Faithful Obedience – How God Measures Success

Wow. I was reading through the Peacemaker Ministries site looking for information on the “PAUSE” principle (Prepare, Affirm relationships, Understand interests, Search for creative solutions, and Evaluate)
(I was looking online, as I have given every last copy of The Peacemaker and need to order more! ;-) ) and came across these encouraging thoughts contained in an essay on the “Four G’s” on dealing with unreasonable people (when attempts at peacemaking fail) :

Be Prepared for Unreasonable People

Whenever you are responding to conflict, you need to realize that other people may harden their hearts and refuse to be reconciled to you. There are two ways you can prepare for this possibility.

* God does not measure success in terms of results, but in terms of faithful obedience. *

First, remember that God does not measure success in terms of results but in terms of faithful obedience. He knows that you cannot force other people to act in a certain way. Therefore he will not hold you responsible for their actions or for the ultimate outcome of a conflict.
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Memorial Day Picnic Invite

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From our family blog:

This is the official invitation for the fifth annual Memorial Day Pig Roast at the home of Tom and Sarah Albrecht on May 28, 2007.

After going back and forth for a while, we decided to forgo doing an entire pig this year. We’ve found that our parties end up having a lot of kids who don’t really care for the barbecued pork, and a meal entirely made up of pork barbecue ends up with a lot of leftovers. So, while we will still be doing barbecued pork, we’re going to mix it up a bit with other forms of meat, including Italian pulled pork, hot dogs, sausages, and maybe some brisket and smoked turkey.

We plan on starting off around noon, and going into the evening. We’ll be serving food throughout the day, so come when you can, and don’t feel obliged to stay longer than you’re able. Please RSVP to us (phone call, email, whatever) so we can get an approximate head count and let us know if you’re interesting in helping supply food.

See you then!

PS from me:

We didn’t make beer this year, so please BYOB (or wine) if you choose. This isn’t a drunken brawl – please be responsible – but I know there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold beer on a hot day. My husband will likely be enjoying a cigar, so if your hubby wanted to celebrate the holiday by enjoying a cigar, it’s fine by me.

Bring a side dish / beverage / dessert (though we will have strawberry shortcake, it’s good to have a variety) to share as well as an ingredient list in case there are food allergies. Also, we hope to have a hot-table (with Sterno) and cold-table. If your dish needs to be kept hot or cold, please let us know so we can plan accordingly – (for example, an bring an extension cord (to be plugged into a power strip) if you have a crock pot, serve food in pans that can be warmed with Sterno, have a larger pan or tray with ice underneath for cold dishes)

Stuff for kids: Bring your bubble wands! I will have large flower-pots filled with bubble-juice. Whiffle-ball games have been known to take place =)

The Lesson from Owens

A friend of my oldest son came to visit this morning.

Lately, I noticed his collectible cards have changed from Yugioh to Eagles Football cards. He carries about one hundred cards with him at all times – pockets filled – and takes them out to count them and review the stats for each player.

Today, he was wearing a Terrel Owens jersey. I asked him about his jersey and he explained,
“Terrell Owens is a jerk. But, it’s the only Eagles jersey I have, and I wanted to wear an Eagles shirt today – so I was stuck wearing this one.”

“Oh really? Two years ago, he was your favorite player – do you remember that?”

“Yeah – but he’s not on our team any more.”

“No, he’s not – and do you know why?”

He said he wasn’t exactly sure.

“The biggest reason was his anger. He screamed at his team mates and Coach Reid. He fought with them over many things, including his contract. He was suspended from playing and when he came back to play, he still had a bad attitude so he lost his job with the Eagles – even though he was a talented football player.”

Little buddy’s eyes got really big.

“It’s good to remember – no matter how talented we are, that if we do not control our anger, people will not want us on their team. ”

He nodded, knowing exactly what I was talking about and how it would apply to his life.

“Adults who do not control their temper often end up in jail,” I said. “But, if we learn the habit of kindness and do not hurt others out of anger when we are young, we will grow up into adults who know how to get along with others. So, we must learn this lesson as children. That’s why moms and dads care so much and correct us when we lose our temper as kids.”

“Ooooohhh…..” he said. “Got it.”

“Great – go play.”

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Ten Reasons to Listen to Questions Before You Answer – Piper

This weekend at our WIC retreat, we talked about being slow to speak and quick to listen.
This is a great Piper blog entry on listening that I enjoyed reading. I also love how he humbly signed his post :)

Ten Reasons to Listen to Questions Before You Answer:
Meditation on Proverbs 18:13

By John Piper October 25, 2005

Proverbs 18:13 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

1. It is arrogant to answer before you hear. Humility does not presume that it knows precisely what a person is asking until the questioner has finished asking the question. How many times have I jumped to a wrong conclusion by starting to formulate my answer before I heard the whole question! Often it is the last word in the question that turns the whole thing around and makes you realize that they are not asking what you thought they were.

