Faithful Obedience by Noai Meyer

I am grateful for the gift of having Noai sharing with us in this series on Faithful Obedience. Noai has walked through a very hard road with much joy and unwavering trust in the Lord. Her life is an example of faithful obedience.

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Being Faithful with the Illness God Has Called You To

Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

In 2018, shortly after the birth of my second daughter, we had the privilege of having my Multiple Scleroses come back with a scary vengeance. My vision was affected, my gait was affected, my arms and hands, and many other muscles and nerves. I remember one day sitting on the couch and crying because I had trouble even holding my newborn daughter. I did not feel so privileged at the time. But, through much prayer from the saints, and crying out to God, we look back on it now and can honestly say we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is good for me to have MS.

I think the biggest lie that we buy into all the time boils down to “God is not good.” We fear that He will take our child, or we fear that what we eat is killing us slowly, or we fear that we won’t find the right thing to help our bodies heal. Another lie is “I deserve something better”. I found myself thinking, “I just want to be normal!” Or I would think “but I want be a normal mom who can walk, all the other moms can walk!” I deserved to be like everyone else.
I was plenty able to walk; I just was projecting into the future…not a good idea. God’s grace and goodness were supplying my needs now, why should I go to a spot where He wasn’t? If I get there some day, He will be there and it will be good, and He will provide.

We so often forget that we don’t deserve any of this. Not even the opportunity to do dishes! I disliked doing dishes, and when God took that gift away, I realized even work was a gift. Every minute of every day is a gift and yet we brazenly complain when we don’t get the life we want. Many times I have cried out to God that He would heal me, and several times I have felt the answer to be “..for He knew what was in the heart of man” (John 2:25), or “You lust and do not have…that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3). Did I really want God more than healing? Did I put Him as my “chief end” and goal? Or, was I wanting healing so I could go back to my “normal” life and spend it on my desires? Healing is great and God loves to give those kinds of good gifts, but He will always give good gifts, and sometimes that looks like MS. We must stop listening to the lies that health is good without God, or life is good without God.

God will do whatever it takes to draw you to Himself. He gives each of us unique trials that are fit just for us. As His children, He doesn’t withhold any good thing from us. If we have a chronic illness, it is because it is good. If He chooses not to heal us, it is good. It is so comforting to know that all of this is a part of God’s plan. We are under the skillful Surgeon’s knife, as T. S. Elliot put it. It is wonderful that “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). What could be better than God Himself?

“Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 9-10). He has “delivered us from so great a death”, what more could we ask for? And, of course he will deliver us!

Don’t ask, “What can I do to get out of this trial?” Instead ask, “How is God using this trial to bring me closer to Him?” Sometimes rampant fear and unbelief in God sneak in when we research how to get better. I often fell into this. I told myself, “I’m just trying to figure things out.” It is easy to find peace in activity instead of in God. The truth was I felt it was up to me to control my life. I couldn’t trust God to do it right. When we think like that, we lose that precious opportunity to throw ourselves on God and humble ourselves before Him “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:6-7). There is nothing wrong with researching how to get better, just be aware that fear easily creeps in the back door at the same time. Stress and anxiety are good indicators of when you are putting your trust in the wrong things.

Trials tend to be great purging grounds for the dross of God’s people. They kick all your props out from under you, revealing what foundation you are really on. We are so easily distracted and subtly tempted from our first love. But God is merciful to teach us and lead us in just the way we need so that we might gain Him. Once those props have been knocked out, and your lack of faith revealed, start shifting your weight to the foundation of God’s promises.

So how can we be faithful with the time of illness God has given us? First, I think we need to recognize those lies that creep in easily when we are sick. Then we must run to Scripture and begin steeping ourselves and saturating ourselves with God’s promises. My husband counseled me not just to do this when the hard times hit, but especially when things are going well, because we all receive trials at some point if we are God’s children. Clothed in His armor we will be able to stand. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6: 13).

I love promises about His promises: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). This was just after Balak tried getting Balaam to curse God’s people and he couldn’t. There is nothing that can touch us that hasn’t been permitted by God. Another promise on promises is: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). You can and must put your trust in His promises.

Another good tactic for battling the fears is to get counsel or read books by Christians who have gone before us and conquered in these things. Some of the books that really blessed me during the hardest times were, “The Clouds Ye So Much Dread” by Hannah Grieser; “God is the Gospel” by John Piper, and “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs.

