Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 7 comments

Our boys loved LEGOS® when they were growing up, as evidenced by the forty plus sets that subsequently took up residence in our basement. Unfortunately, the pieces to all these sets were residing together in one big box.  Our creative children were not limited by instructions, and loved to mix, match and create one-of-a-kind masterpieces.  While this is great for the imagination, it’s not so great for anyone wanting to build just one set according to the instructions.

Sorting LEGOS® would have probably remained in the category, “I really should get to that one of these days” if we didn’t have a little LEGO® lover stay with us for a couple months this winter. The LEGOS® and all their paraphernalia were transported from the basement to the upstairs bedroom where more creativity ensued. 

I was in the process of returning the LEGOS® to the basement when it occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to put them back in order.  If I didn’t do it now, they’d be relegated back to the dark confines of the basement, perhaps not seen for another decade.  What an overwhelming task!  I hardly knew where to start. 

Have you ever felt that way in regards to your life?  I know I have. There are times when it feels like my life has fallen apart and I have no idea where to start when it comes to picking up the pieces.   As I’ve been working to bring order to those LEGOS®, I realized it’s similar to the process for bringing order back into a life. 

STEP ONE: Start.  This may seem obvious, but it’s true.  We’ll never get anywhere if we don’t get started somewhere.  It’s not always important where you start.  What is important is when you start; and the sooner, the better.

NEXT: Identify the pieces.  What do you have to work with, sort out or address?  For my LEGO® project, that meant starting the painstaking process of sorting the pieces by color, then later by style. I learned, though, “If you sort them, they will come.”  I still have LEGO® lovers in my home; they’re just much bigger now.  While the “boys” had no interest in the sorting process, they were unable to resist the colorful piles of blocks and the stack of instruction booklets.  I didn’t even have to ask for help, they just came and started building.

THEN: Follow the instructions.  The “boys” have reached the point where they no longer insist on doing things their own way, but will actually follow a plan.  We need to reach that point in our lives as well.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.  God has a plan for your life and for mine, but we need to follow the plan if we’re going to build the life God has intended for us.  Don’t know the plan?  Stick close to the One who does!

NEXT: Take inventory. Once a set nears completion we compare what we have with an online parts list so that we can pinpoint exactly which pieces are missing.  And, as in life, there is always something missing.  We’ve inventoried 20 LEGO® sets thus far, and not one of them is complete.  Not one of us is complete either, which is why we need to compare our life to God’s word.  Then the Holy Spirit can help us identify what we’re missing. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26.

THEN: Replace the missing parts.  Knowing what we’re missing isn’t going to make a difference in our lives until we do something about it.  James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.” (Emphasis mine.) Perhaps we need to add something to our life – maybe it’s God Himself – or maybe we need to get rid of something and replace it with something better. “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:21. 

FINALLY: Take the steps necessary to avoid having to repeat the process.  After a set is completed, we place it and the instructions into a Ziploc bag.  This will work fine until we have someone to play with them again.  At that point we will have to monitor them to ensure each set stays intact.  Our lives need monitoring too.  We need to pray as David did in Psalm 26:2: “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”

What have you been avoiding dealing with in your life?  Let’s pick up the pieces, lay them at God’s feet, and start the rebuilding process today! 

Father, thank you for your willingness to direct me in reconstruction rather than abandoning me to the mess I created. I thank you that you always want what’s best for me, far better than anything I could ever ask for or imagine. 

Ladies, there is an amazing opportunity for you regardless of where you are in this process!  Pat Layton’s “Imagine Me, Set Free” Freedom Weekend is coming to Corinth Church, just south of Grand Rapids MI, on October 7 & 8, 2011.     

 
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments



I spent last weekend in Chicago and was blessed to stay at a hotel that was within walking distance of many places I wanted to see.  But for me, along with walking comes stumbling.  It wasn’t so much the big, obvious obstacles like stairs or curbs that were the problem.  It was the little, unexpected things like uneven sections of sidewalk that caused me to stumble.  I’m just thankful I didn’t fall.

Dictionary.com says that to stumble is “to strike the foot against something, as in walking or running, so as to stagger or fall; trip,” but it also defines stumbling as making “a slip, mistake, or blunder, especially a sinful one.”  Maybe that’s why the word “stumble” is used so often in the Bible. 

