Monday, December 31, 2012

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly in 2013

Today, the Lord has put it upon my heart to explore what it means, and what it costs, to be "set apart". An incident occurred at church yesterday that prompted my thoughts in this direction.

In Peter's children's church class the teacher begin the lesson by saying, "As I point to you, tell me what your favorite Christmas present was." 

I don't have to tell you that no one said Immanuel --"God with us"

90% of them said that an i-Pod was their favorite gift. These are tween children in grades 4th-6th. I know there's enormous pressure to conform to modern technology, but parents are forgetting something. There are plenty of computer-savvy children in school who know how to disengage the parental controls on these things, and they would gladly do it for anyone who asks, just to make a name for themselves. 

Giving children and teens hand-held access to the Internet is asking for trouble. 70% of middle school children admit to viewing pornography, and hand-held access--portable access that can be taken to school or out in the neighborhood--is going to make this tragedy far worse. Even children who have a computer--or a cable TV for that matter--in their bedroom are similarly at risk of heart poisoning. 

But aside from that, my son felt embarrassed as the teacher asked this. He got a card game and some candy and a whoopie cushion in his stocking. What was he supposed to answer? When it was finally his turn he remembered that my cousin came on Christmas Eve and gave all my children a webkinz stuffed animal and a $15 Target card. 

He and Paul enjoyed caring for their stuffed animal using the Webkinz site, so he told the class that a webkinz was his favorite present.

The hurt from the church doesn't stop there. On his last AWANA day of the year, the AWANA commander  reminded the kids at a Christmas party that the presents "they would all open on Christmas morning" were not the true meaning of Christmas. At this same Christmas party Santa made an appearance and gave each child a mug with a cocoa pack and some trinkets. Oh, boy. How we hate it as parents when Santa shows up at church. I got the feeling that the new pastor of this AWANA church wasn't too happy with Santa's appearance either, but I guess he must have approved it. Or maybe he wasn't asked? I don't know. 

Wanting kids to believe that a mere man is powerful enough to make it all around the world in one night, giving presents to every child--even kids whose father lost a job?--seems like asking them to equate Santa with God. Only God could do such a thing, and he doesn't care to. He wants us to use the resources he's graciously given us to behave benevolently at Christmas and all through the year, not necessarily toward our own American children who have plenty, but to the people of the world who don't know the Good News, and who don't have basic necessities. 

What is the purpose of encouraging a Christian child to believe in Santa? A Christian child trying to learn how loving and powerful and sovereign our Heavenly Father is? 

Loving acts originate with our Father and He should get the glory for them, not Santa.

9-year-old Aidan, my neighbor, was with us that night at AWANA. It was his third visit. His father doesn't have a job and his mother works part-time. If any presents ended up in his hands at all on Christmas morning, they would come from a grandmother already strapped with helping this family with necessities. When the teacher uttered, "all the presents you kids will open on Christmas morning" she was being woefully short-sighted. 

I was saddened and did my best to diffuse the situation on the ride home. I asked my own boys on the ride home if it bothered them when she said that, since they wouldn't be opening any gifts. They said that, yes, it did make them feel sad. 

Aidan didn't say anything, but I hope he at least felt less alone.

After I heard the teacher say this, I glanced at Aidan and saw that his chest heaved and fell suddenly, as though he felt the weight of his situation keenly.

My children know the blogs of Ann Voskamp and Shaun Groves fairly well. I often discuss the contents with them and they've come to respect these families as true Christian soldiers. Neither of these families buy Christmas presents for their children, though Ann may do stockings. I've seen real stockings hanging on her mantel. Not the huge stockings available now, but real socks (that would hold little).

Knowing that these families don't do gifts either helped my children accept our resolve to give our resources and our time to others, rather than concentrating on ourselves at Christmas. Ann's family goes through the Compassion and World Vision gift catalogues to give farm animals and other necessities to the poor. Shaun's family gives 50% of their resources away as a rule, all year long.

I'm dismayed that along with the Bible, I only have blogs to help my children grasp and embrace the truth and live boldly for Christ. The church? It fails. The church has one foot in the world and the danger of both feet setting there is imminent. Those who study Truth need to share Truth. Boldly.  

When my children play with neighborhood children, I often have to disciple them through the experience, teaching them how Jesus feels differently than their friends, about this or that topic. 

Lately I find myself doing this after a church experience too, and that profoundly saddens me and makes me more bold in my teaching on this blog. While I don't like to offend anyone, I do want Jesus to win hearts, not Satan. I want Him to reign supreme in our hearts. I want all Christians to fight for the principles Jesus taught.

