Dec 27, 2009

Godly selfishness



Ultimately, everything we do is selfish. Even heroic "unselfish" acts can be for a secondary gain such as pleasing God, gaining glory, or validating self. Therefore, when we obey God we are still being selfish, but it is a God-directed selfishness.

When we commit our lives to Christ, God recreates our motives and desires. The goal is not to stamp out selfishness but to express it in godly ways—to find a wholesome outlet for it.

Sometimes we indulge in ice cream, and sometimes we share, depending on how we see God working—either way, our hearts are joined to him.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Nov 29, 2009

Squirrelized



We have a squirrel infestation. I used to like squirrels. Now they are living in our chimney and our attic. They are chewing electrical wires and tormenting the dogs. The companies that eradicate squirrels in our area of the country charge about $5,000! So I have started trapping and releasing these rodents-in-cute-disguise.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a real softie when it comes to animals. So I'm driving out to the country with a small squirrel in my trunk, imagining the stress he will have to go through trying to find food and shelter before he even gets his bearings in a new environment. I imagine him in the rain that is coming later this afternoon. I think of him in the trunk experiencing the unfamiliar motion of a car and being very frightened, and it bothers me.

It bothers me, that is, until I think, Squirrel, this is your lucky day! The alternative to an unplanned move to the country is being euthanized in some way. This journey is actually saving the little rodent's life.

In the same way, when God allows unpleasant circumstances into our lives, we can be sure He is saving us from something even worse. When a trial comes, we can say, "Self, this is your lucky day!" (James 1:2). He might even be saving your life.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Nov 15, 2009

Childlikeness


One of the things I strive for in life is to be childlike. Childlikeness is different than childishness, a term which conveys the negative aspects of being a child, such as self-centeredness and immaturity. When someone is childlike, she displays the positive characteristics of a child, such as innocence and trust. The Bible teaches it is important to be childlike: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 18:3). Following is a list of some of the attributes of childlikeness that I have observed.

A child ...

Is absolutely honest
Is utterly himself
Accepts things at face value
Doesn't over-analyze, but accepts and trusts
Speaks from the heart
Gives freely
Is without pretense
Exudes joy
Loves shamelessly
Laughs easily
Puts a priority on play
Lives in the moment
Doesn't question the promises of those she loves and trusts

When you look at this list, do you see yourself in any of it? I see more "adult" in me than I would like. Join me in doing an "about face," and becoming more like a little child in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Nov 7, 2009

Puzzle pieces


At times, life is like a box of puzzle pieces. But only God can see the lid and know the final outcome of all the things that come together to form our destinies. I believe with all my heart, that if I could see what God sees, even the most difficult things in life I would choose for myself. And I think you just might, as well.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Oct 25, 2009

On that day


I have a friend who once had a dream that I have never forgotten. He had died and was standing before God in heaven. The scene was an arena full of people. Each of them was someone he had known on earth who was now condemned: mail carriers, fast-food workers, and dear friends. One by one they looked at him and asked, "Why didn't you tell me about Jesus?"

Sometimes we don't want to share something that people would rather not hear. But one day the lost will all wish they had known the good news.

May you and I live our lives in such a way that we will have no regrets on that day!

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Sep 4, 2009

Aha!

I was reading Spurgeon this morning and it shed some light on Mary's extravagant act of anointing Jesus (Mark 14:1-9). It has always confused me a little, especially because Mary let her hair down, which was usually only done by prostitutes. This was not Mary Magdalene but Mary the brother of Lazarus. Why would she do that in a room full of people?

Spurgeon says about a leper who came to Jesus:

This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law himself in order to meet him.

In the same way, Mary broke through the law of social norms by letting down her hair. The lesson is that we must overcome the constraints of legalism to find intimacy with Christ. Laws, rules, and checklists are unwelcome fortifications against our Lord. They must come down if we are to KNOW Him.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Aug 26, 2009

Spirit Song

This poem came to mind that I wrote many years ago ... on a typewriter! ... yep, I'm old. I thought it might be an encouragement. (Blogger wouldn't let me upload a high-quality image so it's a bit blurry ... sorry!)

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Aug 11, 2009

What do I *ultimately* want?


The fact that Jesus lives in our hearts can give us direction in finding His will.

The Law (including our "shoulds") is on the outside like a weight. It's an obligatory feeling that I should do X. But there is nothing inside me that resonates with this feeling.

In contrast, because God is in my heart, He wants to express Himself through me: to live through me, to speak through me, to touch through me, to see through me, to love through me. Therefore, God's will is usually a gentle pressure in my heart that comes from within wanting to get out.

Discerning whether something is coming from within or without is one way to distinguish God's will. He most often (not always) directs us through our desires, rather than "shoulds." Even though God's will might be uncomfortable and not what I immediately want, if I ask myself what I ultimately desire, it is usually God's plan.

One example is eating a box of brownies. I may want to eat them. But ultimately I want to be healthy and to be a normal weight. If I become long-sighted, and keep my "eyes on the prize," I will make the right decision and forego the brownie.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but it is a helpful principle. If something feels like a pressure from within, and resonates with what I ultimately want, it's usually from God. If it is an obligatory pressure from outside, it is probably not God.

