Saturday, December 26, 2009

Direction for the New Year

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24. ESV.)

Christmas day was filled with the usual hustle and bustle of family, presents, love, and joy. This precious holiday brought many unexpected blessings this year. And God did not hesitate to point me in the direction He has for me in 2010! As gifts were shared and opened I found myself with two new books! THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE by Stormie Omartian and HOW TO PRAY by R.A. Torrey. Though I am not familiar with either of these authors, I am excited to be focusing on prayer! My heart’s desire has been to be more disciplined in prayer and I am eager to take in all these new additions to my library have to offer. Thank you, Sarah and Aunt D.

This time of year also has me traveling and I will sadly be away for a week. As I am still having problems with my laptop, I will not have access to a computer nor the internet until I return on January 4, 2010…but I might be able to sweet talk a dear sister in Christ in posting a little for me while I am gone…we shall see.

For anyone out there in cyber space land (like “T.V. Land”) who might actually read this blog, please pray for me and my children this week…specifically for the Lord to place a hedge of protection around us! Thank you and Happy New Year!

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! (Psalm 119:10. ESV.)

Friday, December 25, 2009


Happy Birthday Jesus, Light of the world!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6. ESV.)

Here are a couple (fuzzy) pictures from my cell phone.

The Manger.

The Candle Light Service at a Local Church on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Prudent Sees Danger and Hides Himself, but the Simple Go On and Suffer For It

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times….Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:20, 24. ESV.)

Boy am I thankful for an all knowing God who not only knows the exact number of hairs on my head but who also knows my heart, the desires of my heart, and things I need to work on in my life. As a work in progress, it blesses my heart when God answers, teaches, and/or intervenes…sculpting me more and more like Him. It’s even nicer when this molding happens without the pain that comes with pruning and refining but rather is a gentle forming. Lately, I have been beseeching my King for wisdom and for Him to search me and make known to me areas in which I need improvement.

Two answers came to these sincere prayers. One was in the form of a book which was given to me by a dear sister in Christ. Though she was not aware of my heartfelt pleading to my King, it was placed on her heart to share this book (which she had read) with me. It has truly been a blessing! The book is BOUNDARIES: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life by (believers) Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Within its pages the written words pierce my heart and give biblical answers.

The second response to my prayers came in the form of a person…a very biblical, knowledgeable, sister in Christ…my aunt. As God would have it, my aunt and uncle were on vacation in the Carolinas when their hometown was hit by terrible weather and they got snowed out. Even though the steep road which leads to their home was plowed, the ground is too cold for the salt to make a difference and the precipitous street cannot be used. We received a call after 10:00 p.m. Saturday night asking if they could come here for a bit, until they would be able to return to their house. They arrived Sunday evening and fellowship with them has truly been an unexpected, indescribable blessing to my soul!

My aunt, so filled with understanding of God's word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit has been counseling me on the 10 year tribulation I have been seeking the Lord though. As a lady whose heart beats with love for our Heavenly Father and speaks as the Holy Spirit leads her heart, her wisdom and advice has been (and continues to be) immeasurable!

The combination of the two blessings from my King has once again paved the way before me.

There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die. (Proverbs 15:10. ESV.) Cloud and Townsend remind me, "To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless." (BOUNDARIES, Cloud and Townsend, p. 51.)

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:17-18. ESV.)

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." (1 Corinthians 5:11-13. ESV.)

…for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43. ESV.)

Cloud and Townsend also remind me, "Separating ourselves protects love, because we are taking a stand against things that destroy love." (BOUNDARIES, Cloud and Townsend, p.54.)

I have been fighting the good fight for 10 years! Not one year, not five years, but 10 years…and that is a long time. I will continue to do my part and seek the will of the Lord and wisdom…only from a safe distance.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (Proverbs 22:3, 27:12. ESV.)

