Friday, April 28, 2017

Serving Up the Perfect Blend

"How do you like your coffee?"

"Khaki."

"Khaki? What does that mean?"

"Oh, you know some sweetener and just enough cream to change the color from black to khaki."

That's what I tell people when they ask how I like my coffee.

When I order coffee in the drive-thru, they usually ask if I want them to put in the additions. Sometimes I say yes, but only if I have first figured out how many creams it takes to make their brand of coffee khaki and how many sweeteners it takes to serve up the perfect blend.

The right temperature, plus the right ingredients, stirred with the right strength?

Mmm.. makes me smile every time.

Another perfect blend was poured out and served up when...

some girlfriends and I met this morning at Panera. I was expecting just two of us, but another joined, and it couldn't have been sweeter. While the aroma of coffee wafted across our table, the sweet aroma of friendship permeated our hearts with giddiness of joy. We were like little girls who haven't seen each other for days, laughing and catching up.

Connected as sisters in Christ, we are also connected as wives and moms, lovers of the Word and seekers of His heart. Our conversation quickly turned to deeper things. The spiritual, eternal. Things that will not be shaken. The things that will stand firm 'til the end when Jesus returns. As each of us shared our lives and heavy hearts, we discovered we have this burden in common - a brokenness for this generation of children, teenagers and young adults, as well as their parents, struggling with the evil bombarding them on all sides and at such deep levels. 

Believers, not just non-believers, are struggling with:

  • Children dealing with gender identity issues.  
  • All ages involved in pornography. 
  • The drinking of alcohol and justifying it. 
  • Marriages disintegrating before our eyes.
  • Depression and anxiety, even in little ones.
  • Suicide being rampant among teens and college students.

We further shared our concerns over how technology has and is luring our children away from their innocence, drawing them into screen addiction earlier and earlier. Social media, cell phones, I-pads, computers, even drones... You name it, our kids (and we adults) have it. It has opened a door to evil like never before, and we the parents have invited it in.

Now don't get me wrong, much good has come from technology too. I get that. But enticing children before they are able to process what can show up on their "secured" screens is playing with fire and refusing to admit you smell smoke. And I'm just as guilty as the next parent.

We must protect ourselves from the evil coming through the doors of our homes, schools and churches. Yes, we trust in the One from Whom our Strength comes from, Who is our Shield and Protector, our Help in times of trouble. But Jesus also expects us to act on our faith and battle the evil infiltrating our minds and the minds of our children.

The questions is, "What are we doing about it? How do we address these deep, dark issues with our children and each other in a godly, loving manner, not with judgment, but blended with grace and Truth?"

This is where we, the Church must take the lead. We must be teaching straight-up Truth from the pulpit and throughout our age appropriate classrooms. We must sense an urgency and act accordingly.

We, the parents must take responsibility for teaching Truth to our own children and not just leave it to church staff and volunteers to bare the load. Truth must be taught in our homes, around the dinner table, in the car, and at play. When we get up in the morning and when we lie down at night, our minds must be set on things above (Colossians 3:2), constantly being renewed (Romans 12:1-2) in the Truth of the Word, all the while pouring Truth and grace into our children. Train them in the principles and ways of God. (Proverbs 22:6)

Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16 ESV).

We must also live Truth and grace out before our children of all ages because parenting never stops. We are our children's safe space on this earth as long as we live. It's our responsibility to pray for protection over our homes, and to guard our hearts against the evil of this world coming at us at a record pace with the Truth of God's never-changing Word.

Being honest enough to bear one another's burdens, hurts and struggles brings us closer together, strengthens our fellowship in the Lord and our stand against the enemy. It brings us to our knees in prayer and praise and petition; another perfect blend served up before the Lord. 

My friends and I ended our time together agreeing to pray for each other, our marriages and our children ranging in age from 3 to 27. Specifically praying for their hearts to be guarded and protected from the enemy's snares and entrapments. For a covering over our families of grace and love, and to give us wisdom in how to teach our children well, when and where to set boundaries for them and for us, and to love and encourage them with our words and actions.

With the right temperature (attitude), mixed with wisdom and stirred with the love of Jesus, we can serve up a life-blend of grace and truth - an aroma of worship that's pleasing to the Lord, satisfying to the soul, and an aroma that will make the enemy flee.

Would you like a cup?

My Pleasure,
Melanie










Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What Can The Final Four Teach Us About Resurrection Day?

I love sports. I love competition.

And, I love my SC Gamecocks!

Both our men and women's basketball teams made it to the Final Four, with our Lady Gamecocks winning the 2017 NCAA National Championship game.

#GamecockNation is so proud!

March Madness was filled with amazing surprises, busted brackets, unbelievable buzzer endings, tight scores, great athlete stories, and so much more. There were even coaches giving God glory for their successes. How awesome is that?

The day after the confetti has fallen and the trophy has been given, some hearts go home filled with joy while others leave with heartache. But through it all, all teams can hold their heads high. Each accomplished great things in getting to the Final Four; some making it for the first time in their school's history.

Now let's take a look at another Final Four which changed history and lives forevermore.

We are quickly approaching the final four days of Jesus' life in The Women of Easter book study by Liz Curtis Higgs. We are moving through the last weeks and days leading up to the crucifixion and Resurrection Sunday. As I reflect on the history making final four days, from the Last Supper through Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded there were those who walked away after Thursday and Friday (Jesus' death and burial) full of defeat, heartache and deep sadness.

Who wouldn't be sad? Your closest friend, Teacher, Miracle Maker, Healer, etc... someone you've done life with 24/7 for three years is gone. The One you knew to be the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah, murdered on a criminal's cross and buried in a borrowed tomb. How devastating!

All hope seemed lost. Their joy deflated. Only fear and questions remained.

Little did they know, Sunday was coming! Behind the scenes was a ferocious fight for freedom like nothing anyone had ever seen or imagined. Soon, the Champion would emerge - conquering sin, death and the grave. Jesus would resurrect, having bridged the gap between the Father and His children, and opening up an eternal new way of life called Redemption; salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Sin has lost and LIFE has won!

The Final Four gives us much to hang on to:

- Never give up hope. In Christ alone, our hope is found. 

- Even when we don't have answers, Jesus is still the answer.

-When fear, worry and doubt creep in, proclaim the name "Jesus" and they will flee.

Want to know more about Jesus' amazing Final Four days? Go to the "Fab Four" Gospels.

Matthew 26-28
Mark 14-16
Luke 22-24
John 13-21

Can't wait to celebrate The Champion on Resurrection Sunday!

Lift up your heads! Easter's coming, people!

My Pleasure,
Melanie