. Library days were special, the lady running the story hour was one of those ladies that was meant to be a librarian. As we headed home we were just chatting away about the story and the crafts done that day. That's where the day ceased to be normal.
When I got home, I noticed my husband's car in the garage and I thought, "Hmm, hope the church didn't fire him!" (with a chuckle) Little did I know the news he did have for me when I got inside. He came out to help get kids out of car seats and I noticed he was not acting like himself. I got inside first and noticed a note on the counter with the name of a funeral home. I turn around and asked him; "Did my dad die?" The look in his eyes told me everything. I burst into tears.
The next week was a blur with making plans. We lived in South Dakota, the funeral was in Iowa and my dad died in Colorado. Lots of plans needed to be made. I remember being just numb, not knowing how to feel. We even found laughter as we realized we had final say in two things. First of all my dad was extremely afraid of heights and said he would never fly; well we flew his body to Iowa! Second, my dad was notorious for mixing stripes and plaids and just never quite matching, we made sure his clothes matched at his funeral! He actually would have laughed at these two things!
I grieved many things that week and to be honest for years to come. The end of my dad's life was marked with much sorrow. He lived in a rented room, in a city hundreds of miles from family. He chose to turn to alcohol to soothe his pain. He cut off all contact from me two years before he died. I tried calling, writing, seeking help from my uncle; all to no avail. I felt as though I was unworthy of his love. So when I found out he was gone, my first reaction was, "He can't hurt me any more."
Growing up, I knew my dad was not perfect; life just seemed to be difficult for him. One thing I knew though, he loved me. He was a goofy guy, who would always go the extra mile to make birthdays more special. We would always pick out the annual Christmas tree together, and every year, it was uglier than the year before! One year we picked out a tree in October, determined to get a good one. When we went to cut it down; someone had stolen it! So, another ugly tree.
He loved that birthday cake!
After my parents divorced and my dad moved to Colorado, our relationship consisted of letter writing. I would write him often telling of my life and sending him pictures. When I got married he proudly and nervously walked me down the aisle. Things seemed to be going great. He was so proud of his granddaughters and would brag about them and try to see them whenever he could. Then in 1993 all contact ceased.
Walking me down the aisle.
It was in 1993 that I felt led to address my dad's drinking. I shared from my heart how it concerned me. I went on to share Jesus with him. You see, my dad was not a Christian, and that bothered me immensely. I wrote this all in a letter to him, as that was our primary means of communication. It was the last letter of mine he ever opened. He kept every letter, but never opened them. He never even saw a picture of my son. Those years were so very hard on me. I felt he had rejected me. I was a 28 year old mother, who still wanted her daddy's approval and love.
When I went to Colorado to settle up my dad's affairs, I met with the lady who was with him when he died. My dad drove cab and this lady was in his cab when he had the heart attack. It was a long trip to the airport, so they had plenty of time to talk. My dad shared with her all about me. That really confused me, the man who refused to answer my letters or calls still bragged about me. He hadn't rejected me after all! What he had done however was condemn himself, he thought since he was an alcoholic, he was unlovable. The prison his mind must have been in at that time, I can't even imagine.
For years, I lived with a deep sense of regret. How dare I write my dad that letter? How dare he assume I wouldn't love him? Why hadn't he turned to Jesus? Did he turn to Jesus? I drove myself crazy with all these thoughts. Then one year on his birthday I released it all, I forgave him for the hurt he caused me, and I left it all in God's hands. I won't know until I get to heaven if my dad turned to Jesus; but God has assured me I did my part.
Following is a poem my dad wrote to me in college. He mounted it on a wooden heart he made for me. It gives me some comfort that yes, I was loved. My uncle read it again at my dad's funeral, it was a reminder of the dad he wanted to be, before alcohol stole him away!
You are such a sport and scholar about you I want to shout and holler.
Even though we are miles apart; Your smiles are treasures in my heart.
You are to me a joy and special love, for you are my little snow white dove.
You've always been a special pearl, and yes you'll always be your daddy's little girl.
Just to see you gleam, seems to be my fondest dream.
You will never know just how much you've made me glow.
I love to share your cheeers and wipe from your eyes your tears.
Whenever I feel blue, my heart remembers you.
You will never so far that when I see a star,
My heart is of good cheer, for I feel you very near.
And then to add some clout, in case there's any doubt--there really hadn't oughter,
For you'll always be by daughter...Brenda
I still get sad at times when I think about him. I even get angry, wondering why couldn't I have had a father who was there for me. Its at these times when God whispers in my ear, I'm there for you, I'm your Father. God is such a loving Father, His arms have held me tight in this grieving process. He has always been there for me and my heavenly Father has written me a letter. It's a love letter, the Bible. It is there I find the most comfort and its there I get the "hugs" I so desperately long for!!