As I train my children in the wisdom and truth of the Bible, I'm finding that Micah 6:8 is a good take-away verse for all that was important to our Lord, along with the all-encompassing "love your neighbor as yourself". 

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

To live justly means we shouldn't act like Nelly Olsen from the Little House books, nor should we act like the neighborhood bully--taking what isn't ours and oppressing others. Does the world act justly? I've given extreme examples, true, but I submit to you that the world does indeed act like Nelly Olsen and the neighborhood bully. 

When we take more than we need, indulging many or most of our wants, even to the point of debt, we're a spoiled Nelly Olsen. When we stock the bottom of our Christmas tree with multiple gifts that are mostly unneeded, while others live with their needs perpetually unmet, we are like the bully, oppressing others. We take the resources God has graciously given, and we waste them and live in the flesh. 

We store up treasures and turn away from the poor on the next block and in the next land. The fact that Christmas has become more cultural than spiritual is a good example of this. We can say until we're blue in the face that Christmas is not about the presents, but to a child who opens several or more presents on this day, our bit of truth rings empty, hollow. Their mind works thus: if it's not about the presents, then why do I open so many on this day, and how can I not look forward to that with unbridled excitement?

We're setting our kids up for failure, spiritually speaking. They will grow up to do the same things at Christmas and other parts of the year, and the pressure to conform to the culture might even tempt them toward debt. Those in debt can give very little to anyone. They're slaves and their master (Satan) is merciless.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

I sincerely ask every parent out there to pray about and contemplate Micah 6:8. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

Teach your own heart, your church, and your children, what it means to act justly throughout the year. Teach what it means to love mercy and not hold grudges or allow our hearts to harden against others. To mercy someone means to love them even when they don't deserve it, and even when it's inconvenient. It means to extend God's mercy to the hurting and the suffering and the hungry. 

Teach that we must walk humbly, knowing that Christ died for us ugly sinners, thereby buying us and setting us apart for His purposes. We do not own our days or our destiny, and any good in us is from His spirit alone. To walk humbly also means to cast off all sense of entitlement.

I have gathered verses that discuss being set apart for God. They're at the bottom of this post. It's in our best interest to pray these into our hearts in this, a new year. 

The world can hurt us and pressure us as we live set apart. My son can attest to that. To aid our own hearts, and our children's hearts, in this set-apart living, we must read God's word, allowing the Holy Spirit to strengthen our resolve. Hold your children close; stay in touch with their hearts; disciple them. Give them the sense of belonging they desperately need in this broken, hostile world. 

If they don't get it from their own home they'll go to the world for that sense of belonging. And the result? Deep sorrow will visit our parental hearts.

Again, before I close, I don't mean to offend anyone. I'm sure there are some of you who carefully gave away in kindness as much as you put under your own tree. I know you are out there. God bless your resolve to act justly.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

1 Peter 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

1 Peter 1:16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Worship

Worshiping Him with Psalms today. Happy Sunday to you and yours. 

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!


Psalms 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.


Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.


Psalms 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

Psalms 99:5 Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!


Psalms 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!


Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.

Psalms 63:3-4 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Psalms 150 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year to you and yours, dear readers. I'm pausing to spend individual time with each child before our homeschool resumes. As I work a puzzle with them, or create a construction-paper snowman, or read aloud from a favorite novel, or play that favorite board game, I'm praying Christ's peace and strength into their souls. I pray that my failures as a mother will not define their upbringing, but that His Truth and Grace will instead. 

I read Psalm 96 this morning and it dawned on me...what a great New Year's Psalm! It defines what stance our hearts and minds need to take in this tear-stricken, distracted world, so that joy and peace prevail and not despair. I think the children and I will memorize it together in the month of January and present it to Daddy as a surprise. Like the 23rd Psalm, is has the power and purpose to change a heart's stance.

I'm also praying much regarding the January start to the Children's Bible Study I'll be teaching in our home (held every Saturday afternoon). If we have it in our minds to do something for Him, we best pray continuously so that it ends up being Him, and not us doing the work. That's true whether it be Bible Study, child rearing, helping in the nursery, or making a meal for a friend. 

We delivered cookies and the Jesus Storybook Bibles, along with a flyer introducing our family a little more, and our new church-sponsored Bible Study, to neighbor families on Christmas Eve. That cookie project felt enormous but when it was all done, it felt wonderful to deliver them to neighbors (and AWANA teachers). On that special night as we rang doorbells, my children got a taste of this biblical truth: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Happy New Year!

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas, 2012

My only Christmas purchase so far has been a turkey for Christmas dinner. Yes, that means I've successfully escaped the crowds.

