Wisdom for My Son as You Graduate

My eldest son Jacob graduates Magma Cum Laude from the Honors College at Houston Baptist University this May with a Pre-Law degree! I can’t believe how quickly time has flown. It seems like only yesterday he began college, and all those years of homeschooling are now a distant memory. Here he is pictured below the first week of school.

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All incoming freshman have to wear their HBU beanie the first two weeks of school, and students in the Honors College must also wear a colored cape that Jacob decided to wear as an ascot. He looks so young in this picture. What a difference four years makes. Especially, when boy meets girl. Pictured below is Jacob and his fiancée Jane.

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I can’t believe my baby is graduating from college and getting married!

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My son,

As you graduate here are a few things I want you to know.

  • Follow the Lord with all your heart. 

My prayer for you is Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

If you Trust God and have unwavering faith in Him, no matter what circumstances come your way in life He will show you what to do and where to go. Be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and allow God to direct your steps.

  • You are never alone. 

Jesus is always with you, and he will never leave you nor forsake you. Your Dad and I will always love you and you will always be our little boy no matter how old you are.

Remember, that you are your brother’s keeper. God has given you a tremendous blessing as the firstborn son. Your brothers look up to you, never take that responsibility lightly.

Remember the Parable of the Faithful Servant found in Luke 12:48 ESV,

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”

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  • Let wisdom be your guide. Always remember the instruction of your Father and the truth of Proverbs 4 that you memorized as a boy.

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

FullSizeRenderWhen you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. 

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. 

For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

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But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness they do not know over what they stumble. My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

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  • Let Love be your Guide.

Follow the Golden rule and always be kind and loving. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Even when others are not kind to you. Love the Lord with all your heart and love others, because that is why we are here.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 ESV

Son, know the Lord has a special plan for your life that only you can fulfill. If you seek Him, You will find Him, and He will be your guiding light all throughout your life. I look forward to this next season in life and I pray that you will live an abundant life with all that the Lord has for you!

 

Move Toward the Mess

Move Toward the Mess

I love God’s timing! It amazes me the things that only He can orchestrate. When you answer the call to follow Jesus, you just never know where you may end up. Following Jesus is definitely not boring! During the Wednesday evening service this week, my pastor talked about how when God calls you, He will most likely call you to a place that is out of your comfort zone. God will never call you to mediocrity. If God called you to something that was easy for you, then you wouldn’t need Him, or have to rely on Him. Hmm… Interesting. Hold on to that thought.

I just finished reading the book Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life (David C. Cook 2016) by John Hambrick. Little did I know that the timing this book would correspond with a day I won’t soon forget.

img_0864Last fall, my Ladies Bible Study group wanted to do some kind of service project together. Today was our appointed day to volunteer at a local soup kitchen by the name of Fishes and Loaves. This soup kitchen feeds 200-400 hungry people in downtown Houston six days a week.

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As we pulled up to the to the building, there is already a huge line of people waiting to be fed. For some of these people, this may be the only meal that they eat today. It is a cold day here in Houston, and the temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s, and it is damp and overcast. Most of the men and women we served, live under the bridge near the kitchen on the east side of downtown Houston.

Our group today consisted of mostly men, and a few women. The people thanked us and said God bless you for serving food to us. However, one woman in particular caught my attention, and it struck a cord with me. She came in with a black eye, and I wondered what she endured to get her to this place. Life on the streets is messy.

The Houston food bank along with other generous sponsors help provide the food. Our family donates money to the Houston Food bank every year, but today I locked eyes with the hungry men and women of Houston and I will never be the same.

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Magnificat Houses is the umbrella organization over Fishes and Loaves that serves some one the neediest people in the inner city of Houston. It has been serving the mentally ill, homeless and disadvantaged since 1968. Magnificat house provides hope, food, shelter, half-way houses and rehabilitative services to people in the Houston area. It is completly led by volunteers, and operates by donation. Visit Magnificat Houses to learn more about this incredible organization.