One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. (Proverbs 14:16. ESV.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

C. S. Lewis on What God Foreknows

C. S. Lewis on What God Foreknows
(Desiring God Ministries: John Piper)

Reflecting on why God put Abraham’s faith to the test by commanding him to offer his son, Lewis says,

“If God then is omniscient, he must have known what Abraham would do, without any experiment. Why then this needless torture?” But as St. Augustine points out, whatever God knew, Abraham at any rate did not know that his obedience would endure such a command until the event taught him: and the obedience which he did not know that he would choose, he cannot be said to have chosen. The reality of Abraham’s obedience was the act itself; and what God knew in knowing that Abraham “would obey” was Abraham’s actual obedience on that mountain top a that moment. To say that God “need not have tried the experiment” is to say that because God knows, the thing known by God need not to exist. (The Problem of Pain, 101)

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The Many Ways of Destroying the Church

The Many Ways of Destroying the Church
(Tim Challies)

‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reflecting on the Reason for the Season

I love these blog posts from Noel Piper re: Santa/Christmas:

Jesus Tree

Thinking About Santa

If Not Santa, What?

Christmas Dilemma

I am without a car and devoid of money, which poses a double dilemma for me…how and what am I going to get my loved ones for Christmas?

I suppose I could search the web and local businesses for all the freebees I can get…and to start brainstorming creative gift ideas. I do have a "white elephant" gift (I won) and I can make some cookies to pass along but other than that I have nothing tangible to offer…except maybe some homemade cards (and a smile).

Now, before I go and make the illusion of a pity party for myself I want to make something very clear…I am thankful for where God has me in this season! It (though it may not appear to be) is a very special blessing and answer to a deep heartfelt prayer I have been repeating for many months (at least 6-12 if memory serves). My joy is in my sovereign King who as a Father has given His daughter her most genuine and pure of heart request. The lack of a vehicle and funds is merely a small technicality in a vast ocean of a blessing.

And here, in the midst of this sin of worry, is where I NEED to stop listening to myself, start preaching to myself, and take careful consideration of all my thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 teaches me to "destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." A post by 9Marks was an excellent reminder to me of this and James 1 which talks about testing of faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him…. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:1-4, 12, 26-27. ESV.)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34. ESV.)

Matthew 5:20: 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

1 King 3:11-14: And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."

1 Timothy 4:8: for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Peter 3:9: Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

James 4:13-14: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

As for the creative gift ideas…here are some websites I have found with really neat suggestions and recipes.

100 Home-Made Gift Ideas

63 Gift Ideas for Under $10 - For Any Occasion of the Year!

Free and Low-Cost Christmas Gifts: Homemade Christmas Gifts that Won't Break the Bank

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Through Love Serve One Another

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:23-24. ESV.)

This scripture reminds me of an illustration about which I read in a book. (It is my opinion the author's picture was reminiscent of Matthew 7:3-5.) He wrote about a person looking at his/her reflection in a mirror and rather than seeing the dirt on his/her own face instead claimed the mirror to be dirty.

Unlike the Matthew 7:3-5 reference, James 1:23-24 is speaking of those who hear the word of God and do not do it.

Romans 2:13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

James 2:14-20: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Matthew 7:24-27: "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

John 13:17: If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 2:16: Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

John 8:32: and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

You Lord have created me and know the deepest depths of my soul. You have searched me and know my heart. You and you alone will judge me according to Your laws.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm1:1-2. ESV.)

Trusting God Through Unemployment, Part 1

Trusting God Through Unemployment, Part 1
(9Marks: Greg Gilbert)

How Do You Deal With All This Suffering?

How Do You Deal With All This Suffering?
(9Marks: Michael Mckinley)

O Little Town of Controversy

O Little Town of Controversy
(Jews for Jesus: David Brickner)

Take a tour to Israel and there is one town you'll need to think twice about visiting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Matt Chandler’s Pathology Report and a Call to Continued Prayer

Matt Chandler’s Pathology Report and a Call to Continued Prayer
(The Gospel Coalition)

An update from the Village Church on the pathology report that Matt and Lauren Chandler received yesterday:

Christmas Blessing: North Korea is underway!

Christmas Blessing: North Korea is underway!
(Voice of the Martyrs: Persecution Weblog)

It’s begun. One of our most exciting Christmas Blessing projects has been launched and we are tremendously excited.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If Our heart Does Not Condemn Us, We Have Confidence Before God

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5. NKJV.)

