Dare To Be Countercultural

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

I am so enjoying the #First5 App and the incredible bible teachings by the leadership that have created it. This week I thoroughly loved the teaching on Genesis 5 lead by Whitney Capps. She shared some thoughts on Enoch and how while there isn’t a lot documented about him, It does say that he was faithful to walk with God.

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:24)

Whitney reminds us in her teaching that Enoch lived in the days before the flood. Just a few verses later we read: “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth- men and animals, creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air- for I am grieved that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:6-9)

Enoch lived in a time when God grieved the creation of mankind. Yet, the bible says that “Enoch walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 5:24a) Enoch wasn’t a people pleaser, or a trend follower. Enoch went against the grain and faithfully walked with God while everyone else turned their backs on Him and lived lives filled with sin.

The line that truly spoke to me more than anything else this week was this:
He was countercultural.” – Whitney Capps

Think about that word for a moment. Countercultural. Would this be a good word to describe you? Your marriage? Your family?

Let’s face it friends, our world is messed up. It takes some serious guts to step out and walk against the current- culture is shouting at us every way we turn- but think of the treasure we will miss out on if we decide to take the easier route and go with the flow. I’m sure that walking with God for over 300 years wasn’t easy for Enoch- he was the only one amongst a world of sinners to do it- but the bible says he did and was faithful in doing so.

Will you dare to be countercultural? Will you dare to be an Enoch?

Father, please help us in our boldness in walking with you. Help us with courage in tuning out the shouts of the world for the joy of walking with you. You never promised that walking faithfully with you would be easy, but we hold tight to the promise that it will be worth it when we meet you face to face and spend eternity with you. In Jesus name, amen.

Take it Full-Face

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. (Lamentations 3:25-27)

Every single morning I drag myself out of bed and make myself a cup of coffee in our keurig machine. Now, as much as I love coffee, believe it or not, I strongly dislike hot things. So, every morning after I brew my coffee, I wait. I wait until it’s an appropriate temperature for my liking.

Some mornings my coffee takes forever to cool down. Those really sleepy, I-need-to-wake-up-now mornings, are the worst. Yet, if I want to enjoy my cup of coffee; wait, I must.

Another thing I strongly dislike is waiting. Waiting sometimes seems like valuable time wasted. Especially when you’re waiting for something really wonderful to happen.

I remember those long years of waiting in anticipation to become pregnant. Month after month of negative pregnancy tests made me feel like precious time as a Mommy was being wasted. I also remember the 9 loooooong months of that first pregnancy. How I longed to hold my precious baby; this baby I had prayed so hard for. Those months seemed to last an eternity!

However, taking these very examples; important things take place in seasons of waiting. From the complex growth that takes place during those 9 months of pregnancy – to the few extra minutes I need to wait for my coffee to cool down. The time required to ‘wait’ is just as important as the treasure at the other end. The reality is, if I tried to speed up these valuable waiting periods, I would have given birth to a premature baby and suffered from a burnt tongue.

Jeremiah writes of the hope that God has given him during times of waiting in Lamentations 3. I love his guidance in these verses:
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way: (Lamentations 3:28-33)

Sometimes when we are seeking God prayerfully for a specific answer, He brings us through a season of waiting. Let’s remember these scriptures when these seasons arise and choose to embrace the waiting, rather than rush it; for we know that during a season of waiting, good things are being prepared for the treasure at the other end.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your reminder that You are good to those who passionately wait. Thank You for practical examples that show us that waiting is an important time to embrace. Please help us with our impatience and help us see the joy in our seasons of waiting. I ask these things in Your name; Amen.

Party of One

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Have you ever met someone that is just truly never satisfied?! They throw ‘pity parties’ for themselves because this or that did not go the way they wanted it to….They wallow in self-pity when they don’t own the newest trend; act jealously if someone else has something that they’d like to have; and or withdraw when something really good happens to someone else?

Maybe this person is you?

Two important biblical truths come to mind when I meet or know a person like I’ve described above:

1) “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

If you are always on the receiving end of things….you are not doing what The Lord asks of you. You do not have to have everything or even a lot to be able to help someone else. Helping someone else could be as simple as sending an encouraging word, making a meal and bringing it to their home during a difficult time, or, just lending a listening ear when someone needs a friend.

2) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I get it, friends, sometimes you just want to wallow. May I make a suggestion….? Don’t. It’s not healthy. No matter HOW bad your circumstances are, there are still SO many reasons to give thanks. The Lord is so good to us. It’s time to praise Him in all things, for His goodness to us.

Self pity is the act of dwelling on the misfortune of your own circumstances, rather than depending on God to meet your needs and desires His way.

If you occupy yourself with self-pity; such will be your reward.

Dear Heavenly Father! Sorry for all the times we’ve wasted on our own pity parties. We know that acting in such a way distracts us from the fullness of life that You have so generously given to us. Forgive us, Jesus. We desire to give thanks in all things; in all circumstances. Please bless my sisters; in Jesus name, amen.

Love, Patience & Discipline

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

A few years ago, I attended a funeral for a lady that was a relative of some friends of my family. It was a really beautiful service which highlighted the many ways her family will remember her including: her devotion to Christ, her strong will, her ability to pray and the love she lavished onto her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It was during her son’s eulogy that God began to speak to my heart. He shared that his mom possessed three qualities that made her the “best mom in the world.”

1) Love
2) Patience
3) Discipline

I must admit, when he first shared this ‘best-mom-in-the-world’ combination, it seemed like quite a mixed bag. However, as he elaborated…the Holy Spirit gently nudged me.

These Mom-qualities are actually quite complimentary.

As a fairly new mom myself, I am learning things on a daily basis. Love without discipline is a disaster waiting to happen. Respect and responsibility are two very important things that come as a direct outcome of discipline. Love which involves discipline is a pretty amazing gift when you think about it. Discipline without love pretty much speaks for itself. And, all you mom’s out there would most likely agree that it takes a multitude of patience to implement discipline with love. As love and discipline work together to create a precious gift; patience is the beautiful bow that wraps the three together.

The bible speaks of these qualities as a few of the very gifts of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ NET)

As this son wrapped up the eulogy he’d carefully written about his mom, he had the room convinced that she had ‘done himself (and his five other siblings) good.’ He recognized that discipline was necessary and even said that he and his siblings “got what they deserved.” He stood confident in her love and adored her for her wealth of patience. The deepness of both his love and respect for his mom was truly inspirational to me in my role as a mom.

How will your children stand when you leave this world? Will they stand confident in your love; respectful and patient? Or, alternatively, will they stand unassured, trapped in a place of entitlement from lack of discipline; or wounded from your failure to proceed with patience? If your answer is the latter, how might you change to correct this?

Jesus, thank You for the sweet sweet gift of motherhood. Please help me to be a Mom of integrity and Christ-like character. I pray that as I endeavour to raise my children, they feel not only an assurance that I love them, but that You too love them in abundance. In Your name I pray, amen.

If Only the Lottery gave away TIME!

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

As I was feeling overwhelmed with my list of things to do recently, I thought to myself that – if ever there was a lottery where the prize was time – I would be the first in line for a ticket. Do you ever feel like there are just not enough hours in the day, days in the week or months in the year?!

What I could accomplish with an extra couple of hours a week, even! Yes, time would certainly be an invaluable win for me.

As I joked with my friend over coffee that day, I silently felt deep conviction over my long list of work that needed to be done. When I got home I began to mentally brainstorm ways that I could fit in everything I needed to do. Imagine my frustration when my mental list kept being crumpled up with the many demands of my family:

“Mommy, look at this superman I drew. I think it’s my best one yet!!”

“Mommy, can you come and hear the song I can play on the piano? I bet you’ll think I’m so much better than yesterday!”

“Mommy, can you play with me?”

“Want to go for a walk to the park this afternoon with the kids?”

…wait. What!? You ask. You were frustrated with those things?! Those are wonderful things.

I’m over here– raising a guilty hand confirming a big, ugly: yes.

My life is filled with a whole-lot-of-wonderful. My guess, is that if you take a step back and look into your life using a different lens that you too will see that your life is full of wonderful things as well.

If we aren’t careful to budget our time wisely – ensuring there is a balance between work, play and rest- we will most certainly gain frustration as an end result. Instead of making those precious memories at the park with my family or playing tractors on the floor with my three-year-old, I stewed about how little time I have to do all I need to do.

We must be careful not to have our plates so full that we can’t make time for the precious lives that we are so honoured to be a part of.

God has blessed us all in incredible ways, friends. Take a moment today to thank God for your many blessings and endeavour to improve that balance between work, play and rest. (Yes, even rest, my friend.)