But now, on our first real snow day of the year (we've only had a teaser snow thus far), we're off to buy ingredients for the rest of our dinner, and for cookies for our neighbors. The snow, while inconvenient for shopping, is a blessing. The countryside has been muddy and dreary with lots of rain. Mary and I prayed the Lord would dress it up in time for Christmas, and He answered yes!

We'll be buried in flour and sugar and butter for the next 24-36 hours as we prepare trays of cookies to go with the Jesus Storybook Bibles we're giving to neighbors. Please pray that hearts are prepared to receive this love offering...even those whose hearts may be hostile to the gospel?

I will be praying for you and yours as you gather together this Christmas. Those of us without many Christian relatives need extra prayers this season, as our hearts yearn to share the joy with loved ones. If you need specific prayer for your holiday get togethers, please make a comment. It won't be published but I will pray faithfully for you in the coming days.

Christmas can be so very beautiful as we celebrate the coming of our Savior, Jesus, the wondrous, saving gift God planned from the beginning of time. On a night in Bethlehem so long ago, the answer to our soul's wandering and sorrowing finally arrived. The answer to every tear, every heartbreak, every sin. I pray that the miracle of his coming sets your heart afire this season, and I pray that all who fellowship with you will be overtaken by the Holy Spirit, as they experience your awe in Him.

Christ the True Light

I want to say how much I've enjoyed your fellowship this year, dear readers. Thank you for your love, encouragement and prayers. You've been such a joy to me! I love you dearly.

The wireless card on my late-night, early-morning studying computer is dying and loading pages has become a tiresome affair. I hope to get that fixed and be back to publishing Bible studies soon.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keeping Our Eyes on Him

Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Proverbs 18:10
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Ephesians 3:17-19
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

images here and here

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Musings About Childhood, Past and Present

I find myself defending early childhood lately, at least in my own mind. Children are exposed to letters, sounds, numbers, computer learning games, learning videos, and learning toys much earlier than they were 30 or 100 years ago. As the boys and I immerse ourselves in the 1800's through historical novels, I'm thinking about modern parenting and how we assume it's always been this way.

In the past young children lived outside a great deal. They pretended, they watched seasons change, they collected samples of God's glory, they designed and built toys from scratch, they swam and fished and ran around exploring. At what age they started school was variable, depending on family farm needs. No one shook their finger at a child--or at the child's parents--if he began reading at 8 or 9 years old instead of 6 years old. In the old one-room school houses many different levels were the rule.

When children were old enough they worked hard for the family. They did their share and they learned to value hard work. They experienced within themselves the fruits of their labor. Confidence grew. Pride in workmanship grew. And minds expanded too, as physical work and mental exertion worked together to fashion a God-designed equilibrium.

The mass shooters in our country had a sense of entitlement mixed with a sense of injustice, experts say. Some were Goth and all were isolated, except for some fringe friends. When in our country did friends become so important to a child's self concept? Why must families be so isolated from one another and what about siblings and their value in a child's life? Children have fewer siblings than in prior eras, and is that really a good thing? Smaller families mean less work and more me-time and more money. But is any of that really better? Who's it better for?

Why would God give us nuclear families if he thought another design was better? A nuclear family forms a solid heart and conscience. A nuclear family needs time together to be what God designed.

I think about how life for children has changed and I wonder if the shooters had too much free time on their hands, for one thing? Yes, they were evil and I'm not making excuses for them. There are no excuses when so many mothers and grandmothers will cry themselves to sleep for months and years from a broken heart. How do you get over your young child knowing only terror in the last minutes of her life? It's a horror you carry to the grave.

Most of the shooters were well off financially and played a lot with electronics...not that electronics is the culprit, either. Many were brilliant and they all lacked empathy.

I'm grieving for our country and thinking on screen.

And I wonder, are kids better off now that hard labor is absent from their lives? Are they better off that Mom and Dad do most of the work now, rather than children pulling their weight by 9 or 10 years old? Are they better off now that we put schooling and extra-curricular activities above all else?

We read novels depicting boys hunting and marking wild hogs by cutting their ears, and planting fields by themselves and trapping animals without help, by 11 or 13 years old. We've taken danger and excitement out of boys' lives...I think to their detriment. The drives that a boy naturally has, we've taken away from them. They're liked caged animals in our classrooms and we're seeing boys enter college at lower rates than girls.

1800's...where is your wisdom? Where is your God-centered society? What have we done to ourselves and how can we backtrack now?

I watch my Mary struggle to form lower-case letters, in her kinder year. And I remember the kinder teachers next door to my first-grade classroom telling me they wish the district could save penmanship until first grade, because it's too much a struggle for many kinders.