In the end, what do we really want? Do we want to see Jesus? “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). And, can we say with David, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Because this is his desire, David can say at the beginning of the psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

If God is good, and He is, what do we have to fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19). God’s loving hands are the ones that perfectly crafted your illness for you. He will complete His work in you (Philippians 1:6) and use whatever is necessary to give you what is truly good. Lean into the flame that consumes the dross.

Noai Meyer

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Faithful Obedience – By Norma Tochijara

Today I am happy to welcome my sister Norma Tochijara to this series on Faithful Obedience. I can attest that she is a woman who has striven in all things and through all things to be a faithful and obedient child of God.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 7.04.55 PM“Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

There have been many situations in my life where my faith has been tested as well as my obedience. I can think of the big events like the death of my baby girl at birth, certain difficulties in my marriage, and the daily prayers of supplication for my loved ones. Many times I have felt that the wait is too long and the temptation to lose hope, to be discouraged, and to look at the immediate circumstances instead of looking to Him resting on Him has been real.

How does practical obedience looks like in the midst of all these? How do we respond in faithful obedience when we are going through difficult situations and our thoughts overwhelm us?

We look to Christ!

That is our hope. We look to Christ and not to ourselves!

I have failed to pray when I have been at my lowest points, but others were praying for me -that I would look up to Christ. Many times I lost my temper trying to ‘drill sense’ into my loved ones, and yet it was Christ who brought me to repentance.  I have been slow to learn, yet Christ has not been slow to teach me. I have been unfaithful, but He has always been faithful.

It is all Christ, dear reader!

It is all HIM! Look at Him!

I often think of the day when I will hear the words: “My good and faithful servant, come into your rest,” and I know it is because of Christ’s finished work that I will be called faithful, that I will be able to stand looking at Him.

Oh, what a blessed promise that is!

Do you see it?

Do you believe it?

If you look up to Christ, your troubles and hurts will bring you down at the feet of the cross. A life of supplication for mercy, a praying life soaked with many tears, asking the Lord to haste his answer and to increase your faith will be yours. Maybe you feel like a weary traveler, like one who seeks for a place of rest from her troubles. Friend, let me tell you, the rest is coming! Keep on walking. Keep persevering. Keep looking up to Christ! Believe Him! Believe His Word! We will enter into His rest, because rest has been promised to those who wait on Him. Do not lose sight of Jesus Christ. Keep looking up to Him!

I read in His Holy Word how all that came to Jesus were healed. He said: “Live!” And the dead rose from the dead, the lepers were healed, the blind saw. And so I pray, “Lord, please say the word, just say the word, and my loved one will live!” And then, in faithful obedience, I keep looking up and patiently wait.

We wait and we keep praying, crying, not as those without hope, but as those who look up to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, the anchor of our hope.

We also manifest our faithful obedience to God by learning contentment with His will for us. Because we know that He does that which is best for us in every situation we are in, we can persevere knowing that in all circumstances we are being sanctified, made more like Christ. And isn’t that our goal? To be more like Christ? So let’s look up to Christ more and more.

By looking up to Christ and clinging to Him, we imitate Job, who he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing even in the hardest trials (Job 1:22). God’s response to Job’s sufferings was not an explanation or a cheering voice in the background. It was God saying, “That you may know ME”.

Our faithful obedience to God, then, is not based on how much we understand or not about our trials or our sufferings, but on the character of God. When we look up to Christ we can see how God is all powerful, all sovereign, and all good. And so our absolute submission to His holy will, in faithful obedience, becomes the proper response of our hearts to Him.

So pray and look up to Christ, dear Reader. Pray and look up to Christ when you do not feel like it. Pray and look up to Christ like the man who insistently asks for bread until the owner of the house gets tired of him and gives him what he wants. Pray and look up to Christ even when it feels that you are alone in the room. Pray and look up to Christ in private. Pray and look up to Christ without ceasing (and if you fall, just start again and again as many times as are necessary). He hears our prayers!

‘As a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” Ps.103:13

He will have compassion on us! What a promise!

Let us look up to Christ!

Norma

 

 

 

 

 

Letters On Pursuing the Intentional Life (part 1)

Our dear friend Trisha recommended us a book that I read with much gusto. Jean Fleming’s words are exactly what I needed in this season of my life.

And because we are on the same season, but in totally different circumstances, my friends, Trisha, Melissa, and I thought that it would be wonderful to write each other letters to converse about this book.

Would you like to join us? Please, go ahead and read Trisha’s introduction and first letter here.

