Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quote from Spurgeon

"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."—1 Thessalonians 5:24.

...Believer, let us often reflect with joy on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and honour the faithfulness of our God by a holy confidence in Him.

May our God bring home to you a sense of your safety in Christ Jesus! May He assure you that your name is graven on His hand; and whisper in your ear the promise, "Fear not, I am with thee." Look upon Him, the great Surety of the covenant, as faithful and true, and, therefore, bound and engaged to present you, the weakest of the family, with all the chosen race, before the throne of God; and in such a sweet contemplation you will drink the juice of the spiced wine of the Lord's pomegranate, and taste the dainty fruits of Paradise. You will have an antepast of the enjoyments which ravish the souls of the perfect saints above, if you can believe with unstaggering faith that "faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Godward Encouragement

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him. COLOSSIANS 2:6

NEVER further than Thy cross;
Never higher than Thy feet;
Here earth's precious things seem dross;
Here earth's bitter things grow sweet.
Here we learn to serve and give,
And, rejoicing, self deny;
Here we gather love to live,
Here we gather faith to die. -- Elizabeth R. Charles

This I saw, that when a soul loves God with a supreme love, God's interests and his are become one. It is no matter when nor where nor how Christ should send me, nor what trials He should exercise me with, if I may be prepared for His work and will. -- David Brainerd

"God wants you to know that He knows your grief. He sees your suffering and He is with you." --My friend Velinda

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Desire

Desire is, most often, a liar and a thief. -- me

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Encouragement from Spurgeon

Last night in our small group meeting, we talked a bit about the signs and wonders of God. During that discussion, some shared that the biggest sign/wonder/miracle in their life was salvation. This led to a time of sharing conversion testimonies. One began his own powerful story by saying "Never stop praying [for unsaved people in your life]." It was one of those Holy Spirit moments, when you can feel His presence, literally. I know I wasn't alone in being at once convicted of my own prayerlessness and discouragement in this area, and encouraged...even excited...to commend my people to prayer to God.

Then, this morning, I came across this:


"I have much people in this city."—Acts 18:10.

HIS should be a great encouragement to try to do good, since God has among the vilest of the vile, the most reprobate, the most debauched and drunken, an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ's property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of the ale-house, and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them He will have them. God is not unfaithful to forget the price which His Son has paid. He will not suffer His substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.

Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. "Neither pray I for these alone," saith the great Intercessor, "but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word." Poor, ignorant souls, they know nothing about prayer for themselves, but Jesus prays for them. Their names are on His breastplate, and ere long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace. "The time of figs is not yet." The predestinated moment has not struck; but, when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have His own; they must, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when He cometh forth with fulness of power—they must become the willing servants of the living God. "My people shall be willing in the day of my power." "He shall justify many." "He shall see of the travail of His soul." "I will divide him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong."


...and then I had another Holy Spirit moment. :)

I've been a believer since 1994. My family is still unsaved. Since Katrina, the Lord has allowed me to cultivate some very neat friendships at work. Not one of my new friends has even come to church yet. It is so easy to get a bit myopic and see nothing really happening. This has led to discouragement and prayerlessness. But this view isn't complete, and isn't even reality. I see resistance, failure even...but God. God says "I have many people in this City." God says, "They are Christ's property." God says, "[I] shall justify many." He also says that He intercedes for them. It is His heart that all men will know Him..before that great day. As such, He pursues them. He shows up on the map of their life and reveals Himself to them, though they may be resistant, stubborn, bent on refusing Him. And, if they are among the chosen He WILL win them. Just like He won me.

Father, thank you for testimonies. Thank you for irresistable grace. Thank you for men who faithfully recount your truth and promises to encourage us in due season.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quote

“Look more at justification than sanctification. In the highest commands consider Christ, not as an exacter to require, but as a debtor, an undertaker, to work in you and for you. If you have looked at your resolutions, endeavors, workings, duties, qualifications, etc., more than at the merits of Christ, it will cost you dear.”

- Thomas Wilcox, Honey out of the Rock

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

doubt and fear and sorrow free

GIVE me a new, a perfect heart,
From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free;
The mind which was in Christ impart,
And let my spirit cleave to Thee. -- CHARLES WESLEY

If ever there was a heart's cry for me at this time in my life, it would be this. To be free from doubt, fear, sorrow...bitterness, discontentment, disappointment, guilt, and grief and just be, right here, right now, thankful for my portion, my lot, and God's providence in my life. To cast every care and hope and disappointment and uncertainty on Him and leave it here, confident that He who called me is faithful, is good and does good, is for me, and has a plan and purpose for what seems to me a pointless, small, and failure-filled life. If I could forget my plans, my expectations, and agendas and live in the truth that He is, cleave unto Him instead of clamoring after future phantoms, I think I would find exactly what my heart is seeking in all these other things...and more besides.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Update

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

(Psalm 32)



Back in 04, the Lord used the truth of this Psalm in a mighty way in my life. It led to changes in me and my habits that I had previously believed impossible…and fruit I could not imagine. But, for the past year or more, I feel as if I’ve been looking in the rear view mirror at the great thing God did back then…and it just keeps getting more and more faint. I need to believe that the Lord does not start something He does not intend to finish. I have to believe that He would not have me stay where I am – silent about my real struggle while I complain and focus on other things.

So here is where I am: since Katrina I have gained about 40 lbs. I have been inconsistent in my eating. At times I follow the plan I believe the Lord gave me, more often I compromise, and I’ve found myself eating more and more for comfort again. I’ve not been exercising. This change has not only caused the weight to come back, but it’s effected me in other ways. I’m tired a lot. I lack joy. I’m discouraged and feel that my zeal for the Lord is not what it should be. Consequently, what comes out of me isn’t what it should be.

The dilemma I face now is where to go from here. I could vow anew to follow the eating plan perfectly and exercise at least 3 times a week, if not even join a gym. I could make all sorts of plans and promises…but I don’t know that a list or newly minted plan is what I need most. I think I need to get my head and heart straight first. For the past few months I’ve sort of lived in Colossians 3 and have tried to be as fervent in prayer as I can, but my efforts on my own so far have all ended in failure. I am thankful that I’ve at least not lost the sting, the grief…but I am not even certain that my response is correct. It could just be self pity and not true grief over my sin. I don’t even know if I rightly apprehend what is sin for me in this area and what is not. I think I’ve sort of gotten to a point where food in general feels like sin…it’s either the wrong kind of food or too much food or food for the wrong reason. I need the Lord to break through all of that and give me his perspective, his truth on this, otherwise, I’m just going to keep boxing at the wind.

God's promise is that He hears those who wait patiently on Him, and that they will see His salvation. He says that He has not forgotten to be gracious and that His anger over my sin will not shut out His compassion. Instead, he inclines His ear to me and will rescue me. But for now, I cling to these truths...and wait.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

God is not slow...

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you...And count the patience of our Lord as salvation... (2 Peter 3:9, 15)

This passage was like a shot through the darkness last night; a shot in the arm for what has been ailing me, a shot through the very heart. But like spanking a child to break the control and distraction of sinfulness, the pain led way to clarity. I saw my circumstances through the light of God's word, not the haze of my disappointment and sin.

It was an epiphany, to say the least.

The details of my personal circumstances and disappointments, or yours, are not important. The truth is unconditional and universal. Whatever it is, God is not slow to fulfill His promises, He is being patient with us. And His patience is our salvation. His "delay" is saving us from harm, and whatever we feel we are suffering or losing, it is nothing compared to what we would be if God were as hasty as we would like.

