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Focus.

It’d been a rough week with Cub, and I felt like I had been talking to him all week about foolish decisions, the way of fools, everything fool related.

So this morning, I pulled him onto my lap and began to tell him also of the beautiful things I saw in his life.  Wise decisions he had made, kindness, thoughtfulness, his love for music and beauty.

And looking into my eyes, he smiled, and said,

“I want to touch your eyeballs.”

#fourgoingonfive

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I shall not want.

“When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want.”

(Audrey Assad)

It’s easier to say no to the leeks and meat pots of slavery
after I’ve drunk of living water and had my fill
of the bread of life.

From a place of fullness, not
a place of hunger, do You bid me say,
“I shall not want.”

Jesus is worth it.

From Nik Ripken’s The Insanity of God, pp. 286-287:

“I have even been wiling to die for Jesus,” he pleaded. “But do you know what I fear? When I go to bed at night, what keeps me awake, and what actually terrifies me, is the thought that God might ask of my wife and my children what I have already willingly given Him.”

“How can He ask it? Tell me! How could God ask that of my wife and children?”

I paused for a few moments and prayed that the Lord would guide my words as I responded … Finally I told him, “I personally cannot answer your question.  But I would ask you another question that I have had to ask myself: ‘Is Jesus worth it? Is He worth your life? Is He worth the lives of your wife and your children?’

He was undoubtedly the toughest man I ever met.  He began to sob.  He wrapped his arms around me, buried his face in my shoulder and wept …

Then he looked me in the eyes again, nodded, and declared, “Jesus is worth it.  He is worth my life, my wife’s life, and He is worth the lives of my children! …”

He is.

In fact, that’s how worth it He is.  Not that there is no cost.  I cannot think of a greater cost than my husband or sons.  But there is no cost that compares to His worth.

Jesus Christ is worthy not only of my life but all our lives.  Except the upside down thing is that He laid down His infinitely precious life for us.  So what is the temporal giving of this life?  Like Amy Carmichael said, certainly count the cost … but take your slate to the foot of the Cross and count the cost there.

Even if.

From Vaneetha Rendall Risner:

Even if.

Those two simple words have taken the fear out of life. Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can ever make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God.We see that even if the worst happens, God will carry us. He will still be good. And he will never leave us.

From John Piper:

The greatest danger a missionary faces is not death but to distrust the mercy of God. If that danger is avoided, then all other dangers lose their sting…

Remember this Advent that Christmas is a model for missions. As I, so you. And that mission means danger. And the greatest danger is distrusting God’s mercy. Succumb to this and all is lost. Conquer here and nothing can harm you for a million ages.

Clenched fists at the altar.

A missionary from Central Asia visited our church yesterday, and we were able to join some others for lunch with her.  One of the questions I asked her was, “Do you ever fear being there?”  When I was single, I was much more fearless (I had nothing to lose!), but now that I have a family, especially children, that’s my greatest struggle.

I expected her to sympathize a little with me and comfort and reassure me that God would care for us, that He was trustworthy, so on.

But she locked eyes with me and, without missing a beat, told me about a missionary couple in her area who had children later in life (miracle babies!).  Their children grew up to love Jesus and were attending college and seminary in the area.  One day, the wife came home from the hospital to find that her home was in flames and her husband, daughter, and son were all shot and killed by — or exploded by — suicide bombers.

That was her answer to my fears.

I was so stunned (and in tears) that I couldn’t ask any more questions.

She told me that those who lasted in her area were those were sure they were called.  And they were willing to lay down everything.  They knew the cost, they were willing to risk it all because God had called them.

Since then, I’ve wrestled with her answer to me.

Am I willing to lay husband and children on the altar, entrusting their “fate” to God, should He call us to a difficult corner of the world?  Is the gospel that precious to me?  Do I share enough of God’s heart for the lost to risk my dearest earthly treasures?  Do I desire His glory that much?  Do I count God that worthy?

And if I’m not willing, am I even willing to pray for willingness?

Hard places.