 

Becky

Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Nine

Thank you, Friends, for coming again to our weekly meeting to discuss the book, We Never Stop Being Parents.

This week it is an honor and a great joy to introduce you to my friend Angel Warner. We met a few years ago when we left our sons in College, and we can honestly say that our sons have been blessed by this family. The Lord has given them grace to raise godly children and many of us are now enjoying the blessings of their hard labor. God is good!

Thank you, Angel.

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Chapter Nine.

Our Dreams, Their Dreams, though unsure of the source, I have often heard it said that the most important decision after choosing to serve God with one’s life is the answer to the question: Alongside whom shall I serve Him? 

For parents, even of children who have been given grace to rightly choose God as their master, the potential answer to the second question can be the source of much concern, and rightly so. As married people themselves, parents know firsthand the pitfalls of being joined into one flesh with another sinner. Moreover, married couples are joined to new families who are likewise comprised of sinners. The potential for conflict and trouble grows exponentially, but so do the opportunities for all involved to grow in wisdom, maturity, humility and grace. In chapter nine, the authors do a wonderful job of demonstrating some of the ways in which parents can fall off the rails if they are not seeking to guide their adult children by biblical principles. Deferring to preference when our children are selecting life mates has the potential of doing serious and long-lasting damage to our relationships. But, as in all stages of parenting, we have God’s Word to guide us toward prudence.

As has been pointed out in the other chapters we’ve read so far, our relationship with our adult children must shift from authority to counselor. The same holds true as our young adults select spouses. Because we want the best for our children, Christian parents begin praying early that God will be preparing godly spouses for them. As we pray, we naturally begin to envision the ideal characteristics we’d like to see in our future sons and daughters-in-law. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The problem comes when we create idols: phantom men and women who will be members of our particular church, children of our dearest friends, skilled and witty conversationalists, gifted musicians or artists, on it goes, even down to physical features. As the authors so wisely point out, the problem is that these are our daydreams, and our children have no biblical obligation to make our dreams come true. For parents to try to impose such an obligation where none exists is to usurp the authority that belongs to the Lord as the sovereign over our lives and those of our children. In some Christian circles, fathers have been taught that they are the supreme authority even over their children’s marital choices. It is true that, for a season and to illustrate heavenly realities, fathers act as prophets, priests, and kings in their homes. However, this temporary authority is designed to help fathers point their children to the Lord who is the true Sovereign. Fathers who can see themselves and this temporary authority rightly should delight in relinquishing their adult sons and daughters into the care of a King whose judgments, mercy, and leading are without error. Thereafter, parents must trust their children and all their decisions into His care. Our dreams are not as important as God’s will. 

We have been through this process four times now, and I can say without reservation that it can be challenging. We have one son-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and one daughter-in-law to be. We dearly love each one of them, but we have had to confront our pre-conceived notions each time. I have to admit that this was most pronounced with our daughter, not because of her choice, but simply because she was a daughter. We had taught her (and all her brothers) the principles of biblical roles in marriage and male headship. It is one emotional milestone to marry off a son; it is quite another to walk one’s baby girl down the aisle and place her into the care of another man who will become her head. My husband and I found that it required us to exercise a new level of trust in the Lord’s care for our daughter. In contrast, when sons marry, there is something very humbling about watching the father of a young woman walk down the aisle and place his baby girl into the care of your son. This has been a summons for us to pray fervently that our sons will be godly, merciful, tender, strong, and faithful servant-leaders who will love these women who have been entrusted to them. In either circumstance, trusting God to lead our adult children in our stead is both freeing and sanctifying. Our children are called to their own journeys and their own struggles. They may choose spouses who surprise us. They may handle their trials in ways that we would not. Yet, if we truly believe that God is sovereign, we can trust that God is using these things to mature them in grace. We have seen this at work in the lives of our married children and have been amazed at the refinement that is being produced through trial. Likewise, we can see how God has used our relationships with our married children and their spouses to refine our own growth in grace.