He is good and does good...always. This is certain. He means to prosper us and not harm us. This is true. He is not slow, but patient. This is our salvation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

...and God knew.

God Hears Israel’s Groaning
23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
The Burning Bush
1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. (Exodus 2:23-3:2)


Isn’t that “and God knew” wonderful…especially knowing what comes after it?


The people cried out, He saw and heard…and He knew that the deliverer was coming. There is a wonderful promise implicit in this, and repeated throughout Scripture: God always hears, always sees, and always knows. His hand is sure to move, to intervene, to heal, to lead us in the way we should go. For every cry for help, He promises and answer. For ever seemingly impossible situation, there is a burning bush!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

quote

"God sees me," is the sweet solace of the true believer. He knows the way
that I take, will make that rugged way seem smooth. If perils and distress
so shake the heart that plenteous tears give evidence of suffering, these
tears are marked on high, and tender compassion will wipe them all away. The
day has not yet come when there shall be no more tears. But the day is
always present when they awaken sympathy in the Redeemer's breast. He who
wept on earth will soon wipe all tears away!

Henry Law

Monday, September 10, 2007

Everyday Preparation

We presume that we would be ready for battle if confronted with a great crisis, but it is not the crisis that builds something within us— it simply reveals what we are made of already. Do you find yourself saying, "If God calls me to battle, of course I will rise to the occasion"? Yet you won’t rise to the occasion unless you have done so on God’s training ground. If you are not doing the task that is closest to you now, which God has engineered into your life, when the crisis comes, instead of being fit for battle, you will be revealed as being unfit. Crises always reveal a person’s true character. -- Oswald Chambers

A couple of months ago, I met with one of my Pastors. I went, ostensibly to discuss a particular issue of conflict/struggle I was having, but we wound up talking about my singleness.

I have come to see that pretty much every area of conflict or struggle in my life is somehow connected to my un-met desire for marriage and family.

At one point in our talk, he asked, "If the Lord told you today that His will for you was lifelong singleness, would you be ok with that?" Before the sentence was completely out of his mouth, I was already in tears and I very honestly answered "No." Even today, if I were asked the same question, my response would be the same. "Lifelong singleness" sounds like a death sentence to me. It is the worst of all possible options in my mind. I could think of 10 other "tragedies" I'd rather befall me than to remain as I am now.

In that meeting, I followed my answer up with "But I have to believe that the Lord won't just drop that on me without preparing my heart to submit, first. I have to believe He would make me ready to hear and accept that without it just destroying me."

Mr. Chambers would tell me that it wouldn't be some supernatural intervention, switch-flip that prepares my heart for God's Will (whether that be in line with my desires or not) but how I live my life today, and tomorrow and the next day. God's work is often done in what appears the mundane. The Cross was preceeded by 3 years of ministry and 30 years of obscurity. The Savior was birthed in a stable and entrusted to a teenager and her carpenter husband. But each unspectacular bit led up to the resurrection and Christ being seen as Savior of the world. The "crisis" of the Cross revealed the true character of the lowly Nazarene.

I'm not confident that, were a crisis to come to my life now, my character would be Christ-like. But I am confident that it can be so, that His strength is made perfect in weakness, that He is in the business of perfecting His saints and that He promises all grace and all sufficiency in all things at all times. I am also confident that though I am unfaithful, He never is and though my love waxes and wanes, His is from everlasting to everlasting...and for that, I am very grateful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whatever My God Ordains Is Right

Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?


These words from the song “Praise To The Lord, The Almighty” by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), cut a tender wound in my heart this morning. The truth of them both deeply grieved and humbled me, and flooded me with love for my Lord.
He truly has ordered my circumstances to meet my needs and desires.

I desire companionship…He has given me friends and a roommate.
I desire, specifically, male companionship…He has given me many male friends who are like brothers to me, meaning they both annoy and entertain me and are willing to beat someone up for me, if necessary.
I desire to be a mother…He has given me nieces and nephews, and above-mentioned male friends, to care for and fuss and feed.
I desire a husband…my Maker is my Husband. He pursues and woos and speaks into my life, giving direction and wisdom. He loves me with a tender and abiding and everlasting love and promises never to leave me or forsake me…whether I am sick or well, rich or poor, fat or thin, loveable or wretched, faithful or not.

I have no reason to grumble or complain or rebel.


Whatever my God ordains is right
Here shall my stand be taken
Though sorrow, or need, or death be mine
Yet I am not forsaken
My Father’s care circles me there
He holds me that I shall not fall
And so to Him I leave it all

Whatever my God ordains is right
Though now this cup in drinking
Bitter it seems to my faint heart
I take it all unshrinking
My God is true, each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart

“Whatever My God Ordains is Right” (Rodigast/Winkworth/Altrogge)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Portion

YOUR portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfil the will of God, by moulding yourself to that of others. Happy indeed you are thus to bear a cross laid on you by God's own hands, in the order of His Providence. The discipline which we choose for ourselves does not destroy our self-love like that which God assigns us Himself each day. All we have to do is to give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in His arms as a loving mother carries her child. In every need let us look with love and trust to our Heavenly Father. -- FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FeNELON

This was part of my morning reading yesterday...and was very timely. That old foe of "Potential Spinsterhood" reered it's ugly head again and I did not greet it well. I spent most of Tuesday an emotional mess...but God. He intervened Wednesday morning and reminded me that my weapon against the real Enemy and his real goal - my self-love - is to suffer as Christ has suffered, arming myself "likewise with the same mind. (1 Pt 4:1)".

What was His mind?
Essentially, this:

The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? --JOHN 18:11


When we are fully delivered from the influence of selfish considerations, and have become conformed to the desires and purposes of the Infinite Mind, we shall drink the cup, and drink it cheerfully, whatever it may be. In a word, we shall necessarily be submissive and happy in all trials, and in every change and diversity of situation. Not because we are seeking happiness, or thinking of happiness, as a distinct object, but because the glorious will of Him whom our soul loves supremely, is accomplished in us. (THOMAS C. UPHAM)

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5-6)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Succumb or Stand

Temptation can cause us to succumb, sink, sin, or stand. - William Ward

This weekend my church had a Church Covenant signing. I went into this service thinking, "I made my commitment to this church years ago, so this is nothing new or extremely significant to me." I thought it was a nice, sorta sentimental, idea...which was fine because I am a very sentimental person, but in my head the signing of the covenant was just restating a commitment I'd already made and been faithful to. However, as members of the church read the covenant aloud and people came forward to sign, I was overcome. This Covenant wasn't just about a commitment to a particular body of believers, it was affirming our individual and corporate covenant with the Lord. It was saying "We, this group assembled together, believe this about God and are committed to living as such, for the sake of His glory, the furtherance of His Kingdom and our mutual sanctification."

As we listened to the covenant being read and sang songs that proclaimed these truths, I couldn't help think about how I'd fallen short. The gravity of the reality that, in so doing, I'd broken covenant with God AND that that breech made those I was connected to vulnerable as well, was very, VERY sobering. I thought about the lives of those around me, lives marred and even destroyed by sin and was broken. I thought of the women and girls I know who compromised in relationships, who were married in secret because of sin, who live with regret after giving themselves to a man who was not as faithful as he promised to be, who are married to a man who wasn't what the deceitfulness of sin allowed them to believe he was, who have turned their backs on God for a version of Him that allows for the indulgence of their flesh, friends who continue to lean on drugs, alcohol or relationships instead of God. And then I thought, but for the grace of God someone could be grieving over the sames things in my life.

