Thursday, May 31, 2012


This Sunday, I finished up a series in my Sunday school class on spiritual gifts. The final lesson was on I Corinthians 13 and I John 3 and 4. The topic was love.

You may wonder what love has to do with spiritual gifts, but the answer to that is quite a lot. So much, in fact, that Paul sandwiched "the love chapter" between I Corinthians 12 which is an entire chapter on spiritual gifts and I Corinthians 14 which talks about tongues and prophecy. As I've studied the Bible over the years, I've learned not to skip over the significance of the placement of verses. They aren't just in random order.

Paul says that even if you speak with the tongues of angels, or prophesy great things or give all your food to the poor or are martyred, if you do it without love it means nothing.

Martyrdom means nothing if it is not done with love? Giving up all your possessions to feed the poor means nothing without love?

Those are some pretty strong statements. There is nothing wishy-washy or vague about them - we really can't miss Paul's meaning.

When I went over to I John 3 and 4, it was like God hit me with a 2x4 of conviction. The word love is mentioned 39 times in just those two chapters alone.

However, it was verses in chapter 3 that struck me with the most force. "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." I John 3:10-15 (emphasis mine)

Did you catch that? Other people can tell who you belong to - God or the devil - by two things: whether you practice righteousness and if you love your fellow believers.

It's natural for the world to hate us. We are aliens here and the things of God seem foolish to the unbeliever. They are lost and don't understand.

But with believers it's a whole different story. It's not just a suggestion - we are commanded to love and beyond that it is supposed to be our calling card. It is how others know we belong to God.

I don't know about you, but this convicted me deeply. I had to know more so I dug out my Greek word dictionary (I know I'm a nerd!) and took a deeper look at I Corinthians 13 which lists all the things love is and isn't.

Just so you don't have to crack open your Greek dictionary, I'll list what I found out. It's pretty interesting - at least it was to me!

First of all, the word love in this chapter is the word agape. I'm sure a lot of you have heard of this type of love and it is often described as "unconditional love." But it is more than that! This it the same word used to describe the character of who God is. It is manifested in the gift of Jesus' death on the cross.

So, now that we have that info out of the way, here is a list of what love is and isn't with a brief definition.

patient - to persevere, to be slow in avenging, to not lose heart
kind - to show oneself useful, to be obliging and willing to help
not jealous - to not be envious or moved with envy
not brag - to not extol yourself excessively
not arrogant - or not be puffed up with pride
not act unbecomingly - to not behave in an ugly, indecent or unseemly manner
not seek it's own - talks about a habitual action; seek means to demand or require something of someone
not provoked - not be irritated or angry, to not be exasperated
not take into account wrong suffered - in the phrase "take into account" take and account are the same Greek word and it means to compute, calculate, count over
not rejoice in unrighteousness - not celebrate wrongfulness
rejoice in truth - to sympathize in gladness or congratulate in wahtever is true in any matter under consideration
bears all things - to roof over or cover in silence
believes all things - trusts the motives of action are pure
hopes all things - expect with desire
endures all things - remain, bear, persevere, not fleeing
never fails - fall to one's ruin

I can't do that by myself but with the Holy Spirit's help, I can love my brothers and sisters in Christ and so can you. It's a lofty goal, I'll admit, but imagine what the unbelieving world would say if we showed each other true love?

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, May 28, 2012


I hate to complain - I really do, but does anyone else feel slightly overwhelmed by the number of good things available via the internet?

I mean, there are all these wonderful blogs and websites with great ideas on mothering, wife-ing (I know that isn't really a word!), saving, cleaning - both the traditional way and the eco-friendly way, simplifying, going organic, going whole food, organizing, growing spiritually, finding a million uses for a lemon or vinegar, and I could keep going. You get the idea.

I love that all this available with the click of a button. I hate all this is available with the click of the button.

Do I really need 10 pinterest boards? Will I miss out if I don't have time to pin today? On the other hand, what a great way to organize things in one place.

Of course, I actually have to check my recipe board to get anything out of it. I have to write down the steps for that great new gardening tip and implement it for it to be of any use. Did I mention I only have 2 tomato plants planted at this point?

Sometimes, I just wish the influx of information would just stop for a minute - or at least slow down.

Maybe this is a sign of age - after all, I will be 40 in less than a year - but I really hate that feeling of having to constantly run to keep up on all the new ideas and then feeling guilty for not actually using the ideas that I find.

I'd love to make all my cleaners from natural ingredients in the cupboard.
I'd love to grow all my own produce and perhaps can the extra while I'm at it.
I'd love to figure out how to pare my budget down to almost nothing.
I'd love to simplify my life so my priorities were actually on my daily to-do list.
I'd love to only feed my family whole foods.
I'd love to make all our personal care items myself from healthy ingredients.

Unfortunately, Alice does not live at my house.