Father God, please help us to be better stewards of the time you have so graciously given to us. We love you and we want to honour you with each and every moment. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

My husband and I decided to surprise our two older children a couple of years ago by bringing them to the movie theatre as a special little outing. We saw a cute little movie in theatre which got me thinking…..! One single line in this film stuck out more than any of the others:

“Don’t hate the player; hate the game.”

Immediately following this line, Ephesians 6:12 popped into my head. This little metaphor truly sums up this scripture, doesn’t it?

Has someone ever come up to you and randomly told you off?! How about through an email or social media?! Or worse yet, how about if you found out someone was slanderously talking about you behind your back? Personally, I wish all was ALWAYS right with this world. But, life just isn’t like that sometimes. Sometimes it seems there is a revolving door on those that want to pick you apart or negatively criticize you.

My heart rate usually increases exponentially. My hands and feet get extra sweaty. My head begins to pound and an all-too-familiar sickness forms in the pit of my stomach.

This verse reminds me to look at conflict in a different way. To not battle with the person who would rather talk bad about me behind my back than encourage or uplift me. To hold my breath and just listen as that person randomly vents their anger aimed at me. To consider the fact that this human being is loved by God just as much as I am, and that this conflict is not against me or this individual; instead against the game that the enemy so badly wants us to play.

My friends, don’t fall for it. Rise above the enemies schemes to throw you off the course that The Lord has set before you. Matthew 5:44 says: “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

It isn’t easy to love those who hurt you. Trust me, I know. Our fleshy pride would like nothing more than to tell that person just how you feel and serve them a big slice of justice. But, if in those moments of conflict, and more so during the temptation to be vengeful, you can wrap your head around the idea to ‘love the player; hate the game’ just think of the victory that will be accomplished!

I DARE you to PRAY for those who persecute you.

Jesus, we thank You for the truth Your word gives us. We thank You that Your grace is sufficient. We desire to extend Your grace to those who have caused us hurt either in the past, in the present or to those who will cause us hurt in the coming days. Thank You for showing us that the battles we face are not against flesh and blood- but against the enemy’s attempt to strum up a fierce game of defeat. God help us to love the ‘players’, because You loved them first. We know that we are no greater than them and we want to love them like You do through any hurt we may feel. Jesus, I pray that instead of getting hung up on emotions, You will stir up in us a rage against the battles the enemy wishes and attempts to begin. Equip us and train us to fight victoriously against ‘the game’ showing love to one another in the process, praying for one another through conflict, victoriously conquering the battle in Your precious name. Thank you Jesus, Amen!

Senseless Expectations

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I have been married for almost thirteen years and in my marriage experience I can attest to the fact that two ARE better than one.

I love my husband….but I will admit that I sometimes shift him into the place in my heart where only God belongs. I sometimes expect him to know what I am thinking. I sometimes expect him to say or do something that will bring me peace or make me feel better about a situation. When I am feeling lonely, I sometimes even think that if he was with me….things would be so much better.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I forget that the God that I serve is the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (he’s everywhere), Prince of Peace!!!

While my husband is amazing, I need not expect him to be the things that only God is. Furthermore, when I am waiting in expectation for my husband to be these things, I am taking away the opportunity from God to move in my life and have him truly be my all in all.

Sometimes I make this shift in priority without even realizing it. But, the enemy would like nothing better to sneak in when (and where) we least expect it and swipe the carpet right out from under our feet. Guard your heart, sisters.

What things do you crave more than God?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31,33)

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of marriage. Please keep me mindful of those times that I shift my marriage ahead of You. You designed and created marriage; and it is good. But Jesus, please help me to keep a healthy balance. For my sisters out there who are struggling with cravings greater than You….please be with them. Shine light onto the areas that they need to pull into balance and claim the spot in their heart that is Yours. We desire to seek You first, Jesus. Thank You for all that You will, and all that You are doing. In Jesus name, amen.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Respecting Daddy

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

No matter how much we love our spouse; there will inevitability be times of disagreement. Disagreements are a normal part of a relationship. No one ever expected two human beings to agree on everything.

It becomes a problem when we are disrespectful in our disagreements…. Especially when little eyes and ears are in the room.

Name calling.

Belittling.

Raised voices and harsh tones.

No matter how hurt or upset you may feel, nothing qualifies disrespect to or from your spouse. In fact, I believe it to be quite healthy for children to witness a respectful disagreement between their mommy and daddy every once in a while.