I am not so naive to believe for one second that, if the opportunity presented itself, I wouldn't succumb and sin with the hope of ending my singleness. I have compromised what I profess to believe to indulge my flesh in other ways...for things that do not promise to give me the one thing I want more than anything else on this earth: a husband and family. So, how can I assume that the line would somehow be drawn just short of fornication or adultery? I can't.

The truth is, that these "smaller" compromises and indulgences make me even more vulnerable. By God's grace, my compromises and indulgences are not habitual, but they do happen...and they happen more than they should. I am called to be holy as He is holy and anytime my flesh takes priority over holiness, I am on a slippery slope which can, might I even dare to say WILL lead to the "bigger and badder" sins.

I believe that none of the men and women I thought of in that sobering moment this weekend thought they would sin as they did. But I also believe that, long before that seemingly uncrossable line was crossed, there was choice after choice for the flesh over the spirit until that line was a hazy sliver in the rear-view mirror of their lives.

That is sad and frightening.

Lord, let it not be so in your church. Sober us. Put fresh fire in us for Your Word. Grant us the gift of repentance and Your Spirit that we might stand when temptation comes and go on to walk in a manner worthy of the Name of Christ, by which we are called!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kissing the Guilty

"And Hea'vs Peace and Perfect Justice Kissed a Guilty World in Love."

I turned off the car, got out and began walking to the door of my office, with that line from a song ringing in my head. All the while I thought, "Do I really get that? Does anyone? Is it even possible to understand the magnitude of what this is saying?" Thinking back over my own life and experience, I don't think so.


Not naturally, anyway.

I mean, I can hardly think of a time when I deserved a slap and got a kiss instead. Mostly, the slaps were given with great zeal and a strong feeling of justification...a feeling I know well from times when I was the slapper, too. Even when a kiss is warranted, I often hesitate to give it because I can't look past whatever wrong I felt, or push my own pride aside at wrongly feeling wronged. So, even my forgiveness is too often not so much a kiss as a patronizing pat on the head.

David says "Against you [God], and you alone have I sinned", not against Uriah or Bathsheba or anyone else, his sin and mine, no matter what form it takes and who it involves is against God alone. And He kissed us in love. More than that, I taunted and rejected and spurned the kiss, or behaved as if I had it coming to me, and He gave it anyway. Now, I can sort of imagine giving a forgiving kiss to someone who hurt me and apologized. But what about to someone who didn't apologize? What about to someone who hurt or killed or otherwise assaulted one of my niece's? I don't know. That adds a degree of difficulty.

No, I don't think I am capable of really "getting" this. It is one of those things that are too wonderful, too high. But I am thankful that it is truth, that my fully getting it has no effect on how real it is or on my daily experiencing the effects of this reality. He is too good!

Monday, August 6, 2007

"It is I..."

"It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20)

It is I; do not be afraid.
I knit you in your mother's womb
I know your frame and how you are made
And remember that you are but dust.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am the shade on your right hand
I walk with you along the way
I have drawn the lines for you in pleasant places.

It is I; do not be afraid.
Satan may ask to sift you like wheat
But I have prayed for you
I am your advocate with the Father.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and see all
I plan and purpose all
I work all things for your good and my glory.

All things.I am plotting for your joy.

It is I; do not be afraid.
When you seem to go astray
When you see nothing but darkness ahead
When you feel the sting of heartache or pain.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I will come like a firm grasp of the hand
I will make the darkness bright
I will again give you joy unspeakable.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and work through all
Around and underneath
I surround you with a mighty hand and outstretched arms.

It is I; do not be afraid.
No one can snatch you from my hand
That which I began I will complete
And not one word of my good promises will fail.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I chose you from the beginning
I love you with an everlasting love
I will never leave you or forsake you

It is I; do not be afraid.
Hope in God and His purposes
Count all other things as joyful loss
For, one who hopes in God will never be disappointed.

And no matter what you face
this you can know
of this you can be certain
It is I; do not be afraid.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Issues are with God

The issues are with God, and His servants know not the word disappointment, for they are incapable of reading His designs. Only this they know, that the slightest hesitation in obeying what they believe to be a divine impulse, produces a suffering more intense than any consequences which may accrue to them from the world. --Laurence Oliphant

I've been thinking a lot about my friend from Tuscaloosa who I miss very much...still. Like so much of what the Lord does, I have no clue what His purpose is in this. I know it hurts. I know I don't like it. I know I wish things would be different. I know my heart toward this man has not changed one bit despite these months of silence. But over and above my feelings, and more important than what I don't know yet, is this: I know that God is good and does good always. Whatever the outcome, however this looks next month or next year, I know when I get there, I will know that He meant this for my good...to care for me, not to harm me.

I am so thankful for that abiding and over-ruling truth.

I want to make the issues mine. I want to know the design and purpose and plan and outcome NOW. But those are God's, mine is to obey, do what I know now, and watch and pray for the joy that is promised in the morning and the goodness and mercy that will follow me all the days of my life, and the Corn that waits for me in Egypt.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Waiting

Blessed are all they that wait for Him. ISAIAH 30:19

I don't know how to wait.

I know how to want.
I know how to get.
I know how to fuss when I don't get what I want.
I know how to resign and be disappointed.

I don't know how to wait.

But, when you think about it, the word waiting implies hope, expectation, and anticipation...and purpose. One generally waits for something, right? One generally doesn't wait for no reason or for something they are certain will not come.

Whether it is standing in line at the DMV, watching for the sun to rise on Christmas morning, pacing an OB waiting room floor, counting the days until a special event, or fighting to keep your eyes closed before a surprise is revealed, waiting is meant to be frought with expectation as it promises two things: there will be an end to the waiting and there will be something waiting there for you at the end.

If my waiting isn't hopeful and expectant, I'm not waiting, I'm doing something else...something like craving, pining, fretting, striving or giving up.

My times are in Thy hand, O Lord! And, surely, that is the best. Were I to choose, they should be in no other hands, neither mine own, nor any others. When He withholds mercies or comforts for a season, it is but till the due season. Therefore it is our wisdom and our peace to resign all things into His hands, to have no will nor desires, but only this, that we may still wait for Him. Never was any one who waited for Him miserable with disappointment. ROBERT LEIGHTON

Monday, July 23, 2007

Greater things than these...

Take your burdens and troubles and losses and wrongs, if come they must and will, as opportunities, knowing that God has girded you for greater things than these. -- Horace Bushnell

I am in the process of buying another car. My car is my independance. It allows me to go and do as I feel the Lord would have me without much thought or effort. But when the car isn't working properly, I suddenly feel very, very dependant...but as a single woman, there is no one for me to be dependant on in that moment. Consequently, I feel very alone and tend towards fear.

Having a car repaired, or purchasing a new one, also involves money. Money is another thing that is a sign or enabler of independance for me. And, when it is running low or all gone, I feel as dependant and alone as when my car won't go.

In the grand scheme of things, though, I realize these are not big, life-altering issues. I've never gone without a car or without help to fix my car. I've never gone hungry or had to file bankruptcy or anything like that. God has always provided and always will, I know this. I also know that this is true whether the issue is car or money or family or work or friendships or sickness...whatever. But whatever the issue, when it is current and in my face is tends to seem really, REALLY big; mountainous, if you will. Which is why I really love the quote above.

