Friday, April 30, 2010

For the Week

Before a thunderstorm rolls in I would like to get this post up. It is time once again when I will be offline for a period of a few days and as before I do not want to leave my blog idle so, like the last time I am making my posts for the next few days now…but don’t skip ahead. No peeking. :)

Saturday

Beautiful weather means it's time to hit the beach!

8"Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed'? (Job 38:8-11. ESV.)


Sunday

In observance of the Sabbath.

1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3. ESV.)


Monday

The Best Way to Punish Your Kids
By: Desiring God Ministries: Tyler Kenney

In his autobiography, John Paton, Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides, reflects on how his father so effectively responded his children's disobedience:

If anything really serious required to be punished, he retired first to his "closet" for prayer, and we boys got to understand that he was laying the whole matter before God; and that was the severest part of the punishment for me to bear! I could have defied any amount of mere penalty, but this spoke to my conscience as a message from God.

We loved him all the more, when we saw how much it cost him to punish us; and, in truth, he had never very much of that kind of work to do upon any one of all the eleven—we were ruled by love far more than by fear. (John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, p.17, paragraphing added)

© 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.

Tuesday



Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday



Thursday

Ginger Plowman has some fantastic books (and resourses) for moms! These are a few of my absolute favorites!!!

Wise Words for Moms - Not quite sure what to say when children are misbehaving? Want a quick reference guide to God's word and what it says about various topics that arise during the day to day teaching and disciplining? Want to be more consistent with addressing the heart of a child and behavior? I HIGHLY recommend "Wise Words for Moms"!!!

DON'T MAKE ME COUNT TO THREE - A wonderful book on how to address a child's heart to get to the root of his/her behavior. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34. NKJV.)

Both of these can be found (and ordered) at Ginger Plowman's website.

Friday

Once You Were Not a People, But Now You Are God’s People

"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" (Romans 9:25. ESV.)


Hosea sprung to my mind one morning. Here was a man who was #1 obedient to God (even though what God asked of him is (to me) a bit confusing) and #2 loving and faithful to his wife who was not faithful to him.

When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea:

“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the LORD.”
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. (Hosea 1:2-3. NKJV.)


Hosea and Gomer's marriage are like Israel and God's relationship. (I guess kind of like our marriages are worldly representations of Christ and the church.) John Piper puts it like this,
"There are no religious singles in God's eyes. Everyone is either faithfully married to God or is a prostitute. God made you (not just Israel) for himself. If you get your kicks from somewhere else, you commit great harlotry against God. That was Israel's condition. And so God took Hosea and said, as it were, 'Before I give you a word of judgment and grace, I am going to make you know what it's like to be married to an unfaithful wife. Go, marry a harlot!' Hosea obeys and has a son. His marriage is an acted-out parable of God's relation to Israel."(By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.)


God's word says,

7 “ The more they increased,
The more they sinned against Me;
I will change their glory into shame.
8 They eat up the sin of My people;
They set their heart on their iniquity….
They shall commit harlotry, but not increase;
Because they have ceased obeying the LORD. (Hosea 4:7-8, 10. NKJV.)

18 Their drink is rebellion,
They commit harlotry continually.
Her rulers dearly love dishonor.
19 The wind has wrapped her up in its wings,
And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices. (Hosea 4:18-19. NKJV.)

15 I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15. NKJV.)


In Hosea 3 the Lord says to Hosea,
“Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” (Hosea 3:1. NKJV.)


John Piper explains this saying,
"She had been faithless all along, and finally she had gone off with another man. Hosea could have had her stoned by law, just like we stand condemned by law. But God commands him to love her. "Go again, love her." And not just to go and get her and love her, but to even be willing to pay this "significant other" for her. If that was not almost an emotional impossibility, Hosea could not afford it. If he could have, he probably would have paid cash. But he couldn't. So he paid half in cash and half in barley. And the total amounted to what Exodus 21:32 says a female slave costs. Gomer had evidently sunk to the lowest possible level. And God says to Hosea, "Get her back, whatever it costs, get her back." (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.)


Do you know anyone who is like Hosea's wife and Israel? Someone who has "been faithless" and breaks your heart and the heart of God? Hosea 3:4-5 offers this beautiful reminder,
"4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days."


Praise God!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thy Commandments Are My Delight

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11. ESV.)


My aunt has read the bible cover to cover eight times! I have not even read it once from Genesis through to Revelations… but I would love to and have started the MacArthur Daily Bible a couple of times. (I'll be starting it again soon.)

Someone once asked me why I read from scriptures each day. "Don't you have them memorized by now?" they asked. And continued with, "Wouldn't you rather be doing something more enjoyable with your time?"

