Friday, December 31, 2010

"And the LORD shall guide thee continually. " - Isaiah 58:11

Once again I am drawn to the words of Charles Spurgeon who penned the following deep meditations:

Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: He Himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall - "The Lord shall guide thee."

How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah" - mark the word - "Jehovah shall guide thee continually."


I don't know about anyone else but that encouragement blesses me abundantly as though being wrapped in a warm blanket or comforted by a soothing word or heartfelt embrace.  My eyes have seen and my ears have heard too much to ever doubt the Good Shepherd's guidance.

I have been placed and relocated... I have had to "change my position in life", "emigrate to distant shores" (then back again), was "cast into poverty" and dependent upon others for assistance, I was moved to an unfamiliar city (though blessed with the company of family), then returned "among foes", yet my focus is and remains on the cross.  My heart's desire is to walk with God, like Enoch... to simply disappear one day from this earth and be able to step from this world into God's Kingdom or be taken up on a chariot of fire like Elijah.  I was not/am not mistaken.  I "have infallible wisdom to direct" me, "immutable love to comfort" me, and "eternal power to defend" me!  I am honored to call my King "master" and go as He directs my heart.  I certainly don't understand and at times I fight my pride.  But truly I am blessed and thankful beyond measure.  Though pruning/refining hurts, it makes me more like Christ and therefore more beautiful.

Come fellow pilgrim, let us travel hand in hand and pray for one another.  (Those who are uncertain are invited to come along too, of course.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Sudden Death: For You are a Mist That Appears for a Little Time and Then Vanishes

"O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
(Psalm 39:4. ESV.)


When it comes to eternity, I know this life is like a vapor or mist. But, the sudden loss of a life that has touched my own makes the reality of James 4:14 stark in contrast to everything else. It stands out like a neon sign or hits me like a mallot, difficult to miss. It causes me to stop and meditate on what is important and what is just foolishness.

On the evening of Tuesday, December 22, 2010, a teen lost her life in a car accident. She was known by our family and a friend to one of the adolescents in my home. I had met her parents. My husband had taken the young adults to various places where they enjoyed to hang out. She was not just a name we heard often... she was someone who had an impact on our lives. And, in the blink of an eye, she was gone from this world, forever.

I laid awake in bed the night I found out about this death. The waves that rocked me were like those of an after shock post earthquake... ripples of uneasiness... discomfort. How easily that could have been one of the children from my own household. An unsuspecting individual, seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A divine appointment no one could have predicted. Words left unspoken. An argument unresolved. A future that would never be claimed.

But God is still on the throne.

Below are the video and lyrics to a song called, "I Think It's Going to Rain Today". I love Bette Midler's rendition of it but could not find a decent video of one of her performances.



Broken windows and empty hallways,
a pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today.

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles,
the frozen smiles to chase love away.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today....

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today....

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today.

Monday, December 27, 2010

There is Nothing Like the Presence of Jesus

The following is an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" devotional for December 26th p.m.:

He is as surely with us now as He was with the disciples at the lake, when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid thereon and bread. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is with us. And a blessed truth it is, for where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed . Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus!...  If we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be developed , and every grace will be strengthened, and we shall cast ourselves into the Lord's service with heart, and soul, and strength; therefore is the  presence of Christ to be desired above all things. His presence will be most realized by those who are most like Him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to Him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to be favoured with His company.

Remember His presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us....  He will reveal Himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer Himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to His people.


His promise certainly is as true as ever!

Spurgeon goes on to say:

The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend Him out of love to Himself are His own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my Thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.


What a comfort to know Christ is with us just as much today as when the events of the bible took place.  We have only to believe and trust.  Even (or especially) in the moments when it is easier to feel abandoned.  When it is tempting to call out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". The bible is full of times when God lead His people in a direction that required complete dependance upon Him without doubt!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bolster My Faith

The following is a lovely prayer I found over at Challies.com:

Lord, you know my heart; you know everything about me.  It is early morning right now and on this morning, I need you so desperately.  You know I am in knots and anxious; you know I am not the strong one, but You are.  I need you to be my hiding place today; my shelter and the place where you hide me in the cleft of the rock when you pass by and show us your glory.  For today is something I am dreading beyond anything I have had to face.

Daddy, I’m weak.  I have nothing good I can give you; no reservoir of strength within me that would spark any sort of hope to get through what could possibly happen today.

Everything is from you; in you is my breathe, my being, my movement and my reality.  I must confess that though I have wanted to be as strong as others see me as, the very real reality is that I am frail and foolish; you are the strong One.  For you are my tower, my fortress, my rock that I cling to today.  I know in my weakness, in my poorness of spirit, in my emptiness of self you shine through and fill me.  Lord, it is YOU; all you that empowers us and gives us strength.  Let THAT testimony be shouted from the rooftops.  Our GOD IS FAITHFUL.  You have gotten me through yesterday, last week, last year and thus far in my life.  You have blessed others with your Spirit, your breathe, your strength and your comfort in their lifetimes and I trust that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are indeed the Alpha and Omega of my life, and you INDEED created Samuel fearfully and WONDERFULLY in the womb of Kelly.  God, THIS is your truth!


I pray this prayer as my own, always, especially when I am weak.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. Praising God for His many blessings! New post coming soon however Internet access is very limited currently. God bless us, everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Last Christmas

Letting go of a child from this world and releasing him or her back into the arms of our loving God is so, incredibly difficult. I know it would be an indescribable, emotional roller coaster of a challenge for me. Below is a video of one family's journey in giving their precious little lamb "One Last Christmas". What is important to you this Christmas?



If you cannot view the video, please click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jesus, Light of the World


The following beautiful passage is adopted from a 1926 sermon by Dr. James Allen Francis:

He was born in an obscure village, the son of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he became a wandering preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of those things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was executed by the state. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.