I saw this scripture in the comments section of a dear sister in Christ's blog and it was such an indescribable blessing to me that I had to share it!!!

I feel it is so easy to look at a person's life and pick it to pieces (at times tearing down instead of lifting up). However, without taking a single step in their shoes leaves portions missing to the (sometimes complex) puzzle. Only knowing someone on the surface leaves much to be discovered as though looking at them in the dark while they shine a flashlight on their own face. Features look distorted, perhaps unrecognizable or questionable. It is my opinion that a lot of hard work goes into truly knowing an individual just as it takes a lot to dig deep into God's word. Merely staying on the exterior (top layer) leads to misunderstanding.

Out and out sin is one thing (James 4:17, Revelations 21:8, among many others) but preference is something completely different! For example, my personal partialities range from little things (like teaching Sunday school instead of volunteering elsewhere in the church) that do not really make waves, to mediocre things (that stir up emotions in others at times) such as working in the home (rather than out of the home) and "homeschooling", to bigger things that can really cause a ruckus and get juices flowing - for instance favoring Calvinism over Arminianism. Only God can see hearts. Now that is not to say there should not be discernment as Matthew 10:16 teaches "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves". What I am saying is,
"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:17.)

Further scripture on the matter:
Acts 23:1: I have lived my life before God in all good conscience

Job 9:15: Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser (judge).

1 John 3:21: Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Matthew 13:29: But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.

Romans 2:16: on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 3:13: each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

2 Corinthians 10:18: For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

1 Corinthians 3:8: He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:23-24. ESV.)

Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. (Job 36:26. ESV.)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18. ESV.)

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7. ESV.)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8. ESV.)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:3. ESV.)

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12. ESV.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

It is the Purpose of the Lord That Will Stand

There are times in the bible when scripture says,
"for the battle is not yours but God’s" (2 Chronicles 20:15, 1 Samuel 14:47).
I believe this to be true, still, today. Does the Lord reach down his hand and physically move people? No, however I feel he does orchestrate and pilot things according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). There are many examples of this in God's word and I have witnessed amazing things in my own life…a beautiful, yet costly international adoption for which the Lord provided on all levels, a fundraiser for a precious little girl, with a mysterious illness, which raised far more than anyone ever imagined, and the list goes on and on.

1 Samuel 17 tells about the well know incident between a humble shepherd boy (David) who stood before a prideful Philistine champion (Goliath)
"whose height was six cubits and a span. 5He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron." (1 Samuel 17:4-7. ESV.)

"Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening." (1 Samuel 17:12-16. ESV.)

So David's brothers went to battle "but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem". However God's will was to shift David from his father's house to the battlefield. 1 Samuel 17:17-18 says,
"And Jesse said to David his son, 'Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.'"
So it was that David went to the front line for his God ordained meeting with Goliath.

My absolute favorite part is when David is standing there, face to face with Goliath, and he says,
"You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand." (1 Samuel 17:45-47. ESV.)

When I am faced with battles far bigger than myself and I dwarf in comparison to what lies before me I am reminded,
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Proverbs 16:9. ESV.)
Not to mention, no matter what,
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." (Proverbs 19:21. ESV.)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Unknown to many but known to God

Unknown to many but known to God
(Voice of the Martyrs: Persecuted Church Weblog)

Is Anonymous Your First Name or Last Name?

Is Anonymous Your First Name or Last Name?

The Great A&W Incident, as it’s known around our house, baptized me into the murky waters of church ministry and the sideways, backhanded, upside-down channels we use to communicate with one another in the family. Before The Incident, I assumed we would all talk to each other. Not around each other.

What a naive dork I turned out to be.

