The first time I thought it, my heart skipped a beat because I knew it didn’t come from me. It came when I was curled up with my Bible, writing my praises to God in a Journey Notes entry: “Thank You, God, for the quiet of now.”
The quiet-of-now, is that profound peace of soul we crave in our cluttered lives, that too often eludes our grasp. It is the fruit of seeking after God for the strength and perspective we lack.That elusive quiet-of-now, comes only after yielding to His question:“Will you trust Me in this?” with,“Yes Lord, I will trust you.”
It struck me recently that, the quiet-of-now, is what Jesus was offering His disciples as He prepared them for His departure:
“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
The quiet-of-now,, is what He continues to offer to us no matter what our circumstance:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened . . . Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.… Matthew 11:28, 29
The quiet-of-now”, is the rarified Gift of God that once received is meant to be passed on.
No matter what your station in life, if you have entered into a relationship with Christ, then you are meant to pass on His Peace, His Love, His Mercy and the resulting quiet-of-now blessing to all He puts on your path.
While waiting for a Client several weeks ago, I was struck by how my office encourages, quiet-of-now moments. I am always grateful for the time right before a Client arrives, when I can ask God to help me see that person with His eyes rather than my own. The setting is simple, There are two upholstered chairs for Clients to chose from, a few things on the walls, a bookshelf, my desk, chair and a white board that I use mostly for drawing illustrations. On my desk is my Bible and a red leather notepad given me many years ago by an appreciative Client. Directly across from where I sit is a cabinet located between the two Client chairs with a red leather Bible sitting center-stage.
At the start of a Session, the Bible waits quietly, as each Client tells their story. But as soon as the worn leather Bible is opened, and the words on the crisp pages tinged by time and frequent use are read, it speaks truth to receptive hearts. It is when we read and ponder the words inside that Book, that God enters the conversation between us, and interesting (even miraculous) quiet-of-now moments are most frequently shared.
So is there a key to unlocking the door to such quiet-of-now moments on a regular basis? As I reflect on this question, I am struck that such moments have less to do with setting and more to do with attitude and heart:
“If you seek Me you will find Me, if you seek Me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Quiet-of-now moments come upon us, when Scripture takes center-stage in our minds and we yield our hearts to the Sovereign Goodness of God’s Spirit.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
This is the fourth post in a series featuring ways God
used my family and the Scriptures to draw me closer to Himself.
I share them to encourage you to trust in God, no matter what life brings. ❤️
As a child of the 50’s, I grew up thinking discipline was synonymous with punishment. When I became a parent, I accepted the necessity of spanking as part of the arsenal of weapons parents used to communicate the seriousness of their children’s “crimes”. As time passed, however, I became personally convicted about spanking my children, because too often, my anger took control and I spanked them harder than was necessary.
In my last post, I wrote about how God brought order to my home after I surrendered my heart to Christ. It was at that time that He replaced my penchant for perfectionism with Himself. It was also then, that I became convicted that my efforts in parenting were too often motivated by:
My anger at my children, and/or
My fear of losing control, thinking–If I can’t control them when they’re small, what on earth will I do when they get into their teens?
The problem was, I didn’t know what to replace it with. Initially, I recognized my children still needed discipline so, I replaced spanking with yelling–A LOT! (It was amazing how quickly they were able to tune me out!) I struggled with feeling helpless and foolish most of the time in my efforts to parent.
It was not until I learned:
Discipline and punishment are NOT synonymous.
“Disciple” is the root word of discipline.
God shepherds the hearts of His own by leading (not beating) them!
that “the lost art of Godly discipline” came into view.
So what is the difference between discipline and punishment? The simple wisdom of Christian motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, is full of insight:
“We need to understand the difference
between discipline and punishment. Punishment is what you do TO someone; discipline is what you do FOR someone.“
The difference between the dictionary definitions of the two is stark:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary affirms Ziglar’s assertion with this definition of discipline:“Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”
Punishment is defined as, “suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution.”
Between the two choices, discipline is certainly preferable to punishment when it comes, not only to raising children but also in how we want to be treated by our Creator.
