Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Put Off/Put On

I was pondering the "put off/put on" principle today, while sitting in the car waiting for Heather to be finished her physiotherapy.

Ephesians 4:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

How does one put off the "old man" and put on the "new man"? It takes a lot of hard work! Anything in this life that is really valuable necessitates striving, working hard, aiming towards the goal!

If I want to stop lying, I must tell the truth. If I want to stop stealing, I must begin to work so I have something to give to someone else. If I want to stop eating sugar, I must instead choose healthy vegetables to munch on. If I want to stop gaining weight, I must start exercising.

The spiritual realm is the most important aspect of the put off/put on principle. In striving to change my life, I am co-operating with God, Who is in the business of conforming me to the image of Christ.

I love how Andrew Fuller, an English Baptist preacher, taught this principle:

. . . Sin is to be overcome, not so much by maintaining a direct opposition to it, as by cultivating opposite principles. Would you kill the weeds in your garden, plant it with good seed; if the ground be well occupied, there will be less need of the labour of the hoe. If a man wished to quench fire, he might fight it with his hands till he was burnt to death; the only way is to apply an opposite element.

-Reverend Andrew Fuller, April 2, 1795

This is something to remember when training our children, too. If Suzie constantly fights with Johnny, it is not enough to say to Suzie, "Stop fighting!" We must teach Suzie that if she wants to bring glory to God, she must learn to speak kindly to Johnny, to share with him, to do exactly the opposite thing that she is inclined to do in the moment. It won't be easy - it isn't even easy for adults! But in practicing this training in righteousness, we exercise our spiritual muscles, and become more and more fit for His Kingdom!

Lord, help me to examine my heart before You. When I begin to fail, show me - stop me short - remind me of Your word and the principle I am about to violate. Let me put off the sin by putting on a righteous act instead, and in so doing, help me more and more to mortify my flesh and live a life that brings glory to You, the God I love. Help me, too, as I seek to teach this principle to my children and grandchildren. I know that in order for me to truly learn it, You will send trials, big and little, into my life in order to help me to practice righteousness. Give me an awareness of my tendency to sin. Help me to fight against my "old man", and strengthen and renew my "new man". Help me to repent quickly, and not to wallow in the dirt for a bit before I decide to give in. Help me, Lord, to keep short accounts with You.

In Christ, I pray. Amen.

~ Janet

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Peaches and Ponderings

Yesterday, my friend Isobel and her daughter Michelle and the girls came for a visit, bringing peaches for us to can. We had a nice time fellowshipping over a lunch of salad filled with vegetables from our own gardens. Adeena's cherry tomatoes are wonderful!!

After our company left, Adeena and I and some of the kids began processing the peaches. It is so satisfying to see all of the jars lined up in a row, ready to feed the family in the dead of winter. My 8 year old, Tiana, asked this morning if we could open a jar of peaches for breakfast. No, a thousand times NO!! We want to save the peaches for a day when the wind is howling and the storms are shaking the house, with snow and sleet biting our faces if we dare to peek outside. On that kind of day, opening a jar of peaches is like bringing summer sunshine into the dead of winter.

That is a skill all children need to learn: how to defer pleasures which would be good in the moment, but fantastic later on. Self control is a necessary and difficult character trait to develop. Learning to wait for peaches trains the child to learn to wait for the pleasures of the marriage bed, for instance. What would be good (but would bring guilt and shame if indulged in) would be absolutely fantastic later on, in the proper time and place.

Lord, thank You that You teach us through the little things of life principles that will impact generations. I do pray that You will help my children to learn to wait patiently for Your timing. Help them to learn self-control. Keep them pure in heart and virtuous in character, and lead them to the right life's partner, so they can raise godly seed for Your honour and glory. In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Friends from afar

Yesterday, my dh and I went to see our dear friends, Ron and Linda, who are back in Canada after 14 months' absence on the mission field. What a joy to spend a day with these gifts from the God Who ordained that we would meet 12 years ago. Since then, our friendship has deepened to the point that we just take up where we left off after long absences, with no sense of strangeness or any kind of barriers at all!

I think this is the case primarily because we are Christians, and our fellowship is on a deep and profound level. Yes, we talk about the kids and mundane things like our homes and our schedules, but it is always with a sense that God is in control, that we are aware of His presence and His leading, and that our brief but wonderful meetings are like an oasis in the desert, something to treasure in this journey called life.

I feel privileged to see how the Lord has blessed their ministry overseas. He is using Ron to train leaders and teach them solid Biblical principles that change people's lives, leading them to understand their hearts before God and His sovereign control of everything, in spite of circumstances. He is using Linda as a helpmeet to Ron, and in ministry to orphans and young people in a country that has been torn by strife.

I feel refreshed and encouraged in my life just from one day spent conversing with two of God's chosen treasures.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing Ron and Linda into our lives. You used them to change our entire outlook on life, to deepen our understanding of You and Your word, to strengthen our marriage and other relationships. You allowed us to develop a friendship, then watch as You led them into missionary life and worked out every detail for them to be able to move and be in ministry in such a short time! It was truly amazing to behold! And You have blessed them so much in their life overseas - Lord, continue this blessing, I pray. Give them wisdom as they deal with people who do not have a great grasp of Scriptural principles. Open the eyes of their understanding, Lord. Bless their language studies, as well, and help them to be able to communicate with the people they love. Thank You that you have given them a love for the language! Just help them to comprehend more and more, then to bravely use their speech in public situations!

Oh, Lord, thank you for these dear friends, and for our satisfying encounter!

In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Surprise Birthday party for me...

Last Saturday, my daughter Adeena invited us up so that my husband Rick could help Jeff with some wiring. They are renovating their kitchen, so that made sense to me. Adeena's birthday was the next day, so I suggested that we celebrate it then, and I told her that I'd bake her a cake.

When we arrived at Adeena's home, I noticed Betty's friend John wandering by the garden. That was odd. I said to Rick, "What is John doing here?" No answer. Then I noticed my great-nephew Arthur playing by the shed. What was he doing there, I wondered.

I went into the house and was met at the door by Adeena and Heather! They both had silly grins on their faces, and I demanded to know what John was doing there. The girls told me to come to the shed. My gears started grinding pretty quickly. I had been wondering why my husband switched his driving job with the other driver, and had been very vague in answering me when I asked him about it.

Well, we got to the shed and there were all kinds of people: friends, family members, extended family, and so on! They had decorated the shed with balloons, and Sarah had put together a bunch of posters with pictures of our family. They even found one of me when I was a young girl.

The meal was amazing: steak and chicken, salads of every description, fruit, pie, tarts, cake - they thought of everything. We sat and ate and talked and laughed, then later sat around a campfire and visited.

The thing that touched me the most is that my children (especially the oldest ones) worked so hard to plan and pull off a surprise birthday party, for me...they honoured me more than I can describe. My birthday isn't actually until December, but they wanted it to be a surprise, and they wanted all of the grandkids there, so an outside party in August was the logical choice.

The only trouble with the whole thing is that now I feel fifty. And I really don't turn fifty until December. Honest, I don't!