Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fear First.

I was one of those kids that had to drive 40 miles round-trip to high school. I grew up on a farm down in the valley below a lake in central Kansas...and the path I took to school and back I jokingly dubbed “the safari.” I always needed to be on constant alert for large quantities of turkey, deer, coon, coyote, quail, and occasionally a horse or cow.




One time, a friend (who also lived on “the safari”) and I were coming home from a late movie. It was dark. She was driving. As we neared my home, all of a sudden we were dodging cows left and right. Literally. A herd of cattle had dispersed itself on the sandy road, not a half-mile from my house, and my friend maneuvered around the cattle (which seemed like hundreds to this teen), and a few minutes later we were safe on my yard.


Here’s the thing. My friend and I had been trained to fear “the safari.” No, not to be scared out of our wits, too anxious to actually drive, but to respect the nature of the road...to keep our eyes peeled, knowing wildlife very well could be resting in the prairie grass in the ditch. Or smack dab in the middle of the road. We learned to recognize the glow of eyes in the distance. We were on alert. So, while dodging cattle was surprising, it wasn’t necessarily unexpected.


In being trained to fear, we had a good foundation for defensive driving.

As believers, we are also told to have a foundation of fear.



→ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

all those who practice it have a good understanding. (PS 111:10)



→ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7)


→ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Prov 9:10)



But why fear? Why would we want to fear God? Why would fear--yir’ah--be demanded of the believer?

Because God is holy.


He is exalted above the heavens. (Psalm 108) His name alone is holy and awesome! (Psalm 111) And he demands our reverence.

Several years ago, I was struck by this call to a holy fear. It seemed so right. So good. So profound.


If you want to be wise, you must start with fearing the Lord!


Wisdom comes from the exceeding reverence, respect, piety...fear...of an awesome and holy God!


And fear isn’t something that can just be sprinkled in. No, it must be foundational. It must be at the beginning!

Imagine if my friend and I would have had limited fear of “the safari.” We wouldn’t have taken the drive seriously. We wouldn’t have been on high alert. We would have been distracted. And we would have bowled over some beef...if not worse.


Taking the journey without fearing the LORD is dangerous. In fact, the Bible says it is foolish. Yikes!


Mike Mason, in his book “The Gospel According to Job” asks this: “Why don’t people prize and pursue the pearl of wisdom above everything else?” In answering he writes, “The reason is that the gaining of wisdom requires the total sacrifice of our single most precious possession: ourselves. More specifically, what is required is the surrender of our wills. To gain wisdom we must part with the very thing which, to part with, means our annihilation.”


Surrendering the self...surrendering our wills...to the point of annihilation can feel scary. But when our eyes are on a holy and awesome God, it is worth it!

Let's shift our view.
Let's fear the one whose works are great and full of splendor and majesty. To the one who causes his wondrous works to be remembered. Who is lasting righteousness, and is gracious and merciful, faithful and just. His precepts are trustworthy, and his covenant, eternal. Fear the one who sent redemption to his people. Whose name alone is holy and awesome! (all from Psalm 111)

In doing so, we are promised good understanding. We are promised wisdom! So today, let’s fall on our knees with trembling, giving thanks to the LORD with a whole heart.

May His praise endure forever!


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Thursday, January 4, 2018

winter tag

Tag. You’re it!
Gonna admit something...I always liked playing tag! It gave me a chance to put my fast-twitch muscles to use. And just a few months ago, I found myself playing tag with some cute kids at a football game. Funny, how they all ignored each other in an effort to make ME ‘it’. HA!

Anyway, before Christmas, I was tagged by Tammy over at Grandma Mary Martha to participate in a fun, get-to-know you game. She gave me permission to defer my “tag” until January after my crazy schedule softened...bless you Tammy! Today, I making good on my promise, and starting my blogging year with something light-hearted and just for fun…

So, without further accolade…
my answers to WINTER TAG

  
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
A few years ago, Brad and I started putting riddles on our kids’ gifts. Best addition ever. It is enjoyable because they get so excited as they try to figure them out! Next year, I will need to make our youngest’s riddles harder. Turns out, he is a good guesser!

What is your favorite lip product?
Vasoline! (I am not a product endorser)

What is your favorite winter scent?
I never wear perfume (my head/skin doesn’t take kindly to any scented products), so I am going to branch out of the norm on this one...my favorite winter smell is the fresh crispness of newly fallen snow!

What is your go-to winter fashion?
I LOVE winter fashion! Layers, sweaters, buffalo plaid, jeans, fleece-lined tights, scarves, coats, boots, mittens, hats...love it all.