Yet, as I look at culture today (even Christian culture), it is very apparent that many children are not receiving the benefits of discipline. Sadly, as culture has embraced the notion of developing high self-esteem, parents have been remiss in teaching the difference between right and wrong, as well as God’s mandate that we love Him and our neighbor. The results? Just listening to the nightly news says it all.
So how was I to proceed as a Christian parent? The wisdom and truth of II Timothy 3:16, 17 drew me:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful
for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.”
It was then that I committed to depending on the Scriptures, prayer, and the leading of God’s Spirit to teach this servant of God, how to discipline/disciple my children. Along the way, I received the assurance that God did not expect perfection from me as a parent. All He wanted from me was a teachable heart:
“He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
The following are insights that guided me through the process of discovering the art of Godly discipline:
Insight #1: Godly discipline has to be learned before it can be applied.
God convicted me early-on with this thought:
If you want your children (or your grandchildren) to take you seriously,
MAKE YOUR OWN BED BEFORE REQUIRING THEM TO MAKE THEIRS!*
Insight #2: Godly discipline is meant to be a lifestyle, not a series of events.
I found great encouragement in this beautiful word picture given the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7
Insight #3: God does not have grandchildren; He only has children.
This piece of wisdom came from Corrie Ten Boom, author of one of my favorite books, The Hiding Place. I had read her book to my children, so they had great respect for its author. I reminded our children of this at various stages in their lives, pointing out that being raised in a Christian home did not make them followers of Jesus Christ.
Insight #4: Make regular worship at a Bible-teaching church and fellowship with other Believers a priority.
Early in my walk with Jesus, I learned: “There is no such thing as a ‘Lone Ranger’ Christian.” Worship of God with other Believers became our priority. I remain grateful for how our church family has loved us through good and tough times. Having relationships with other adult Believers benefited our kids greatly through the “teen years”–when Mom and Dad were “uncool”.
Insight #5: Help your children think biblically by reading to them–A LOT!
Early on I discovered God uses reading to shepherd our hearts. I especially loved summers when we had larger blocks of time to read all kinds of books. As my children grew (early elementary age and above) we enjoyed reading true stories about the lives of other Christians–Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, Joni Ericksen Tada’s story as well as Hudson Taylor, Eric Liddell, Gladys Aylward, David Livingston, and George Muller are but a few of those we enjoyed. We also read the Narnia, Little House and Lord of the Rings series as well as delving into the wisdom of the Bible. (Reading The Hiding Place and Joni’s Story in the shelter of our home, gave opportunity to talk about sin, the human heart and how God blesses His children through adversity.)
Insight #6: When disciplining your child–draw them in–rather than isolate them.
I’ve never understood the practice of sending children to their room when they get into trouble. When my children needed discipline, I viewed that time as an opportunity to minister to their hearts. This is the pattern we followed when they were small and required discipline:
They stood in the corner of the room where I was working (usually the kitchen) with the timer set and their hands behind their back (to help them think about what they had done rather than get distracted.) If they fidgeted in the corner, more time was added– they soon learned to settle into their corner as I continued to work!)
When the timer dinged, I sat on a chair and they either sat on my lap or stood in front of me. (The main intent here was to make good eye contact.)
I then asked, “Why did you have to stand in the corner?” I soon found this to be a critical piece of the discipline process–especially when they were a bit fuzzy about what they had done wrong.
We then talked about what had happened, the sin that was involved, and then, how to make things right again. (Often it was to apologize to one of their siblings.)
Before we went on with our day I prayed for them–about what they had done but always with thanksgiving to God for their lives and His plan for their future.
As they grew the pattern adjusted. Rather than stand in the corner, I assigned appropriate passages of Scripture for them to read and apply in a short essay. (The intent was to help them take sin seriously by going to God in confession and faith.)
Insight #7: Along the way, watch for ways to bring laughter, adventure, and opportunities to serve others into your family routine.
I Timothy 6:17-19 pictures this beautifully:
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant
nor to put their hope in wealth . . .but to put their hope in God,
who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them . . . to be rich in good deeds . . . to be generous and willing to share.
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves . . . for the coming age,
so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Through the years God proved Himself faithful to our family, even when we were not entirely faithful to Him. What our middle-child, Amy wrote in her early twenties sums our family up quite well: “I come from a family of five sinners . . . . “ Over time we have grown to be a family of fifteen, still delving into the lost art of Godly discipline . . . .