I did some of this biblical stumbling after I arrived home, but thankfully I didn't fall there either.  I had an appointment early the next morning, but before I left I found myself turning the house upside-down looking for the checkbook, which I didn’t find.  Then I got in my van, and as I turned my head to back out of the garage, I saw that the back end was full of dirt.  Not just dirty, but under several inches of dirt.  And this just a week after my annual vacuuming! 

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James 3:2.  There is a reason James connected stumbling with the tongue.  I know it was my tongue leading me to stumble that day.  My first inclination, before even leaving the house that morning, was to interrupt my husband and inquire as to the whereabouts of the checkbook.  (I must admit that these words sound much nicer than the ones that would have come out of my mouth at the time.)

What kept me from saying those words, from stumbling and falling into sin, and kept me on track?  God’s Word.  Because I’ve spent time in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is able to remind me of what I’ve read.  Scripture tells us that’s one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs.  “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” ~ John 14:26

So, what Scripture did the Holy Spirit bring to mind?  Proverbs 10: 19 “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” At that moment, I knew the choice was mine:   Would I be wise, or would I be a fool?  Thankfully, God doesn’t just tell us what to do, he equips us to do it.  We don’t need to fall into sin, whether it’s a sin of the tongue or anything else.  Praise God, He is able to keep us from falling!

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25

I can’t say it any better than Jude.  Amen!
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

Heaven, hell, and a bat in my kitchen sink.  What do these three things have in common? 

It was an unusual morning right from the start.  It’s been downright toasty in our air-conditioning free house the last few days, so I ran a fan all night to push the cool air up from the basement.  Unfortunately along with the basement’s cool air came the basement’s smell. 

“Easy enough to fix!” I thought.  “I’ll just light a candle to dispel the musty odor.”  But the candle was low and the matches were short and I ended up burning my thumb, which is why I went to the kitchen sink – to run cold water on it.  Except that I never did get around to putting my thumb under cold water. 

Have you ever glanced at something you really didn’t want to see?  My first inclination was to convince myself that the truth is what I want to see, not what I’m truly seeing.  “Maybe it’s just a leaf,” I thought to myself, (a stretch, I know.)  “It’s early, I don’t have the light on over the sink, my eyes aren’t focused yet, etc.,” but with a second glance I was sure enough that it was a bat to wake up my husband who had just gone to sleep. 

Bob, deemed (by me) to be in charge of anything high, heavy or horrid, removed the bat from the premises.  I then proceeded to don rubber gloves, load everything I could into the dishwasher and wipe down everything else with bleach.  Eww!

So what does a bat in my kitchen sink have to do with heaven and hell?  Like it or not, they are all a reality. 

There’s a lot of discussion about heaven and hell right now.  Many like the thought of heaven but dismiss the thought of hell.  We can make ourselves feel better by thinking that hell doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t change the fact that it does. 

People are eternal and there are only two options.  You either spend eternity with God in heaven or apart from God in hell.  Scripture is very clear about that. 

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life." ~ John 5:24

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. ~ John 5:28-29

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. ~ Daniel 12:2

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

Thankfully, heaven is available to us all.  God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9 

The choice is up to you: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” ~ ~ Deuteronomy 30:19

Father, I thank you that you sent your son Jesus to die on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin.  Thank you for leading me to accept His gift of forgiveness so that I may spend eternity with you.  I pray that those reading this will choose an eternity with you as well.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

My husband has always admired the big maps of the United States that you’d see adhered to the side of a motorhome.  Anyone could tell where the vehicle had been just by looking at which states were colored in.  So when we acquired a motorhome many years ago, I thought one of these maps would make a perfect gift for my hard-to-buy-for husband. 

I went down to the local RV dealership, but after finally finding a man to help me and explaining what I was looking for, I was told that he had no idea whether or not they sold them.  He did inform me that he could find out.  His “finding out” reminded me of something one of my children would’ve done, for it entailed him opening a door and yelling, “Hey Joe!  Do we sell any of those things we’re always scraping off the sides of these motorhomes?”

Immediately two thoughts came to mind: One, this man is obviously not a salesman; and two, I’m not even sure I want this anymore.  Suddenly it seemed futile.  Why spend money on something that would eventually end up scraped off onto the floor of an RV dealership? 