Do you prefer to travel or stay home?
STAY HOME! But, as long as my travel itinerary allows for some down time, vacationing is also fun.

What is your favorite winter hair care product?
Winter, spring, summer, fall...GEL is my favorite product of all. My curly hair demands several palm-fulls each wash day. Currently I use Tresemme’s Flawless Curls, Bouncy Curls (again, not getting paid for mentioning this product)

What is your favorite winter activity?
Outside - SLEDDING
Inside - curling up with a good book and hot coffee (roaring fire is an added bonus)

What is your favorite winter beauty product?
My skin is always dry and worse in winter. I found Cortizone-10 eczema lotion to be the best at tackling awful dry spots. This is on top of my regular use of Curel lotion...because no fragrances! And it lasts! (Not getting paid here either!)

Do you love or hate snow?
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! (Kansas doesn’t seem to get snow anymore though...or rain for that matter...seems we are in a drought of late)

What is your favorite winter comfort food?
Chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes! YUMMY!

Thumbs up or down for winter?
Thumbs up! Winter gets such a bad reputation, but I think it is enjoyable. It comes around like clockwork each year, and when I decided one winter that I wasn’t going to complain about the cold, I started to embrace it more and more. Snow has always been magical to me...and the possibility of a snow day puts a bounce in my step. Snow days are always special...bonus times to enjoy my family and magnify the Holder of the treasury of snow. Winter also always precedes spring...just like in the Gospel, without death to self, there isn’t life! Yay winter!

Now it’s YOUR turn! One of my goals for my writing ministry is to increase activity (aka communication/being social) on my online platforms. And part of that is getting to know YOU! I’d love it if you’d take a minute and pick a question (or more!)...and answer them...either in the comments here or on my Facebook page!

Tag. You’re it!

Feb. 2011 - the last winter KS had great snowfall!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Glory.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:11-14



Glory.
The nature of God.
What He is and what He does.
Magnificence, excellence, dignity and grace.
Glory.
The character of God exhibited through Christ.
Of splendor and brightness.
Absolutely perfect majesty of Christ.
Glory.
Once seen in a cloud dwelling on Mt. Sinai;
Like a devouring fire on top of a mountain.
Wonderfully filling, enough for the house of the Lord, and yes, the earth.
Glory.
To be declared among the nations; his marvelous works to all peoples.
That who was, who is, and who is yet to come was born in flesh.
The Messiah, swaddled and laid in a manger.
Glory.
Give the Lord what he deserves!
Bring your offering and come into his presence!
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor!
Glory.
A King.
The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.
Lift up your heads, O Gates, that the King of glory may come in!
Glory.
Never stop praising.
Never stop singing.
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!

Heavenly Father, we praise your glorious name forever. We lift our voices together to sing in worship of your glory. You are magnificent, excellent and absolutely perfect. Thank you for filling the earth with the glory of Jesus. May we give you what you deserve. May we bring offerings into your presence. May we worship you in all your holy splendor this Christmas day! Amen.


This advent series was originally written for, and presented to, Ebenfeld MB Church in 2016. Scripture references were inspired by “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” by John Piper.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An Honest Christmas Letter




It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…
The pairing of those words work perfectly for the opening of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” But what about for a Christmas letter?
I’m guessing your reception of something so brutally honest enveloped in festivity has been limited. Granted, I’m not looking for bad tidings to replace the good, but as I thought about what I wanted to write in our family Christmas letter--addressed to all of you--I realized 2017 was a year that epitomized paradox.
The past year has been full of beauty and grace, but also pain and tears. It has been one of change and growth--not always pleasant and pain-free. The year has been one of victory, but also defeat; gain and loss, laughter and joy, stress and anguish.
I tell you those things, in honesty. I want to keep it real. There were weighty things that happened in 2017, but because of the Gospel--because of Christmas and the cross--I know nothing that happened in 2017 is meaningless for our family. Whatever paradox you have experienced in the last year, know you aren’t alone in the coexistence of highs and lows, and that there is One who holds it all together!
That said, I give you the Just family Christmas letter:

Photo by CK PHOTO
Merry Christmas from our new address in Hillsboro! The spring found us moving from our sweet little bungalow on the east side of Main Street to a ranch fixer upper on the west. The kids are now enjoying their own bedrooms, and were the first to benefit from freshly renovated spaces. Mom and Dad still have maroon carpet to contend with.