It was a small thing, The Incident. But it fit into a larger pattern of crooked-line communication that one day, years later, helped break a church into a million tiny pieces.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

Preacher in the hands of an angry church: the fall of Jonathan Edwards

Preacher in the hands of an angry church: the fall of Jonathan Edwards
(by Chris Armstrong: Grateful to the dead)

“18 Kids and Counting” now has 19

“18 Kids and Counting” now has 19
(World Magazine)

Every family has to do what they feel they’re called to do. We’re not out there telling people this is the way everybody else needs to live, because by all means, this is not for everyone. God wouldn’t give everybody 19 children. We realize that there’s a different calling for different people. We’re not about to judge anybody and tell them what they ought to do. That same kindness can be extended both directions.

Unholy Trinity

Unholy Trinity
(John MacArthur)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Seek it Like Silver

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5. ESV.)

A fairly recent post by Molly Piper has been rolling around in my mind for a while now. Ms. Piper wrote,
"Lots of people want to give a book to the grieving person. It’s not a bad gift, especially if it’s a good book about grief and loss. But I want to challenge you one further—read the book first."

I have decided to accept this challenge however I do not want to focus only on the tribulation of losing a child but rather concentrate on a specific trial for a period of time and then work my way through to all of which I can think. (So if anyone has one come to mind, please comment and let me know!) I am not sure how long I will devote to each…it might be a week or stretch out over the course of a month…or even longer. I love to read however my "free" time is very limited.

I would like to start with (though not necessarily in this order):

1. The Loss of a Child (for Seth and Amber)
2. Eosinophilic Disorders (for Lillie)
3. Apert Syndrome (for Jack)
4. Cancer (for Ms. Donna Jo)

yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; (Proverbs 2:3-6. ESV.)

They Will All Be Taught of God

They Will All Be Taught of God
(Desiring God Ministries: David Mathis)

Jesus came into the world as the fullest revelation of the glory of God. To see him as glorious and to come to him is what the world needs more than anything. What everyone needs is to "know the Lord"—that is, to know that God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth and Lord of the universe, is incarnate in Jesus Christ. We need to be taught by God that Jesus is who he says he is.

Being a Diligent Listener

Being a Diligent Listener
(Tim Challies)

While the responsibility of the preacher cannot be underestimated, the listener is also responsible before God. We, as those who sit under the preaching of the Word, are to prepare ourselves even during the week. And on the Lord’s Day we are to listen attentively, to search the Scriptures and to apply what we have learned to our lives. I fear that far too often we expect the pastor to do the work and while we coast along as the beneficiaries of his hard labor. It is time for us to take seriously our role in the preaching of the Word of God.

Looking Back: Advent Candles

Looking Back: Advent Candles
(Noel Piper)

Advent: Standing in the Middle

Advent: Standing in the Middle
(Noel Piper)

Studies in repentance, and not (1): "my sentence inconveniences me!"

Studies in repentance, and not (1): "my sentence inconveniences me!"
(Dan Phillips: Pyromaniacs)

Here's what repentance does. Repentance says I and I alone am responsible for what I did. Repentance says what I did was wrong in God's eyes, and merits Hell. Repentance utterly damns the deed, it puts it to death and buries it with no gravestone and no flowers, and repentance turns one from the deed and from everything that gave birth to the deed.

But wait. There's more.

Part of damning and killing and burying the deed involves restitution to anyone affected by the deed. That is the Bible's orientation from start to finish (cf. Matthew 5:23-26). Did you steal something? Give it back (duh) — with interest. "Justice" according to the Bible is precisely the same. Perpetrators are not rewarded with "three hots and a cot" at victims' expense; they are required to repay. There is virtually no jail system in Biblical law.

God Sees Your Righteousness Because It Sits at His Right Hand

God Sees Your Righteousness Because It Sits at His Right Hand
(Jared Wilson: The Gospel Driven Church)

I saw that it is not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness IS Christ. Now my chains fell off indeed. My temptations fled away, and I lived sweetly at peace with God.