Julie Batsche at Fishes and Loaves was our tour guide for the day. Our group served along side some of the most joy filled people that I have ever seen, their countannce radiates Jesus! We began with a tour of the facility, the chaplin shared the history of the organization, and we started with prayer. Today we served fresh salad, and gumbo made by Cedrick Broussard the cook, and his assistant, along with a roll, crackers and dessert to 205 people.

fullsizeoutput_1852The murals on the wall were painted by one of the homeless men who used to come the shelter many years ago. Below is a depiction of the miracle of the fishes and loaves from the gospels that the kitchen is named after. The workers here today see this miracle played out before their very own eyes, because God provides daily for Loaves and Fishes to feed the hungry.

fullsizeoutput_1855Our world is full of lost and hurting people who desperately need to know the love of Christ. In Move Toward the Mess, John Hambrick challenges American Christians who are bored sitting in the pews each Sunday, to get up and follow Jesus into the mess to minister to the lost and hurting in the world. I found this book to be both challenging and exciting.

In the first part of the book, John provides several examples of people that live their lives right smack in the middle of the mess, and in the second half of the book, he outlines practical ways for us to move toward the mess. There is a nice flow from chapter to chapter, and each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions that would make this an excellent book for individual study or small group discussion.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Move toward the Mess:

What gives Paul peace in the middle of the mess is God’s outrageous, unconditional forgiveness.-John Hambrick

Move toward the mess is a love story.  It is the ultimate love story of a mighty Savior who came to earth to bind up the brokenhearted, wipe every tear away, save the lost, and lavish his amazing grace on us.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”U46xi” via=”yes” ]Jesus is on the move today are you willing to answer the call and move toward the mess?[/ctt]

There are lots of different ways to move toward the mess. Last Spring when our community experienced devasting flooding we mobilized hundreds of church members into the community to help flood victims. You can read about how we moved toward the mess in The Church Has Left the Building. It is time for the church to leave the building, and move toward the mess.

I love the message of this book, and would love its message to go viral! Share this post on social media for a chance to win your very own copy of Move Toward the Mess between now and January 15th!

John Hambrick is no stranger to the mess. He is the Director of Starting Point and Staff Development at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA – one of the North Point Community Church campuses in Atlanta that bestselling author Andy Stanley founded. John has served in other churches as an associate pastor and pastor. He has also been a staff member for Young Life and was one of the chaplains at Kings College, University of London. John and his wife, Patty, have two children and reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

 

Importance of the Family Table

Today on the blog, I am talking about the importance of the family table, and sharing a few pictures from our Thanksgiving table 2013. Earlier this week, we heard from Michelle S Laurek on practical ways to love our neighbors, and  I told you about her new book, An Invitation To The Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out here Love Your Neighbor!

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I love this description of An Invitation To The Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality from  Amazon.

Jesus spent a chunk of his ministry eating and drinking with the “”sinners and tax collectors”” of the world. If we strive to be more like Jesus, shouldn’t we do more of what he did?

Hospitality involves more than the domesticated event we have grown accustomed to practicing. It is an embodiment of all the Christian life stands for: a gesture of love, opening up our hearts and lives, and sacrificing luxury and security for the chance to display Gods glory. To receive hospitality from others is an invitation to receive Gods transformative power to work in their lives.

Wow! Have you ever considered your family table a place of ministry? We have a huge farm table that we purchased several years ago to accommodate our growing family.  The wooden sun-bleached benches on either side of our 10 foot table are flanked by several mix-and-match black chairs with rush seats. It is reminiscent of farmhouse meets french flair, and it is located in our beautiful sunroom. The sunroom is one of my favorite rooms in our house because it has 12 huge windows that look out into our back yard, and we have a gorgeous view of the sun rise.

img_0367The importance of the family table, and the top 3 reasons I love mine! And you should love yours too!

Fist, there is something special about choosing the perfect table linen, arranging your favorite dishes, and adding a seasonal centerpiece. I love to prepare a feast for friends and family. I am going to let you in on a little secret though, I have a dish problem. I love my dishes and love any excuse to use all of the dishes that I have collected over the years.

The table is another great place in our home to spruce up with the changing of the seasons. I love to search Pinterest for new and creative ideas for my tablescapes. I also love repurposing old things and using them in new or unexpected ways.

For the 2013 Thanksgiving table, I used an old wine box, that Peter brought home twenty years ago when he worked at a hotel. I darkened the box up with a little leftover stain that I had from another project. Nestled in the box is a fairytale pumpkin, some pine bundles from our trees, Mason jars with tea lights, surrounded by pinecone candle holders with cream tapers.