Mary's been a champ with capitals for a long while, but most of the lowers begin at the dotted line. There are so many of them that it's hard to remember which direction to begin with and how far some go under the bottom line, like the g and the j and y.

We both get frustrated, though I know how to hid it. Sometimes it feels like it will never become automatic.

I've let my Mary explore and pretend and be a child and I only regret it when I think someone is comparing her to today's skewed standards. Then I question myself and I hate that self-questioning. I know it's grabbing the world's lens instead of His. I want to see through the only lens that matters. The lens of Life.

The boys were reading pretty well by six, though Peter still struggled with sight words at that age. Mary's still a very beginning reader and why do I wonder at that? She's just a little girl of six and I'm wondering why she isn't where her brothers were?

I want to beat myself with a stick when my thoughts turn there, because she's her own person and I have no doubts about her intellect. When others notice she's not a proficient reader yet, they probably question this homeschooling thing. When you homeschool people are always ready to pounce on your kids' progress, at least in their own heads if not to your face...even your own family.

The Holy Spirit has His way with me when my thoughts turn thus. Their hearts, he tells me. Their hearts need me and you make sure you're not doing too much laundry and sweeping. Don't neglect Me, he warns . The other things? They'll come and I'll assure that.

Childhood is not a race, He reminds, and you'll know when to pile on the responsibility and the expectations. I'll let you know what pace I want you to follow, if you just put me first.

I think of women and how things have changed for us. In droves we wanted more choice, more freedom, fewer children, more money, more things. We gave our children over to other caregivers and told ourselves they would be okay. And when it's not all day, they're probably just fine, I agree.

We're distracted by electronics and as caregivers we're dissatisfied with chores and repetitive work. Didn't God design work as a life for Adam and Eve, after the fall? Work keeps us out of trouble, I think? And when we do physical labor we can hear the Lord's voice in our ear? And maybe, just maybe, we sin less while we work? Something to think about the next time the laundry mountain climbs large and the floor you just mopped feels sticky under the table.

Where or where has our nation's attention span gone, with babies drowning in bathtubs while mom plays on Facebook?

And why are we giving children phones instead of spending time talking with them? Our friend Lexi has become so distracted by her iPhone--at age 10!--that we can scarcely have a conversation with her anymore. She even uses it during verse time at AWANA and I don't know why they don't take it from her.

I'm glad I'm with the preschoolers in Cubbies.

When do you see a teen now who doesn't have her face in a phone? Teens work in the church nursery but they're useless as helpers. They sit there distracted by their phones and I feel like screaming at what life has become for them. No wonder they're depressed and where is their work ethic and sense of responsibility? A girl of 11 in the 1800's could run a whole house, including a good part of the hard labor and childcare.

Oh 1800's, where is your wisdom? Where are your God-fearing people? Where are your dog-eared family Bibles and your family dinners and where are your loving neighbors who held each other up through grief and through lean farm yields?

Yes, people died of disease and that broke many a mother's hearts. And women died of childbirth and dreams were shattered.

But now we're dying still, inside. There are no antibiotics for lost souls.

Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, Redeem us! Thank you for your beautiful, perfect design of our bodies and minds and spirits. Bring us back into your fold and may we listen to the rhythm and rhyme of your design. Give us wisdom as we raise the next generation. Bless us as mothers and keep us in line with your will. May we pour out love and self-sacrifice and may we love hard work. May we maintain high standards while extending grace and mercy. May we model godliness and contentment and may our children feel blessed by your presence and your spirit in our hearts and homes. May our children be filled with the Holy Spirit and make disciples of all neighborhoods and nations. May we lead to the Cross, above all.

In Your Son's name, Amen.

images here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Connecticut Shooting: The Christmas Answer

My mother recently informed me that our TV's aren't modern.

Really? What's a modern TV? Do you mean a big screen?

Turns out that most TV's are digital now; you can get a signal even without having cable, or something like that. They wanted to send us a modern TV for Christmas so my husband and my son Paul could watch sports.

Thank you for your kindness, I ended up saying a few days later, but how about a microwave instead? Ours died and our kids really like baked potatoes and microwave popcorn.

I'm always reminded that we're behind the times and my inner response is...really? Good. My heart belongs in the mid- to late-1800's. That era would have suited me fine, and my son Peter as well.

You've been viewing horrific images of the tragedy in Connecticut for days, while I've only read three articles about it via the Internet, with few pictures and no video, since my Internet speed is terrible and my computers are too old to bring me high-tech news.

My first response was probably similar to that of most homeschoolers: Thank God we homeschool.