My Top 9 Books of ‘09

My Top 9 Books of ‘09
(Tim Challies)

I've Left My Church

I've Left My Church
(Carolyn McCulley)

Yesterday, after eleven years as a member of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, I terminated my membership. In fact, I stood up with a group of people who were all leaving.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Steven Curtis Chapman and God's Orchestration

I was so stoked Sunday evening when I got to see Steven Curtis Chapman in person at EPCOT!!! It was such a beautiful, unexpected blessing to hear him singing with the choir and narrating the precious birth of Christ. “Disney’s Candlelight Processional” takes place every year and is advertised on the web however I was completely oblivious to it until my brother’s fiancé received a message from her friend (while we were in line for a ride at MK that afternoon) saying Steven Curtis Chapman was narrating that particular weekend. Without prior knowledge or ticket packages we raced to EPCOT (after we attended the 4:45 “Lion King” show at AK and then dinner) for the 8:00 p.m. “Candlelight Processional”. The line stretched from “The American Adventure” into “Italy” and chances were slim we were going to get into the show. But as God would have it we barely squeezed in and ended up with decent seats (though I do have to say I was unable to get clear video or pictures because my camera phone does not zoom in that far). (Yes, the illuminated blur in the picture is Steven Curtis Chapman!)

I love watching how God orchestrates things. For example, about two weeks before Thanksgiving we went to visit friends who said they were thinking about heading to Fort Wilderness the weekend of December 5th and 6th. We figured we would try to drive over to Disney as well and possibly meet up with their family for a visit. Everything came together beautifully and we only ended up paying for one overnight, for gas, and food. Thanks to God’s provision and dear friends we saved roughly $1,297.96…(which of course we don’t have) so it was a massive blessing!!! Now add Steven Curtis Chapman to that and the whole weekend was nothing short of spectacular! Below are some pictures from the weekend.

Not for the faint of heart! "Expedition Everest" was quite the surprising ride! I only dared to experience it once but my young ones went on the "expedition" twice!!! Crazy!!!

This incline feels intense.

Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios, FL.

"Camp Jurassic" (rope and net) playground.

The Macy's Parade at Universal Studios, FL.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! (1 Chronicles 16:34. ESV.)

Treasure God above all things!
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21. ESV.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Putting the Star on the Tree

Okay, I am not a Will Ferrell fan (in the least...just not my kind of humor…usually) but I cannot help laughing out loud every time I see this part in the movie “Elf”.

Friday, December 04, 2009

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18-20. ESV.)

Sometimes God takes things in a direction that is hard to understand. Today, Mary entered my mind. I’m not sure if it is because of the season or if it is since her circumstance was difficult to comprehend. I cannot help but wonder what the whole thing looked like to those around her and how she felt having people judge her? Her own husband even intended to divorce her (Matthew 1:19).

I feel Mary’s situation was far more exceptional than any before it or since. However, God’s ways are so confusing, at times, there is even the popular saying, “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” which people seem to like to throw around. Perhaps it comes from the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper or maybe it is because it truly is not easy to thoroughly understand God’s character this side of heaven. Why was Jonah swallowed by a great fish (Jonah 1:17)? Why was Daniel thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:16-24)? Why was Joseph to be Zaphenath-paneah and his tribulation to last so long (Genesis 37-41)? Why was Moses the one God wanted to lead His people to the land the Lord had promised (Exodus 2-14)? Why did Jesus have to suffer such brutality? (I know He died to save me from my sins however I fail to understand why such cruelty was inflicted upon Him.) Why did John the Baptist have to die? Why are hearts hardened toward the Lord?

Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." (John 13:7. ESV.)

It is my opinion there are many times in life when “why?” is the first thought… “Why Lord?” (Thankfully, His grace shields from the wrath that would have conceivably followed such a question in the Old Testament.) The New Testament is full of encouragement and promises God does all things for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, (2 Timothy 1:8-9. ESV.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What Is Advent?

I used to participate in Advent in the church where I grew up but have since not experienced Advent in the churches I have attended as an adult. It is something I truly miss and was reminded of it by Noel Piper's post.

What Is Advent?
(Noel Piper)

1,000 Posts!

Wow, I have hit the 1,000 mark!