Hope this adds some clarity to your life!

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
Image: Kremke Watch Company

Aug 2, 2009

Kicking the fear habit


How can this little rat be so happy sitting on that bomb? Perhaps he's become willing for the worst to happen?!

That's my technique for overcoming fear. It sounds unpleasant, but I promise if you try it, it will take the power out of any fear you are experiencing. The thinking that gives fear it's power is, If that happens it will be terrible, horrible, beyond my ability to bear! So the first step is to imagine the worst-case scenario, and go there with God in your mind. What would you do? What might God do? Would you survive? If not, what then?

Then comes the next step in the process. Believe for the best to happen! What is the best possible outcome? Imagine it and set your sights on it. This is not presuming upon God, but simply developing a positive outlook. You will be happier if you're believing for the best.

Prepare for the worst; believe for the best, and you will find peace! Promise.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
IMAGE: Blue Sky Disney

Jul 29, 2009

I'm still here


It may seem like I've dropped off the planet, but I'm still here. Hubby had a small battle with melanoma but the surgeon was able to get it all, thank God! Before that, I was on vacation, and this week, I'm at a work conference.

Will return soon.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Jul 12, 2009

The Tumbleweed and the Cottonwood


As Christians, there are two ways we can live: 1) according to the sin nature); or, 2) according to the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-9). We are given a vivid word picture of the contrast between these two lifestyles in the following Scripture.
Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."


Have you been that bush in the wastelands? . . . just a dried up pile of twigs in the desert, burned out, isolated, and unable to see the good things in life? . . . I have. That’s the fruit of self-effort and self-reliance.

What a contrast we see between the tumbleweed in the desert and the majestic cottonwood by the stream. When we walk in the Spirit (relying in faith on God to live through us), hard times still come but we are not destroyed by them. We continue to bear fruit for God, and are free from worry. Our roots go deep, drinking in the Water of Life; we may be shaken but will not be torn down.

It may take 100 years to grow a cottonwood, so if you're still the dried-up bush, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14). If you continue to put your confidence in Him, you will eventually flourish!

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
Image: Circle Z Ranch

Jul 2, 2009

Ask Anything!


I used to be afraid to ask God for something that might not be His will. After all, I thought, isn't Jesus our example when He prayed, "Not my will but Thine be done"? (Luke 22:42)

But the truth is that when Jesus prayed that way, He knew God's will clearly. He realized it conflicted with his own desires at that time, and His prayer was one of surrender to His beloved heavenly Father. In contrast, I have prayed "Thy will not mine" out of unbelief, thinking that if I asked and God said "no" my faith might be shipwrecked.

Petitioning God for His will is not the only way to pray. Jesus also told us we could ask God for anything (John 14:14). We can enter His throne room with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) and pray for whatever we want, anything at all.


If we ask Him for bread, He won't give us a stone, or a scorpion (Luke 11:11-13). If you think of one of your children requesting something that isn't best for her, you wouldn't give it just because she asked for the wrong thing! You would simply tell your child, no. God won't give us a bad outcome because we pray for something that's not His will, for He is the supremely loving Parent.

Perhaps you are afraid of disappointment if you don't get what you ask for. But isn't it just as disappointing to not ask and not get (James 4:2)?

Although I try to be led by the Spirit when I pray, I usually just ask God for what I want in faith, knowing He is conforming my desires in large part to His own (Psalm 37:4-6), and I let God decide what His will is!
Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
Image: The Passion of the Christ

Jun 28, 2009

The Abyss


The date is Wed, November 30, 1994. I see myself living my life precariously close to the edge of a great precipice, an abyss. Part of me is constantly struggling, desperately scrambling to keep from falling in. I'm right on the edge and the rocks are giving way under my feet. I'm slipping, slipping, and using all my strength to keep from falling and plunging eternally downward. I'm driven by a great fear, not only of falling, but of the part of myself that actually wants to take the plunge. It seems as though there are forces inside me, all around me, that would drag me over the edge. If I give up the struggle, even for a moment, I'll go over.
The abyss is the chasm of total moral depravity. The struggle is one I share with many who would depend on their own efforts to live righteously, to keep from sin, to get to God. But of course, it is a struggle of complete futility. Christ has picked me up, like a lost lamb, and is holding me safe in His arms, never to let go.

Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

Hebrews 4:10 For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

I haven't scrambled on the edge of that abyss for many years now. I can encourage you, if you are there, God has peace waiting for you.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
Image: The Silver Bear Cafe

Jun 20, 2009

You are safe!


I used to be terrified of losing my salvation. Years ago, God brought me to a total peace about it, for which I am quite grateful. I was reminded of this fear as I read Hebrews 6:4-9 this morning. I've always found it scary, but today, some things became apparent to me that I had never seen before. In a casual reading of the text it seems as if the author is talking about someone who is saved, who has committed her life to Christ, and then is lost. But I believe it is a warning, not to believers, but to unbelievers disguised in the Church. I have inserted a few notes of my own in [brackets] below:


Hebrews 6:4-9

4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened [understood], who have tasted [but not eaten] the heavenly gift, who have shared in [but not received] the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted [but not eaten] the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away [see1 John 2:19 below], to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful [fruit of salvation] to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles [fruit of the lost] is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

9Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. [In other words, "We wrote down this warning but it is not for you (believers) but for those among you who do not have salvation.]