Today's post is being brought to you by my hubby, the guy who makes me smile!
Summer time is in full swing. (Pun intended with baseball season) As we move into summer we all have some different routines. We spend a lot more time outside and most of us try to take vacations. Some trips are lengthy with many miles, sights, and places. Whether it is a long journey or an extended weekend let me encourage you to seek God first. How? Here are three things I suggest.
1)Read a devotional together. Get a daily bread or a daily devotional that you can read individually or as a family. Read and discuss it each day of your vacation. Renew your mind with a fresh read from devotional. Keep it simple. www.rbc.org
2)Go to a different Church. I know the temptation is to ‘take a week off.’ As a family we like to visit a different church. You can find services on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Make it an adventure. Try something different that you think you might all appreciate and enjoy.
3)Read – if you are traveling, camping or relaxing bring along your Bible or that book you have been wanting to read. Renew your mind by taking the time in the car, hotel room or at the campsite to read.
So whether it is a couple of days or a couple of weeks, slow down, relax and enjoy your relationship with God and your relationships with others. Not only will you appreciate your family, your church and your friends, you just might renew your relationship with God. If you are traveling to a scenic location take time to appreciate the beauty of God’s Creation. Now that would be a great vacation!
If you try one of these let me know. I’d be glad to hear what you try and how it works for you.
The other day my hubby and I were just chatting and he looked at me and said, "You know what? You're my best friend." There was something so genuine about that moment, I wanted to cry (ok, I cry a lot lately, big surprise). The past 22 years, 11 months and 8 days (but who's counting) of marriage have had its ups and downs, but it all boils down to the fact that we are best friends! No matter how crazy life gets, I know that when I need him, he will be there for me. He has proven that over and over again. There are days when I am not a very lovable person, and I know I frustrate him often; yet if I need him, he will forget all of that and be there for me. A man like this is a treasure indeed.
So, what I ponder sometimes is, "How did I get so lucky? Why does this man love me?" I also look at him sometimes and think, "What planet are you from? How does your mind work?" God must really have a sense of humor by putting two such opposite people together!
But God knew all along what He was doing when he matched us up. Brian is exactly the man I need to smooth out my rough edges. God knew I needed a man to balance who I am. I'm a thrower, Brian's a keeper; I'm an introvert, Brian's an extrovert; I like to be behind the scenes, Brian's comfortable with an audience. That list could go on and on. God uses our differences to make us stronger as a couple. It is amazing how two such different people can truly come together to be one!
There have been "dark" times in our marriage, times when we weren't particularly loving or nice to each other. I'm not proud of those times, they tended to happen when one or both of us took our eyes off the Lord and we became selfish. We started putting our own wants and desires ahead of the other ones needs. All marriages go through rough spots like that. The thing we always come back to is that we are truly best friends.
When we first started dating, Brian drew a triangle that looks like this. He told me that as long as we are both growing closer to God we will grow closer to each other. That is in fact true, the times we have been the closest are the times when we are both pursuing God.
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
"I do it myself!" says a toddler trying to put on his shoes for the first time.
"Daddy, catch me!" says a child as he jumps into the pool. He waits until daddy has his arms stretched out and then without hesitation jumps.
Who are we more like, the child who says "I do it myself!" or the child who says "Daddy, catch me?" Are we telling God to leave us alone or are we trusting Him with our lives. God did not design us to do it ourselves, yet too often we try to do it alone. Life is much more exciting when we trust God and take that leap of faith.
God wants us to trust Him, He has amazing plans in store for us! Sometimes we just have to jump. Putting our plans in God's hands is pretty exciting. The verse I have clung to since I became a Christian is Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Lately God has beenhelping me to look at this verse in a new light.I am about a year away from two very significant events; my youngest child graduating and my oldest getting married. God is telling me this verse applies to their lives too! As our son goes off to college at a yet to be determined (but most likely far away) school, God has plans for him. As our daughter gets married, God has plans for her. God has plans for our middle daughter as well; mostly likely involving a foreign country!
Am I able to let go? As my kids once again say "I do it myself!"; am I able to believe that they can do it themselves. Can I trust that as they leave my nest they will be jumping into God's arms saying, "Daddy, catch me!" Did I model my faith enough for them? Did they see me jumping into God's arms enough? And as my kids start the next phase of their lives will I be jumping into God's arms myself?
The answers to those questions has to be yes. Yes, because God is the center of my life and I have leaned on Him as these kids have grown up. I have seen my kids jump and land safely in God's will. God says He has plans to prosper and not harm them, so how can I not trust that? Will it always be easy for them, no. Life will throw them just enough trials to keep them on their knees. It is hard to watch one of your kids struggle, but awesome at the same time to watch God work in them through that struggle.
So, what is God telling you to let go of? Is He asking you to jump? I promise He will catch you and that is an exciting thing!