But as I thought about the state of our world, my response broadened. After the national election I happened to read that fewer and fewer people under 40 years of age go to church or claim any religious affiliation. We are losing the young people in this country to Satan. The killings in malls and movie theaters and schools are just a symptom of the main problem: Godlessness

The only way to win our country back for God is to cling tighter to God ourselves. We can't have one foot in the world and hope to impact our kids, our neighborhood, and our communities for Christ.

Radical heart change. That what's needed. We must go through our hearts and minds and dump everything that isn't of God. Let's love Him radically and let Him use us radically. He has overcome this world. 

He can overcome the world in us, if we let him.

John 16:33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

He has overcome every single aspect of Friday's tragedy. Don't accept that it's about the lack of gun control or about unsafe school buildings. It's about God and his absence in the hearts of our people.

Each Christian needs to go and make disciples. Declare the Gospel with our very lives. We must live the gospel to win our country back. 

Pray. Pray much for all the brokenhearted. And prevent. Prevent a repeat by showing these United States of America and beyond, that God rules your heart and life. That God orders your steps. Declare to everyone you know that from the beginning of time, God planned a rescue for every tragedy we'll ever face.

Our personal rescue, our national rescue, the rescue of every grieving parent, grandparent, neighbor, and friend in Connecticut is Jesus Christ our Lord.

ChristmasIt brings us God's Rescue Plan. Let's read these beautiful Christmas verses with awe and reverence. Let's give thanks for the Rescuer and make our very lives about rescuing others in His name. What other purpose could our redeemed lives possibly serve? 

Say it loud and strong and with your whole heart: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:10-14
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Matthew 1:21
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Acts 5:31
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Revised Post

So sorry for that sloppy ministry post I published after lunch today (Monday.) I did make time around 3:00 PM to go back and revise it quite a bit with more background, so if you're interested in seeing something more coherent please reread with my apologies? Thank you. 

When Ministry Gets Complicated

This post is mainly about glitches in our neighborhood ministry endeavors, so if you are here from Ann's Multitude Monday link-up, I should say up front that we are about to begin a neighborhood ministry involving first the children, and then as relationships with the adults grow, my husband would offer Bible Study and biblical counseling to them.

How did this endeavor begin?

We live in a working-class neighborhood with an average household income of $45,000, with many of the homes inhabited by elderly couples who also raised their children here. Our income is actually lower than that and because of our experiences we've been able to sympathize with the hurting families around us. While this neighborhood previously didn't have many children in this corner, in the past eight months our children have had neighborhood children over for play, and we've noticed deep spiritual needs in the families. Our contact has mainly been with the children so far, and with their parents mostly through notes only.

Several weeks ago God put it on our hearts to begin a neighborhood ministry. We approached our church for the start-up money, involving the purchase of Jesus Storybook Bibles and the curriculum kit that accompanies it, so that I could work with the elementary-age children, teaching them about God's rescue plan (Jesus), and about prayer and a personal relationship with the Lord.

Now that I've given some background, on to the dilemma I'm contemplating and praying about today.

One of my neighbors, the one with the four children, continues to ask for gas money after the initial time I voluntarily gave it. What a stress this has proven to be! I use a debit card and rarely carry cash, so the last three times I've had to say no (access to our bank requires a 16-mile round trip). Secondly, only rarely can I spare the money.

There are other concerns, including that we occasionally hear of ice skating trips and new toys, and we know that both parents smoke. It's hard to know how to proceed, when we have too little information about them. When the father lost his job several weeks ago, I expected them to move out of their rental unit within a month or two if he didn't obtain one. If you are let go because of poor job attendance, I doubt if you qualify for unemployment.

When he didn't begin working and there was no word of them moving, I did a little research and learned of a program called Section 8, which allows very low-income people to rent units using only 30% of their monthly income plus 10% for utilities. A housing authority pays the rest of the rent to the unit owner, from 80% to 100% of the fair market rent value of the unit, minus the 30% the family pays. If you lose your job or your income lowers, the housing authority just adjusts your monthly payment to reflect 30% of your current income.

The minimum rental payment a family can get away with and still remain in the program is $50, and you can't have a criminal record or any drug use to qualify, or allow any new persons to reside with you (though no one physically checks up on you while you reside in the unit). You have to notify the housing authority of income changes within 10 days, however.

You have to stay in your unit for a whole year to be eligible and then your voucher goes with you if you decide to move. So, since this family moved in last summer, they will be here until at least next summer, no matter how their income changes. They probably chose this area because it was halfway between both their job locations.

Since they'll be here until at least the summer, our problems with them will not go away anytime soon.

