Expect opposition if you are in God’s will


Opposition - chess pieces




Saul had just been anointed Israel’s first King as recounted in the book, 1 Samuel, chapter 10.

24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “ Long live the king!”……
(25b)….  and Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26 Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27 But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

I am learning that you can be in God’s will and right where He wants you to be AND there will be push back and opposition.  The question then emerges: Why are we surprised?

Here are 3 facts:

1) Trials are intended to grow our patient trust (called steadfastness) in God.  They are necessary for us to be complete.  They are required if we are to be fully equipped, lacking nothing.

  • James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2) God uses every aspect of these trials, aka painful circumstances & suffering, to bring about our maturity, training and equipping.

  • Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose

3) Sometimes the secondary cause, the deliverer of the suffering/trial/hardship, is via spiritual forces of wickedness.  God, the first-cause, allows these attacks for His own good and loving reasons.

One of those ‘good’ reasons is so we will KNOW how real and safe God’s Word is.  Last week, I re-learned that lesson.

I had gone about 6 weeks with no parent complaints in this my first year in a new school.

No complaints since





I really didn’t see this one coming.  And when the complaint filtered down to me via my principal (I explicitly excluded a disruptive child when I passed out mini marshmallows for good participation in class), I was emotionally drained.  My confidence and enjoyment of the students had been growing since the nadir in January.   But this episode set me back.

My tête-à-tête with my principal happened on a Thursday.  And the following Monday I felt even lower.  It was like I had lost all sense of purpose in life. I seriously considered how much money I could make cleaning homes as an alternative to THIS!!!

My poor husband didn’t know how to react to his normally optimistic, perky wife.  But he defaulted to the most effective use of his time and words.   He prayed fervently most of the evening, unlike Job’s friends.

And praise be to God, the next morning, something that Tullian Tchividjian said in a podcast brought relief.  He was recounting his ‘year from Hell’, his first year as senior pastor of  Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft Lauderdale.  And MY thought was this: “I bet Tullian seriously considered resigning and going to work at Lowe’s to support his family!”   My next thought tumbled out: “Wow!  Then we would have been deprived of his ministry of grace, his books and the Liberate Conferences!  I bet this was spiritual attack by those who were bent on stopping any advance in the Kingdom!”

Spir Warfare - the lion




And just with that thought, I was ‘right-side-up’ again with purpose and renewed resolve NOT to let the enemy defeat me.  It might be that God’s will for me at that school is just for this year.  That decision is in His hands.  But for now, I will fight on, determined to reach out to my students and colleagues and be available to them.  I am learning the absolute reality and security of God’s word.  As my cousin Terry reminded me:

No wpn formed against you






And thank you, Michael, for your prayers.  As James points out, “the fervent prayers of a man who is in right-standing with God make A LOT of power available!” (James 5:16)



Anxiety, my old friend!

No….I want new companions. I’m sick and tired of flirting with dysfunctional thinking.  Isn’t that what ‘renewing our minds’ is all about?  Aren’t we new creations?  Where’s that daily bread of “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”?

Welcome back to the first week of school. I was excited all summer, riding the crest of free time and still basking in the completion of a surprising good year.

Yet here I am again, at the start of my 20th year of teaching French, fighting feelings of inadequacy.  I don’t understand.  I can only chalk it up to God’s decision that for this stage of sanctification, I still need to remember every 15 minutes that He is my only source of confidence.  But I would like to FEEL competent. I would like to know that I can do this French-teacher thing.

If you know me via this blog or in person, you know that I teach French via a method that is intuitive, creative, student-affirming and effective (TPRS™ – Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling). But it’s hard!  No hiding behind a text book or worksheets.  I compare it to being a stand-up comedienne who depends on a good audience to feed her energy and material in such a way that a symbiotic relationship develops that is satisfying to all.  When it’s good, it’s very, very good.  But when there is no energy in the room, or when I, the comedienne/teacher don’t read the students well and go too fast or jump around, it’s discouraging to me (and probably confusing to them!)

I take their learning and progress, their enjoyment and confidence very personally because I am always comparing myself to the ‘experts’ in my field. These are the ones I watch at conferences and those whose advice and experiences I read daily.

Okay, enough of my professional woes.  I want to share with you how I am talking to myself.  The Bible gives us the example of David, “…who encouraged himself in the Lord” – 1 Sam 30:6.  What a great line. While living in Ziklag, an outpost in the boondocks, with his band of men and their families the Amalekites had attacked.  Women, children and livestock were carted away while David and his men were serving with the Philistines.  We learn of David’s reaction as he and the men discover the sacking of their families.

How dire was David’s situation?  Very! Not only had his wives and kids been kidnapped by the nasty Amalekites, his men turned to stone him, their leader. It was he they blamed.   David’s faith is tested and his reaction is amazing!  Faith is vindicated.  His reaction is worthy of emulating.  No time for a pity-party.

Yet I do believe that David was no Pollyanna.  If he ‘encouraged’ himself, that is because he was fighting internal discouragement and fear, just like we do.

Life is challenging and overwhelming at times. We get down, but we are not meant to stay there!  What we say to ourselves can really make a difference.