Thank you, Carl!

(Photo can be found here.)

Dealing with Discomfort and Rain

A dear sister in Christ has emailed me some great encouragement I would like to pass along. Thanks Sarah!!!

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (Matthew 5:11)

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:25)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Photo: Deck Chair

My hubs' (husband) favorite chair broke... so he put it outside on the deck... near the grill. I'm sure our pug and white boxer love it... when it's not raining out.


Friday, December 17, 2010

If I Cannot be in Your Presence at Least I Have Your Words

This thought strikes me, lately, on a couple of levels. First, I obviously think of God and His word which I feel was given to us so we would know His statues, expectations, etc. I have heard some people call it a "love letter" to us. Secondly, I think of individuals I adore and miss dearly whose lives I cannot be a part of physically but I can write (or call) them and they to me... so we still have the sentiments. I cannot help but wonder, though, which sense is more important, touch, sight, or hearing? Perhaps it is relative.

Not being able to hug loved ones, God, and Jesus is hard for me. I desire a heartfelt embrace. But does that mean I cannot function on printed language alone? No, it does not. I have a fondness for expressions that have been jotted down for me to review, process, and then (to which to) respond.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105. ESV.)

I delight in God leaving us His written word… penned by man, inspired by God. And I take joy in receiving letters and/or email from family and friends. Though I cannot be with them, I am thankful to read their love expressed to me on paper.

Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35. ESV.)


Also, I am still reading SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Wayne Grudem. I'm just moving a bit slower than prefered.


(Photo by: Vince Petaccio)

Monday, December 13, 2010

For Everything There is a Season, and a Time for Every Matter Under Heaven

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. ESV.)


Tomorrow begins a new season for me. So, today is my last opportunity to sort, ship, pack, store, and give away things. One year is so relative. As my cherished loved one said to me on Saturday, “The good thing about time is it goes fast. The bad thing about time is it goes fast.” And, I have to agree. When I am apart from those dear to my heart I am glad time passes swiftly so I may see them again in a “timely” manner…a blink of an eye. 2010 with all its challenges has seemed more like six months, to me, rather than a full year. I suppose that is, in part, God’s mercy.

Now, it is time to relocate, reestablish, reconnect, reunite, restore, revise, reengage, revisit, resume, reflect, and renew.

(Photo by: Marek Wojtal)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The History of the "X" in Christmas

Fellow blogger, Erin, over at "My Alabaster Jar" addresses the "X" in the abbreviation for Christmas. She states:

Let's rewind about 2000 years when parts of the New Testament were being written and recorded. From 50 AD to 100 AD, the scholarly language of the time was Greek and so most of this portion of The Bible was written in Greek. The earliest Greek symbols for Christ was cristoV where the first two letters were chi (c or C) and rho (r or R).

So the symbol for Christ in the Greek became XP and was later shortened to just X.

In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Because the words were set by hand, the cost of printing was extremely expensive. The church, in an effort to reduce production costs, used the abbreviations X for Christ and Xmas for Christmas.


Click here to read more.

One Million Moms [dot] Com

Before today, I had never heard of this site. But it sounds as though it is one worth looking into. Their purpose includes the following statement:

OneMillionMoms.com was begun to give moms an impact with the decision-makers and let them know we are upset with the messages they are sending our children and the values (or lack of them) they are pushing.

Our goal is to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.). Mom, OneMillionMoms.com is the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children. It is time to fight back!


Sound interesting? Click here to continue reading.

What Is the Mission of the Church?

What Is the Mission of the Church?
(Sovereign Grace Ministries: C.J. Mahaney)

The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.


Click here to continue reading this post.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Satan Dreads Nothing But Prayer

Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray. —Samuel Chadwick

Satanás teme nada más que la oración. Su única preocupación es mantener a los santos de la oración. Él no teme nada de los estudios sin oración, el trabajo sin oración, la religión sin oración. Se ríe de nuestro trabajo, que se burla de nuestra sabiduría, pero tiembla cuando oramos.
-Chadwick Samuel

Satan ne craint rien, mais la prière. Sa seule préoccupation est de garder les saints de prier. Il ne craint rien des études sans prière, le travail sans prière, la religion sans prière. Il rit de nos labeurs, il se moque de notre sagesse, mais il tremble quand nous prions. Samuel Chadwick-

Satana teme nulla, ma la preghiera. La sua unica preoccupazione è quella di mantenere i santi di pregare. Egli teme nulla da studi senza preghiera, il lavoro senza preghiera, la religione senza preghiera. Lui ride presso la nostra fatica, egli prende in giro la nostra saggezza, ma trema quando preghiamo. -Samuel Chadwick

Satanás teme nada, mas a oração. Sua única preocupação é manter os santos da oração. Ele nada teme dos estudos sem oração, trabalho sem oração, a religião sem oração. Ele ri de nossa labuta, zomba de nossa sabedoria, mas treme quando oramos. -Samuel Chadwick

Сатана боится ничего, кроме молитвы. Его одной заботой является сохранение святых молиться. Он ничего не боится из prayerless исследований, prayerless работы, prayerless религии. Он смеется над нашим трудом, он издевается над нашей мудрости, но он дрожит, когда мы молимся. -Самюэля Чадвик

サタンは何も祈りを恐れる。彼の1つの懸念が祈りをささげてから聖人を維持することです。彼はprayerless研究、prayerless仕事prayerless宗教から何を恐れている。私達の労苦で彼は我々の知恵をあざけり、笑うが、彼はときに我々が祈る震えます。 -サムエルチャドウィック

撒旦害怕只是祈禱。他有一個關心的是保持聖徒從祈禱。他擔心沒有從禱告的學習,禱告的工作,禱告的宗教。他嘲笑我們的辛勞,他嘲笑我們的智慧,但他心有餘悸,我們祈禱。 -塞繆爾查德威克

Monday, December 06, 2010

He Will Not Let You be Tempted Beyond Your Ability

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13. ESV.)


Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind, where it feels like an uphill battle, perhaps a tad overwhelming, and all you want is a moment to catch your breath. Today was of that nature for me… especially in the morning. I was caring for two loved ones with (temporary) special needs due to orthopedic reasons, plus packing for a relocation move, on top of the usual daily duties of preparing meals, teaching school studies, laundry, etc. Not to mention managing phone calls and a couple (medical related) visitors. Phew.

But God’s word reminds me that His grace is more than enough!

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9. ESV.)


Oh boy am I weak…so puny. It is ONLY because of Christ that I have the strength to face difficulties.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31. ESV.)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13. ESV.)


I often think of the John Bunyan work THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS and at the end of Christian’s pilgrimage there’s a scene where Christian crosses the River of Death. This illustration springs to mind when I read Isaiah 43:2 which states,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2. ESV.)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Give Them Jesus: Guest Post

There are times in my life I hope I will never, EVER forget! Being a member of the church youth group when I was in high school is one of those seasons I hold very dear to my heart! It is probably the first time I grew leaps and bounds in truly getting to know God and His precious Son, Jesus. Not to mention, I was learning with (and from) an amazing, once in a lifetime, group of people who wholeheartedly rejoiced and wept with one another (Romans 12:15). When I think of the "body of Christ", they set the standard for me... and the bar is (super) high!!!

Today when I visited the blog of my former youth pastor, I really liked what he had to say. Truth be known I am fond of a lot of what he publishes over at his site "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened To Me!" but his "Give Them Jesus" struck me deeply and I asked him if I could share it with you here as a "guest post". I am delighted to say, he approved. So without any further ado, I present:

Give Them Jesus
by Carl Jones

I heard Tony Campolo say many years ago that "too often people come to us looking for Jesus and we give them church. If the church doesn't give them Jesus, then do we really have anything to offer?" After a few months at the Union Church of Hinsdale, it was apparent to me that far too often people were coming for "church." The radical, life-changing Jesus was too often missing from the things we did. In fact, the church seemed quite afraid of Jesus, choosing to study his words without ever seeking to follow Him. The more I prayed about what my role should be at UC, the clearer the answer was. I was there to push the limits. I was there to raise the bar. I was there to make sure this large church began to give people Jesus.

So how did I do it? Let me first say that I was not a prophet or some sort of Christian superhero, and I didn't accomplish anything miraculous. I just made a conscious decision to remind the staff, the committees I worked with, and most importantly the youth of the church as to why we were there. In staff meetings I was constantly questioning the way we did things, wanting to know how we were helping our congregation experience worship and experience Jesus. I questioned how the community around us saw our church- it seemed to me most of them hardly noticed us. We lived next door to a guy named Paul Allen, a pastor in another church in town. He told me once that after 5 years of living there he still knew nothing about what UC stood for. I decided it was time to step out in faith and show our church and the community what it looked like to live boldly for Jesus. And as always, there were no better ambassadors than the youth.

Hinsdale Middle School was located directly across the street from the church. One of the guys who had been attending our middle school group (TNT) was in a band made up of his peers from HMS, and I began talking to him abut doing an outdoor concert after school on church grounds. We put it together and put out tons of publicity. In addition to the live band I got Domino's to give us 50 large pizzas. Several hundred students came to hear the music- but they also heard a short message about the love of God whose name is Jesus. It was a great afternoon that created quite a stir in the community. And it got the church talking about what we could do next...

A month or so later I brought my old friends Spooky Tuesday to UC, where they played for out students and a few others in the overflow of the worship room. It was without a doubt the most radical, rocking event ever to be held inside that church. I kept pushing for more contemporary music in worship. I challenged the staff to keep finding ways to remind our members of how radical the teachings of Jesus were, and that we were called to follow his example. I don't know that I was making much of difference- but I was living out one of the basics of ministry I had learned from J. David Stone way back in 1978- "we are called to be faithful, not successful." And that was what mattered most to me. I still was battling with why God had sent me to Illinois. But if people were going to come to UC while I was there, I was going to make sure I gave them Jesus!

A few other things were going on in the student ministry that were giving me hope as well. I'll get on to those stories next week. Have a blessed weekend!

Jesus- the only hope for me is you...and You alone!


Photo by: Derek Boggs

Friday, December 03, 2010

Here I am, Lord



Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Man Looks on the Outward Appearance, but the Lord Looks on the Heart (Part 1)

Regardless of my intentions, God knows my heart. I cannot help but wonder why the saying is, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

"We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
We will work with each other, we will work side by side…

“And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love…



The above quote was taken from one of my favorite songs performed by Jars of Clay (I’m not sure who the original artist was.) called “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”. My older kiddos used to love it too when they were little. And, if memory serves me well, we might have even sung it in youth group back when I was in high school. (Which might explain why I favor it so much.)

I am so thankful for many things! I am grateful beyond measure for God's protection and provisions for me and my family! I give thanks for the roof over our heads, food that fills our bellies three (plus) times a day, for a lovely wardrobe of clothing for each of us, and for luxury items which are the extras we do not NEED but want to some degree or another.

And, on a deeper level (rather than just scratching the surface) I appreciate relationships and the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23---the church/the bride)! I feel God knows how much humans desire companionship (Genesis 2:18-22) and gave us each other to love (1 Corinthians 13), encourage (1 Timothy 5:1-2), admonish, rebuke (Matthew 18--- if appropriate and absolutely necessary), and to fellowship (Matthew 18:20). Trying to navigate this world (and pilgrimage) is like attempting to function without a part of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) (i.e. an eye, a hand, or a leg)... doable but a difficult challenge.

To be continued...