2. It is rude to answer a half-asked question. “Rude” is a useful word for Christians. It means “ill-mannered, discourteous.” The New Testament word for it is aschëmonei. It is used in 1 Corinthians 13:5 where modern versions translate it, “Love is not rude,” but the old King James Version has “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.” This means that love not only follows absolute moral standards, but also takes cultural mores and habits and customs into account. What is polite? What is courteous? What are good manners? What is proper? What is good taste? What is suitable? Love is not indifferent to these. It uses them to express its humble desire for people’s good. One such politeness is listening well to a question before you answer

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Nutty, Green Tea Smiley

It’s nuts here.
This mini-chat made me laugh.
It felt good.

Thanking God for her today – my creative, whimsical, godly friend. She’s a great momma (you should have heard her girls singing Amazing Grace last night for a Pioneers Club talent show) and she insists I try fictional books every now and then. Everyone needs a friend like her.

(12:24:25 PM) Susan “Whimsy” Carlson: < auto -REPLY > I’m not here right now
(01:01:11 PM) SJA: I wish I wasn’t here right now
(01:01:13 PM) SJA: it’s nutty
(01:01:41 PM) SJA: how nutty is it?
(01:01:53 PM) Susan “Whimsy” Carlson: peanut or almond?
(01:02:11 PM) Susan “Whimsy” Carlson: cashew or pine?
(01:02:24 PM) Susan “Whimsy” Carlson: walnut or pistachio?
(01:06:32 PM) SJA: macadamian
(01:06:44 PM) SJA: so nutty I can’t even spell that word with the help of spell check
(01:13:23 PM) Susan “Whimsy” Carlson: I see some green tea in my future ;-)
(01:13:37 PM) SJA: hahaha
(01:13:49 PM) SJA: As long as you aren’t trying to see the future in your green tea ;-)

God is Awake


“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” – Victor Hugo

I woke up with the feeling that someone was in my room. I turned over and about a foot from my face stood my four year old daughter.

Once my heartbeat returned to normal, I checked the clock. It was 3:30AM.

Tabitha was shaking and whimpering.

“Sweetie, lets go into the bathroom so you don’t wake up daddy,” I said.

Tab wasn’t moving too readily, so I scooped her up and helped her use the potty – sometimes the sensation of having to use the bathroom will evoke a bad dream.

She calmed down a little bit and asked for “belly medicine” – that is, a Tums.

“Tab, I can give you a Tums – but I don’t know if that will solve the problem,” I said.

“WHY? What’s wrong with me?” she asked and started to cry again.

“Well, it’s just that you seem upset,” I said. “What’s are you thinking about?”

“I’m so so so afraid that bad guys are going to come into our house and get us.”

I gave her a big hug and soaked a wash cloth in warm water and washed her face. “I did lock up all the doors and windows downstairs and the house alarm is on – I do that every night. So, it’d be hard for anyone to get into our house. But, you know, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for someone to break in if they didn’t care about being caught…. not that we have anything of value.”

That’s the honest truth. I’m not going to lie.

I put Tabitha back into her bed. She pulled her covers up, over her nose and her hazel-green eyes darted all over the place in fear.

“Tabitha, please listen to mommy, okay? In Bible, in Proverbs 15, God tells us that His eyes are in every place watching over everything. Do you know what this means?”

“That He can see me, right?”

“Yes, just like He can see every spot in our house. Remember, He can even see daddy when daddy’s in Japan and see you at the same time, right?”

“Because He is God,” she said in a very matter-of-fact tone.

“Yes, because He is God. The cool thing is that this means that you don’t have to be looking all around room for bad guys because God’s doing the looking for you. The Bible also tells us in Psalm 121 that God, who made this whole earth, never ever sleeps. God’s watching over you even while you’re sleeping.”

I noticed the covers were slowly moving towards her chest and were no longer shielding her face.

I leaned over, brushed aside her dark brown hair and kissed her forehead. I took one of her hands and held it with both of mine, as if to give it a reassuring hug.

“Tabitha, we have a choice to be controlled by fear or to be controlled by our trust in God. You know what control means, right?”

“Yeah – to be bossed around.”

Sure, that worked.

“Yep. Kinda like that. When we’re bossed around by fear, our tummies hurt, we worry about things – like bad guys or monsters or people in our family getting lost or hurt. We get so worked up and so upset that we can’t sleep.

When we spend time trying thinking about if every window is locked or when we try look to every in corner of our rooms, we are not trusting God to do His job. And you know what? There’s no way, even if we tried really really hard, to see in every corner of our house at the same time – it’s impossible.”

I continued, “You know what honey?”

“What?”

