Marvelous Monotony

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In every thing give thanks:for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thess. 5:18

Life is full of monotony. In other words, our lives are made up of daily routines. And let’s face it: our routines can be pretty boring, and mine is no exception. I get up, use the restroom, get a glass of tea, sit in the recliner, read my Bible and pray, get dressed, make my lunch, leave for work at 7:15, and I arrive at the same time every day. There’s probably a rut forming in my daily path. And guess what? I do the same thing every day.

The evening is usually more of the same with some variety. It’s a little more fun because I get to spend time with my twin baby girls, but it still involves routine and monotony. When they were little, we even alliterated their routine: bath, bottle, bed. They don’t drink a bottle anymore, but we basically do the same thing every weeknight.

Most of life is this way. It’s full of monotony. The mountain tops and the adventures of our life are few and far between. In the meantime, we grind out the routines that make up the majority of life. This can lead to frustration and often depression. We wonder why our lives aren’t more exciting.

Recently, some trials have come into the lives of some of our friends that have refocused my perspective. A dear friend of mine that I’ve known my whole life found out a few weeks ago that his five year old daughter has cancer. They arrived home from a vacation to Disneyworld and she stopped breathing. They called an ambulance and eventually had to airlift her to a children’s hospital. In an instant their world was turned upside down. Now they begin the long road to recovery.

Another friend of my wife’s just died on the interstate. He was hit by a tractor trailer. He left behind four kids and a wife. Their lives were torn apart.

Stories like this bring new appreciation to the routines and methods in life. I am more thankful for bath time with the girls, chores around the house, normal conversations with my wife, and sweet tea in the mornings. A boring life is a blessed life. We are to be thankful to God in all circumstances, but it’s in the every day monotony of life that we should say extra thanks.

I am thankful for healthy daughters, a roof over my head, a job that I go to every day, and the freedom to worship. I am thankful for monotony.

Good times come and go and trials will visit us, but for this moment, let us bask in the boring. Let us be thankful for the dry deserts. Let’s cherish the comfortable.

Big Father

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“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
beholding the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

If you have even a casual interest in the news, then you’ve probably heard of Edward Snowden. He is the former NSA employee accused of leaking sensitive data about the U. S. government’s extensive surveillance program.

Apparently, millions of phone calls made every day are monitored, recorded and stored to gather information about potential threats to our nation’s safety. No one really knows how much of our private lives are monitored and known. Millions of Americans voluntarily reveal details about their private lives through Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and many other social media outlets.

One thing is for sure: our private lives are not so private anymore.

George Orwell in his book “1984” describes a society controlled by a government that knows all and sees all. The term “Big Brother” was coined in this book. Even though this book was written in 1949, it is eerily prophetic of modern day society.

Yet, no matter how extensive man’s surveillance is, there are some things they can never know. Man cannot read the mind or know the heart. Some actions and decisions we make from day to day are data that cannot be hacked into.

But there is a God in heaven who knows all and sees all.

“Big Brother” is a scary thought on its own. To know that the government monitors much of what we do and where we go can be frightening. But what is truly terrifying is the “Big Father” who knows every intricate detail of our lives.

Did your eyes gaze at a woman other than your wife today? God saw. Did you harbor hate in your heart for your fellow man today? God saw. Did pride well up within your soul? God saw. Were you dishonest with your time and efforts at work? God saw.

Revelation 21 gives a frightening glimpse into the surveillance program of God:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:and another book was opened, which is the book of life:and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Not only does God know and see all our thoughts and actions, but He also records them. Every evil deed is recorded in the library of heaven. Nothing slips past the gaze of God. And we will be judged from these books.

But there is one book that has the sole purpose of recording a single event in our lives. The moment we trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our name is written in that book. And this book overrules all the others.

Is your name in this book? God sees and knows. If it’s not, ask Him to write it in today.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

M&M Moments: Trust Fall

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“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28

The “trust fall” is a game people like to play where one person crosses his arms and falls backwards trusting in a person behind them to catch them. Mattie and Macie like to play this game as well. Sometimes it’s on purpose and sometimes it’s not.

Macie is a pro at the trust fall. She performs this stunt nightly after the girls’ bath. This is the time of the night when they tend to act really silly. Macie gets so excited that she goes limp and falls backwards onto the carpet or onto one of us who is usually sitting in the floor with her.

Sometimes Macie falls back and bumps her head against the wall or some other hard object. Then the tears begin to flow. She trusts us and has the faith that we’ll always be there to catch her.

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There are other times when they fall back unintentionally. An example of this happened the other day at church. We were waiting to do a sound check and we were sitting at the bottom of the platform steps. The girls were walking around, and, of course, they thought it would be fun to climb the steps.