Issues will always come, but we must also remember that they will always go, too. Only God remains, and remain He will no matter what. His promise is to never leave us nor forsake us. This promise is not contingent on the size and magnitude of our issues it is true for troubles and burdens and losses and wrongs whether great or small...and it remains true regardless of the degree to which our hearts magnify our issues. He has gird us for greater things than these...greater than our greatest fear or need or desire...greater things than even these.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cute

I went to Walmart tonight with my nieces and nephew. My oldest niece wanted to sing, so we did...cuz that's what we do. So we started singing and this is what she sang:

Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Your love makes me scream!

I laughed and teared up a little bit at the same time. The actual words are "Your love makes me sing." But, shouldn't his love makes us scream? I wish it made me want to scream more often.

Outta the mouthes of babes, huh?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poem

Behold, the paths of life are ours - We see
Our blest inheritance where'er we tread
Sorrow and danger our security
And disappointment lifting up our head. -- Anna L. Waring

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Snippets from my reading this morning...

God does not demand impossibilities. -- Augustine

To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect. -- John Owen

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross...arm yourselves with the same way of thinking. (Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Peter 4:1)

The Lord stood with me and strengthened me. (2 Timothy 4:17)

God has gone forth before thee. (1 Chronicles 14:15)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Repost: Unreservedly, fearlessly His

C.S. Lewis has said that people need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed. I believe this to be true. So often, I look through my journal or a blog or read a familiar passage and am reminded afresh of something vital that I'd forgotten. Today was one of those days...so here's hoping I'm not the only one who needs this particular reminder.

Monday, July 31, 2006
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given it to me; to Thee, O Lord, I restore it; all is Thine, dispose of it according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is enough for me....Alone with God, let us give Him ourselves, all we have and are and shall be, to be unreservedly His. -- WILLIAM R. HUNTINGTON

There is no stay so strong as an unreserved abandonment of self into God's hand. -- H. L. SIDNEY LEAR

I still remember, very vividly, my first day of Kindergarten. I was the oldest and the first to go to school. I was also the only girl. At that time, I had only 2 of my 4 brothers. My newest brother, Joey, was about a year old, No. 3 (Brad) was 8 months in the oven...and less than a year after that, Timmy, "the caboose" would be born. My neighbor friend, Chantel, had already gone to Kindergarten and told me all about it. Since I always wanted to do whatever Chantel did, I was none too excited. So off I marched, with Mom and brothers lagging behind, in my new dress, holding my snazzy bookbag which looked like a denim briefcase with pockets and a really cool latch on the front. Daddy had written my name and phone number inside the front flap in what I thought was the fanciest handwriting ever! Inside, I had my special tablet, a couple of big fat pencils, a pack of big fat crayons and a big flat eraser. I was set!

When we got to the corner, there were several other kids there already waiting with their Moms. Soon, the bright yellow bus - the coolest vehicle EVER in my 5 year old opinion - was coming up the street. I remember feeling something like a bubbling coming up from my toes which wanted to come out as a squeal but didn't. I looked behind me to smile at my mom and brothers, as if to say "this is so awesome!" (or whatever the colloquial equivalent was in 1977) But most of the other kids weren't looking back at their Moms that way. Most of them were crying, begging to stay home, looking at the slowly approaching bus - which brought such a smile to my face - as if it were the giant yellow machine of death. I didn't get it.

Despite the fussing and crying and screams of terror, soon we were all on the bus-slash- monster. Once inside, most kids reluctantly sat, whimpering in the dark green vinyl seats which seemed HUGE...way too big for kids our size. Others continued to cry and plead with the driver to let them off. Still other kids tried to get the windows open to make one last attempt at convincing their Mom of the horror that was sure to befall them so they would, at last, rescue them from this, albeit cleverly disguised, monster. I sat in my seat with my bookbag on my lap, smiling. I didn't even look back to wave goodbye. I was off, on to the Adventure of Kindergarten and I was psyched! (or whatever we would have said then)

I thought about ... how fearless I was. I thought about how excited I was. I thought about how I didn't think about what I was leaving behind (my room full of barbies, my brothers-slash-living baby dolls, my easy-bake oven). I didn't worry about what might or might not happen at school. I didn't wonder if I'd make friends or be able to learn to write or if I'd not be allowed to be mommy when we played house. I was where I was supposed to be, going where I was supposed to go, doing what I was supposed to be doing and that was all that mattered. What lay ahead was a complete mystery to me, despite Chantel's efforts to describe it, and I didn't care. I wasn't worried. I wasn't afraid. I was excited...about what I didn't know, but boy was I excited!

...30 years later, I wonder. when did that change? When did the unknown come to be such a scary thing? When did tomorrow hang over today with a sense of foreboding? When did worry and what ifs creep into my mind? When did I learn to expect the worst? When did I begin to think I had to fiercely hang on to what is to keep it from becoming what was? When did I lose that automatic and untouchable sense of excited anticipation?I don't know. But I do know none of it is pleasing to God. And, I hate that it still lingers and infects my heart and mind even after I've given my life to Christ.

Jesus says "He who seeks to save His life shall lose it."And really, that is what all the fear and dread and worry and what ifs and holding on is...an attempt to save my life. My life that was bought. My life that was saved. My life that is owed to Christ.

Today, a plan of mine was disappointed. I'd set a goal or deadline and it is now past. On the way home, I got a little weepy and apprehensive about what that might mean. Then, clear as day I heard "It was your plan, not God's". I needed that perspective. I can make all the plans I want...the mind of man plans His way but the Lord directs His steps. His plans, and His plans alone will prosper. I need not worry about my plans failing...whether they do or not, His plan is the one that matters and His plans never fail. What other logical choice is there but to surrender, to abandon oneself and one's plans to God and trust that no matter what...no matter how many disappointments or big yellow monster buses come our way it will be fine. We are the only ones taken by surprise. God's got it...and He is good and does good always.

Despite their fears and cries and screams and falling on the floor in a quivering puddle, all of the kids that entered the belly of the beast (also known as the school bus) returned home, safe and sound, happy, with snacks in their tummys and a new friend to tell Mom about. Only a few of us didn't have to hear, "See, I said you would have fun and you did, didn't you?"...and feel the shame for behaving so badly.In truth, nothing, not even the worst tragedy that has ever happened to us in our lives, is ever as bad as we imagine it to be. And in the midst of tragedy, for believer and unbeliever, there are many evidences of His grace to recount. Mercies that were simply undeserved, blessings and encouragements, favor, and proof that He truly does work ALL things together for good.

Lord, Help us. Help us...help me...to look on the next moment, the next hour, the next day or year or decade with the same excited anticipation I had that first day of Kindergarten...with the same surrender that Christ had at Calvary "for the joy set before Him." Make the truth of your goodness and faithfulness so real that the thought of being fearful or dreading what may come grieves us. In moments when we brace for an imagined blow, may we feel your Spirit convicting us and repent for accusing you of something you cannot do or be. Forgive us, Lord...help our unbelief and help us to be daily more abandoned to You, Your will, and Your ways. Amen!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

How then should we live?

Every morning for the past 4 years I've read chapter or portion from four sections of the Bible. Usually, it is a chapter in the OT, one in the NT, a Psalm and something in Proverbs. It has been very helpful to me to read this way and see the overarching themes throughout scripture. Over the past couple of months, I've read through Genesis and part of Exodus. This morning, something struck me: The people of Israel "looked" a certain way. They stood out from the other people around them.

