October Printable: Search My Heart

Leaves are falling, and cozy blankets are being pulled out. Fall is here! We have a beautiful printable by Sarah Dohman for you this month of Psalm 139: 23-24. This verse reminds us who the great creator is, and how Christ made the way our souls to have new life.

Psalm 1392324

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The Opportunity of Discipline

Author: Kimberley Mulder

I hate having to discipline my children. I hold awkwardly and begrudgingly the parental authority that has been given to me. There is nothing that causes my heart to sink faster than my children’s disobedience and disputes. I can be in a fantabulous mood all day but when that door bursts open and in tumbles a wailing child followed quickly by a yelling one it feels like a massive vacuum suddenly sucked away my mood and energy. Honestly, if I am not careful this scenario can wrench my attitude into despair and discord for the rest of the day. It is in these times that I am seeing the situation as a burden rather than the opportunity it is offering.

What is the goal of discipline? Certainly good citizenship is a goal, as is building good habits. However, these are lesser goals. The great goal of discipline is to teach us to trust God. This is true whether discipline is enforced from outside (think parenting), or internally adhered to (think self-discipline). To keep our relationship with God healthy and strong he instituted an intertwined dance of trust and discipline. Every sin is, in some way, a distrust of God; discipline was meant to guide us away from the lies we believe and back to the heart of the One who loves us.

Kimberley Mulder DisciplineDivine discipline strikes me as art. God gets His message across to us, His disobedient children, in so many ways. Reading the Bible as a standard is a two-dimensional reading of a three-dimensional text. The dimensions of God’s discipline are so deep and high and loving, so personal that the receptive child will feel the gentle pressing of His words in the scriptures, and have it bring out conviction like a hologram that has turned to reveal the picture. At other times, in love that we cannot understand, He abruptly blocks a path like a shutter capturing a black and white image.

Imagine the Father painting His discipline throughout history. The base layer is the creation of the Israelites and the ten commandments, then throughout the Old Testament He adds the foundational characteristics through particular sudden strokes (like Saul’s downfall in 1 Samuel or Jeroboam’s legacy of war because of his idol worship in 1 Kings.) The prophets add depth to the horizon as they envision God’s desires and cry out to the Israelites to return to God. But when Jesus walks onto the canvas the picture becomes alive and complete. The details are added as the broad strokes of the old covenant are built on and covered by the fine, personal, lines of forgiveness.

Jesus touches and teaches individuals that it’s the heart the Father is trying to reach through discipline. He doesn’t want outward conformists and inward sinners. In John 8 the Pharisees ask him how to discipline the woman caught in adultery. But Jesus tells these conformists: “Let any one of you who is without sin throw a stone at her.” This masterful stroke drives right into their hearts. Then he deftly highlights the beauty He is painting with the finishing stroke of forgiving the woman.

So, as a parent, I want to emulate God’s purposes in my discipline. The trajectory of all my efforts is not to make good kids who will obey all the rules. Rather, it is to develop their trust in God above all.

Discipline Kimberley MulderI want them to trust me too, which means I must be trustworthy. Are they seeing and feeling that I have their best interests in mind? If I am reacting, then I don’t have their interests at the forefront. Do I listen to them carefully, giving them space to be heard? Do they see me making every effort to be fair? I hope they will reflect on their growing up and see that the consequences I placed on them were part of what shows my trustworthiness and God’s. This is a lot to embed into the hot scenarios that we encounter daily with our kiddos! That is why it is so important to spend time intentionally thinking and praying about our discipline strategies.

For some of us we need to see the discipline in our childhood as our Old Testament and let Jesus lead us into living his new covenant as we discipline our kids. Do you react harshly wanting to simply squelch a behavior? I confess, I do at times because of my upbringing and lack of intentionality. However, Jesus doesn’t squelch, ever. He probes into the pain and sin, illuminates, addresses and then extracts it with his truth and forgiveness. He does it in a way that draws us near, not pushes us away.

If you struggle, as I do, to allow Christ to renovate your discipline, I encourage you to intentionally address it. Certainly pray and read the gospels to gain insight into Jesus’s way. Seek out classes on discipline that are grounded in His way. Talk to parents who you have witnessed disciplining with grace and wisdom. Employ forgiveness. Learn to evaluate your response before you execute it. My oldest sometimes gets frustrated with me because I take too long (in her view) to answer or discipline. I remind her that I need to take the time to carefully process the situation with Jesus so that I don’t react in a sinful way. And when I do riff off a reactionary consequence to her (always to damaging effect!), I have gone back to her and apologized. Then we evaluate what an appropriate consequence would be for the situation.