Everything was going fine until Mattie fell backwards. I gasped and lunged forward and caught her with one hand just in time to stop her head from hitting the lower step. We were all shaken and Mattie cried. I thank God that I was there to catch her.

I am also thankful that God is always there to catch me when I fall. I have total safety and security in His strong arms.

There are many ways we can fall in life. We can fall into sin. We can fall in failure of a task that was dear to our heart. We can fall when trials and storms come our way. But we can rest in the fact that, though we fall, God is always there to catch us. He will never let us slip from His grasp.

I won’t always be there to catch my girls. I may be away at work or not close enough to catch them. One day they’ll grow up and my hand will be out of reach. But I can trust that God will be there to catch them.

He can catch you too. When you fall, just trust in His hand.

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M&M Moments: Heaven On Earth

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My favorite day of the week is Saturday. I know as a good Christian that Sunday should be my favorite, but Sundays are very busy for us and leave us exhausted. Saturdays for us are usually our day of rest. I think it’s more how God envisioned the day of rest to be.

The modern day church has transformed Sunday into a day of work. With its programs and performances, the church had become a machine. This is not true for the casual churchgoer, but, for those active and involved in ministry, it can be exhausting.

This is not the case on Saturday. For us, it’s fun, family, fellowship, and faith. Sunday used to be this way, but, somehow, we’ve lost it. We’ve chosen the part of Martha when we should be with Mary at the feet of Jesus.

Last Saturday was one of the best I’ve been blessed with. It’s a perfect example of the point I’m trying to make. I spent the day playing with the twins and working around the house. This work was enjoyable and restful.

Then, that evening, we drove to Mennonite country for a meal at Yoder’s restaurant. It’s a neat little place in the middle of a wheat field surrounded by views of hay bails and silos. And the food is amazing. Cream corn, fried chicken, and fresh rolls tantalize the tastebuds. Homemade pies of every shape and size tempt even the most strong willed.

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After when had eaten as much as our stomachs could contain, we took a walk outside the restaurant. Next door is a barn that was converted to a gift shop. Beside the barn is a pet goat the kids can torment and a row of old retired tractors.

After we played with the goat and sat the girls in the tractor seats, we took pictures with one of many giant bales of hay that sat behind the barn. Then we turned the girls loose in the field. They played as hard as they ever have.

The girls have recently started walking, so we usually restrict where they can roam. But in this field, they could toddle as they pleased. It was heart warming to watch.

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As we drove home with the girls asleep in the back seat, Lauren placed her hand on my leg and mentioned how much fun it all was. It was a great day. It was heaven on earth.

God once placed a thought in my heart that never left me. He told me that the family is the closet thing to heaven on earth. Before sin, this is what Adam and Eve experienced.

Therefore, the closet thing to heaven on earth is a saved, Godly family spending time together. This gets us as close to Eden as we’ll ever get this side of eternity.

That’s what’s so great about camp meetings and dinner on the grounds. It’s about family. I believe a happy, Godly family makes God smile. That’s what church used to be: family. We’ve lost it. I can only pray we’ll get it back.

Until then, I’ll settle for Saturdays.

Saturday. It’s waking up to a quiet house and spending time in prayer as the girls sleep. It’s listening at the nursery door as the girls wake up and giggle at each other. It’s bacon and biscuits made by my wonderful wife. It’s cleaning the house together with the girls at our feet. It’s taking a walk through our peaceful neighborhood. It’s an evening meal with family and friends. It’s bathtime and the last burst of playtime before bedtime. It’s talking with Lauren before we go to sleep.

It’s heaven on earth.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:” – Psalm 127:3-5

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M&M Moments: Bloody Lip

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It was a typical night at our house. Lauren was busy cooking, and I was emptying the dishwasher or doing whatever I could to help. All the while, the twins were playing under our feet. They love to play in the kitchen. They explore the cabinets where we keep their food and they play with clean dishes in the kitchen floor.

Mattie had discovered the puffs canister and was carrying it around while she toddled through the kitchen. Lauren had gone outside to check on the grill and I had turned away for a second when I heard a thud. Then I heard Mattie crying. I looked down and she was laying on the puff canister crying.

Falling is a common occurrence for toddlers, but, this time, she was really upset. I quickly picked her up into my arms to comfort her. Then I noticed something on my hand. It was blood. Mattie had cut the inside of her lip and it was bleeding.

Mattie turned out to be alright as it was just a minor cut, but the image of my daughters blood on my hand stuck with me. I didn’t like it. Seeing her hurt, especially bleeding is not something I like very much. I can’t bear the thought of my little girls being hurt.

The blood on my hand turned my thoughts to my Savior. Jesus Christ shed all His blood for you and me. And, His Father watched. His Father forsook Him. He allowed the blood of His only Son to be shed. The thought of this is too much for my feeble finite mind to comprehend.