Israel was a people, a nation, a culture. They were set apart by dress and practice. What they ate and did not eat, what they wore, what they did each day, when they rested and how they worshipped their God was seen by and set them apart from others.

Their faith wasn't just in the tent or temple, it wasn't just about rites and feasts on certain days, it was what defined them as a people. And they were a decidedly peculiar people.

It doesn't seem to me that it would have been easy for them to "blend in" without seriously compromising their faith.

But Christians today tend to look like everyone else, sound like everyone else, and do what everyone else does. We are at the same schools, restaurants, movies and malls, we drive the same cars, live in the same neighborhoods, wear the same clothes, talk about the same things and observe the same holidays. Unless we are wearing a big, bold Jesus T-shirt, no one can really pick us out in a crowd, or in our office or classroom or family gathering.

Certainly, the balance has shifted due to Christ's influence. The people called the "children of God" is no longer limited to 12 tribes, but now includes people from every tribe and tongue and nation. But is it OK that we can blend in so easily and go virtually unnoticed? Is it OK that our faith isn't always the first thing people know about us?

If you see a devout Muslim on the street, you will know. Sit next to a Hindu at a restaurant, and you will know. The Mormon, Jehovah's Witness and Scientologist will let you know right away who they are and what they believe.

What about us?

We are called to be a peculiar people, but it seems mostly we are just like everyone else. It seems the average Chrisitian lives and moves and seeks after the same things as the world, struggles with the same issues, makes the same choices - the only difference, it seems, is that we have a something to keep us from completely dispairing.

We are gluttons, sexually immoral, entertainment hounds, fearful, angry, selfish, lovers of self, just like everyone else. We use drugs, drink, fornicate, get divorced, mistreat people, lie, buy, and fill our minds with the same things the world does.

How is this peculiar?
How is this right?
How is this so?

These were the questions ringing in my head after my quiet time this morning. And, I think I got an answer to the last question from Carolyn McCulley's recent blog post Daughters of Hope.

In it, she shared a little bit about a book she recently read titled, Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness and Courage in the Face of Persecution, and includes this excerpt:

In India we had just listened to a group of Dalit women tell of the harsh persecution they had endured because of their stand for Christ. Before we parted I asked our usual question: "Is there anything you would like to ask us?"

They looked at me curiously, shyly. Before we came, none of them had ever seen a North American woman.

Finally, through the translator, one woman said, "Did you ever go hungry because you're a Christian?"

"No," I said. "I never did."

"Did you ever have your house taken away?" asked another.

"No," I said. "No, I didn't."

"Did you ever lose your job because you're a Christian?" inquired another.

I shifted uneasily in my seat. "No," I said.

"When people find out you are a Christian, do they throw rocks at you?"

"No. No one throws rocks."

"Has anyone ever thrown you in a fire because you are a Christian?" It was the first woman again, and she was leaning forward eagerly awaiting my answer. I did not have to ask the source of the scars on her own dark brown arms.

"No," I said. "You see, in America those things don't happen. In America it's against the law to throw people out of their houses or take away their jobs or stone them or throw them in the fire because they are Christians."

The women stared at us uncomprehendingly. Then one said, "But if it doesn't cost you anything, how do you in America know what it means to be a Christian?"

As I was thinking about how to answer, the first woman asked, "If you in America did have to suffer, would you still be Christians?"

I took a deep breath and answered her honestly: "Some of us would and some of us wouldn't. We need you to pray for us that when we face persecution, we will have the strength to stand up under it as you do."


Here in America, and in most other parts of the world, we don't face persecution. We just don't. Our faith doesn't cost us more than a few awkward moments and sideways glances, most times. The faith which we claim cost God His Son, Christ His life, and the lives of countless others. It should have a weight to it. We should feel that. It should also have a look, an aroma, a differentness which is immediately noticeable...and I don't mean T-shirts and bracelets and big heavy crosses around out necks. I mean that we, as believers should live in a way that leaves a mark, a noticable, palpable mark on us that is evident the moment someone meets us.

What does that mean exactly? How will that look? How then should we live?

I don't know. But I believe the Lord does and pray He reveals that to His church soon!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Some thoughts on sin and holiness...

In the final analysis our greatest problem with holiness is not that ourconcepts of holiness are feeble, but that our hearts are rebellious. We areselfish, that's our problem. And the fact that we often won't admit ourselfishness shows how deep the pride goes. -- Floyd McClung


"If the spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct our course" (Gal 5:25 NEB).
It is only reasonable that He who gives and sustains our life (the Source) should be the One we would want to follow (whose Course we would choose). But we are not very reasonable creatures, I'm afraid.


Which side am I on--the self or the Spirit? I don't always know. But I can check myself out by studying the list of the kind of behavior that belongs to the lower nature (fornication, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, quarrels, contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, jealousies, drinking bouts, orgies) and comparing it to the list of the "harvest of the Spirit" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, self-control). If I pinpoint from those two lists what characterizes my behavior today, it's easy enough to identify the source. -- Elisabeth Elliot


Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Yielded, Believing Vessel

But the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)

...Have you not read how I could not do mighty works in their midst because of unbelief? It is no less true today...I can accomplish great things through even one yielded, believing vessel...Move on and never entertain the thought of retreat...Keep your eyes on me. (Frances J. Roberts from "Come Away My Beloved")

One yielded, believing vessel. Whew! There's a lot in that one phrase. I don't think yielding is possible without belief. When I am driving and have to yield to oncoming traffic, I have to believe a few things about my situation. First, I have to believe that oncoming traffic will not or cannot stop. If I didn't, I would just keep going in the direction I was headed. I have to also believe that insisting on my way and not yielding will likely have grave consequences...and I don't just mean a ticket. If I stubbornly refuse to yield I could cause a wreck which could injure or kill myself and others, if not just tie up traffic and delay other drivers. I also have to believe that these are good reasons to yield. If I don't care about my life, my property or the safety of others I will not yield.

The same is true with yielding to the Lord. If we do not believe that His way truly is the best way and that refusal to yield will bring us or those around us trouble, harm, or unnecessary inconvenience, we will not yield. If we do not believe that God is truly always working out His best for us, that he cares for us, and will never leave us, we will not yield. If we do not believe that He truly knows what is best, we will not yield.


But the truth is that this is all true...and yield we must! We must serve His Truth, not our thoughts, feelings, or past experience.

However, our yielding is not meant to be a forced thing. It is meant to be a joyful thing. In his devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers encourages us to Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief...

Sometimes "launching out" is yielding, if not it is almost certainly preceeded by it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Met Someone...

I met someone last night.
Well, that's not exactly right. I actually "met" him back in 1994...and had known of him all of my life. But last night, I saw him with different eyes. He's always been a faithful friend, ready to listen or talk, at times (many times) he's patiently waited for me to break long silences and reconnect. But what I saw last night was humble, yet determined pursuit. All these years, I've yearned and longed for other men to pursue me and still he pursued. He's been available to me in the middle of the night when fear gripped me and in the wee hours of the morning when I just needed to hear a kind voice. He's also been faithful to speak words of truth and correction to me...and his words of reproof have broken me more than the harshest words from anyone else, though not as much as his words of love and encouragement despite my fickleness and ingratitude. In everything, He has been with me, supporting me, encouraging me, giving direction and guidance, and knowing he was there made even the most difficult ordeal not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. When there have been no comforters to be found and my tears have been my food, he was there to comfort me and speak peace to my soul...even when I ached for the comfort of another. In my pride and self-worship, I have accused him, doubted him, and resented him, yet as he looked upon me, his countenance never changed. There is always love in his eyes.