We have enjoyed meeting new neighbors (with lots of kids to play with), getting to know a few neighboring cats, and having a full-sized trampoline. Malinda has set a lofty deadline of summer 2018 to have the house finished. But, with workdays really only comprising Saturdays, being avid DIYers and having detailed vision, the end isn’t really in sight.
In addition to our move, we have adjusted to being a full-blown elementary school family, with all three kids attending HES. Gracelyn (9) is in Mrs. Dalke’s fourth grade class. Jemma (7) is a second grader with Mrs. Berens, and Case is a kindergartener in Mrs. Jost’s class. Case actually started school while he was still 4. He turned 5 on Kansas’ cut-off date, Aug. 31!

Photos by CK PHOTO
The girls both take gymnastics at our local gym. We are so thankful to have coach Matt leading the charge at Next Level Athletics, and can’t say enough good things about him as the new owner of the Hillsboro gym! Gracelyn is busy mastering her backflips off the double-mini, and Jemma most recently nailed a round-off into four (unassisted) back handsprings!


Case is happiest playing outside with his friends, playing PBS Kids games on the computer or phone, and watching Wild Kratts. He is a walking-encyclopedia of shark facts, and his favorite is the Great White.
Brad is the Director of Information Technology for USD 410, and recently earned a Google certification as a certified associate G Suite administrator. Brad is enjoying expanding his tool collection now that we have a shop in our backyard. He is quite the carpenter, and his handiwork will soon fill our new house!
In addition to dreaming up and helping implement renovation plans, Malinda enjoyed spending a day at Beth Moore’s LIT conference in Houston in February. She could have spent many more hours soaking-in Beth’s writing expertise!


With the writing conference, we snuck in a family vacation, making a stop in Waco so Malinda (and kids!) could visit Magnolia Market and Harp Design. To complete the vacation experience, our family visited NASA and Brad took the kids on a day trip to the beach while Malinda went to her conference.



Our year was full, and we can’t believe Christmas and the end of 2017 are knocking! With that, we wonder what will be in store for 2018? Whatever comes, we know we are blessed to face it with each other!
Much love,
The Justs




* Originally appeared in the Dec. 20 edition of the Hillsboro Free Press. I have been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

So Loved.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)



So loved.
In this manner of intense feeling.
In way of deep affection.
Agapao.
So loved.
By Divine will in deliberate choice.
Without cause except in the nature of God Himself.
Entirely incomprehensible.
So loved.
The reason of Christmas.
The reason of the divine meeting the flesh.
The reason of obedience.
So loved.
A dearly loved Son who brings the Father great joy.
A dearly loved Son for a dearly loved people.
A dearly loved son as a holy sacrifice so a dearly loved people could be made holy by His truth.
So loved.
A love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So loved.
Jesus spoke, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
A love to abide in.
A love to remain in.
A love that whoever believes gains life everlasting.
So loved.

Heavenly Father, we choose to believe we are so loved. Sometimes it feels incomprehensible. But your word says it, and today we stand on that promise. In awe, we thank you for your dearly loved son who came for a dearly loved people. May our hearts remain full of the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice long after this Christmas season ends. Amen.



This advent series was originally written for, and presented to, Ebenfeld MB Church in 2016. Scripture references were inspired by “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” by John Piper.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Perfect.

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin...The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:5 & 8



Perfect.
To be absolute.
To be complete.
To have all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics.
Perfect.
Having no wayward deeds.
A faithful God who does no wrong.
Absolutely just. Completely fair.
Perfect.
A babe born and wrapped in swaddling clothes.
A babe, to be named Jesus.
A babe, that one day in his spotlessness, would deliver an unrighteous people.
Perfect.
The Word who was in the beginning.
The One who moves the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill.
The One to whom even rocks will cry out; to whom the heavens declare His glory and the sky proclaims his handiwork.
Perfect.
To be born in perfection.
To live in perfection.
To die in perfection.
To rise in perfection.
To save in perfection.
Perfect.

Heavenly Father, you are perfect. Your ways are just and fair. Your plan is perfect. Thank you for the wonder of Christmas that brings us to the cross. We confess that sometimes it’s easier to separate the Christmas story from the cross. But that’s not truth. This season, help us remember that not only was your perfect son sent as a baby, but that your perfect son was sent to the cross. May we always remember that Jesus appeared to take away sins and to destroy the work of the enemy. Thank you for His perfection. Amen.



This advent series was originally written for, and presented to, Ebenfeld MB Church in 2016. Scripture references were inspired by “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” by John Piper.