I felt sad when I heard this...but I could not quite figure out why. Was my prideful flesh offended? Today I read the following passage and my reaction to the above questions finally made sense. Psalm 119:155 says,
“Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek thy statutes.”


My loved one does not understand the joy that comes with studying and living out God's word.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that thy word gives me life” (Psalm 119:50)

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)

“Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2)

“Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psalm 119:54)


I truly delight in digging deep into God's word. It is my goal to read it beginning to end to get a full understanding in context...and what better time than while I am waiting on the Lord?

“Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29; Isaiah 55:10-11).

“The word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Peter 1:25; Psalm 119:160)

Has God Predetermined Everything? Even Sin?

Ooh, this is a great one by Piper. Below is his answer. Personally, I feel the answer to this is, "yes". I look at the lives of Joseph and Jesus especially when pondering this question. Joseph was going to be the governor. I feel God knew that. Joseph did not, however he did not lose his faith no matter what...even when sold into slavery by his brothers and then imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. (Genesis 50:20.)

Further, the people in bible times knew a savior was coming. God had it all orchestrated and the people were called to keep the faith even though they had nothing other than God's word on which to rely…and (to my understanding) only a very select few heard it straight from God. The rest was hearsay.

When bad things happen to (visibly) good people it is easy for doubt to creep into my mind. But those are the times when I have to preach to myself the most. I truly believe God is sovereign. That is how my mind wraps around things I cannot otherwise understand this side of Heaven. Some may find it foolish or naïve but I find it comforting…if that makes sense. I sleep better at night having complete trust that things are not just spiraling out of control and that at any moment I could become the victim of mass chaos. It is my opinion my life (and the lives of those I love and/or don't even know for that matter) lay in the loving (yet just) hands of an all knowing, all powerful God who can destroy and take away just as easily and freely as He gives. I could die tomorrow. There is nothing I (or anyone else for that matter) could do to change what God has decided.

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2. ESV.)




For more on this theme, see yesterday's post by David Mathis on Samson as well as Piper's book Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ.

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins?

Yes.

There's a great quote from Spurgeon about dust motes. You may not even know what a dust mote is, but when I get up in the morning in my room, there's a window to the side of the bed, and a beam of light will be shining through it at certain times of the year when I get it.

Now when I look through the dark I see nothing. But when I look through the beam I see the dust in the room. It's flying around, and I say, "I'm breathing that stuff!?" Yes, you are. And Spurgeon says that every one of those particles is keeping its position and moving through the air by God's appointment.

Now the reason I believe that is because the Bible says, "The dice are thrown in the lap, and every decision is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). Proverbs 16 has a bunch of these verses in it.

Why would he choose "the die is cast into the lap"? It's because he's trying to think of the most random thing he could think of. And he says that. So randomness is not random to God.

God is not the least taxed by keeping every sub-nuclear particle in its place. I used to say electrons, but now there's something smaller than electrons. Everything in the middle of the molecule moving, and the electrons—he's got them all in orbit, just like he has the planets in orbit.

So the macro-world and micro-world are all managed by God. Which means, Yes, every horrible thing and every sinful thing is ultimately governed by God.

That's a problem, but the center of the solution is a choice you have to make about the cross. This is what has centered me, anyway: When you go to Acts 4:27-28 and you read that Herod and Pontius Pilate and the Gentiles and the Jews were all gathered together to do what God's hand and God's plan had predestined to take place in the killing of Jesus, you have God's plan and hand predestining the most horrible sins ever committed.

Pilate's choices, the soldiers' cruel mockery, the piercing of his side, the cries, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"—these few hours in history were the climax of the worst wickedness that has ever been performed on the planet or ever will be. And God planned it so that we might be saved from those sins.

In other words, what the devil did in unleashing all of that was commit suicide. And I pray that when you contemplate believing in a sovereign God who governs the dust motes, the waves (including tsunamis)—when you contemplate believing in a totally sovereign God, I pray that you will center it right on the cross. Because you'll go crazy otherwise. You will!

These things have driven people mad. But it won't drive you mad if you say, "He loves me. And he governed the most wicked thing that ever happened in the world, the crucifixion of my Savior and my God." If you stay right there and then just work out from there as far as your mind can handle, then you'll be safe. Your mind will be safe and your heart will be safe, because you'll be kept humble.

People get very arrogant with these kinds of doctrines. They can use them to club people. But if you stay with the cross, you won't.