(Photo by: yasin öztürk)

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

This is such a touching song. As someone who is waiting on the Lord I especially like the lyrics:

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.

Breath of Heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of Heaven.
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your Holiness,
For You are Holy.
Breath of Heaven.


I just love how those lyrics go straight to my heart and wash over me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photos from Thanksgiving 2010







I so thankful for so much... but that's a post for another day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Humility Must Come Before Honor

The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 15:33. ESV.)


Ah, being humbled... A close second to my least favorite "respectable sin", pride. Why? Because, it's uncomfortable. But, scripture says it is necessary. Would a proud heart give God glory? For the answer to that, Herod comes to mind:

Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:20-23.)


A little over one year ago, God humbled me in a BIG way...huge in the parameters of my life. I was discouraged, heartbroken, and confused as to why God was allowing certain events to take place. Many times I thought, "I don't get it, Lord. I don't comprehend! Why are things playing out like this?"

I was "poor and needy" (Isaiah 41:17-20. ESV.) I beseeched God for the understanding of others; compassion from those who claim Christ; empathy; support from the body of Christ; someone who had been through the same tribulation and could help me; an older woman to “teach”, “train”, and set a good example before me; and individuals who could give me secure, concrete biblical guidance. And God provided. Truthfully, it was not AT ALL the way I would have preferred or planned myself, but He knows best. And I have to rest assured in Him with complete faith! When I appealed for specific things (like a person who had walked a similar path and could give me encouragement) or desired a listening ear, God delivered! It was never how or who I would have guessed but I trust His orchestration (and timing) is perfect. And the gospel promises me “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

This is someone’s salvation story… (though not mine. I’ve already written about my own a few times.) It is going to be beautiful, breath taking, amazing, inspiring! At first I wondered why God removed certain people from my life (at this season) and allowed me to keep others I never would have expected. I believe now it is so there will be NO DOUBT that it was ALL God! He, and He alone, will receive the glory.

"The most convincing witness in a truth-denying world is not an apologetic argument of our own brilliance; the most convincing answer to our times is the manifest presence of God in our midst." ~ Ray Ortlund


(photo by: Shyle Zacharias)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Many Sheep Are Without and Many Wolves Are Within: the Visible Church Verses the Invisible Church


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16. ESV.)


Wayne Grudem states,
"Realizing this distinction between the church invisible and the church visible, Augustine said of the visible church, 'Many sheep are without and many wolves are within.'" (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 857.)


So would it be fair to hold a congregation accountable for the "wolves" within it?

An Excellent Congregation

Over a year ago I came to a new area (while waiting on the Lord) and started attending a local Sovereign Grace church plant...which has been a HUGE blessing! The hospitality and nurturing I have received is nothing short of God's precious work.

I am going to have to leave soon (and return to the place from which I came) but before I do, I will be sure to express my heartfelt thankfulness for the fruit of which I got to partake that was poured out from this church.

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19. ESV.)


And I truly believe the leader (especially) of this church to be His! When new to this location, I assessed a few congregations. During my time here, this particular Sovereign Grace group fed me exactly what I NEEDED (not to be confused with what I wanted) from God's word. There were renewing messages regarding "waiting on the Lord" and an uplifting series on Isaiah, not to mention a very powerful prayer service (to name a few). My heart's desire is to remain in the Sovereign Grace "church family" even when I have to move on from here. Further, I have sincerely enjoyed and learned much from the pastor and wish I could bring him (and his family) with me. Thank you, Pastor Phil.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16. ESV.)


Grudem states,
"Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into the church. The fact that the church is like a family should increase our love and fellowship with one another....The metaphor of the church as the body of Christ should increase our interdependence on one another and our appreciation of the diversity of gifts within the body." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 859.)


The Sovereign Grace church family taught me "interdependence on one another", trust, and what it feels like to be nurtured in a time of waiting (while "poor and needy").

When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20 that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
(Isaiah 41:14-20. ESV.)


(photo by: Nate Brelsford)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living Without Sin: Let Me Show You How It's Done

Ha! Yeah, right! And lightning is going to strike me down at any moment. (Everyone around me should clear the area.)

Actually, I have to echo Saul in saying "I am the foremost of sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15… not that I have ever committed murder. I mean it differently.) Anyone who knows me gets to watch me stumble more than anything else.

I desire to be a Proverbs 31 wife with all my heart but realistically I come in below the mark... (okay, probably quite a bit short of the bar). Aside from my "blind spots" and a big ol' log in my eye, I struggle with pride (in one form or another) regularly. I find it hard to rise before the sun does (Proverbs 31:15). Preparing creative, "home cooked" meals (especially from scratch) is a huge challenge for me. Staying on top of the cleaning and laundry escapes me at times and I do believe (in short) it is fair to say I am not a domestic diva...at all. Not to mention I wrestle with quite a few "respectable sins" like frustration, discontentment, anxiety, etc.

But, I am important! (And, no that is not my pride kicking up again.) I feel Wayne Grudem says it well when he states,
"...[S]cripture tells us that we were created to glorify God, indicating that we are important to God himself. This is the final definition of genuine importance or significance to our lives: If we are truly important to God for all eternity, then what greater measure of importance or significance could we want?...

"Fullness of joy is found in knowing God and delighting in the excellence of his character. To be in his presence, to enjoy fellowship with him, is a greater blessing than anything that can be imagined." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 441)


As John Piper would say, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

Further, I am no longer a wretch in God's sight. I am beautiful because of what Christ Jesus did for all of us! God promises in His word to finish every good work He starts no matter who it is or what they have done in the past.