Last Sunday, our pastor was talking about the joy of an assurance of faith and of belonging to Christ.  This is our birth-right as born-again, regenerated children of God.  But we have to rehearse to ourselves the truth of the blessings that come with this new life in Christ. (As one of my students taught me in Latin, repetitio est mater studiorum – thank you Carter Moonis!)

What is our birthright as believers?  These 3 gifts:

  • ·         Forgiveness of our sins.  This is HUGE.  We are born into a world where the wrath of God is on us from the beginning.  Without Christ’s work on the cross, we would have to face God in our sins.  (if you don’t think your sins are bad, try ‘rebellion’ on for size – that heads the list)
  • ·         An assured future with Jesus: We were created to enjoy glorifying God.  Doing so forever will be unbelievably satisfying. (Collect the best moments of your life and multiply them by some gigantic mathematical number)
  • ·         Understanding the big picture:  Call this worldview or the meaning of life.  It’s about understanding and knowing why we were born and our life’s purpose. As Christians, we are equipped with an explanation for suffering (the fall and resulting sin).  But we are equally blessed, living with the assurance that there WILL BE ultimate justice, that all wrongs will be righted in the end.  (Spoiler alert – read the Book of Revelation)

Sooo?  How does that help with our anxieties today?    How does remembering our birthright make a difference in the gritty trenches? Maybe it’s just about relaxing, continually talking to God and giving things over to Him as we do our daily work with the strength and wisdom He provides.  In, around and through that work, we are to practice contentment with His gifts and love others to the best of ability.

And my French classes?  Well, I have to remember that I’ve gotten into the groove in the past; most likely I will again this year.  And before I know it, I will be blogging in May about what a great year I had.  But you can still pray for me!


Reactions worth emulating, taken from the Life of David


1 Sam 30: 1-6  Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

David’s men had every right to be upset over the kidnapping of their families.  The Amalekites were not present to absorb this outrage, so it was directed at their own beloved leader, David. Had they stopped to think rationally, they would have concluded that clearly David was not responsible for this disaster.  After all, he suffered the same loss as his men.

What stuns me is how David did not argue with them or show any fear or start to make plans.  He immediately turned to the Lord for his strength.   What did that look like?   He must have privately poured out his grief over the loss of his wives and sought God’s counsel about how to deal with his men.  Did this last 30 seconds or 2 hours?  Was there much time before his men actually picked up stones?  We don’t know.

But his next step was to consult with the priest and pray publicly to the Lord for a plan.  God answered and David moved into leader-mode and constructed a rescue plan that eventually succeeded.  All family members were saved.  David’s priorities in the face of a leadership and life crisis were vindicated.


2 Samuel 5: 9-12

And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward.  And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.   And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house.  And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

In this passage, David had been anointed King over both Judah and Israel and was enjoying great success.  Scripture tells us the reason was due to God being with him. But what was David’s assessment?  Was his stature and international renown due to his own prowess?  How encouraging it is to follow David’s thought process when foreigners bestow him with gifts.  A lesser man could easily conclude that this good fortune was due to his own greatness.  But David lived with the sovereign intervention of God in his life.  Had his life unfolded as his mom and dad expected, he’d still be a shepherd and last in line to inherit anything. David clearly understood that it was God who had cast him in this leading role and that God was the director and had his own purposes for Israel.

One can read elsewhere how David did not always act righteously, but here, at least, are two examples that offer us patterns to emulate.  In the face of immediate disaster, David turned to God.  In the face of impressive success, David acknowledged God’s agenda and doing.  He was neither too worried about his circumstances, nor too impressed with his own curriculum vitae.  His eyes were on God in either case.  May it be so with us.

Hannah’s prayer reveals her treasure

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1 Sam 2: 1-10

Hannah longed for a child.  She made a deal with God, that if He would remove her barrenness and give her a son, she would dedicate the child to Him.   Eli, the priest, spotted her praying silently and interceded on her behalf.  Her long-standing prayer is answered…… and Samuel is born.  Her response, recorded in the first ten verses of chapter 2, stuns us.   It is remarkable in what it does NOT mention.  Not one reference is to her son or how God answered her prayer.  She doesn’t even explicitly THANK God.  She revels in Him instead.  Savor her words of praise for who God is and what He does.

“My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation.
There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed, there is no one besides Thee, nor is there any rock like our God.
Boast no more very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, but she who has many children languishes.
The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He sets the world on them.
He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall man prevail.
Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed.”

I think she was overwhelmed by the magnificence of a god who would actually listen to her and give her what she initially thought would complete her and make her whole.  Instead of JUST what she & Eli had prayed for, she received far more.   She got God himself, the one who is all-mighty.

So she rejoices in her new treasure (not her son) and wants everyone to know.  This new relationship with her Maker far outweighs the son she thought was her heart’s desire.  Her passions have changed.  She no longer worries about being harassed by ‘the other wife’, Peninnah, who constantly lorded it over her with her God-given children.  Hannah has God Himself.  That is why she is so easily able to honor her vow and hand Samuel over to Eli for temple service.

And God’s response to her sincere worship of Him?  1 Sam 2:21a records, “And the Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.”

She didn’t even ask God for more children.  Having God Himself was enough for her.  How lavish is our Father with His love.

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