It's just me - a woefully inadequate domestic goddess (and I'm using that word with tongue in cheek). I'm lucky if I find time to scrub the toilet, have basic groceries in the house (since I currently have one bottomless pit named Brock living here) and have clean clothes for everyone to wear. It's a bonus if I can get a real dinner on the table and walk the dog every day.

In the midst of the chaos and the noise and the hustle and bustle, a quiet voice calls to me - "Be still and know that I am God."

The internet can be a good thing. It can bring convenience and information with the click of a mouse button, but a good thing can also become a distracting thing.

I read somewhere once that in order to live the life God calls us to, we have to develop the discernment to leave the good, so we can find the best.

What good thing do you have to let go of so that you can "be still know that He is God?"

~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


My 10-year-old son had two goals at last night's baseball game. The first was that we would actually get on base when we were up to bat (which we hadn't in two games), and the second was that we would not be mercy ruled.

If you are not familiar with how elementary baseball works, mercy ruled means that if the other team is 10 runs ahead of you and you've played at least 4 innings, you can end the game. The reason it came about probably has less to do with mercy towards the baseball players and more about mercy toward the parents who are watching the game for three or more hours before this rule came into being. I, for one, am thankful!

The good news is, we met those goals. The bad news is, we still lost quite spectacularly. Brody had tears in his eyes after the game as he slunk off to the car. "I'm terrible! I don't even know why I play!" he snarled as he sat down - forcefully - in the car.

The truth was, as my husband and I pointed out to him, he did play well. True, he never got on base when he was batting, but he pitched a no hit 3 innings and he did a great job fielding.

Still, I do sympathize. Losing will teach him a lot of things, but it's not very much fun. I am not a huge sports person, but as I reflected on the game last night, I decided I was glad my kids played sports - even on nights when you only get one run.

Sports, especially team sports, teach kids a whole lot about life. Interestingly, they can be a microcosm that teach a lot of lessons on how a church should function.

Being on a team teaches a kid the game isn't all about them. It teaches them that each has a job to do and when you don't do your job, or worse, don't even show up, you let the whole team down. You learn your actions have a ripple effect on those around you.

You learn that you can't win - or lose - all by yourself. It takes a team effort. It doesn't matter how good of a player you are, you can't field the entire field or floor by yourself. You NEED your teammates.

You learn to rejoice with those that rejoice and mourn with those that mourn. There isn't room for big egos on a ball diamond if you want your team to play well together.

You learn to listen to your coach. Even if you can't see the whole field clearly - he can. If he tells you to run and steal the next base, if you don't do it or hesitate before running, you miss out on scoring.

You learn showing up for the game is important - being committed is important.

You learn to learn from your mistakes and not to beat yourself up. You dust yourself off and try again. You learn that while physical skills are important, your mind can be your worst enemy in an intense game.

You learn to not just be a good loser, but also how to be a gracious winner. Nothing is more off-putting than a gloater.

Although you probably won't find me sitting around the tv for several hours at a time watching ball games, I will say that watching my kids play and learn these life lessons has got me excited about sports!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I started blogging back in 2009 because I felt God nudging me to do so, and as a writer, it seemed like a natural next step. I read a few blogs regularly - they are ones with lots of followers and lots of comments. Mine is, well, small. It's mostly for me to just record what God is doing in my life. I hope by sharing what God is teaching me, someone else might be helped along the way.

The other day, I was just having a discouraging day. I had also run across those verses, the ones that say that people will stand before God and say Lord, Lord, look at everything I did for you and He will look at them and say, depart from me - I never knew you. Those verses always make me shudder. They always make me stand stock still and ask God - am I truly yours?

I've been in church since I was a month old. I "asked Jesus in my heart" when I was 5 years old, and then I stood up on a stage at a Word of Life camp and shared my testimony a few months later in front of a large group of people - I've never really had stage fright. I remember in junior high going through the angst of "am I saved or aren't I saved?" I recall specifically one time in the shower, crying and asking God to save me "for sure" (I told you I often have epiphanies in the shower).

In my late 20's, I started learning to truly dig in and study the Bible for myself - not just read about it - and suddenly my Christianity went from shades of grey to brilliant, vibrant color.

But those verses always make me shudder. They never fail to make cold fingers of dread trail up my spine.

So, I was praying as I walked my dog - I do that a lot - and I was praying about this. It just felt as if God had been silent for a while. I wasn't feeling His presence, and I wasn't sure why. Those verses echoed in the back of my mind, taunting me - Satan's hiss of doubt tickling my ear. I could go back in my mind and remember God speaking to me (not audibly or anything) and working in my life, but then I'd think "Well, maybe that was wishful thinking or emotions."

I was Gideon with his fleece.

I'm sure God sighed sadly at my doubt but then He brought to mind the verse that says that those who seek God with all their hearts will find Him. God doesn't play mind games with us - now you belong to me and now you don't. HE is steadfast, unwavering. We are the ones that stumble and falter.