The bible speaks very clearly in Ephesians 4:29 about how to use our mouths when we are experiencing a disagreement: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Encouragement.

Respect.

Calm voices.

If your child can see and hear that you respect your husband even when you disagree, they’ll be more inclined to respect the both of you when they disagree with you. If you want your kids to “honor [their] father and mother” (Exodus 20:12a), you had better be prepared to honour and respect each other as well.

How can you work on better respecting your spouse during times of disagreement? How can you better show your support while aiming to reach a point of resolution?

Father God, Thank Your for Your wisdom. Thank You that You care enough for us to want the very best for our families. I pray for my mouth, and for the mouths of my sister-friends, please anoint them this moment and remove any unwholesome talk from their mouth. Replace any negative and destructive words with words that build up; words that edify. I ask these things in Your precious and holy name, amen.

Ditching My Hate For Wait

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Wait for The Lord; be strong and take heart and WAIT for The Lord!” Psalm 27:14

I start getting jittery when I’m doing research online and the Internet is slow, or when I ask my hubby to take out the garbage and it’s not done an hour later, or when I know a box from home has been sent in the mail and I have to wait a week to peek inside, or even when I have prayed for something and don’t hear an instant answer. I struggle with having patience….they don’t come easy for me!

In our hurry-up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture, it’s so easy to think we should not have to wait. That way of thinking comes naturally as we are bombarded with short-cuts in all aspects of our every day life. Just take a moment and ponder our reality: in just a few moments I will click “publish” and thousands of you out there will instantly be free to read this post, in seconds we can know the weather anywhere around the globe because of Internet technology, by the click of a button we can pre-warm our vehicles while we scurry around the house getting ready for work, we can move dinner from the freezer to the table in 5 minutes thanks to microwaves, we can even eliminate a trip to the mall and shop from almost anywhere online! No wonder waiting is hard!!!

If we allow it, our waiting will bring us to an intimate knowledge of God, one that we would not have if ‘the wait’ was eliminated. Have you ever heard yourself asking “Why did God allow this to happen to me?!

God does not ignore the cries of his children. King David cried out, begged and pleaded with God for help, intervention and defence throughout the Psalms. God never let him down.

Our waiting has purpose.

What a great example King David’s life is for ‘waiting.’ Waiting is more comforting and less difficult when we allow God in to do his work during the waiting season. When we are more open to see how faithful He is to bring His plans for our lives into fullness, our children will too see this and treasure God’s faithfulness.

I love the saying “If he will bring you to it, he will bring you through it.” I’ve seen very real examples of that in my ministry as well as many other times life. How faithful and true our God is!!!

God, Please help me with ‘the wait.’ Please remind me that there is divine purpose for this period of time that I so want to resist. I want to wait well. I want to be patient as You bring Your plans for my life into fullness. I can’t do this life without You. In Your name, Amen.

Honouring Dad

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

My sister and I used to always bicker over who got to sit in the seat (in the car) behind our mom. I’m sure in a desperate attempt to cease the endless arguing, my dad bent down one day and said something simple, yet life-changing, to me. “Honey, why don’t you sit behind Daddy today?! You can be my girl!”

From that day on my seat was the seat behind Dad’s, and I claimed it very proudly!

Growing up my dad was not only my hero, but my best friend. Oftentimes you could find both of our heads under a car, hands filled with grease, chatting the Saturday sun away. We had similar habits, shared an identical birthmark and laughed at the same jokes! Being ‘his girl’ was simply who I was created to be.

Through the years my dad has become an invaluable source of strength to me. When situations in life arise that leave me feeling heartbroken, lonely, or anxious; I always know who I can call to get an encouraging and positive answer: Dad. He can lift my spirits with just a few simple words, even from 2500 kilometres away; and those words will without a doubt be directing me to The Lord.

I’ve watched my dad endure some pretty tough situations in my lifetime. Multiple layoffs, financial hardship, loss, and several medical illnesses often leaving him vulnerable and hurting. Never once did I hear him complain; instead he always directed his focus on The Lord and praised Him through every circumstance. As a parent he not only directs me to The Lord, he lives his life as a rich example of such behaviour.

I only pray that I can be as big of a blessing to my children, as my parents were (and are) to me! I will always be ‘your girl’, Dad, no matter how old I am, or how far away I may be.

Save my seat, ok?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!