One thing I most appreciated about this chapter was the continual exhortation to exercise love, even if we are disappointed in our children’s choices. It is so easy to be critical and narrow in our definition of who warrants our love. The biblical principle, however, is that we are to exercise love toward others—no qualifiers. There are times when adult children may enter into relationships that go beyond mere preferences crossing the line into sin. In the section “We Are Free to Love and Welcome”, the author states:

“By remembering the gospel message, that we are both sinful and flawed yet loved and welcomed, we can welcome this uninvited visitor warmly. When you keep the doors open, you’re helping your own cause because the uninvited visitor will view you as a friend and perhaps even a counselor. No one wants to take counsel from someone who really doesn’t like them. If you openly welcome your child’s new friend, you will remove the pressure of disapproval, and your child may then actually invite your counsel.” (p. 144)

Of course, there is a distinction between loving a sinner and enabling sin. True love does not make provision for the practice of sin. I believe this makes the author’s point above more poignant. It’s a fine line to walk, but when we are warm and loving, our children are more likely to be understanding of our refusal to facilitate immorality. Here again, obedience to the biblical principles, in this case exercising love and upholding righteousness, may not be easy, but God plainly tells us that He will bless faithfulness to His commands. Thus we have another opportunity to take Him at His word and show our children that our faith is genuine.

Finally, after reading this chapter, I found myself reflecting on two underlying theological aspects of the larger discussion. The first is indicated in the initial illustration about the father who refused to embrace his daughter’s romantic choice simply because the young man held doctrinal positions that were different than his own. While his reaction was extreme, if most of us were honest, we’d probably have to admit to this same type of bias in our own hearts. Of course, we would prefer that our children marry people who embrace our theological leanings. It certainly would make for fewer potential landmines in table conversations. Yet, to look askance at someone who does not is evidence that we are not discerning the body of Christ as we should. His church is much larger than our particular segment of the Christian faith, and we should embrace opportunities to exercise grace toward our Christian brothers and sisters. How much more so when they are part of our own families?

The other theological principle is that of generational faithfulness. If we truly believe that we and our descendants are in a covenant relationship with God, then we ought to be thinking in terms of how we are part of God’s plan to pass on the truths of the covenant to future generations. There is simply no way we can be part of this plan if we jeopardize our influence by ungracious behavior toward the parents of our grandchildren. Any hard-heartedness on our part will prohibit our witness. We must earn the right to be heard; we must demonstrate that we can be trusted; we must humble ourselves taking on the attitude of servant-hood to our adult children, loving them and showing them respect. Only then can our message convey a sincere love for our Lord and His covenant.

May our Lord help us to live with grace as we seek to be a blessing to the next generation.

Angel Warner

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Angel Warner is married to her best friend, David. They are parents of eleven (7 by birth, three by marriage, and one by engagement). Their greatest earthly delight is their family, which now also includes a grand-daughter, their first grandchild. More than anything, Angel lives in wonder and gratitude for the continual faithfulness, love, and mercy of the Father. She, her husband, and youngest daughter live in beautiful Geneva, Illinois, and are in the process of restoring a 1927 home—their third historic restoration project.

Embracing Technology with Some Family Rules -by Julie Etter-

Last week my dear friend Wendy shared with us her family technology policy, and today I am grateful that my friend Julie Etter is willing to share with us how she and her husband are managing technology issues in their family. It is certainly a blessing to have more than one advice on this matter. Technology, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, blogs, all these are issues that concern all of us, and we must have a plan to safeward our families.