“Adults get controlled by their fears, too, when they don’t trust in God. Their tummies hurt, they can’t sleep, and sometimes they can’t even eat they’re so controlled by being afraid. It’s not just kids who have this problem.

Do you remember your swimming lessons last year?”

She nodded.

“What did you have to do to float on your back?” I asked.

“I had to hold really still and relax.”

“Yes. And, you had to trust that the water was going to hold you up, right?”

“Right.”

“What happened if you tried to hold yourself up and you started thrashing your arms and legs?”

“Then I’d sink.”

“Yes! And when we trusting in God, our soul can relax and be at peace – just like how our bodies relax in the pool in order to float. We have to hold still and trust that the water will hold us up. I want you to put your head on your pillow and trust that God is going to hold you up. I want you to relax and picture yourself floating in your pool, and instead of being afraid, I want you to think instead about God doing His job and watching over you.”

“Okay.”

“Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for being who you are and that your eyes are in every place, even in every corner of our house. Help Tabitha and mommy to trust you to do your job of watching over every place. Help us to be able to sleep knowing that you never ever sleep. Help us not to try to do your job for you – because that will only make our tummies hurt and will make us worry even more. No matter how hard we try, we can never be like you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, even for our sin of worrying when we need to be trusting in you. Help Tabitha’s tummy to feel better and help her to get the sleep she needs. Please comfort her her and give her strength to turn her fears over to you. Thank you for giving me this sweet little girl, who has taught me so much about my own walk with you. In your name, Amen.”

“Amen,” she said.

She put her arms out as if she was floating in a pool, closed her eyes, and fell fast asleep.

Bear with me as I tell another story:

Our movie theater plays second-run movies for free on “family days”. Once, during a family day, I was sitting in the theater watching a short film – The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper – which played before the opening credits of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The theater was packed with children and their parents. I could overhear the ladies in the row behind me talking:

“After the movie, I have to go get my glasses fixed. Can you run over there with me before lunch? It should just take a moment,” one lady said to the other.

“Sure. No problem. I have no plans after this. How did you break your glasses?” her friend asked.

“I’m a little embarrassed to admit this,” she explained. “I have this fear that something will happen in the night and that I won’t be able to see to find my way around. I have really bad vision. I can’t sleep in my contacts. So, I wear my glasses to bed. They keep getting broken, but I don’t know what else to do.”

aomori apple

My heart ached for this poor lady. She was controlled by her fear! She could not rest. It was impossible to turn around and lean over to talk to her, as I was holding Micah, who was less than a year old, on my lap. He was quite fussy, and I ended up walking up and down the theater aisle with him while my older four children intently watched the movie.

When our fears control us, we do silly things like sleeping with our glasses on. Our souls are not at peace.

When we respond to our fears by trying to take on the attributes of God – like, for example, omniscience and omnipresence – we will be plagued by restlessness. We think we are taking control by thinking about all the possible precautions against robbers (and there is no harm in being responsible in locking our house – so long as our trust and hope is in the Lord and not in a deadbolt) breaking in or by staying awake and looking in every place. Yet, in reality, instead of controlling the situation, we become controlled and enslaved by fear.

Omnipresence and omniscience aren’t the only attributes of God that we are tempted to take on.

We try to control situations by demanding perfect justice when we are wronged. We refuse to believe that the Holy Spirit can and is working in the hearts of men. We sacrifice relationships because people do not meet our expectations.

We try to be self-sufficient – planning for ever possible circumstance or by refusing help when really need it. We judge people who can’t get it together . We miss out on being blessed by God through others.

We want to live eternally and try to keep from aging by devoting ourselves to a regimen of exercise, antioxidants and vitamins, and wrinkle creams. Or, we freak out in the car when our two year old climbs our of his car seat, fearing he’ll be instantly killed unless that seatbelt is fastened.

We try to be perfect and good and never sin on our own accord. Instead, we become self-righteous. We are controlled by what others think of us and keeping up the image of perfection rather than trusting in Christ for our salvation. We know deep down that we are fakes. We worry that God knows this and is out to get us.

We try to love our spouses unconditionally by our own strength and end up putting conditions on the relationship. We end up suffocating our spouses and destroying our marriages.

When we try to be God, we will always fail. We will quickly grow weary, and our souls will not be at peace. We feel the burden of the ultimate sin of pride when we think that we can do God’s job better than He can.

If you find yourself not sleeping, or if you feel like something in your life is a burden to you, ask yourself, “Am I trying to take on God’s job instead of trusting in Him?”

The Bible says, in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

How freeing it is to submit to the rule of the Creator of the Universe – who actually loves and cares about us! – rather than be ruled by our fears! We are no longer weighted down by our sin. We are free. We can live (and sleep) in peace.


Photo Credits:
Swim Lessons 2008 by Philms via Flickr

Sleeping by william.n via Flicker