Just one more thing on this. This is right off my front burner, because a lot of us at Bethlehem are reading through Acts. We just read in chapter 2 where Peter said in the sermon to the people who had killed Jesus, "You acted in ignorance"—he didn't forgive them for that; he said they have to repent—"You acted in ignorance, but God fulfilled what he had promised by the prophets, that the Christ must suffer." What that said to me, again, was that these people didn't know what they were doing, but God knew what he was doing.

So the crucifixion of his Son was, quoting Isaiah 53:10, the bruising by the Father of the Son. Therefore the worst sin that was ever committed was ordained by God. And the answer is yes. He controls everything, and he does it for his glory and our good. (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Heart Exults in the Lord

Dear Beloved Father in Heaven,

Thank you so much for Hannah's prayer! It is a true blessing to my heart and soul. All my love.

Your devoted daughter,
Brook

Hannah's Prayer
(1 Samuel 2:1-10)

"My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 "There is none holy like the LORD;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world.

9 "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed."


(English Standard Version)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Answer With God's Word

My children are learning that not everyone is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). A few times the younger ones have returned from outings and described how peers or adults were behaving in a manner they felt was mean (i.e. pushing, yelling at them, saying "shut up", etc.). In response to this, I want my kiddos to know, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1. ESV.) Further, in these circumstances they should answer using God's word.

Now, I do not mean they should preach at people or say, "The Lord says…" in a condescending manner. However, I would like for them to reply with a verse such as, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not anger easily," (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) or "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34.) Which, I know, is easier said than done…but I prefer they at least try.

But that is for the average/ minor stuff. One of my older children told me yesterday about how she is being bullied. It is much more severe than the above mentioned taunting. My child is hurting and there is nothing I can do (personally) to help. I have to once again depend on my King and go to the foot of His throne.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. (Psalm 121:5-6. ESV.)


I believe my King is sovereign and He will protect the little lambs He has entrusted to me. I just have to have faith and He will do the rest.

Psalm 91:1: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 16:8: I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Isaiah 49:10: they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.


It would be so easy for me to start making calls and trying to fix this myself…but I know it will only drive me crazy. I have learned TWICE before that it is far better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8)! The last time I depended on my King He delivered me (and my family), provided, and protected. This time will be no different.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8. ESV.)

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. (Psalm 146:3. ESV.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Be the One by Al Denson



I love this song! (The quality of the video isn't very good though.) When I was a lot younger a friend and I did a duet to this song. (She sang and I danced. If I ever find video of it I'll post it.)

In a world full of broken dreams
Where the truth is hard to find
For every promise that is kept
There are many left behind
Though it seems that nobody cares
It still matters what you do
Cause there's a difference you can make
But the choice is up to you

Chorus
Will you be the one
To answer to His call
Will you stand
When those around you fall
To take His light
Into a darkened world
Tell me will you be the one

Oh sometimes it's so hard to know
Who is right and what is wrong
And where are you suppose to stand
When the battle lines are drawn
There's a voice that is calling out
For someone whose not afraid
To be a beakon in the night
To a world that's lost it's way

Chorus

There are still some battles
That I must fight from day to day
Yet the Lord provides the power
For me to stand and say

Yes, I'll be the one
To answer to His call
I will stand
When those around me fall
I will be the one
To take His light
Into a darkened world
I will be the one

Update: Iranian Christians Await Court Ruling

Click here to view this story by The Voice of the Martyrs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When the Pressure is On

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34. ESV.)


I was speaking to someone recently who asked an interesting question. He said, "What causes you the most stress in life? What causes everyone a large amount of anxiety for that matter?" The answers that filled my mind were specific. "Think broad," he encouraged, "in general." The answer was so tangible yet I just could not quite grab it. The correct response, "The unknown." No matter what the category…health, finance, employment, etc. once a solution is in sight, worry begins to ease.

This week is filled with "the unknown" for me. Clouds are looming that I just can't seem to shake. I find myself mulling over problems such as, "How am I going to pay for this? How is that ever going to work out?" Deadlines are approaching and I without the means. Sweat is beginning to bead on my brow, as doors remain closed despite my constant knocking. Then one opens only to quickly close again.

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


How thankful I am to have an all knowing God in my corner. And this is a prime example of a moment when I need to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and start preaching to myself instead of listening to myself.
"Brook! Quit your darn whining! Go sit your butt down at the foot of the throne and commune with your King. You have that great privilege now use it!"


God never promised anything would be easy…but He did say His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). However, it only covers real life things not my thoughts.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 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.
3For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3. ESV.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When it Stopped Being About Me and Started to be About Him

I remember, as a child, sitting on top of the trunk of my mother's Mercury Grand Marquis, looking at the sky as the sun shined between the clouds and showered rays of light down through the cracks, and I asked God if I may fight for Him. The magnificent idea in my own mind was on an archangel scale however my King had a little something different planned for me.