I don’t want to waste my money, and I certainly don’t want to waste my life.  Yet how often do I spend time on things that really aren’t going to make a difference in the scheme of all eternity? 

“In the scheme of all eternity.”  This is my new measuring stick used to determine if something is worth investing my time in.  Scripture tells us that there are three things that are eternal:

  1. God  (Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come ~ Revelation 1:4)
     2. God’s Word (The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
         ~ Isaiah 40:8)

  1. People, who either spend an eternity with God or an eternity separated from Him. (Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. ~ Daniel 12:2)

I realized I had it all backwards.  Many things that I wanted to accomplish didn’t really matter in the scheme of all eternity.  They’re like that map, scraped off and lying on the dealership floor.  There’s no lasting value.  What matters is the time I spend with God, in His Word, and ministering to people.  Investing those things that I didn’t feel I had anything to show for afterwards are really the most important things to be investing in.  Maybe that’s why Paul said we should, “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve been caught up in things that really don’t matter.  Help me to invest my time on those things that matter “in the scheme of all eternity.”
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

Sometimes we can find truth in unusual places, even in the lyrics of an old Eagles song. “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.” (“Already Gone.”)

Just last week we celebrated Independence Day here in the United States, a celebration of freedom. We credit God and dedicated servicemen and women for giving us that freedom, and rightly so. But many people, both here and abroad, have the illusion that those of us living in the United States are living in freedom. The truth is that we can be living in chains regardless of where we reside because true freedom is only found in Christ. …the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… Isaiah 61:1

Christ came to set you free, so what is it that is holding you captive? What chains are enslaving you, keeping you from living in the freedom Christ offers?

Unforgiveness?

Jealousy or envy?

Pride?

Worry?

Anger?

The list goes on and on…


We live in chains because we choose to handle things ourselves rather than turning to Christ for guidance and direction.

We live our lives in chains because we listen to God but we don’t do what He says.

We live in chains because we refuse the freedom Christ offers.

Why are you living in chains?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

The choice is up to us. God does not want us living bound by sin. He wants us living in obedience to Him. Obedience to God doesn’t bring bondage, it brings freedom. Jesus directs us in Matthew 11:29-30, "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."

We will find rest. We will live in freedom when we realize Jesus is the key to releasing the chains that bind us. The Key is available to all. What you do with it is up to you.

Jesus, thank you for paying the price for my freedom. I know that what is freely available to me cost you your life. Help me to remember that and to show my gratitude by living in the freedom you so generously offer.

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

He looked at me, his big blue eyes as wide as saucers, his little boy voice trying to sound brave as he said, “It’s okay if we don’t make it to my football game, Mom…but do you know how to get home?”

Fast-forward fifteen years. After hearing of my latest misadventure, my now grown blue-eyed son simply responded, “You did it again?”

I will be the first one to admit that I am “directionally impaired.” I think that sounds so much better than saying, “I get lost a lot,” but, well…I get lost a lot. I would have to say that these two incidents, however, were the most notable due to the distance between my location and my intended destination.

I was on my way home from a conference, my brain on overload from all the things I learned and all the things I wanted to implement. Maybe that’s why I missed my exit, or maybe because it’s just not a route I take very often. Who knows? What I do know is that as I was driving I began to realize that nothing looked familiar. I pulled off on the next exit – which were few and far between – and located my map, which I keep in my vehicle for just such emergencies. I was asking myself, “How did I get here?” and, “How do I get back on track?”

I find myself asking the same questions in regards to my life. Occasionally I feel overwhelmed, and have to ask myself, “How did I get here?” Upon examination I generally find that quite a few things have crept into my life while not much has been withdrawn.

The answer to “How do I get back on track?” is always found in God’s Word, my roadmap for life. James 1:5 tells us that "if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault..."

My life is full of good things. I just need to determine which of those things should be a priority. Thankfully, God has all the answers. I just need to be still and listen for them just like I needed to stop and look at the map. If I’m to arrive at my intended destination, I first need to know which way to proceed.

We never did make it to the football game that day many years ago, due to the fact that the game was in Fenville (along the lakeshore) and we were in Nashville (which, I learned just that day, is in the center of the state.) I was able to reassure my son, however, that no matter where we were, I could always find my way home.

Thank you, Father, for always being there to guide me and welcome me home!
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