All to His Glory!
*Underscoring the warning against saying, “Do as I say, not as I do!” (Such an attitude breeds disrespect and contempt.)
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
We find ourselves weary and discouraged as what was once “unthinkable” has become common place. Even so, I am grateful to report that God continues to impact the hearts and minds of those who hunger and thirst for His perspective on their lives. With every problem faced in the Counseling Room, I marvel at God’s faithfulness as He consistently brings forth meaningful Scriptures that:
Challenge and direct according to Client need,
Shine forth hope and light to encourage each one forward and, above all else,
Inspire heartfelt repentance and thanksgiving for His truth spoken in love.
Understandably, there are times when tears are spilled. Yet anyone who passes by my office is more likely to hear peals of laughter break through the walls as God ministers as only He can do. The best part for me? Is listening and reflecting on what God has shown them since our previous session through their Journey Notes Praise Journaling. (It is then that I take notes!)
Last week, Matthew 11: 28, 29 came to the forefront while working with several Clients; each one was uniquely touched by Christ’s tender call:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
It is an invitation that is also a command– “Come . . . COME TO ME . . . and I will give you REST.” Jesus makes this appeal to our weariness as He:
Acknowledges the burdens that go with living life on this earth,
Calls us closer to Himself to help bear our spiritual and earthly burdens,
Sets the example of gentleness and humility of heart we are called to emulate, and (finally)
Speaks to our deeper need of soul work where we discover rest in Him.
SOUL WORK*. . . what is it and how is it accomplished? I write this not as any sort of theological expert. I am a sinner saved by God’s mysterious and wondrous grace through faith in His Son. After more than four decades of walking by faith, with the Scriptures and God’s Spirit shepherding me through many a trial–plus encouraging others in the Scriptures for twenty-five years–this is what I have learned:
SOUL WORK is:
That deeply mysterious work only God can do
as we open our hearts and minds to Him.
Scripture gives much instruction about our hearts and minds:
Proverbs 4:23 is one of those verses that warn us to guard our hearts:
“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.”
In Luke 6:43, Jesus taught that what we store in our hearts is reflected by our actions as well as our words:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
As culture teaches, “follow your heart”, Jeremiah 17 admonishes–
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Verses 9, 10)
While we are responsible for what we store in our hearts, Jesus calls us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. In Matthew 11 He urges: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
So what is this “yoke” Jesus urges His followers to take? I appreciate the perspective of seventeenth century commentator, Matthew Henry** who wrote:
“It is a yoke that is lined with love.
So powerful are the assistances He gives us,
so suitable the encouragements,
and so strong the consolations to be found in the way of duty,
that we may truly say, it is a yoke of pleasantness.
The way of duty is the way of rest.”
To embrace the loving kindness of Christ’s invitation, though scary at first, is to discover the pleasantness of rest found only in Him.
SOUL WORK is not something we strive for; it is worked out as we yield our hearts and minds
to God’s Sovereign Goodness.
So how is it begun?
Prayer . . .
Confession of fear, anger, pride, resentment, you name it . . .
A willingness/determination to trust God no matter what your circumstances.
For me it required desperation. As a new Christian I wanted to please God: but there were mountains of garbage stored deep in my heart that kept tripping me up. Over time, I noticed that King David (said to be, “a man after God’s heart” in Scripture–despite his many failures) exposed his heart to God more than anyone else in the Bible. I resolved to pray every portion of the Psalms of David that mentioned the heart. The day I got to the end of Psalm 139 was my “Day of Reckoning”.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Verses 23 and 24)
I remember terror gripping me as I contemplated praying David’s words. I vividly imagined myself, laid out on an operating room table and the scalpel God held poised to open my chest. I wanted to run . . . yet remained transfixed. As I contemplated the painful rawness of being totally exposed, I prayed the words anyway:
“Search me, God . . . open me up and do what only You can do to make me whole. Cleanse me . . . please . . . that I may find freedom in YOU.”
I braced for the pain of my chest being opened and my sin ripped out of the crevices of my being–but there was only silence. I continued to wait until finally . . . I realized that God is far gentler and kinder than I ever imagined. Slowly, I relaxed my grip on my fears as relief flooded my mind and heart like never before. That marked the beginning of what has continued for a lifetime: learning to trust Him only deep within my soul, in good times as well as in bad.