I drove their kids to and from school for a couple weeks after they lost their last vehicle. When they obtained a new used van, I stopped. But yesterday I received a note asking if I could drive the kids to school Monday (today) because they had no gas money and wouldn't receive any pay until Friday (kids have school until Friday). My Beth had just received her first dose of the chemo drug and the nausea, if it happened, could potentially last 24 hours, so I didn't want to make any plans to travel the next day. I declined to take them to school.

My husband wants to ask them to come and talk with us about their budgeting issues and prayer needs if they ask for money. Helping someone without some accountability usually only hurts. We don't smoke or drink and never have, and while we can sympathize with a cigarette addiction, we want to make sure we're not contributing to one financially.

Until they agree to a face-to-face meeting, and honestly I think they would never agree, we're to say no to all monetary requests. I admire my husband for the ability to talk with anyone about anything, but I'm his opposite with regard to assertiveness, except that with children I am more assertive and him less so (though he doesn't spoil children or neglect their discipline). In counseling you have to be willing to say things gently that might be ill-received, and that's where my husband excels, especially using biblical rationale. We'll still give cups of milk and used clothes when we have them available, and occasionally take them to school, with the intent of reducing their children's stress levels.

Another issue that would be far harder to address than cigarettes, it that we believe if you have a low income and your budget doesn't allow for entertainment, you shouldn't take your kids ice skating or buy them toys. One of our responsibilities as parents is to teach our children how to live within their means, whatever those means are. Saying yes to kids' requests because yes seems more loving, is a disservice to them in the long run. We all learn our money habits from our parents and when they fail to teach us properly we have our own problems when we move out. For example, parents who keep a balance on their credit cards will probably raise children who'll do the same someday.

This family probably receives child-support payments coming in from at least one source and maybe social security as well (one father is deceased since last year). The children are from three fathers. The mother is still working and their food is covered by a food program and with part of their rent covered as well, they should have enough gas money if they budget well. Or at least with the little information the mother's given me, we think so.

While doing neighborhood ministry with the lost and the hurting we'll encounter similar circumstances and I feel the need to ask for prayer. I know how to work with children and my everyday skills don't extend far beyond this. This is the tip of the iceberg and obviously God's way of teaching me assertiveness, since I'm usually alone when they send their notes. God is stretching my comfort zone so I'm more useful to Him, I believe.

It bothers me that they embarrass their older children by sending their monetary requests through them--never in person. Perhaps because of the children's embarrassment, we rarely see their children any more for play time. I can only pray that when we give out the Jesus Storybook Bibles next weekend, along with the weekly Bible Study invitation, their two elementary children will participate.

Those of us not in such dire straights? We need to remain thankful for all that God has provided, remembering this humbling truth: There but for the grace of God go I.

We need to pray for the hurting, for those with addictions, for those without jobs. We need to pray for people to come alongside them who will love them and teach them, gently but still firmly, preserving their dignity the whole while through mercy. And remembering that love is what makes the world a level playing field, not our talents and intellects or family backgrounds.

Love--the Lord's love expressed through Believers--fills in the gaps and fills up empty hearts and empty bellies. We can express this love horizontally because He's first been gracious enough to pour it out on us vertically. 

Thank God for my partnership with my husband in this, because maybe between the two of us through our Lord, we can bless both the children and the adults? I must trust God for our safety should someone react angrily, though most on this street are responsible, safe people. The rental population is 40% of the neighborhood, but the Section 8 population who might potentially be over-stressed and unpredictable, is presumably far smaller.

Giving Thanks Today:

~ No nausea for Beth so far, thank you Lord. What a huge relief!

~ Some beautiful Christmas books from the library.

~ A turkey in the freezer for Christmas dinner.

~ Paul playing so nicely on the piano.

~ All the doubts about doing ministry, and our shortcomings while we do it, are covered by his Grace.

~ Few car repairs recently.

~ The assurance that if you do something for Him, you essentially do it through Him. So really, when we do something for ourselves, the stakes are higher? All the more reason to live for Him?

~ Church praying together after Sunday service yesterday.

~ A beautiful choir performance by the children at church with both my boys shining at the microphone with their Christmas Bible verses. (Sorry for that brag--I was proud!)

~ All of us enjoying learning more about the Civil War and the years following.

~ Another choir for our girls at the AWANA church on Christmas Eve.

Giving thanks with Ann today.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Things Kids Say

Last week's preschool AWANA verse involved the word follow, as it related to the disciples following Jesus. The teacher asked what it means to follow someone. No one answered, although I'm sure most were capable of explaining follow if they'd been willing.