Let’s internalize God’s loving discipline and intentionally learn the art of building trust through the opportunities that the disobedience of children and others bring to us.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Book Review: If Only You Knew by Jamie Ivey

I first learned of the Ivey family through a video showing their family going through the adoption process during the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. The longing for their children to be home, while at the same time praying for God to comfort and be near resonated with my heart.  It was one of the key pieces God used to draw us into adoption, and why my family is comprised of a feisty 16 year old, two almost-30 year old parents, and 12 bonus foster children who have come in and out over the last 4 years. (Yes, we will be 31 when she graduates!) Their telling of their adoption process didn’t skip past the hard in between spots, or even the rough patches of parenting. Their vulnerability and trust in God struck something deep within and catalyzed us.

image2Fast forward a few years, and I discovered the “Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey” podcast.  It is by far my most listened to, and recommended podcast in my life for the very same reason– vulnerability.  Deep trust in God that touches all of life is constantly on display, and the interviews of actual people who God has used in varied ways remind me of the depth of people opposed to the two-dimensional instagram version.

I was ecstatic to get to be a part of the “launch team” for Jamie’s first book, If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free. I received a free ebook copy (after preordering) in exchange for telling YOU about it.  For those of you who know me, I would have anyway!

I have to tell you.  She did it again. I love this book and have told someone about it almost every day since I started it.

I’ve been a “church girl” for a long time, and am familiar with how things go.  Often instead of walking in freedom, we sanitize our story, hiding the messy details and covering up the very places God is most at work in our lives. Our sin and struggle become things to manage.  There are topics we don’t touch, or if we do, the story is about someone else or a long time ago.

Jamie challenges this tendency,

“When seen through the eyes of the gospel, our stories are not obstacles to our freedom; they are actually the key to unlocking it.”

This book is Jamie’s story of how God worked in her life.  It feels a lot like reviewing the tapes of her experiences and speaking the gospel over the girl she was. Telling the truth she wished she knew at that point.  

Let me tell you, we all need that.  Whether it is the girl you were, or the woman you are today, the Gospel of Jesus intersects every bit of your life.  Sin. Struggle. Failure. Success.

He knows it all, and loves us enough to die for us.  Especially the parts we don’t talk about. Somehow the very things we want to hide are what God can use in the lives of others who may not know His love.

“When we hide the mess we’ve been through, we also hide the redemption that God has lavishly poured on us.  We can’t proclaim His grace until we expose our mess.”

image1 (1)I’m convinced that the vulnerability that Jamie shares with us in this book is what women in the church are longing for. Even more, it is for women who want to love Jesus, but think their past (or current) life somehow disqualifies them from being a Christian.  I cannot think of another book that so pointedly proclaims that sin is sin but Jesus is greater, and He is our only source of freedom.  

You can find all the info for her book at http://ifyouonlyknewbook.net/ and until November 6th they have some awesome perks for pre-ordering including 20% off from Waterloo Style (aka Jamie’s awesome earring source)  and 5 entries to win a 2-day getaway for two to Green Acres with travel included, a dinner with the Iveys, and a basket of Jamie’s favorite things.

If you win, I’d be happy to be your second person!


holly-square

Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

 

Disciplined Contentment

Home ownership is  a dream of mine. For the last three years, after spending nine renting, I’m really looking forward to increased privacy, the ability to make changes and do maintenance without consulting a landlord, and better parking, just to name a few.

Sarah Clews Discipline (1)This desire has frequently led to me feeling discontent with my current living situation. However, I realized that if I don’t practice gratitude and contentment now, I won’t  be thankful or content when my dream is realized. I need to  it part of my routine. Choosing contentment must become a discipline.

I want to be like Paul and have Phillipians 4:11-13 pouring out of my life,“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Taking commitment seriously means  practicing stewardship. Instead of dwelling on bunching carpet, peeling paint, and disintegrating caulk, I’ve been routinely keeping these things in the best condition I can, and thanking God that our apartment is warm, and can be kept clean with a little routine elbow grease (and bleach!). When I feel frustrated that the yard maintenance guys blow bark dust into the window tracks and under the doors every Monday, I’ve been replacing my whining with cleaning the window tracks, and remembering to be grateful that I have windows.

I keep this quote from C.S. Lewis close at hand, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature.” How much I would rather be heavenly than hellish, but my decisions don’t always proclaim that.

So, I’m making a choice. A choice that my routine is going to include being grateful. I have to practice being filled with gratitude every day. On Sunday, the sermon (taught by Brian Condello) referenced the story of the healed lepers in Luke 17:11-19. They cry out to Jesus for mercy and healing, and He does just that. But only one returns to thank Him.

“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Discipline Sarah ClewsBrian Condello concluded the sermon with, “Gratitude allows us to see what Jesus is preparing for us.”

I need a routine of giving thanks, of finding something to grateful for. It’s only when I’m coming from a place of gratitude, of knowing I’m abundantly loved and cared for by my Creator, that I have anything to share with others.