Last night, as I met with him...as I went to him hurting and missing another...I saw this. I saw his faithfulness in light of my unfaithfulness. I saw my Maker as friend, lover and husband in the purest sense of each word and rather than being crushed by my adultery and lack, I was lifted, as by the hand of my Beloved and brought into His familiar, yet strangely new embrace...and I was at rest.

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the LORD has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. Isaiah 54:4-6

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shut in

The Lord shut him in. Genesis 7:16
Noah was so shut in that no evil could reach him. Floods did but lift him heavenward, and winds did but waft him on his way. Outside of the ark all was ruin, but inside all was rest and peace. Without Christ we perish, but in Christ Jesus there is perfect safety. Noah was so shut in that he could not even desire to come out, and those who are in Christ Jesus are in him forever. --Spurgeon

Oh to be shut in like Noah. To be so hemmed in by the Word and Truth of God, the knowledge of His character and goodness, the testimony of His faithfulness in times past, that no storm, no wind, no frightening or hurtful thing can shake our confidence in the Lord. Wind and storms and floods and frightening and hurtful circumstances are real...very real...but the One who commands them is even more so, and even more powerful. Is not the Master more powerful, and ultimately in control of, the servant? These climactic, devastating, and difficult things are but servants of His will and will only shake or destroy that which stands in the way of His glory...that which needs to be cut off and cast in the proverbial fire.

Oh to be shut in like Noah. To be resolved like Job that even death would not stem the tide of his praise, to be content like Paul to suffer for the sake of knowing Christ and Him crucified, to be like Him who died, who endured far more than we ever will for the joy set before Him.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Houston update

Well, I made it home!

The plane ride was very bumpy there for a while...so I just sang. :) The whole "fearing for my life" thing was a good distraction from the thoughts which wanted to take full command of my brain, heart and tear ducts. I didn't need to let them...so I was grateful for the bumps in the sky.

The night before, I took the e-mail issue before the Lord, not so much looking for a peek behind the veil of my friend's motives or intentions, but seeking help, seeking a shelter from the storm of emotions threatening to overwhelm me.

I found that...and a reminder that I walk by faith, not by sight. I walk by the Truth of His Word, not circumstances or what I believe to be facts. He is my stronghold, my maker, my husband and all I truly need. Pleasing Him...not my flesh or another person...should be my main priority. On the plane, He showed me, it should also be my joy.

I confess it has not been. It was not a joy to end my friendship with this man. It was not a joy to conclude that if I responded to this e-mail - which was neither personal nor an indication that anything has changed for him - I would be denying what I'd previously said was the Lord's leading and word on this situation...and that I couldn't do that. The time between these two events has not been a joy, either. It's been hard. It has been painful...mercifully, not every day, and not overwhelmingly so...but enough to make me not like it.

This should not be. I should count it all joy when I am called to do or give up or suffer anything for Christ. It should be a joy to please Him, to do the righteous thing and bring Him glory, to say "no" to what He says "no" to, that He might say "yes" to righteousness and holiness in me.

Many tears were shed the night after the e-mail and on the plane ride home...but few of them were over the continued denial of a relationship with this man. Some were, to be sure...but mostly, I was shown the true state of my heart, and it grieved me. More often than not, I want what I want when I want it and though my tendency is to submit to His word and His ways, my submission to Him is not joyful.

This is a sad thing indeed. But today, the tears are mostly done. I am reminded that His mercies are new every morning, that I've not been consumed by grief or sin because He is faithfully my shield and stronghold, and that "the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us.” I don't know what is going on with my friend, or what tomorrow will hold, or what God's will is for either of us, or how soon I will see the end of my battle against gluttony and self-indulgence, or anything like that...but I do know what Has been revealed and that is that I have been rescued, bought with a high price, and am now a slave to righteousness...and that it should be my joy to be so.

I also know that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper and not to harm me, to bring me a hope and a future.

Lord, sear this into me and make it my only reality!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In Houston...please pray

I am in Houston today and will return home tomorrow evening. It's a quick trip for work...I am training some folks in our office there. The reason I'm even bothering to write a post about this is because I need prayer. Regular readers will remember that a few months ago, I had to end a friendship. It was a friendship with a godly man. I fell in love, he didn't and I was struggling with my emotions. The Lord directed me to cut off the friendship because my response to it was an offending thing, and that is what we are to do with offending things...cut them off and cast them into the fire. I cut it off, knowing that God could purify it and return it to me...or burn it all up. I believed it would burn and I would never have contact with this man again.

Today I got an e-mail from him. It was a group e-mail and nothing personal, but given the fact that our last conversation involved a very clear explanation of why we could no longer correspond, I can't write it off as nothing either.

My heart is still a bit in my throat and I don't know what I want to do...or what I should do. I plan to have a nice chunk of time with the Lord this evening but don't want this small issue to consume the whole time. If you read this, please pray for wisdom, direction and a calm and quiet (non-obsessing) heart.

Thanks!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Forgiveness

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:1-14

But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psa 130:4

As the phone rang, tears began streaming down my face. I'd contemplated the call, and what I'd say to get the specific response I wanted, but as I picked up the phone everything changed. I was calling my nephew and nieces to ask forgiveness for my harshness with them that afternoon...hoping to use that as a teaching moment for them and provoke a similar apology from them.

Bloop, bloop, bloop, went the keys on my phone and my heart was broken by my own pride. Then, all I was concerned with was that I had sinned and I needed to be forgiven. I spoke to each of them, and each seemed unphased by my previous behavior or my current emotional state, and readily forgave me. Not one asked for forgiveness, as I'd planned and hoped...and not once did that bother me. I was doing what I believed would glorify God the most in that moment and that was all that mattered. I was compelled...for His sake, not mine.

Despite my bad beginning, and my sin, God was very gracious to me in that phone call. I was overcome with grief over my sin, how that reflected on my God, and how I'd hurt these precious ones, but all of them were very happy to hear from me. As I was speaking to my nephew, I could hear my oldest niece in the background, saying "Let me talk!" When my youngest niece got on the phone, she immediately said "Hi TiTi!! I love you!"

I made a somewhat unintelligable reply as I began to cry even harder.

I had sinned, and that grieved me...but I was also forgiven, by those I'd wronged and by my Father, and that knowledge was a bit overwhelming.

I knew I didn't deserve to be forgiven. My first steps into the phone call were filled with pride and a strong sense of entitlement. In seeking to be forgiven, I wanted to be asked for forgiveness and was (mercifully) broken en route. In seeking to teach about forgiveness, I was taught. And I am grateful.

But not all at once.

My default setting is condemnation. Often, too often if I'm honest, my sin is bigger than God's grace. I am guilty of much and tend to carry the weight of my guilt around, somehow thinking that I can make things right or make up for my mess ups myself. This is nonsense, of course, but it's the truth of it. It is equally true that condemnation is stupid...but how often do we walk in it?

In one of his messages at New Attitude, John Piper touched on condemnation, and the responses we often have to it. First, we are joyless...burdened by our sin, which has already been borne and atoned for. Second, we attempt to atone for it ourselves somehow, perhaps by punishing ourselves, denying ourselves something, or suffering in silence. Third, we try to pay back the grace we know has covered it by doing good works...trying to do better. None of these responses require us to do the one thing our Lord tells us to do.