I could never fathom allowing my daughters’ blood to be shed for anyone. No matter the cause, I couldn’t allow that to happen. No matter how good and noble the person was that required my child’s blood, I couldn’t allow it. Yet, God shed the blood of His Son for us who are the opposite of good and noble. We are full of corruption and sin.

Oh, the love of our precious God for us. To sacrifice His Son for us. What love this is.

I’ve learned a lot since becoming a father, but the one thing that has become crystal clear is the love of God. How could I ever doubt Him or the lot I’m given if He first gave me His Son. What a thought.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

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M&M Moments: Macie walking!

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M&M Moments is a new segment that I’m starting in my blog to chronicle our various adventures with our twin girls Mattie and Macie. They have just turned a year old and they are surprising us daily with new tricks. The latest accomplishment was Macie taking her first steps. Mattie has been walking for a while now, but Macie hadn’t tried too much. She was always too busy playing to worry about walking. Crawling worked just fine for her.

We have been helping Macie walk by holding her hands while she takes a few steps. She would get so excited, but she was too nervous to venture out on her own. Then, all of a sudden, she started taking a few steps, and, this past Sunday at church, she walked in the lobby. I was so proud of her. Macie still hasn’t quite perfected the art of walking, but she’s working on it.

Raising children constantly reminds me of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Just as I work with my sweet girls in basic things like walking and talking, God is working with me to teach me how to grow as His child. I was so proud of Macie walking, and I can imagine God being proud of us when we finally grasp some spiritual lesson that He was trying to teach us.

Sometimes we think we are pretty good the way we are, but God is always trying to lead us closer to perfection. Macie was perfectly content crawling from one place to another, but she didn’t know the possibilities that walking would open up to her. We hold on to our opinions and methods, but God has a better way. God desires the best for us and He just might be leading you to a better Christian walk. We just need to let go and trust Him.

Walking seems such a simple task, but it’s a huge accomplishment for a one year old. With time Macie will perfect her walk. She’ll progress from toddling behind us to running and skipping in the back yard. Her walk will carry her to school, to her first job, and on to college. One day her walk will lead her down the aisle to meet her groom.

One day our walk in this life will end and we will begin a new walk as we stroll down the aisles of Heaven with our bridegroom Jesus. Along the way, He’ll perfect our walk day by day.

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” – Colossians 1:9-11

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Dusty Boots

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“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” – Ephesians 5:26

I was so excited when my new work boots arrived. I had purchased them online and saved a lot of money in doing so. I even wore them to church the Sunday after they arrived. I was so proud of them.

Then the inevitable happened. They got dirty. Yes, it’s true. Work boots get dirty.

What made matters worse was that I bought these boots in the spring and it was full blown pollen season in the south. Northerners have snow. Southerners have pollen. Every step I took stirred up a storm cloud of pollen. They were coated every day when I came home. No matter how careful I was, they still got dirty.

I then took the step that made the most sense. I read the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance. They said to wipe them down with a wet cloth to remove the dust and then apply mink oil. It’s a process that I have to go through daily to keep the boots in good shape. I usually wipe them down daily, then apply the oil as needed.

God told us in His Word that He would cleanse us by the water of His Word. As we go into the world from day to day, we accumulate dirt and filth with each step we take. From the provocative magazine on the grocery store shelf, to the profanity from the lips of a coworker, we pick up the filth of this world whether we like it or not. We need to be cleansed every day.

Just as my boots will dry out and fall apart without cleaning, we will eventually succumb to the filth of this world if we don’t wash ourselves daily.

We hear it so much that it seems to simple. Read your Bible and pray. This is the basic instructions for the Christian walk, but how many of us fail in these simple tasks? Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Most us of don’t even spend three minutes in prayer.

We must combat the filth of this world with the Word of God. Have lustful thoughts pressed upon your mind because of the revealing images plastered everywhere we go? Find a verse to cleanse you. Try Job 31:1: “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” Maybe some thoughtless person has filled you with anger. “Be ye angry, and sin not” Ephesians 4:26. God has a word for every situation.

Then we must be led by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is represented in the Bible by oil. Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Anointing was done with oil.

Oil was used for anointing. The Holy Spirit anoints us for the tasks God wants us to perform. Oil was also used for lighting lamps. We need the Holy Spirit to keep our lights shining brightly in this world. We are filled by the Spirit by prayer and Bible reading. You are filled with what you pour into yourself. We need more of Bible than world inside of us.

The Word keeps us clean, the Holy Spirit keeps us soft and useable. If we are to be effective in this filthy world, we must apply the water and the oil to our lives. Combined with prayer, God can work through us day by day.