When I got home, feeling in a much better frame of mind, I read one of the ebooks I got in an awesome bundle deal. It was on blogging. I was really blessed by the book and it's encouragement to blog with God in mind. Then, for some reason, I decided to go back to my very first blog post and start reading.

That's when I saw them - God's fingerprints were all over my blog.

Post after post had evidence of His presence in my life, of answering prayers, of meeting me right where I was at - it touched me deeply.

Now I know why God had the Israelites always piling rocks up for memorials - so they would remember. I would read those stories and think to myself,"Surely, nobody would forget the parting of the Red Sea or the miraculous victories that could have only been God?" But they did, and while I shook my head at their forgetfulness, I'm just as bad.

Time has a way of blurring our awe and wonder at God's work in our lives. At least it does for me.

As I read on, I marveled at His goodness, and I also felt humbled and thankful that He had shown up once again - reaching into my life to answer my questions and ease my fears and doubts, showing me He makes a daily difference in my life in a thousand and one ways.

He's faithful like that though.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Today, is the National Day of Prayer. Communities around the country will be meeting for prayer. School children will gather around flag poles and pray. We celebrate our freedom to pray today.

But do we actually spend time in prayer? I don't mean the "shoot 'em up" prayers as we scurry from one thing to another. I mean, sustained, focused prayer time. It's so easy to let it slide, to let the to-dos crowd out our time with God, or worse, to treat our prayer time like a giant list of our own wants and needs.

Have you ever been with someone who talks incessantly? They talk about themselves and their interests and their issues and their problems. They don't let you get a word in edgewise. It can be difficult to be around someone like that. I wonder if sometimes that's how I come across to God. I'm so busy telling Him about MY needs, MY problems, MY wants that my prayer is just one non-stop monologue.

There are three things that occurred to me when I reflected on prayer today. The first is that we do not spend enough time worshiping God in our prayer time. To be honest, when I started this practice of private worship, I felt a little weird. It wasn't something I was used to - to me worship was something you did at church between the "hello" and the sermon, not something you do at home by yourself. But as I looked closer at what prayer is, I learned that worship is a very important part of my prayer life. I started by reading Psalms to God. Now those times of worship are precious to me.

Psalms is an intimate look of David's prayer life - we can learn a lot about prayer from David's Psalms. He was real with God - to the point of rawness at times. He also spent A LOT of time praising God. The thing is, we were CREATED with the purpose of worshiping God. That's why God created us - to worship Him. When we worship God, we not only please Him, but we remind ourselves of just who God is, and an accurate view of God's greatness is always a good thing in our lives.

The second thing that hit me is that we - at least I - do not truly engage in intercessory prayer. At the moment, I am working on writing a Bible study on the life of Moses. One of the things I learned from Moses is that he was a prayer warrior. I don't know how many times it says he prayed and fasted for the children of Israel, and he did this even when they were being really unlovable. His prayers were sacrificial on their behalf - he didn't eat; he lost sleep. When's the last time I sacrificed any of my comforts to pray for someone else? Sure, I pray for people in my quiet time, but when's the last time, I put aside my own concerns and things to do and spent time in prayer on behalf of someone else? The embarrassing answer is rarely. In fact, I can only remember a handful of times.

The last thing that hit me was that I spend way too much time speaking when I pray. Now you may be thinking - well, isn't that the point? Actually, the point is to know God, to have a conversation with Him. Conversation means that sometimes, you are quiet and you listen. Often, I don't listen. I babble on and on while God is patiently waiting to get a word in edgewise. It is not a coincidence that the Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God."

It's hard in this world to be still. When I get quiet and still, it seems like so many times a list of things I "should" be doing starts running through my mind. I almost feel guilty for just sitting at God's feet, so to speak, and listening to Him because there are so many other things that I could be doing, but if we are to truly hear from God, we have to get still and truly listen. It's pretty hard to listen when you are running constantly.

I am reading a book by Oswald Chambers entitled If You Will. It's a book of reflections on the power of prayer. Now, before you get too impressed, I often have to read his writings a couple of times to really get what he is saying. Old Oswald is not somebody I can read before I have my coffee - he can be seriously deep.

One part of the book stood out to me today as I was reading his thoughts on praying in the power of the Holy spirit. I found it comforting because while I have a part in prayer, being heard has nothing to do with my "perfect form." It has everything to do with Christ, though.

"We are not heard because we are in earnest, or because we need to be heard or because we will perish if we are not heard; we are heard only on the ground of the Atonement of our Lord."

Another quote from the book stood out to me too: "Prayer is not an exercise, it is life."

Oh, that I may live a life of prayer, of constant communion with God. The Bible tells us that those who seek Him with all of their heart, will find Him. Are you seeking?

~ Blessings, Bronte