Depending on the formality of the holiday or occasion, I may use chargers or place cards. When my children were young, and I wanted to make our holiday tables special, I would include them in helping me make place cards. For the 2013 Thanksgiving table, I purchased these vintage goblets at an antique store for just a few dollars. This was a fun way to serve our beverages, and I didn’t have to worry about them breaking.

Second, conversations at the family table tie heartstrings to our children, family members, and friends. This is an important time of connection and communion. At the table, you can linger, talk about your day, and impart your values to your children. There is time to reflect on issues that arise in our culture, morality, religion, politics, and books. Gathered around the table is also a great place to share stories from the past, or tales of family members that have gone on to be with the Lord. This is something that Peter’s mom Gigi instilled in me early in our marriage. We spent many hours in lively conversation as a family around the table. The Thanksgiving 2013 table pictured is very special to me because this was the last meal we shared together as a family with Gigi. She was an amazing woman, who was an incredible influence on my life. Read more about this at 5 Things Gigi Taught Me.

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Holiday tip when entertaining for the holidays and small children are sharing the table with us, I always put a fancy tablecloth on the table, but then cover it with clear plastic. This way the table still looks beautiful, but it is protected from the inevitable spills that are bound to happen.

Third, in this fast-paced microwave society that we live in when families are going in different directions all the time, and we eat at the drive through or on the run. To have time to sit down and eat a home-cooked meal on real plates, not paper ones, and have time to connect at the table, and enjoy a meal is priceless!

Whether you are gathered at the table for a holiday or sharing coffee with a neighbor or friend, know that your table can be a place of ministry.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1  Corinthians 10:31.

Our Response to Suffering

Everyone suffers. Unfortunately, suffering is a part of this world. If you are not suffering now, you have either suffered in the past or will suffer in the future. Suffering is an unpleasant but necessary part of life. When you suffer, where do you turn? Your perspective is everything!

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Jesus was a man acquainted with suffering. Over and over in the New Testament the Greek word for suffering, πάσχω (paschō), is used in reference to Jesus. Here are a few examples of the many references to Jesus and suffering in the New Testament.

suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised – Matthew 16:21

So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands – Matthew 17:12

the Son of Man must suffer many things – Mark 8:31

how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things -Mark 9:12

The Son of Man must suffer many things – Luke 9:22

But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation -Luke 17:25

These are just a few verses in reference to suffering and Jesus. It is important to understand that Jesus suffered. This enabled Jesus to be a sympathetic High Priest. He understands the difficulty of living in a fallen and sinful world firsthand. Jesus came to earth was despised, rejected, and suffered crucifixion on our behalf.

What should our response to suffering be? We should boldly draw near to Jesus. He is our High Priest, who is acquainted with our suffering in order that we may receive mercy and grace.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:15-16

When you suffer, you have a choice. You can choose to become bitter or angry or you can choose to cast your cast your cares on Jesus, and abide in His mercy, grace and unending love. Aren’t you glad to know that Jesus understands our suffering? He loves us, and cares for us. Will you trust him with your suffering today?

For more posts like this Choose Joy!

Current State of the Mission

The Lord is opening all kinds of doors for me with my writing to reach people for Jesus Christ, and I am excited to share everything that I am working on with you!

The biggest undertaking by far has been completing the Bible study the Lord has put on my heart. It is a study about what advice the Bible has for the overcomer in Christ Jesus. I now have a new appreciation for every single Bible study that I have ever done over the years. This project is truly a labor of love! I have about 6 or 7 weeks to finish the study, so that I can teach it to a small group women’s Bible study, “The Bible Babes.”

In addition to keeping up with my blog, I am also a monthly contributor for A Beautiful Life Ministry blogging. I also write  devotions for the Biblical-Literacy Class prayer points devotions.

I recently started writing reviews for Faith Filled Family Magazine. This is a monthly digital Christian Magazine with a goal of helping families live victoriously in Christ and to impact marriages and families for the Kingdom. They have an international readership of around 150,000 readers a month.

Last week, I did my first movie review for The Atheist Delusion. I highly recommend this movie. The pre-release digital download is available now, and will be given away for free on You Tube on September 30, 2016. Ray Comfort bravely engages Atheists on the street in a kind and loving way that challenges their beliefs without being confrontational. He does this through sound, logical arguments and non-threatening questions.

I wanted my blog followers to know everything that I am doing, and I want to ask you all to please pray for these endeavors. It is my heart and my mission in life to see the world come to know Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping me to further the kingdom!