"Man of La Mancha" by Linda Eder

This is yet another worldly pleasure of mine...but I LOVE it!!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Missions, Prayer, and the Book GOD SPOKE TIBETAN

Currently I am reading GOD SPOKE TIBETAN: The Epic Story of the Men Who Gave the Bible to Tibet, the Forbidden Land by Allan Maberly (published by Evangle Bible Translators). It is a short story of only 150 pages which I could probably finish in a day (without the average day’s duties) however I find I am having a hard time staying focused. Therefore, after one week I have only completed the first chapter thus far.

As I mentioned before, I had the pleasure of hearing a message by H. Syvelle Phillips (the founder of Evangel Bible Translators (EBT)) who also told a touching story about a woman who traveled to the EBT training center to finish the work her husband had started (translating the bible) after he was murdered.

GOD SPOKE TIBETAN begins in 1855 with the death of the Dalai Lama and the fleeing of the one accused of the murder. I feel the story is well written and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

I think I will close with some quotes from John Piper who reminds me that,
"God with infinite power and knowledge has ordained in His all-encompassing foreknowledge and infinite wisdom to respond to the pleading of His people, the cause of His own action, and perform great triumphs through prayer. He has decreed to make the prayers of His people the cause of His triumph in many battles....

"The point is this: God has ordained to respond to the pleading of his people and perform great triumphs through prayer. He has decreed to make the prayers of his people the cause of his triumph in many battles. The prayers that win these battles come from Christian vision. And Christian vision is not the imagining of a possibility, but the grasping of an inevitability. That inevitability is the triumph of God in world evangelization: "All the families of the nations shall worship before thee. For dominion belongs to the Lord." To reach out and take hold of this great reality is life—the life of a local church, and the life of the human soul and the life of prayer." (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Do we need to hear both sides of the story?

Do we need to hear both sides of the story?
(Voice of the Martyrs: Persecuted Church Weblog)

Pyromaniacs: The Evil of Uncertain Preaching

Pyromaniacs: The Evil of Uncertain Preaching

Life of the Soul

Life of the Soul
(Tim Challies)

Skeptical Grumbling and Sovereign Grace

(Desiring God Ministry: David Mathis)

This week's sermon: "Skeptical Grumbling and Sovereign Grace"

John 6:44 is controversial. Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."

Jesus' words could be taken in two different directions. On the one hand, it could mean that God draws everyone and not all come, so God isn't decisive but the human will. Or, on the other hand, it could mean that everyone God draws comes.

Five other passages in the Gospel of John (6:37, 63­65; 8:47; 10:26­27;12:37­40) clarify and confirm that Jesus means the latter, that everyone God draws comes. (A common objection is John 12:32—to be treated next time.)

If this is what Jesus means, then why does he say it? He says it to stop his questioners' grumbling and point them to prayer that God would do the decisive work that only he can do in his sovereign, undeserved grace—grace that has at least 5 effects on its recipients:

1.It humbles them.
2.It fills them with thankfulness.
3.It gives them assurance.
4.It gives them hope for the conversion of the people they love who seem utterly beyond hope.
5.It gives all glory to God, not to them.

Jesus does not speak mainly to create controversy. He speaks to call sinners to himself, and to humble the proud, and to glorify his Father. This is why he lived. This is why he died. This is why he rose again. Come to him. Be satisfied in him. Be humbled by him. Give glory to God because of him. Amen.

© Desiring God

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

The Gospel Provides the Questions

The Gospel Provides the Questions
(Trevin Wax)

So the gospel provides us with not only the right answers to the world’s questions, but also the piercing questions the world does not want to deal with. The gospel tells us what the world should be asking.

Leadership in the Home

Tim Challies is doing a series called "Leadership in the Home". So far he is on part two and will continue on tomorrow.

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: A Defense

Help Christian families in Vietnam celebrate Christmas

Help Christian families in Vietnam celebrate Christmas
(Voice of the Martyrs)

You can encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters and help bring the gospel to Vietnam by sponsoring a Christmas Care Pack or a Village Outreach Pack.

The Spirit's True Work

(John MacArthur)

Pulpit Magazine is doing a series called "The Spirit's True Work". So far they are up to part two but with promises of more tomorrow.

Part One
Part Two


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