Next, the teacher asked, "What does it mean to follow your teacher?"

Bobbie, our newest girl, raised her hand and answered, "It means you get lost."


Last night I was in the bathroom washing my face and brushing my teeth while Mary watched and talked with me. We had just finished a serving of Mary's 6th birthday cake, on which she'd requested sprinkles. (Yes, Beth also had a recent birthday, six days ago. They are now 4 and 6 years old!)

Anyhow, I mentioned to Mary that I don't think I'll put sprinkles on my birthday cake because I don't like the way they feel crunching between my teeth.

Mary responded, with a puzzled look, "Do you even have a birthday?"


A couple weeks ago the AWANA teacher asked the preschoolers, "What does it mean to please God? How do you please him in your home?"

Lily, the spunkiest preschooler, responded, "When my dad needs to give me a spanking, I bend right over and get my bottom ready." 

A few minutes later, Lily ran her fingers through her blond curls. "Oh, my hair! I can't do anything with it. It needs a shampoo."

Friday, December 14, 2012

God's Voice Over the Enemy's

Prayer Request: We had two neighborhood brothers over for dinner last night. I'll call them C and T, ages 9 and 7. We've invited them to church before but their parents are resistant to spiritual food and said no. They're having financial difficulties and may have to leave their rental home for an apartment. We've heard this for the last three months. Yesterday the boys told me their parents were having a big fight over whether or not to move. We all held hands and prayed over the financial worries, and last night for the first time, their mother said yes to the boys staying for dinner (maybe because they were fighting?) My husband wasn't home yet, but I read the Christmas story after dinner from the Jesus Storybook Bible--a rendition that is easier to understand, and rich in Truth and Light and Comfort. I prayed much while they were here, that the Lord's message of grace and love and peace would prevail over Satan's in their home and in their hearts. Please, pray that their hearts (the whole family of four) would receive Him? The grandmother goes to church and the boys think their mother went to church as a child. These boys are hungry for Truth and Comfort! 

They are hard to have as guests because they won't focus on an activity, although they're plenty bright enough. It's hard to maintain order and so we would love prayer regarding that as well. I want to have them as often as they're willing, but I need them to stay calm. Thank you!

Now on to today's post:

Tis the season for indulgence and plenty. What a perfect time for counter-cultural spiritual food to help us contemplate God's heart in regards to our resources. The world tells us to make our Christmas celebration as perfect as possible, but what is God's heart? What does He wants us to do in His name? The lure of materialism is so strong this month, even for the most committed Christians.

What is the heart of God and how can we bring Him glory?

Being fortunate is a blessing but it comes with responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required, and not just monetarily speaking. If one has many gifts he is responsible to use them wisely for the benefit of others for the glory of God.

The fortunate aren't concerned about daily bread. They don't have immediate and crucial physical needs left unmet, like many Compassion children do, and like the neighbor without a job experiences.

But the fortunate aren't meant to have easier lives. God's intent isn't inequality, as we can learn well from the Old Testament (read about The Year of Jubilee). Rather, His intent is that we would love one another by meeting each other's physical needs: food, clothing, shelter.

God could have made it easier and just given everyone the same skills, talents and gifts. He could have made it a level playing field. But in such a world, who gets glory? Who shines?

No one, not even God. 

And God wants His glory!

The Lord's heart is especially close to the poor. He comforts them in ways the fortunate will never know. He has plans to exult the poor, in fact.

1 Samuel 2:7-8 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.

And the fortunate? He allows them a different kind of comfort. A different kind of earthly life--one not spent in constant need and struggle. And with that freedom comes responsibility; responsibility to remain thankful and grounded in the things of God, and to resist the lure of the world. To not judge the poor for their plight, but to quench their thirst and relieve their hunger and assure their shelter.

Both sides, the fortunate and the poor, have lives that are hard. The struggles are merely different. In America, we are the fortunate. Can we even wrap our heads around the fact that 80% of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day? And that those in abject poverty live on far less than that?

God requires that we do wrap our heads around that. That we think long and hard about that expensive coffee that costs more than a family elsewhere lives on for a whole day.

Blogs like mine can feel tiresome. She's talking about this again? Hasn't she already beat this to the ground?

And my answer? We live a midst a powerful materialism. A Sinister Enemy speaks loud enough to be heard and in America Satan is gaining ground, especially among those under 40 years of age. Those in God's camp cannot afford to quit speaking the Truth in His name.

For we the redeemed have been given much, and much is required of us.

