Newness of Life

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

Oh how I love the spring time.  All things fresh and new, trees budding, flowers blooming, I welcome the warm sun on my face after a harsh season of cold blustery winter weather. Even though I suffer from seasonal allergies, I love the warmth and newness that spring ushers into our region; fully enjoying the eye candy that God so generously provides with the colorful crocus, daffodils, and peach tree blossoms. That is what the weather was like when I first started this blog in mid to late-March…unseasonably warm, and oh so inviting for these tired, achy joints. 


The nice weather teased and tantalized me, making me daydream of being outside and clearing away the winter sludge, digging around the perennials and planting flowers in my new flower bed. I could hardly wait for the smell of freshly cut grass and had an insatiable yearning for those longer days of daylight to enjoy the warmth on my comfy front porch swing. Tomorrow, I thought, I am going to get outside, work in the dirt, and take some pictures of those gorgeous peach blossoms!


Those were my comforting thoughts as I went to bed that Friday night. Much to my chagrin when I woke up on Saturday the ground on top of our mountain was covered with snow!  The cool spring rain and night air had turned on me with a vengeance! The wind blew fiercely, bending the tender young limbs of the dogwoods and the frigid air nipped at the precious young buds and all but destroyed the beautiful peach tree blossoms. I was sad and distraught; the freezing rain and snow had damaged my precious hydrangea bush that I had nurtured back to life after some careless landscapers all but destroyed it. I had watched it daily as the warm sunshine had coaxed it to slowly burrow up from deep within the earth during those last weeks of warmer temperatures.


As I wallowed in my sorrow that cold, snowy Saturday morning, I thought, this must be how God feels about us. We are God’s once perfect creation "gone bad"! As Christians, we are washed totally clean by the blood of His precious Lamb. The sacrifice of His Son has made us clean, fresh, and new just like spring, a rebirth. Praise God for His sacrificial and redeeming love. But when we take our eyes off Jesus, Satan comes along dangling prize after prize in front of our nose. For some, that prize is fame, others covetousness, still others it might be jealousy, busyness of life, or perhaps gossip. Whatever we may choose to call it, it is sin, and like a cold frost that burns away the freshness of spring, sin destroys the newness in our lives.  
Happily spring is a season of many changes in our area and soon the warmth returns and regrowth begins anew.  Fortunately, for Christians God’s grace and unconditional love allows us the forgiveness we need to return to our ‘spring’…our newness, and continue to grow in oneness in our relationship with our Creator. 


Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Corinthians 5:17

Teach our Children

“You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.”  This is the first line of the song, “Teach your Children Well”, by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, which compels me to question, “What kind of code are our children living by?”

First, let’s talk about building a strong foundation for our children.  Having taught school for most of my life, I witnessed children who struggled in 6th grade because they had a weak foundation in the primary grades; and sadly, these students were often “lost” as they went “on their road”. On the other hand, I came into contact with children who had a firm foundation, who were determined, confident, and successful.  They had no qualms about tackling something new “down their road”.  They knew where they were going. 

These two scenarios also ring true when teaching our children God’s word.  We must start when they are young to give our children a firm foundation-a “code” to live by.  A great example of a teenager who had a “code to live by” was Daniel.  He was taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years, into a hostile, foreign, idol-worshiping country, but because of his firm foundation in Jehovah God, he never compromised in his faith—even when faced with death.  Then there’s Paul’s young protégé, Timothy, whose mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were commended by Paul for instilling the “faith” in Timothy. And I must mention Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She was, most likely, just a teenager when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her, telling her she would give birth to the Messiah and that she was “highly favored by God.”  Mary’s answer?  “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said.”  Wow! Mary definitely had a firm foundation in her God. 

Therefore, let’s be intentional about giving our children a “code to live by”; don’t leave it to chance because it will probably never happen.  Talk to your children about God, read the Bible with them, give them weekly verses to memorize—start when they are young and they will have a plethora of Bible information when they are older.  I think of the words Moses told the Israelites, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

If you are a parent of young children, it is scary to think of what these children may face as they grow, so give them a firm foundation, a moral compass, a “code to live by”.  Don’t let them be lost on their road. Don’t let them be like the Israelites, who, after the death of Joshua, forgot Jehovah God—“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord or what He had done for Israel.”  They began to worship idols, and the various gods of the people around them.  The wisest king, Solomon, said it well, “Train up your children in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Teach your children well.

Love

Love.  A word we see a lot as we near Valentine's Day or any time we open the Bible.  I Corinthians 13 is a whole chapter about love. Judy, a friend from Texas, once told me a little girl in her Sunday school class said, “I love Jesus and Willie Nelson.”  Now Judy and I appreciate a good Willie Nelson song but something about that sentence just made us giggle.  Maybe the Greeks were onto something to have four separate words for love:  storge (natural affection as that between parents and children), philia (friendship), eros (romantic), and agape (God’s love toward man and our reflection of His love).

Like Mary, mother of Jesus, I watched my children grow and pondered all they taught me.  Here are a couple childhood examples from our nighttime routine of how my storge loves taught me about reflecting God’s agape love.  

One night I heard Amanda tell God, "I love You."  That was so revolutionary to me and I heard in my heart, "become like little children" (Matthew 18:3).  I realized how wonderful I felt when I heard my child tell me, "I love you". Why had I never thought about telling God I loved Him?  Would He not like to hear His child say, "I love You.”?  Thank you for teaching me Amanda.  I love you.  

Bill and I would lie down with each girl for one song of our favorite tape, Sleep Sound in Jesus by Michael Card.  When I would lie down with Amy she wanted me to face her.  If I would turn my head and face away from her to get more comfortable, Amy would put her sweet little hands on my cheeks and turn my face back toward her.  This time my heart heard, "the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26).  What a wonderful way to fall asleep - at peace with the One who loves you with an agape love that only wants your best.  Thank you for teaching me Amy.  I love you.

Ponderings

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

Ponder: to weigh in the mind; to think about; reflect on; to think or consider, especially quietly, soberly and deeply.

Welcome to the Norway Women's Ministry Blog, "PONDERINGS". This blog is a new and exciting adventure for our ministry. We will begin by posting monthly and we hope to grow to weekly posts. I am so excited to read posts written by my fellow sisters. If you would like to write a post for this blog, please just let me know. I think this is going to be a great way for us to share things we have pondered from God's Word during our quiet times or Bible study and our time in prayer. 

I would like to ask you to cover this in your prayers. Pray that God will be glorified in every post. Pray that this will give our sisters an opportunity to share the things they have pondered or treasured up in their hearts. Pray that the words we share will bring encouragement to all. 

My pondering: One verse that I find I ponder on a lot is Philippians 4:8. I find great treasures in this verse.

"Finally, my brothers (sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

I like how The Message puts it, "I'd say you'll do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."

When I "4:8-it" with my mind, which means choosing to meditate on the things that Paul lists in this verse I find that the following things happen:

  •  Rejoicing in the Lord
  •  I am not anxious about things
  •  Praying about everything to God
  •  God's peace guards my heart and mind and surpasses all my understanding
  •  I can do all things through him who strengthens me
  •  Philippians 4:4-7,13

My dear sisters, God loves us and He wants us to know His joy and peace. Sometimes our lives can become burdened and we can lose our focus and our purpose. I pray that you will find strength and encouragement in choosing to practice the things Paul teaches us in these verses. I am confident of this - that He who has began a good work in each of us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Let your joy and peace be found in God. You are loved by God!

Grace and Peace, Debbie