From Marwan Aboul-Zelof, a church planter in Beirut, writing on The Gospel Coalition today:

Most of the unreached in our world remain unreached because they live in hard places: whether they’re in closed communities, hard-to-access villages, or other dangerous places. The biblical call to go to them is not void because of these challenges.

If anything, this ought to be a more urgent matter for the church. Christ calls us to take the gospel to hard places. And the gospel will always conflict and confront; the setting or location is irrelevant.

… There are so many unknowns in this part of the world, especially now. It’s quite possible we could wake up tomorrow and learn that Lebanon has been pulled into war. What’s been taking place in Syria for the past six years could be our next six years. And the cost weighs even more heavily when you have responsibility for a family.

But while the list of unknowns is much too long, we can’t live in a way that puts too much weight on temporal things. God’s promises in Christ are eternal and sure, and in Christ and his finished work we anchor our hope and trust.

… We pray and hope for peace in Lebanon, but in the meantime we have a commission from our King.

Equal at the foot of the Cross.

Yesterday, Cub pointed out my sin to me. For the first time. Unprompted.

I’d confessed sin against him before, but this was the first time he pointed it out to me before I confessed it.  And he did it so sweetly: “Umma, you sinned against God and against me when you screamed at me to clean up the shapes.”

Dang. He was right.  (And thankfully, he brought it up a little after the event, so I had time to cool down.)

So I had to ask him for forgiveness on the spot and pray for God’s forgiveness, too.

I’m sure I won’t always feel this way when my son unearths my sin, but at that moment, by God’s grace, I felt a sense of the beauty of the gospel.  A gospel where a son can humbly point out his umma’s sin and they can approach the cross together, confessing sin and rejoicing in God’s grace for sinners together.

A missionary mother.

From Susanna Wesley, as quoted  by Dorothy Patterson in “The High Calling of Wife & Mother in Biblical Perspective,” Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood:

No one can, without renouncing the world, in the most literal sense, observe my method; and there are few, if any, that would entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save the souls of their children, which they think may be saved without so much ado; for that was my principal intention, however unskillfully and unsuccessfully managed.

To renounce the world. To devote the prime of life to save the souls of my children.  To spend my energies there.  Not for myself but for them.  And not for them but for Him.

That is my prayer.

Passionate Pup.

I’m learning Pup is a kid of passions.  He’s fire and grit and kisses and snuggles.  He feels things deeply and I love that, but I pray for his passions to be guided, directed, and confined by the Word of God.  By the Spirit of God.  He still runs at those he loves and grabs them in an I-LOVE-YOU-BOOM! kind of hug. (Maybe my kid after all?)

Yesterday, during our church’s evening service, he gave so many kisses to a friend’s dog.  And he was so delighted when she gave him a lick back on the forehead.  So gentle, so affectionate with dogs.  And so gentle and affectionate with babies.  (Next to trucks, puppies and babies are his favorite.)

Yet with those who bully him or those who have something he wants, he can be pretty pugnacious.  Last night, as I was falling asleep, I heard him screaming, “No! NO!” in his room, the same way he would if he were being bullied or fighting with someone.  I went in and he tossed and turned, but his eyes were still closed.  He was dreaming.

Baby of mine who loves snuggles yet throws punches, did I give you the middle name James only to find that you’re a boy much like the son of thunder I named you for?

Yet that son of thunder was transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.  And his ruling passion became Jesus, no longer his own tempestuous, self-seeking heart.  And according to tradition, he became the first apostle to be martyred for Jesus’ sake.

May God do the same work in your heart, little boy.

Love protects.

Cub and I were walking to the store today on a busy street, cars zipping by.  And I put him on the inner half of the sidewalk so I’d be closer to the cars.  In the past, I had explained to him that umma and appa walk on the outside closer to the cars to protect him because we love him.

As I did that, he said to me, “Umma, when I become a man, I’m going to walk on the outside and you’re going to walk on the inside.”

“Aww, you’re going to protect umma?”

“Yes.” And he pulled his shoulders back and walked a little straighter. “See, I’m almost a man.”