Immediately following the "training up" (learning) season of my life I set out on my own. I was equipped with the worldly knowledge of years of education in the public school system and the teachings of God's word I received in church, Sunday school, youth group, vacation bible school, and the like. My understanding of God's word was minimal (and basically revolved around the ten commandments) but I knew beyond a doubt I was in love with my King and my Savior and wanted to be in the Lord's army. Sadly, I did not stay faithful and my sin of rebellion ruled in my heart.

God, of course, knew this was going to happen and used it to introduce me to what was going to become the "battle for Him" for which I had often prayed during my childhood. Little did I know this season was going to stretch over the course of ten (plus) years and it was going to bring me closer to Him than I ever imagined or dreamed! God was about to take something that was meant for evil and use it for a good purpose to bring about the saving of many souls (Genesis 50:20) for His glory. But in the midst of battle it is easy to lose focus and become discouraged. How many times did the Psalmist write about such feelings? Many!

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6and my God. (Psalm 42:5-6. ESV.)


Unfortunately, I was trying to do things in my own strength instead of Christ's (Philippians 4:13). Then, one day in 2006 my rebellious ways came to an abrupt stop and the world suddenly looked different.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26. ESV.)


Further, God knew EXACTLY how long I should be on the front lines for Him. October 24, 2010 He removed me from that position and placed me in one where I would be able to take it easy and heal. Anything that was broken now had the time and means to be repaired. My King provided everything and all I had to do was be patient, depend on Him, and recover.

Being I am someone who likes to hurry things along, I found myself asking, "How long, Lord? How much time must I wait?" I figured it was going to be for maybe a month or two (tops) but my King sent word (through one of His servants) it is going to be more like a year. A year?! Lord, you want me to be still (Psalm 46:10) FOR A YEAR!? That's twelve months!!! 365 days!!! Surely you jest!

Nope. No joke. I guess that is how long it takes the human body and heart to mend. Since He is the Great Physician…Wonderful Counselor…I believe He knows far better than I do about such things. I have died to myself…my self-centeredness.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20. ESV.)


To be continued...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Piper's New Sites


http://www.kemushen.org
http://www.yangmushen.org

Oops!

Yikes! I've fallen off the blog-o-sphere! I have a new schedule and it seems to have caused a (bigger) hiccup (than planned) in my everyday routine…though I was hoping it would not.

Further, last night (as I was going to bed) I thought of a post however this morning the idea was gone. So, I find myself empty handed at the moment. But, I promise to remedy that soon.

For now I shall leave off with my kiddos' new memory verse.

"The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life." (Psalm 121:7. ESV.)

To which I give a hearty, "AMEN!"

I wish all of you out there in internet land a beautiful week in God's grace!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Do You Zumba?

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (Proverbs 31:17. ESV.)


Did I mention that with my new job I get a FREE gym membership?

Further, tomorrow I will be attending my first Zumba class (with my sister-in-law). I have to say I'm a little nervous but everyone to whom I have spoken raves about Zumba and says it is so much fun!

So, yes, I am looking forward to it. And, no, I will not be posting a video of me in class. :)

It’s All in Who You Know

I do not have any high profile relationships. I cannot say I am friends with this movie star or that athlete. I have had two coworkers (Kris Perkins and Cory Almeida) and two schoolmates (John and James Crutchfield) end up on television but that is about it. (And I was/am excited to cheer them on.)

As I rolled the fact (that I am one in billions and of no particular importance) around in my mind a lovely reality washed over me. I know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16. ESV.)

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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7. ESV.)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17. ESV.)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15. ESV.)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58. ESV.)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39. ESV.)

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5. ESV.)


And what does God's word say is in store for those who know Him and are faithful in obeying His laws?

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' (Matthew 25:23. ESV.)

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8. ESV.)

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:4. ESV.)

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. (James 1:12. ESV.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

No Strings Attached

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Matthew 6:3. ESV.)

I remember reading this verse in middle school or high school and it having a significant impact on me. It made me meditate on what it means to not boast in serving others but rather to do ALL things for the glory of God "who sees in secret" (Matthew 6:4).

This scripture also reminds me of the saying, "No strings attached" which can be compared in contrast to the adage, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine."

Christ Jesus' sacrifice, compassion, (and mediation) on my behalf (and for your benefit and for all of mankind) so that I (and everyone else for that matter) can have a relationship with God where sitting at the foot of His throne and communing with Him is permitted, was an act without expectation of something in return. He did not say, "Now what are you going to do for me?" but rather, "It is done."