1 John 2:19

19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.



It became abundantly clear to me that Hebrews 6:4-9 is a warning to the lost, not the saved. Being enlightened is not being saved. Tasting is not eating. If a starving man only tastes food he will die. These are people who know the Truth, but never received it and never bore fruit.

If you are wavering or exploring the faith, this is not about you either. This text refers to someone who fully understands all the wonders of salvation and then lives their entire life in unbelief.

I realize this text is controversial, however, a well-accepted rule of hermeneutics is to interpret the unclear in light of the clear. What could be more clear than the following verse:


John 10:27-28

27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.


In the original Greek, "no one" is emphatic. It means "no one, in no way, never!" "No one" includes ourselves. Be at peace for you are safe.


Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
Image: Neo-Gen Mixed Martial Arts

Jun 14, 2009

He loves to say yes!


When you pray do you ever feel like you are putting a coin in a slot machine? Maybe God will answer, and maybe He won’t. Nevertheless, “Thy will, not mine be done,” we pray, more as a cop-out for our lack of faith than a statement of submission. It’s not that we believe that He can’t answer, we believe He won’t. But the Bible sends a strong and clear message about this in all four gospels and throughout Scripture. Take a look at these passages:

  • Matt. 21:22 "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
  • Mark 11:24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
  • Luke 17:6 "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
  • John 14:13 "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."
  • 1 John 3:22 "[We] receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him."

God is telling us that we can ask Him for anything and He will say “Yes!” whenever He possibly can. Taken out of the context of other things the Bible says about prayer, Scriptures like these have been misused as an excuse for greedy materialism and the “name-it-claim-it” doctrine. Of course God won’t answer a prayer that is contrary to His will or prayed from evil motives (James 4:3). Also, there are a few things that hinder prayer. For example, unbelief, unforgiveness, rebellion against God, and treating others harshly all put static on the line.

But don’t let caution water down the power of these Scriptures! Nothing is impossible for God. He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). We’re not gambling with an unfeeling slot machine. God has a father’s heart, and He’s waiting for you to pour out your heart to Him.

Don’t be overly cautious about praying for what you want; God has placed many of His own desires in your heart. Pray to the Father freely and boldly; believe and wait for Him to answer. Don’t give up. You just might change the world.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com
PHOTO: ARGENT / MONEY

Jun 10, 2009

Pink stuff


As many of you know, we have a cat named Ladybug. We adore her. When she comes up and asks for pets or a treat, we are glad to oblige; it gives us pleasure to see her happy and content.

There was a time, though, when Ladybug was sick and I had to give her horrible pink bubble-gum-flavored medicine. She hated it. I’m sure that if she could talk she would have said, “NOOOOO!!! Come on, when was the last time you saw a cat chewing bubble gum? Please not the pink stuff; anything but the pink stuff!” But that was a request we could not accommodate, because if she didn’t take her medicine, something much worse than being forced to swallow the pink stuff could happen to her.

It’s important to note here that I took no pleasure in Ladybug’s suffering. Our episodes with the pink stuff tore at my heart. It would be unthinkable for me to make her suffer that way unless it was for a very important reason.

Somehow Ladybug sensed my good intentions. When I told her it was time for her medicine, she crouched, stiffened with dread, and dug into the carpet as if to hold on for dear life. But she let me pick her up. She didn’t run. Ladybug trusted me and knew I was trying to help her -- even though I think she believed I was stupid and terribly misguided in the way I went about it!

I can’t describe the pleasure I got from knowing that she trusted me anyway.

In the same way, we give God pleasure when we trust Him even through the hard times. My compassion for our cat is nothing in comparison to the infinite compassion of God. As Jesus said, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

Our Father’s will for us is always “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2), although occasionally that good is disguised in the form of “pink stuff.” We can be certain that if the Father doesn’t give us what we want, He will give us something even better.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

Jun 3, 2009

A vapor in the hand


It is vain to try to hold on to the gifts of the Lord, for example, peace and joy, or maybe even His teachings sometimes. They are like like vapors that disperse in our grasp. We can only enjoy them with an open hand.

Perhaps in this way we know they come from God and not ourselves.

There is one place we can be as possessive as we want — as clingy and desperate and hungry and greedy as our hearts desire. That is with God Himself. The only thing we can possess* is the One Thing that can never be taken away from us — Who is Jesus Christ Himself! (Ezekiel 44:28, Deuteronomy 4:29; Hosea 6:3 Amplified; John 10:28)

With Him, we can indulge that needy part of ourselves with abandon. Anywhere else, it’s idolatry.

Blessings,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com


*God can only be "possessed" by those He willingly gives Himself to. And Christ will gladly give Himself to anyone who will receive Him by faith!

PHOTO:
H19 on Flickr
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