Our family has struggled a bit with what to do with technology. We have been encouraged by many to throw it all out, and others have said just embrace it, we live in the technology age. While we love the idea of the simple life and living without all of the distraction, the simple truth is, we enjoy technology. Not only do we enjoy it, but we do live in a technology age.  There are three main reasons that we have chosen to responsibly embrace technology: 1. Since we live in a technology age, our children need to learn how to use it in a responsible and God-honoring way. 2. We believe technology is not different than any other past time that can be overused. It really boils down to self-control and we desire to train our children (and ourselves) in using self control in what seems to be the latest craze. 3. We aim to not have “extreme” reactions to things that are not biblically mandated.
We live in a time where technology seems necessary. Even our Amish neighbors seem to find this to ring true. We see them with phones in their barns, carrying around cell phones, hiring others to drive them places, etc. I cannot make a trip to the library without seeing an Amish person on the computer. Simply put, our children are going to need to use technology. We desire to be the ones to train them in the proper use of it. We want to set standards and goals before they leave our home to discover them on their own.
I always find it ironic that a parent has completely banned technology because “it is so addicting”. However, their children will spend the whole day shut up in a room, without fellowship, reading a book, drawing, or anything else you can imagine. Now, do not get me wrong, I realize these things are a bit different than wasting brain cells on a video game, but there are still a couple of core issues that stand true: 1. They have shut themselves off from the family. 2. They lack the self control to stop when it is time, and find fellowship with others.
I am blessed to be married to a man who finds danger in the “pendulum swing”. What I mean by this is it is always concerning to see someone swing from one extreme to another. You almost always see alarming results from this action. His favorite teaching on this came from a seminary professor who encouraged his students to “remain at the center of Biblical tension”. Unless scripture is clear, it is best to not jump on extreme bandwagons. In our many years of working with families, we have seen many children rebel after being raised in extremes that are not mandated in scripture. To pretend technology does not exist, would be quite dangerous to a young adult who leaves the home to find it everywhere and they have never learned how to use it responsibly.
Therefore, for the reasons listed above, we embrace technology. However, there is a need for rules. We find that these rules have to be changed from time to time as the children mature and as they deal with different sin issues. After each school break, we find the need to tighten the belt again. Here you will find our latest list of requirements for technology with our children. Please know that these rules fit the needs of our children and are not meant to be taken as law by others. Also, we believe in grace. If you see us making allowances, it may simply mean our children earned some extra grace that week.
  1. Television is limited to weekends for school aged children. Exceptions will be made if the parents desire to watch a family show/movie with the children and all chores and homework are done.
  2. Preschool aged children may watch television/movie once per day at the mother’s discretion.
  3. All electronic equipment stays on the table unless it is being used for school. After schoolwork is done, it may be used, but must come back to the table by 7:00 pm for pre-school aged children and 8:00pm for school aged children.
  4. You may SKYPE, with permission, with friends that have been approved. SKYPE hours most be within appropriate time range of our time zones, not those whom you are trying to SKYPE. Exceptions to the time of day may be made on Friday nights.
  5. Email may be checked in the morning and evening.
  6. Facebook maybe used after all schoolwork and chores are completed. You are allowed 15 minutes.
  7. There are to be no accounts which the parents do not have access to and the parents have the right to check them. Remember, even in the work place, nothing done on work email or computers is private. This is a lesson you need to learn and for your protection.
  8. At the parent’s discretion, we will have a “technology ban”. We will “pull the plug” on all technology that is not work or school related for 1 month in order to be sure we are connecting as a family and our priorities are appropriate.
  9. Each child is required to meet with your mother to develop a list of things to do which are productive and do not involve technology. As with your technology, these activities should not take the place of your time with God and building relationships with those in your family.

Again, I find the need to change these every few months as our families needs a sins change. 

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Bruce and Julie have a beautiful family, with 5 precious children. They have a love for teaching, (and yes, they both are some of the best teachers at VPSA!) they love spending time with their church community, spend lots of time chasing after the little ones, and driving the older ones around to all of their commitments. Bruce and Julie are very special friends to my husband and I, we love them very much!

And again I ask, What are some of the ideas your own family is using to set technology boundaries? How are you setting limits in your home regarding all things related to technology? How do you set limits for yourself?

Learning with you,

 

Becky

>From Melissa’s Kitchen to Yours – Fresh Yogurt Popsicle with Fresh Fruit-

>My friend Melissa shares with us a summer recipe that will sure make our summer days brighter!

Katie Lloyd Photography

 

The alarm clock rests silently. School clothes give way to bathing suits. Sunlit evenings stretch before us. Summer has finally arrived. A recent stretch of brutally hot weather brings to mind my own childhood summers. Long days of playing until lightning bugs began to speckle the twilight sky. Drawing hopscotch boards on the pavement with the sharp edge of a rock, dancing under the water hose, and riding bikes to the store down the street. And the counting down of days until the ice cream truck would make its weekly appearance in the neighborhood. The colorful truck was full of enough sticky, sugary concoctions to tempt any child’s palate.

We don’t see the ice cream truck around here anymore. What I do see these days are grocery store aisles of frozen treats filled with sugar and preservatives. My family – your family – deserves better. I found this basic popsicle recipe online, and use it all the time. Homemade popsicles are simple and delicious. Best of all, they are packed with nutrition.

The basic recipe:

2 cups vanilla yogurt (or plain with a tsp. of vanilla extract)
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit of choice (or any combination)
1 Tbsp. honey

Blend well (I use an immersion blender, but a regular blender or food processor would also work great) and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

This recipe is adaptable for any taste. So far, we’ve tried strawberry, blueberry*, and strawberry/banana. Each flavor has been a hit. Up next – peach.

*I would recommend blending the blueberries alone before adding the yogurt and honey. The skins need to be broken down quite a bit.

Thank you, Melissa, this is already making my mouth water!

Becky

Do you like today’s image? You can buy it here.