Made in the Likeness of God

Grudem states,
…[S]ince man has sinned, he is certainly not as fully like God as he was before. His moral purity has been lost and his sinful character certainly does not reflect God’s holiness. His intellect is corrupted by falsehood and misunderstanding; his speech no longer continually glorifies God; his relationships are often governed by selfishness rather than love, and so forth. Though man is still in the image of God, in every aspect of life some parts of that image have been distorted or lost. In short, ‘God made man upright, but they have sought out many devices’ (Eccl. 7:29). After the fall, then, we are still in God’s image – we are still like God and we still represent God – but the image of God in us is distorted; we are less fully like God than we were before the entrance of sin.” (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 444.)


But something of which I was reminded is every day, as I study and dig deep in God’s word, I become more like Him and Christ Jesus (the earthly version of God – Col. 1:15)!

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
(1 Corinthians 15:49. ESV.)

(Photo by: Uschi Hering)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I am Not Hurting Anyone So Why Should It Matter? (Part Two)

Amazing Grace

By the grace of God I was able to overcome my sin of pride, rebellion, and temptation. Once I was no longer a "slave to my sin" (Romans 6:15-23) I was able to see things clearly. I had behaved inappropriately and hence had been a disgrace to my Father.

Further, being I was made by God to glorify Him (Isaiah 43:7) I fell far from the mark and was setting a terrible example to those around me. There was little to no reflection of Christ in me. Sure God could see my heart but man could not. All they witnessed was what disobedience looked like. Not to mention, the angels grieved because of my transgressions. So, in essence I not only damaged myself on a spiritual level, I did infact hurt others in that sense as well. And, I am STILL reaping the consequences to this day!

(Side note: Regarding angels, Wayne Grudem states,
…[W]e should be aware that angels are watching our obedience or disobedience to God through the day. Even if we think our sins are done in secret and bring grief to no one else, we should be sobered by the thought that perhaps even hundreds of angels witness our disobedience and are grieved.” (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. pgs.405 & 406.))


God is Just

Yes, God is good! While I was still a sinner (and His enemy if you will) He gave His only begotten Son (Romans 5:8) to reap His wrath to the fullest because of offenses against Him...in which I indulged willy nilly. I am sorry, but I would NEVER give up my son...especially to an “enemy”! So yes, God loves me despite the defiant person I was! But, He is also my King and my Father and there is disciplinary action for treason, disrespect, blatant disregard for laws and rules, conduct unbecoming of a daughter of the King, aiding and abetting the Enemy, etc.

Wayne Grudem states,
"...[T]hough the New Testament clearly recognizes the influence of demonic activity in the world, and even, as we shall see, upon the lives of belivers, its primary focus regarding evangelism and Christian growth is on the choices and actions taken by people themselves (see also Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 4:1-6:9; Col. 3:1-4:6, et al.) Similarly, this should be the primary focus of our efforts today when we strive to grow in holiness and faith and to overcome the sinful desires and actions that remain in our lives (cf. Rom. 6:1-23) and to overcome the temptations that come against us from an unbelieving world (1 Cor. 10:13)." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. p.421).


Today, I do as my God requires because I love Him so much! I have repented from dishonorable, disgraceful behavior that did not bring glory to Him. I will NEVER again allow myself to participate in that which is against the scriptures, God's Holy word, no matter who tries to convince me otherwise. Christ Jesus served my sentence and in 2006 God granted me eyes to see and ears to hear. And I have joy and peace far more rewarding than the temporary pleasures my trespasses could EVER produce.

My desire is not to judge just as I do not want to be judged (Matthew 7:12)! I have experienced the strong grip of sin and know what a struggle it is to overcome without Christ Jesus. I pray to be a compassionate, encouraging illustration of a follower of Christ.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25. ESV.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

I am Not Hurting Anyone So Why Should It Matter? (Part One)

If You Don't Like It...Tough!

Many moons ago, when I was fresh out of school (and my parents' house) I set off for an adventure and to make my own way in the world. I felt I was a "good person" with a loving heart. I had grown up in the church, respected God, Jesus, my mother, and father. I was generally obedient to the rules (both household and doctrine) and at the age of 17 ½ I was free to stretch my wings and fly!

And soar I did, to other states in the United States and even to other continents. Over vast oceans I traveled to places I had only read about. The whole world was my playground and I was in the mindset to live for the moment! In other countries I worked for a well known international (family friendly) company and was treated similarly to someone well known. Myself and other cast (and crew) members were stopped in public venues to pose for pictures and sign the occasional autograph. When we would go out, the corporation for which I worked was announced as if we were of much importance. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wished.

I Have the Right to Live as I Desire

During the next ten years I lived in rebellion to God's word in some areas. But, I was not hurting anyone so who cared? Right?

My view of love and relationships was distorted. I had never learned or studied scripture about God's design for men, women, and marriage (yet even so, I was without excuse). I convinced myself (against my better judgment) that #1 I have the right (as a human being) to live my life as I see fit, #2 God designed me the way I am and as my Father He loves me as the individual He created no matter what, #3 the bible may define aspects of the lifestyle in which I was engaging as SIN but it wasn't harming anyone so it should be okay, and #4 I am a decent, respectable, honorable, loving person. I deserved to be happy! So if anyone had a problem with me they just had to deal with it!

To be continued...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fixing Up the Dinosaur: Konica Hexanon AR

Pimp My Camera

I believe I was in high school when I received my fabulous, reliable Konica Hexanon AR 35mm (film) camera. That was quite a few years ago (and no I am not going to tell you how many) and when I moved from the east coast to the west coast of the United States I feared it had been lost forever. Only to find, about a year ago, my beloved brother had found it and saved it for me (all those years). Thanks, bro! So, why mention this camera?

Well, I used to take lots of pictures! Family members and other loved ones were usually inundated with a flow of photos. Then, one day, life kicked into full gear and my opportunities with this hobby came to a screeching halt. I laid down the camera (not this one but another one - about eight years ago) and have yet to pick it back up. But, now is the time.