In his devotional book, "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers says:
"Our Lord's words are not "Do this or don't do that," but "Come to me."

Come? Sin-filled, dirty, vile, corrupt, rebellious...behaving as an enemy; a debtor who cannot repay one percent of what is owed, an unworthy servant?

Yes. This is what the Lord says. Come to me...just as you are...and I will give you rest.
Rest is what we all want, right? Rest, peace, contentment, quietness of spirit and mind. It's what we really need in this life, isn't it...not ease of circumstance or a bunch of "perfect" things/people/situations. But we won't find it flaggelating ourselves or in self-inflicted solitary confinement or in adhering to a checklist of do's and dont's. We will only find it with the Lord.

So if condemnation is a trap we frequently find ourselves in, and we know the Word tells us to come to Jesus no matter what state we think our hearts are in (because truth be told, the true condition of our hearts is often far worse than our own estimation), how do we get out of the trap or avoid it, circumventing the process and going directly to our Lord?

I think it may be different for each of us, which is one reason it is so wonderful that we have a personal God. But two things the Lord has given me, which have been a great help are:

"His mercies are new every morning."

And

"Life is fleeting, it blooms and withers like a flower in the field. Sin my last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. His anger is but for a moment but His love is from everlasting to everlasting."

Each morning dawns with fresh mercy and fresh grace. God gives us this guarantee in His Word. If we believe that to be true, we have to also believe that, though for us hours of guilt and grief and suffering can feel like a lifetime, the truth is that our lifetimes are a moment to the Lord. His anger is but for a moment in our life time. But His love for us is eternal. It was birthed before time and will continue beyond the end of time. So, our sin, in this matrix of time is like a sliver of a moment. More than that, it is paid for and forgiven. God still hates it. His anger is real and right. We should feel its sting, because He is holy and our sin led Him to the Cross. But, we shouldn't let the sting linger longer than God's anger. Conviction is not meant to be the vehicle for condemnation; it is meant to be the vehicle that leads us to our Lord, who says to us: "Come unto me...you will find forgiveness and rest."

Oh how I pray I will heed that call more readily! for, "where sin and sorrow stops and the song of the saint starts." (Chambers), and I SO want to sing more!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Even This

From one of my Amy Carmichael devotionals...

Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him? -- Luke 8:25

Even.
Is there something you are facing - whetehr in your outer circumstances or in your inner character - that seems impossible to command? Something that has baffled you and outwitted you a a thougsand times, and appears that it will win over yo iu in the end? Soemthing as deaf to your commmand as the wind or wild waters?

Don't despair. Don't shrug and give up.

Our Lord - your Lord and mine - can command even the most difficult, unruly thing that seems as if it iwill never be comanded.

Let His word "even" be a comfort to you. He who commands even the winds and water (and they must obey Him) - He can say to that "even" of yours, "Peace, be still." And there will come for you "a great calm" (Mark 4:39)

Remember that there is nothing you are asked to do in your own strength. Not the least thing, nor the greatest...All the tremendous forces of nature - weather and politics and human nature too - are at the beck and call of our God. Each has only a faint shadow of the spiritual power that is His, and that He is ready to send forth for us.

Isn't that amazing?

How utterly foolish it is to plead weakness when we - even you and I - may move into the stream of that power. If only we will...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Vile

"Behold, I am vile."—Job 40:4.
One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee! You think you must not come to God because YOU are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say "I am vile," oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself? and if God loves His people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent His loving thee? Believe on Jesus, thou outcast ... Jesus calls thee, and such as thou art.


"Not the righteous, not the righteous;Sinners, Jesus came to call."Even now say, "Thou hast died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle Thy blood on me"; if thou wilt confess thy sin thou shalt find pardon. If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt say, "I am vile, wash me," thou shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable thee from thy heart to cry "Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!"thou shalt rise from reading this morning's portion with all thy sins pardoned; and though thou didst wake this morning with every sin that man hath ever committed on thy head, thou shalt rest to-night accepted in the Beloved; -- Spurgeon

It is always amazing to me when the Lord "finds" me and speaks to my heart...speaks specifically to things lurking in there that I hadn't even expressed to Him or friends or even to myself. This morning was one of those times. Over the last couple of months, I've been battling disappointment and discontentment...and I've been carrying the guilt of it on my own. The mere emotional state, I knew, was sin...but so were the thoughts my feelings led me to think, the actions they led me to take, and worst of all, the distance it put between me and the Lord. Though I never verbalized it, my acute awareness of my vileness kept me from going to the very one who could cleanse and heal and speak peace to my soul.

The scriptures encourage us to be at peace with God. This involves, I believe, not merely assurance of our salvation, but a daily choice to be at peace with Him through walking in His truth and loving Him through acts of obedience...no matter how vile we believe ourselves to be. It is a running in the way of His commandments...which call us to hide in the shadow of His wing, to come to Him with our burdens, to rest in the knowledge of His love.

I chose to cower in the ash heap, wallowing in the filth of my sinful ways, instead of glorying in the magnitude of His grace and mercy.

Praise His name, He was not content to leave me there.

Yesterday, I woke, burdened still with my weakness and selfishness and sinfulness and then a word came to me, a shot of truth through the darkness..."His mercy is new every morning." Spontaneous prayer followed, where I recalled His truth, His promises, His goodness and the weight I'd been carrying was lifted. Then, there was strength where there had been great weakness...clarity where thoughts had been muddled...peace where there had been condemnation. And what I saw was this: where there is peace there is power. Power to obey no matter the temptation, no matter how weak we are, no matter what attack comes our way. Peace with God is the ultimate weapon against the enemy of our souls...and the enemy within ourselves.

Thank you Lord for the power of peace.

Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Job 22:21

Friday, June 1, 2007

New Attitude 2007

This weekend I was in Louisville, Kentucky for the New Attitude Conference. I went to see John Piper...and got so much more. After we returned from Na, our Pastor sent out an e-mail asking for testimonies. I wasn't going to send one in, but was convinced to do so anyway.

I will be sharing the testimony below at church this Sunday:

When Matt (the Pastor that went to the conference with us) first sent out his request for testimonies, I said (out loud and everything) "I can't do that." My coworker, then immediately began to sing (very loudly) "Hide it under a bushel...NO!" Which was her "subtle" way of encouraging me to share what the Lord showed me, and I believe began, at this year's New Attitude. It's not that I mind talking about my sin...typically, I don't. It's just that these specific issues tend to be ones that I share at Ladies meetings, not in mixed company. Talking about them, openly, in front of everyone makes me feel a bit vulnerable and uncomfortable. I'm not sure why, because they are things that are obvious, and known by anyone who meets me. It will come as no shock to anyone for me to say, "I'm overweight and unmarried and neither is my choice or preference." Duh, right?

What might not be as easily known is how these non-preferential issues effect my walk, or manifest as sin. Historically they feed off of each other, and in my mind, perpetuate each other.

But what does all of this have to do with New Attitude?

Well, to explain that, I'll have to work backwards a bit. In his message to us on Tuesday morning, CJ spoke on applying what we'd heard when we were back in "real life". In that talk, he mentioned recurring areas of struggle and sin, which he likened to "trick candles". Gluttony and discontentment (specifically in regards to singleness) are my "trick candle" issues. I feel conviction, repent, by God's grace walk in obedience and then, there they are, surprisingly burning brightly again. My desire to be married becomes a sinful craving...and sooner or later, I satisfy that craving with food, or other things that are not God.