No matter where you are or what your circumstance, Christ’s invitation to enter His rest awaits your response. He has a plan and purpose for your life that will likely include heartache and confusion. Yet, as you learn to trust in His Sovereign Goodness . . . that elusive rest found only in Him will be yours.
I pray that you will be encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s vision and prayer for all who trust in Christ Jesus:
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you
with power through His Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ . . . .” Ephesians 3:16-18
Do you hunger and thirst to go deeper in your walk with Jesus? TODAY is the day to answer His call to trust Him more and yourself less!
What do you think of when you hear the word freedom?
On a recent trip, my husband and I saw numerous signs along highways and on large and small businesses proclaiming this simple message: “Freedom Is Not Free.”As a military family (my husband and brother are retired Air Force and my dad served as a Marine in the Korean War) it was touching to see so many reminders not to take freedom for granted.
Since returning home, I have continued to think and pray about the costliness of freedom. It has been disheartening to watch the nightly news reports of political upheaval around the globe–lives shattered by the greed, hatred and arrogance of others–but I have come to see an ironic twist:
While it is true that freedom is not free, it is also true that freedom cannot be bought, legislated or bartered for.Diplomacy is not the answer to securing True Freedom.
Manmade freedom on this earth will remain costly and will continue to be (at best) tenuous because of sinful hearts. We find affirmation of this in the wisdom of Scripture:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:1-3
By nature, our motives are impure because of the sinful war that wages within our hearts–so a manmade freedom can never last. Yet we find hope in the words of Christ Jesus:
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
As I have thought and prayed about the costliness of freedom I have come to the following conclusions:
True Freedom is a God-thing. God sent His Son to be a living sacrifice–holy and pleasing to Himself–to free us from sins bondage so that we may worship Him into Eternity.
True Freedom is an impossibility apart from Christ. Man’s arrogance in parting himself from God as his Creator resulted in the twentieth-century being recorded as the bloodiest of all time.
True Freedom has no room for fear or doubt. We cannot retain True Freedom when fear or doubt rule our hearts.
True Freedom has little to do with our circumstances and everything to do with faith in the Gospel of Christ.
True Freedom is manifested when we love God above all (surrendering ourselves to His Sovereign Goodness) and prayerfully remember our brothers and sisters around the globe
Did you know that over one-hundred million followers of Christ suffer persecution and even death? Watch this and be blessed by their example:
Now . . . what do you think of when you hear the word freedom?
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”
When it comes to finding something that has been lost, my husband is far better than I am at staying on-task. Yet for years, he has insisted that there is a conspiracy against him when it comes to finding something he is looking for. On countless occasions, he has called me into a room (after he has torn everything apart) to help him find something he knows is there but it’s hiding and he just can’t see it. There are times when it has been hard to resist a giggle, as I casually reach over and hand the lost item to him. More often however, I join him in the hunt and we both end up frustrated. In recent years we have learned to actually ask God for help in those situations and the outcome has been far better!
Sometimes people hide in plain sight–knowingly or unknowingly. Clark Kent comes to mind– living a very ordinary life outwardly (thanks to a pair of glasses and a suit) but who whizzes around saving the world as Superman. I love the cartoon that depicts him on a crowded bus sitting between a dozing Superman-want-to-be and a young boy trying to alert his mom to Clark/Superman’s presence–but she doesn’t want to hear it. It makes me wonder how much of “life” I miss just trying to focus on my “to do list” like that boy’s mom?
Do you ever hide in plain sight? Until recently convicted, I never realized that I have that tendency. What does hiding in plain sight look like?
We hide in plain sight when we go through the motions of what is expected, but our hearts and minds are not really engaged.There are times when we hide in plain sight, as we await God’s answer to our prayers.We hide in plain sight,when we distance ourselves from people we ordinarily trust– because we are afraid our tears will betray us.We hide in plain sight,when we throw ourselves into an activity– to create a buffer between ourselves and the pain of loss or change.We hide in plain sight,when we stop doing what we believe we should do, because it is too painful to continue.
The common denominator of hiding in plain sight in these instances? Fear . . . worry . . . the avoidance of pain and . . . the hardest of all to have to admit to . . . PRIDE.