 


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

5 Reasons Why I Read Scripture Daily

The most transformative discipline affecting my spiritual health has been, without a doubt, spending time in God’s word. I say discipline, because spending daily time in the Bible is not always easy. Roadblocks try to separate me from reaching for God’s truth: time, commitments, even reading other text written from fellow believers. Why do I practice this spiritual discipline?

image1 (3)Here are 5 reasons why I spend time in the Bible daily:

  1. We are in a battle folks, a battle against good and evil. A battle that is waging a war for our souls. Ephesians 6:14-18 shares, Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” We wouldn’t go into battle without first gathering all of our equipment, and going into battle against the devil should be no different. God’s word equips us with truth that will not lead us astray, even when lies and deceit are swirling around us.
  2. Our hearts and flesh fail. Take heart though, friend. God is our strength. Many verses point us to this truth. Psalm 73:26 says, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Filling up on verses that point us to God’s strength are needed in times of trial. We can’t do this on our own, but God can. 
  3. The Bible is chalk full of sage advice on topics such as wisdom. Proverbs 3:13 shares, Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Scripture will always point us back to God, no matter the topic. When we need the best advice, we can go to God’s word for the clearest answers. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
  4. Scripture equips us for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Spending time in God’s word prepares us to serve and love His people.
  5. God’s word is counter cultural, and teaches us to seek peace. We are living in world that constantly bombards and persuades us to reciprocate wrongdoing with more hatred or evil. An eye for an eye. Scripture, however, shows us that as Christ followers, we are to be different. We are to seek peace. 1 Peter 3:10 asserts, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” The peace of God inwardly transcends our hearts, and outwardly alters the way we live our lives.

image2 (1)I spend daily time in the Bible because life has a natural ebb and flow of mountains of rejoicing and valleys of mourning. Life has variables, but Scripture is constant. I want to submerge myself in truth, letting it marinate my heart. Soaking in God’s word eventually overflows into all aspects of my life. This spiritual act of discipline enables me to know and love God, and ultimately, love His people more.

 


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

When We Hear of Another Mass Shooting…

Vegas. In the middle of the dry and the desolate, man has crafted a place where lights and golden-gilding cover luxurious arch ways ushering people into glossy portrayals of Dante’s nine circles.

In timeless, windowless, oxygen-infused casinos where multisensory stimulation waits around every corner, it is easy to forget both sun and moon, and just keep going, eyes wide, watching the continuous show. Until the sins everybody thought would stay there creep too close. On the night of October 1st, 2017 evil preformed its deadly dance and shot across the sky stealing the breath of over 50 people.

500+ injured.

Thousands traumatized.

Another mass shooting.

I want to ask “When will it stop?”But I find that to be an unanswerable question. For I have learned this truth—I live in a fallen world.

image2I was a senior in high school the year the Columbine Tragedy shocked the nation and infected people with a new brand of fear. It was like nothing I had seen before. I remember sitting by the television, still, shaken, and unsure. What? How? Why? I went to school the next day, finding myself cowering from the group that wore trench coats, and looking at my classmates with suspicion. It hadn’t required courage to walk into class the day before; this day it did. Still numb, I listened to my favorite teacher as she lamented the tragedy with tears and placed her hands protectively over her pregnant belly. She had to be asking herself, would she be willing to die for us?

Ten years later, I stepped up in front of my first class as a student-teacher, and I had to ask myself the same question. By this time, running students through lockdown drills was common practice, so I instructed them on how to hide in case of a gunman. I remember assessing how many students my body could shield. I am not naturally morbid, but as a teacher I needed to know how I would protect the students entrusted to me? Whether this is asked of our teachers or not, many consider this part of their job.

Before Columbine, it seemed that gang members were the gun carriers to be afraid of, terrorists seemed far away in other countries, and schools, churches, and movie theaters felt safe. And now, we risk developing a callous on society’s collective heart as we accept the mass shootings as an unavoidable reality. We clutch our chests, breathe out a helpless, “Again?!” Then we move on, because we just can’t handle the depth of the carnage of innocents gunned down.

The secluded white male young adult has become the face to fear, and he is everywhere. But again, in this label, I think we have it wrong. The problem isn’t a group, racism, or a religion. Nor is it gun control, mental health, or bad parents. There is chaos created by these things, but they are just symptoms of the deeper problem: evil. A problem too big for humans to address. This is why we feel so helpless to make it stop.

I hope for legislation that might actually be productive, but I won’t be writing laws anytime soon. I will vote, but I will also do my best to make the most of my time. I am determined stand against evil in whatever way it presents before me.

If Christians are to be lights in a dark world, we must stop fighting against each other, and every little piece of culture that threatens our comfort. We need to be who we are through Christ—righteous, more than conquerors, and carriers of the good news that offers a choice of who we will serve.

A good God or an evil world? On which side will we stand?

image1 (1)There is a war going on: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.-Ephesians 6:12

When we forget that this unseen battle is being waged for souls, the works of those submitted to wickedness stuns us. When we are forced to remember that evil is real, let it remind us to fight harder, love deeper, and pray continually. I have no answer for “When will it stop?” I trust that victory will come, but I do not know when. In the mean time, I pray for those mourning, I refuse to harden my heart, and from the depth of my being I cry out “Have mercy Lord Jesus.”


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at iBelieve and her words have appeared at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders,(in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

This post was adapted from and earlier version first published at Venn Magazine