It was that way for me when I went to my first Na back in 2004...and sadly, the weeks prior to this Na were also peppered with disappointment, discouragment and sin. So when Bob Kauflin began singing a spontaneous song on Sunday night about waiting and unbelief, I was undone. My grief over my discontentment was more than I could bear and I began to sob...and sob...and sob. "How did I get here again?" I asked. In the midst of emotionally berating myself, the Lord spoke very graciously to me and reminded me of all the way He'd led me since Na 04. I was discouraged, yes. I had sinned. But I was not at square one again. I was not blinded to my sin as I was then. The practice of repentance and obedience in the years that followed had softened my hard, hard heart to a point that the depths of despair and disobedience I knew then were not possible now. I had lost nearly 100lbs. I was now friends with a woman I then envied and resented...who was at that moment hugging me and praying for me. I was not the same...by His grace.

But I still needed to change. I needed to blow the candles out again and press on. And in that moment, more than I wanted to be thin, more than I wanted a husband and babies, I wanted those candles to stay out.

But how?

The first night of Na, Josh Harris spoke on discernment and encouraged us to do what we already know. That really resonated with me. I'm a planner and very goal oriented. I'm always thinking and living 12 steps ahead of where I actually am, working towards the goal, trying to envision the desired outcome. The only problem is, that my plans are not those guaranteed to be fulfilled or to work together for my good and His glory. My new schemes are more than likely doomed to failure...but His Word stands forever. He has promised that we can do all things through Christ who is our strength. He has promised that the good work He begins, He will also finish, and that in His Word, he has given us all we need for life and godliness. Mine is not to try to determine how today will effect tomorrow...how much weight I will lose this month...how this choice will put me nearer to marriage and babies (or further away). Mine is to do what I know...more to the point, to do what I know will please God right this moment and trust Him with the next one, if it comes.

Practically, what I think the Lord would have me do from here is to combine that to one of CJs suggestions, and apply one bit of scripture to one bit of life. Then do what I know, one grace-empowered step at a time, as John Piper said at Na.

At one point in CJ's talk on application, he asked us to pray about the bit of life the Lord would address and the corresponding scripture. The Lord gave me Jeremiah 29:11 - 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."

"Not to harm you"...my response to my circumstances these past few months has not declared that as truth and that grieves me, more than I can say. John Piper reminded us that we are debtors. I am a debtor. I owe. I am not owed anything. My next breath is a gift I don't deserve...yet the Lord gives it...and so much more. Chief among the things I don't deserve is His faithful and patient love and care. He could have rightfully squashed me like a bug, but He didn't. He was kind and loving and merciful...as He has always been. And since He did not squash me, or leave me where I was, I am believing that, armed with the truth and the practical suggestions of some very godly men, I can walk one grace-empowered step at a time, applying one bit of scripture at a time, to do what pleases God the most one moment at a time, for His glory.

The Lord did an amazing work at for me after Na 04. I am trusting that He will do something equally amazing in the weeks and months following Na 07.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crazy Week...Good God

It has been insane for me this week, so I don't have time for anything original. At the present time, I am preparing 8 proposals...all which have to be ready by the end of the week. It is particually tempting to stress about this as I am going out of town, to a conference in Kentucky, this weekend and won't be back in the office until Wednesday. Since I came in this morning to an additional deadline notice left on my desk, it appears The Powers That Be don't really care about my plans. :) When I got in this morning, I remembered something I'd read yesterday and then thought "Certainly, the Lord's purpose in allowing these seemingly impossible tasks to be put before me is not to torment me and send me to this conference all in a tizzy. I must believe that His purpose is not to "vex" me but to bless me and do somethng amazing." In the meantime, I am hourly shown my inability, and thus far have been amazed by His ability to do what seems impossible for me, through me...and my co-worker (who is also preparing for the conference!) Please pray for us. In the meantime, and until I have time for something more original, chew on this...


"He led them forth by the right way." - Psalm 107:7
Changeful experience often leads the anxious believer to enquire "Why is it thus with me?" I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved. Lord, thou dost hide Thy face, and I am troubled. It was but yesterday that I could read my title clear; to-day my evidences are bedimmed, and my hopes are clouded. Yesterday I could climb to Pisgah's top, and view the landscape o'er, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; to-day, my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress. Is this part of God's plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven? Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God's method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith-they are waves that wash you further upon the rock-they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven. According to David's words, so it might be said of you, "so He bringeth them to their desired haven." By honour and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way. Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. "We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom." Learn, then, even to "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."


"O let my trembling soul be still,
And wait Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee."

--Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Psalm 63

From John Piper's Pierced by the Word

Psalm 63
My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
(running from his son, Absalom)

O God, you are my God;
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. (v 1-8)

" ...Learn from David what to do in a brokenhearted, terrifying moment: He prays. The whole psalm is addressed to God. He asks for one thing - not protection, not victory, but God Himself, satisfying his soul, like water satisfies thirst in a dry and weary land...Oh, to know God like this! Would this not be everything to us? Would this not be more than all riches and fame and success and health, indeed all the world can offer? God Himself coming near and making our souls drink from His love until all else fades from view, and fear is swallowed up in the unshakeable security of everlasting enjoyment at the right hand of God. Oh that we would come to this place in our walk with God! ..."O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." If this were on our lips Saturday night and Sunday morning, would not God open the springs of heaven and show us mightily that His "steadfast love is better than life"?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

From my journal

Quotes and prayers from this morning...

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3)

From Whispers of His Power:
And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat!We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at. (Numbers 11:1-6)

To think of nice things one can't have is to become discontented and grump. Is there something you want and can't have today? Are you tempted to grouse about it? Repeat that little string of six words to yourself quite slowly and solemnley: "fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic." If you haven't tiem for all six, just say "cucumbers," and see what will happen. First you will laugh. Then, in a flash, you will remember those foolish and ungrateful people whose story you know so well. You will remember, too, how patiently God bore with them and you will be ashamed that even for one moment you joined forces with them. -- Amy Carmichael

From Joy & Strength:
Stand still awhile and seriously consider the noble end for which thou wast created and for which God hath placed thee in this world! Thou was not created for time and the creature, but for God and eternity and to employ thyself with God and eternity. -- Gerhard Tersteegen

Lord, make me to know my true state - that I am but dust. Dust that was created and placed and redeemed to bring you glory. What glory is there in dust? It is a bother and a nuisance that is regularly swept away. Yet you chose me and though my existence is as fleeting and sure to be wiped away as a layer of dust on a bookshelf, you have a plan and purpose for that short time and mean it to be glorius. I wait on you, Lord, knowing that to whatever length my waiting extends , you have waited and will waill wait far longer for me. I wait knowing that though I am dust you chose me and rescued me for a purpose. And that purpose was not that I might be miserable until I am wiped away. You redeemed me - died for me - that I might find joy, peace and hope in you in all things and bring glory to your name. Father, help me to know that I am dust, but that I am also your child, chosenand rescued with a plan in mind. Help me to do what you command, accept what you place before me today and not think of all the things I'd like but don't have. You've given me more than enough, more than I deserve...and you aren't even finished yet! Thank you, Lord. Amen.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night,while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?" These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5)