Hiding in plain sight in the short term, can be helpful, as it gives time to process whatever weighs heavy on the heart. For me, hiding in plain sight in recent weeks has given me time to sort out my thoughts and emotions when I think about my dad. Three thousand mile separate us so I have always been grateful for our phone connection. Recently though, I have ended up in tears as some days he seems to fade away, has put the phone down and forgotten to pick it up again. Oh how I would love to be Superman and rescue my dad . . . but it just is not that easy.
There is a danger in hiding in plain sight for too long– becoming self-absorbed. Many times hiding in plain sight for an extended length of time can deepen depression, increase anxiety and rob us of the hope God has for us as we learn to trust Him more.
This past week I found comfort in the words the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth. II Corinthians 2:4 helped me come to terms with my fears and concerns for my dad and the family I hold dear. Referring to a previous letter expressing deep concern for them Paul wrote:
“For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”
As I read Paul’s letter the words affliction, anguish of heart and tears jumped off the page before me as they captured the essence of my emotions as I think of my dad. Such emotions are painful . . . no one wants to endure such suffering! Yet, I found encouragement as the words, abundant love flew at me like a banner of hope! What do affliction, anguish of heart and tears have in common with abundant love?
Without the tension of the first three ingredients, there is no way of realizing our capacity to love as God has loved us. It is always the love of God that will ultimately reveal what is hidden, to bind and strengthen our relationships with Him and with others.
When it comes to finding what has been lost, God is the Primo Expert of all. Have you been hiding in plain sight, perhaps struggling with disappointment or loss? Be encouraged in knowing that God sent His Son to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) . . . even when they don’t know they need to be found. Pray about all that is on your heart . . . dig into His Word . . . and give thanks for His abundant love!
For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.”
Ezekiel 34: 11, 12
I still remember the wonderful relief experienced when, as a child, I had a bad cold and Vicks Vapo-Rub was rubbed onto my chest. I remember how the strong aroma of the menthol seemed to flood my plugged sinuses and filled my lungs to provide almost instant relief. Looking back, I can see how those instances were a balm that not only soothed my symptoms but communicated love and caring to me in an otherwise stress-filled home. I cherish those memories.
In my Christian walk I have found that giving thanks to God for His love and mercy when in difficulty, helps clear my senses like a spiritual balm. I know personally how overwhelming the darkness of depression and anxiety can be; I also know that offering praises large and small to God can serve to lighten my perceptions and fill me with a quiet balm of hope and peace even when nothing else has changed.
How praise works as a balm to a wounded soul remains a mystery to me; what I do know that God is consistently faithful to meet us at our point of need when we seek Him out.
Journey Notes Praise Journaling was developed to help Clients discover this spiritual balm for themselves. For twenty years, I have witnessed God’s faithfulness in turning simple praises into a balm that penetrates deeply into the hearts of all who seek Him. It is nothing short of a miracle . . . but it is not a “quick fix”. To offer up praises to God as a formula to get what we want, rather than in a spirit of humility and in faith is to court disappointment because of our impure motives. Even so, God will remain faithful as the wisdom Psalm 73 attests:
When my heart was grievedand my spirit embittered,I was senseless and ignorant;I was a brute beast before You.
Yet I am always with You;You hold me by my right hand.You guide me with Your counsel,and afterward You will take me into glory.Whom have I in heaven but You?And earth has nothing I desire besides You.My flesh and my heart may fail,but God is the strength of my heartand my portion forever.(Verses 21-26)
How does one move from impure motives to a heart strengthened by the mysterious balm of praise?
It begins with a personal decision to trust in God more and ourselves less.
Next, we surrender the bitterness and pain that would otherwise consume us to Him.
Finally, we give thanks to Him for our freedom, for loving us even when we fail Him:
“Thank You God for loving me . . . for saving me from myself through the bloody and painful sacrifice of your Son. Help me Lord to forgive as I have been forgiven . . . that I may honor you with by singing Your praises. Thank You Lord for being the strength of my heart and my portion forever . . . “
Do you feel your senses beginning to clear as you breathe in the very breath of heaven? Give thanks that when God works it is not a “quick fix” but has eternal consequences . . . PRAISE HIM!