A camera give-a-way has inspired me to relight an old flame. Though I did not win the lovely, heavy duty, digital camera that was up for grabs, I did gain my passion back. So, without further hesitation I headed straight over to eBay and started researching some lenses I could get for (very) cheap that would fit and enhance the possibilities. So far I have sent payment for a (very reasonably priced) zoom lens and have my eyes on (and bid cast for) a 135mm lens. It's like Christmas... and actually these will count (according to me) as Christmas gifts... just slightly early so I can utilize them where I am now before heading out... traveling again.

Praise God for His blessings!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let the River Flow

Okay, this perhaps might sound a little hokey (to some) but I have to be honest... I was catching up on some reading, email, etc. and the phrase "let the river flow" popped into my mind. I do not know why nor could I think of any song, book, poem, blog, saying, etc. that meant anything to me when this phrase came to mind. So, I ran a search on the internet and came to the following song. So without further ado I post this song for no other reason than it was placed on my heart...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Let Your Speech Always be Gracious, Seasoned with Salt, so that You May Know How You Ought to Answer Each Person

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16. ESV.)


I am blessed to have in my life an utterly amazing woman who (in my opinion) can "rebuke" and "admonish" with grace and humility. Not only that, she also speaks with unbelievers and shares her heart in a way that truly brings God glory. She tells about her love of God and His Son in such a way I have not once seen anyone become defensive (nor offensive) toward her.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine….Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled….Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:1, 3-5, 7-8. ESV.)


One year ago I was in a season of my life where I NEEDED an "older woman" to set a good example before me and to "teach" me "what accords with sound doctrine". I felt God leading my heart and I desired a companion, a beautiful lady to lead me in prayer and obedience to God's instruction. She had to be compassionate yet firm in scripture to encourage me in unwavering faith in God (and Christ Jesus) alone instead of trusting in man (Psalm 118:8). She had to be one who dug deep into the crevices of God's word, where others were afraid to go, every single day so as to be able to speak wisdom without hesitation. (I ask a lot of questions.) She had to be a daughter of the King who can purely stand before God with a clear conscience. Not to mention a radiant beacon of light in a world where darkness is revered and sin rules.

Light has no boundaries. There is no depth it cannot penetrate.

As God would have it, He had someone in mind for me. The perfect candidate! And, He was literally going to deliver her straight to my door.

Late one evening the phone rang. It was my aunt. A gorgeous follower of Christ filled to the brim with empathy toward others and a servant's heart. A sweet, kind lady (overflowing with joy in the Lord) who has a very thorough understanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As it turned out she and my uncle had been vacationing at the beach and while they were away bad weather hit their hometown and they were snowed out! We were delighted to have them with us starting the very next day!

During the following week (which included the celebration of our Savior's birth) I was appreciative to have the fellowship of a remarkable, faithful person who can intercede in prayer (and discuss God’s word) like nobody’s business!

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Matthew 18:20. ESV.)


There was peace with a fellow pilgrim who emanates the Holy Spirit like a sweet fragrance. The sin of pride far from her lips and being.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14. ESV.)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2. ESV.)


And, she taught me what it means to pray properly. Thank you, Aunt D. for glorifying God and walking with me though only for a brief time. I wish we could have the company of each other more often. I love you very much and look forward to an eternity with you worshipping our King.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15. ESV.)

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli


I love art. I could spend all day in the Louvre and other museums gazing at paintings, sculptures, etc.

Coca-Cola and Rumor


Yes, I do enjoy a Coca-Cola perhaps once a day (or so... much less than the three to four I used to consume in a single day) however aside from calories (which Coca-Cola is known to have many) is it harmful? Snopes states that the gastric acid in the stomach is far stronger than any of the acids in Coke which therefore means (in their opinion) the Coke is "harmless".

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Love, The Human Condition, and What the Bible Says About Matters of the Heart

What is Love?

D.C. Talk sings, "Love is a verb,"... an action. What kind of action? Is it a soft kiss, an embracing hug, or sweet nothings gently whispered into the ear?

What about protection from harm, a place to call home, and forgiveness of sins? Is it understanding, deep conversation, or simplistic reasoning?

What does it feel like? Is it warmth... like hot tea (or coffee) on a cold, morning? Or the comfort of a cozy pillow after a long day? Is it like a roaring fire in a lodge while snow falls and flurries outside?

Is it a gentle touch in a time of need? How about the security of forever, the trust of faithfulness, and a commitment to things hoped for? Does it move mountains, survive the depths of the ocean and promise sacrifice (even to the point of death)?

The Human Condition

The flesh tempts and delivers temporary pleasures in the place of eternal promises. Settling becomes the average and a bright, passionate spark grows dim behind the eyes.

A momentary gratification or false idea of adoration purrs idealistic scenerios of grandeur that fall short of truth. Further an abusive partner or spouse is against God's word NO MATTER WHAT the worldly wise might suggest. I feel Wayne Grudem explains it well by stating,
"When husbands begin to act in selfish, harsh, domineering, or even abusive and cruel ways, they should realize that this is a result of sin, a result of the fall, and is destructive and contrary to God's purpose for them. To act this way will bring great destructiveness in their lives, especially in their marriages. Husbands must rather fulfill the New Testament commands to love their wives, honor them, be considerate of them, and put them first in their interest.

"Similarly, when wives feel rebellious, resentful of their husband's leadership in the family, or when they compete with their husbands for leadership in the family, they should realize that this is a result of sin, a result of the fall. They should not act that way, because to do so will bring destructive consequences to their marriages as well. A wife desiring to act in accordance with God's pattern should rather be submissive to her husband and agree that he is leader in their home and rejoice in that." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. pgs. 466-467.)


But...

What Does God's Word Say About Love?

It says quite a bit actually.

Regarding the sin of premarital sex:
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." (1 Corinth 6:16. ESV.)

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 18-20. ESV.)


God's Guidelines:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24. ESV.)