Verses courtesy of Compassion International. Let's read them and allow them to wash worldliness right off our backs. I have purposely included those you may not already be familiar with:

Proverbs 11:24-25 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Luke 14:12-14 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

1 Corinthians 10:24  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Proverbs 14:20-21 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Isaiah 58:6-11 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

2 Corinthians 9:6-13 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Ezekiel 16:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Isaiah 14:30 The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety.

Proverbs 22:22-23 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Psalm 109:31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.

Psalm 145:14-18 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bathing in His Peace When Life's Messy

Some days my Beth's needs feel so overwhelming and I wonder how we can keep up and be responsible for so much. One day we go for flu shots so we won't spread anything to her and then rush to speech and physical therapy and we're not back before 1:00 PM, and then school to squeeze in before our AWANA baking ministry begins in a frenzy to have treats out of the oven and cooled and packaged before 6:00 PM.

And Paul? Who's afraid of professional haircuts and sunflowers and throwing up, he keeps failing hearing tests from ear wax plastered to his eardrum, causing slurred speech and the dropping of syllables and a regular speech nightmare. When you can't hear well you don't know how your own speech sounds and you get careless and develop bad habits. And it becomes one more responsibility I have. One more pressure. I have to fix this problem, too, I tell myself, and how can I keep up and still live sanely and what if the wax keeps blocking again for the rest of his life?

And I say to God, haven't I tried so hard to keep my children healthy? Nursing them far beyond the normal and giving them the best of the best foods? And guarding their souls and their minds as I do their sleep habits? Can't I be awarded for effort, God. What does effort mean to you?

And Peter who is driven so nuts by OCD and tics that the doctor thinks a period of the smallest Prozac dose might help as the standard OCD treatment. And I want to say no but I see my son suffering and getting muscle aches from repetitive tic motions and his mind driven nuts by that sinister OCD voice. And every time he tells me his jaw is sore from one of his tics, and every time he lifts his leg up high as though he's going over a fence, making people stare at him, I want to scream to God....Enough already!

Most adults know that stress kills. Many things arise from it and how many of our issues were born from the seed of stress, I wonder? The headaches, the OCD and tics, the anxieties, the swollen joints? How many could be relieved if stress were lessened? And how can I lessen stress when every day has enough trouble of its own and I'm never enough?

My husband riles from an awful shingles rash making his nerves scream, and still spreading...something we know arose as a post-traumatic stress event. And do you know what he tells me recently? "I think most of my problem is that I just won't accept the burdens God's given us." 

Yes, I want to shout. Yes, you fight God. Why do you do that and isn't it so futile and how many years will you fight Him?

I don't fight God as a rule, but my hormones fight Him one week out of every month and I can't stop those chemicals. Those weeks I understand my husband better because I feel what he feels all the time. I don't know where control goes those weeks and please excuse me for my awful, ugly, lamenting posts sometimes?

On the same day I think I'll bust, I read about women in India selling their bodies for food and I want to cry about their pain and my self-centeredness. What do I have to be overwhelmed about?

Me, overwhelmed by speech homework and therapy homework and new dangerous drugs and shingles and tics, when someone's soul is being tortured, used, abused. Someone's soul. The souls of many women, no different than me in their hopes and dreams and their flesh and blood.

Ann Voskamp and her daughter, Hope, help these Indian women with the aid of a company called Freeset,  which works to save women from human trafficking by paying them well to make products instead of being the product. These women are not only given a paycheck that doesn't shame, but they get Jesus too and experience the best freedom of all.

And do you know what they feel? Gratitude.  About being a child of God. They aren't asking for trouble-free lives. They're rejoicing as recipients of the Greatest Gift. Communion with our Heavenly Father and the promise of Eternity with Him.

I strive as a mother and wife and I expect something from my striving. Some payment I an easier life?

But the Holy Spirit steers me toward something better than striving. He whispers it slow, as I drive home from a day of appointments. How about open arms for all that I give...both the beautiful and the messy? When you let go of your striving there's room for Me to shine.

I want to do that for you, Lord. Yes, I want to live the better life. The one lived in submission to you, giving thanks always in all circumstances.

So today I study verses about God's will and God's promises. Won't you read and contemplate them with me? Letting God's perfect peace wash over you? In a state of peace, we can give thanks with a sincere heart.

First we bathe in God's word and offer Him our sincere prayers, and then we bathe in His peace.

God's Will
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Mark 3:34-35 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-6 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints —and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.
1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

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 your paths straight.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Peter 2:15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
God's Promises
2 Peter 1:4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:19 
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 1:33
But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Romans 8:37-39
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 11:28-29 “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.

Romans 8:27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Isaiah 30:21 And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
John 6:38-40 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
Jeremiah 29:11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.