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6. ESV.)

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinth 7:3-5. ESV.)

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:28. ESV.)

But you say, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 "For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless." (Mal 2:14-16. ESV.)

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. (Romans 7:2. ESV.)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church
. (Ephesians 5:23-32. ESV.)

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (1 Corinth 11:11-12. ESV.)

"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them." (Colossians 3:18-19.)


To be continued...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Watching a Tropical Rain

Sometimes I love to just sit and watch the rain... especially if it is a calm, tropical rain. When the warm drops are so big a person can get soaked in one drop... (okay, not literally but it seems that way). And why would an individual mind really? With the precipitation at a comfortable temperature, like being immersed in a bath as opposed to being pricked all over by small, cold water particles.

Yesterday, the dark clouds loomed and then cracked open to dump on anyone daring to be outside. The smell of everything clean and fresh filled the air. Ahhhhh, so lovely. It definitely beats a "blustery day".

Monday, November 01, 2010

Submission and Forgiveness

As I observe the body of Christ (the church) and its many congregations, there appears to be some misunderstanding on what God’s word actually says about certain (sometimes controversial or unpopular) topics. And, I am so thankful for pastors who address these issues anyway despite possible criticism for speaking the truth.

I am a HUGE advocate for #1 biblical, healthy parenting and #2 biblical, healthy marriage (for various reasons) and I wanted to post some FANTASTIC publications here from Pastors John Piper and Mark Driscoll to help clear up some confusion because it is not of God (1 Corinthians 14:33) but rather a way that sin is enabled to continue to run rampant under the false belief that God is being honored.

Submission

The first is a wonderful message by John Piper called “The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission”. But wait, before you might assume what pastor John has to say, I want you to know it might not be what you think. So, I have copied and pasted some excerpts here that caught my attention!!! To read or watch this in its entirety, please click here.

John Piper reads and teaches from 1 Peter 3:1-7. He states,
"The deepest root of Christian womanhood mentioned in this text is hope in God....

"What Submission Is Not
Here are six things it is NOT based on 1 Peter 3:1-6.

1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. You can see that in verse one: she is a Christian and he is not. He has one set of ideas about ultimate reality. She has another. Peter calls her to be submissive while assuming she will not submit to his view of the most important thing in the world—God. So submission can’t mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.

2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. It is not the inability or the unwillingness to think for yourself. Here is a woman who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. She thought about it. She assessed the truth claims of Jesus. She apprehended in her heart the beauty and worth of Christ and his work, and she chose him. Her husband heard it also. Otherwise, Peter probably wouldn’t say he “disobeyed the word.” He has heard the word, and he has thought about it. And he has not chosen Christ. She thought for herself and she acted. And Peter does not tell her to retreat from that commitment.

3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. The whole point of this text is to tell a wife how to “win” her husband. Verse 1 says, “Be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” If you didn’t care about the Bible you might say, “Submission has to mean taking a husband the way he is and not trying to change him.” But if you believe what the Bible says, you conclude that submission, paradoxically, is sometimes a strategy for changing him.

4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. The text clearly teaches that the wife is a follower of Jesus before and above being a follower of her husband. Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents. When Sarah called Abraham “lord” in verse 6, it was lord with a lowercase l. It’s like “sir” or “m’lord.” And the obedience she rendered is qualified obedience because her supreme allegiance is to the Lord with a capital L.

5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband. A good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. He should be a source of strength. But what this text shows is that when a husband’s spiritual leadership is lacking, a Christian wife is not bereft of strength. Submission does not mean she is dependent on him to supply her strength of faith and virtue and character. The text, in fact, assumes just the opposite. She is summoned to develop depth and strength and character not from her husband but for her husband. Verse five says that her hope is in God in the hope that her husband will join her there.

6. Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, “You are her [Sarah’s] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” In other words, submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear
."


To the Abused Child or Spouse

Please, I beg you, as Stormie Omartian states,
"If you are in any kind of physical or emotional danger, remove yourself IMMEDIATELY from the situation to a place of safety and get help. You can pray from there while your husband receives the counseling he needs." (THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE. © 1997. Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, Oregon. pgs. 28-29.)


God will provide and protect you! He will place people in your life who will support and encourage you biblically, be understanding, and compassionate. Do not get discouraged! Not everyone will be able or want to help. Pray for guidance and receive God's instructions (to your heart and through others). When a door closes, do not loose heart...another will open (Proverbs 16:9).

Forgiveness

The second bit I have in this article is 10 Things That Forgiveness Is Not from Mark Driscoll. I posted it before but want to reiterate what it said and I feel it goes well with Pastor John’s instruction on “The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission”.



Forgiveness is NOT:
1. Approving or diminishing
2. Enabling sin
3. Denying a wrongdoing
4. Waiting for an apology
5. Forgetting
6. Ceasing to feel the pain
7. A one time event
8. Neglecting justice
9. Trusting
10. Reconciliation

Be very clear, dear sister in Christ, as to what God's word says! There IS a difference between marriage (the worldly example of Christ's relationship with the church) and a master to slave relationship. Thankfully, God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and convict. All honor and glory are His.

Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

Serving: A Distraction to Listening?
(Desiring God Ministries: Jon Bloom)

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42-42)


Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.

"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of the real good.

But that's not how it felt to Martha at the time. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she appealed to Jesus to exhort Mary to get off her rear and get busy serving. Martha was tired of carrying the load herself.

She was shocked to hear that Jesus didn’t value her serving as much as Mary’s listening.

A constant battle we face is letting the fragmentation of urgent demands distract us from the good of listening to Jesus. There is so much to do. If we believe things will change when we get on top of things, that we’ll finally have the time to listen more to Jesus after we’ve plowed through these demanding tasks hanging over our heads, we’re likely being deceived.

We tend to value the volume of things accomplished, and call that "productivity." God values the importance of things accomplished, and calls it "fruitfulness" (John 15:5). And here’s what’s important to God: that we listen to and believe Jesus. "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 6:29).

So beware of your perceptions. Listening often doesn’t feel like doing. But it might just be the most important thing God wants you to get done today.
© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Halloween" History: "All Saints Day"

Very interesting reading!

Halloween“ is a direct derivation of All Saints’ Day. All Hallows in Old English means “the feast of the saints.” “Halloween,” first attested in the 16th century, is a Scottish variant of All-Hallows-Even. The “Even” meant evening.... (http://hotword.dictionary.com/halloween-een/)

Modern trick or treating is a custom borrowed from guising, which children still do in some parts of Scotland. Guising involves dressing in costume and singing a rhyme, doing a card trick, or telling a story in exchange for a sweet. The Scottish and Irish brought the custom to America in the 19th century. (http://hotword.dictionary.com/trick-or-treat/)

Friday, October 29, 2010

How is God Like Us?

As I have mentioned before, I am currently attempting to make my way through Wayne Grudem's book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. It came highly recommended by a pastor I believe to be solid in doctrine and so far I have found it to be a fantastic read.

At the moment, I am in chapter twelve: “Communicable Attributes of God”. The literature on a whole is made up of seven parts comprised of 57 chapters in total. My initial plan of action was to tackle one chapter each day...however chapter eleven ended up taking three days to complete and being chapter twelve is just as lengthy I imagine it will take the same amount of time to conquer…but well worth it!

This book is my constant companion...not that I get to read it every moment of the day... quite the opposite actually. However, it sits open on the dining room table waiting for me to get a spare minute to study its contents. Further, I lug it to places like the public park, pool, and/or skate park so I can devour it a little more while the kiddos have P.E. time. Twice now, while out, other mothers have made reference to "my studies" (as this work by Grudem exceeds 1,200 pages and resembles college course material)...but I love getting to know God better.

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7. ESV.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Eternal Perspective

How do you view worldly and day to day events? Is it from a "temporary pleasures" perspective or something a little more long term?

I am currently still waiting on the Lord… awaiting answers and for there to be a forever change (if that is His will).

Anticipating the River Card

It is as though I am sitting at a card table, staring at the hand I have been dealt. I do not necessarily like what I am holding but I trust the Dealer implicitly.

I make small talk with the others at the table. The various players come and go, switching out at (what appears to me as) random. Most of the time those sitting with me are pleasant. Other times though, not so much.

I take two cards from my hand, place them face down against the felt surface and slide them toward the Dealer. He collects them... then gently, yet with great purpose, pulls two from His deck and passes them to me. I pick them up, press my lips together, and give a slight sigh as I add them to my hand. I am displeased but folding is not an option. I'm all in and at this point (as with at other times) the stakes are high.

I glance around and look into the eyes of those seated with me as they assess me. I must maintain my poker face. "You are difficult to read," I have been told a couple times before. But the Dealer knows what I have…as always…and is even wise to what I will do.

I brush my hair from my eyes. It dangles before my face and sways slightly as a draft from the air conditioning vent pushes it softly. My head is tilted down as I study my cards. "What am I supposed to do with this? It is beyond me. I have to wait and hope for the best," I think to myself. It is not yet time for all to be revealed…but, perhaps soon.

Ultimately, I have two options. Give up and leave the table or depend on the Dealer.

Fight or Flight


As with anyone who is relying on the Lord, there are two paths. (Of course the Lord already knows which each individual will follow. God is the Creator and is well aware of how He has designed each vessel.) One is a way of obedience and faith. The other is a moment by moment, take it as it comes, throw caution to the wind, live for the day, and let the chips fall where they may direction. With the first comes an eternity of joy and peace. The second holds only momentary gratification and bliss.

God's word reminds me to live with my eyes fixed on forever with my Lord and King. (Colossians 3:1-17). Further, there is nothing I can do and nowhere I can hide where the Lord will not see or hear me.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139:7-10. ESV.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

They Suppress the Truth

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18. ESV.)


I am currently addicted to a science "drama" on television about a forensic anthropologist. (This is unusual because I generally do not watch t.v.) With that said, the particular episode about which I am speaking included a claim that the bible is "a work of fiction". And it got me thinking.

I believe author Wayne Grudem makes an excellent point when he states,
"Some people deny that they have an inner sense of God. But their awareness of God will often make itself evident in a time of personal crisis, when deep-seated convictions of the heart show themselves in outward words and deeds." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. © 1994. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. p.141)
He gives a personal experience as an example however I knew exactly the "deep-seated convictions of the heart in a time of personal crisis" about which he was referring. I have seen (or heard about) it before. Who does a person call upon when it is a matter of life and death? And why? Grudem explains,
"All persons everywhere have a deep, inner sense that God exists, that they are his creatures, and that he is their Creator." (p.141)


God's word says,
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, "There is no God."
(Psalm 10:3-4. ESV.)


So, when someone claims, "There is no God," will it help if I argue, quote scripture, or insist I am correct and the other person is wrong? Will they be converted if I tell them what the scriptures say about unbelief and the consequences of sin? Will I win him or her over with words that might offend?

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28. ESV.)

Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32. ESV.)


Strong words.

God's word does not return void however the bottom line is, I am not the Holy Spirit... nor do I want that job position. I cannot make eyes see or ears hear. I cannot change hearts. I trust God does ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him (which is a very unpopular sentiment with individuals who are suffering. I understand that and do not say such a statement flippantly. I weep with those who are hurting and/or mourning just as others do with me.) Following WHY God does what He does is extremely difficult (if not impossible) however I must accept it, regardless. I cannot undo what He has done. Yet, I feel no matter what it is, it is NOT for nothing!

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
(Psalm 145:3. ESV.)

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