16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17. ESV.)

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6. ESV.)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9. ESV.)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14. ESV.)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8. ESV.)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21. ESV.)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3-4. ESV.)

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10. ESV.)

...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10. ESV.)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20. ESV.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6. NKJV.)


Sometimes (not necessarily all the time or often, but occasionally) I find myself conflicted because God's word and His leading of my heart instruct me to do things one way (His way) yet a loved one (or two or more) try to lead me otherwise. This has happened a couple times over the past few days and during one conversation I found myself saying, "God is the ONLY one I am concerned about pleasing!" Perhaps it was not the best way to encourage my loved one however I wanted the person to know I am standing firm and will not be moved.

“ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24. NKJV.)


I find staying focused on God can be a little challenging at times…but usually that is when I am not being consistent in prayer, in being in His word each day, and in seeking Him for wisdom.

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12. NKJV.)


How grateful I am for that. God is faithful even when I am not. He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). So, thankfully I do not have to worry about appeasing this individual or that one. My eyes should remained fixed on my King (and being He can see my heart and is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, He is far easier to satisfy).

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen. (Jude 24-25. NKJV.)

Monday, April 05, 2010

What's Behind Door Number Three?

I've mentioned two new doors have opened in my life (in this season).

Let me begin by saying, taking up the cross and following Christ (Luke 9:23) is full of unexpected twists and turns. Need I mention those who followed God's instruction: Moses (who was placed in a basket, found by Pharaoh's daughter, raised as an Egyptian, chosen to lead God's people); Joseph (who was sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, and made governor in Egypt); David (who defeated Goliath and had to flee from Saul who wanted to kill him); Daniel (who was thrown in a lion's den); Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (who were thrown into a burning fiery furnace, walked in the midst of the fire with Jesus, and came out alive and unharmed); Jonah (who was swallowed by a huge fish); and others who had completely bizarre things happen (albeit they are Old Testament but their faith, trust, and hope were in God with their eyes firmly fixed toward heaven).

My vapor of a life is not nearly that exciting however it has some surprising moments of its own where the plot thickens…these two doors (especially the second one) are a good example of that.

Door #1:
I had heard from a friend about a homeschool group that meets once a month and most (if not all) of the ladies attend the same church. The first day my kiddos and I arrived on the scene I found the women to be very hospitable and kind. Immediately, I felt comfortable and welcomed. I could not help but be reminded of the close knit bible study group of which I was a part from about 2006 to 2008. The faces were different from those in the ladies bible study but the hearts were the same.

Not only do these sisters in Christ meet for homeschooling each month, they are also part of an AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed - 2 Timothy 2:15) program. This too was a reflection of my sisters in Christ from the 2006-2008 season of my life…(which is important to me because it is the time when God grew me, stretched, and sculpted me the most. And, to echo another sister in Christ (about the '06-'08 group), it was the first time I felt "at home" in the city I was living.)

Door #2:
The same day, right after the children and I returned from the homeschool meeting, door number two was revealed. A loved one told me there was a job opportunity and it sounded like a perfect fit for my schedule. I would still be able to educate the children in the morning but then after lunch time I would work part time and return in the evening for the kids' bedtime routine. Further, it offered the prospect for bonuses, benefits, etc. Even childcare and transportation was included (thanks to the assistance of loved ones) in this neatly wrapped package…(with a big red bow (as Wendy would say) from the Lord).

But I hesitated. I stood "staring" at the career opening wondering, "Are you sure, my King? Is this really for me?" I have to admit, I was expecting something a little more short term but this position has all the makings of a long term gig. The question that still rolls around in my mind is, "Where is all of this going?"

I thought I was going to be able to predict the outcome. What started off as a month long venture is beginning to appear more like a yearlong investment. Which, of course, I don't mind…whatever time is necessary (though to tell the truth I'm hoping it will not be 40 years like Moses)!

Friday, during bible study one of my children flipped through the bible (rather hastily I must say) and came across Psalm 103:13 and read it aloud. It says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him." (ESV.) It was a reminder that made my heart meditate (and all the sweeter that it came from the mouth of my child). It encouraged me greatly. I belong to the King and He is kindhearted toward me as a parent toward a child. He blesses me richly.

2[The Lord] makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake….
5You [Lord] prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:2-3, & 5. ESV.)


And boy oh boy does my cup runneth over!!! As I look at where I have been and set my eyes on my King and what is to come, I can't help but wonder…What's behind door number three?

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9. ESV.)

Friday, April 02, 2010

Was 3 Hours of Suffering Enough?

Was 3 Hours of Suffering Enough?
(Desiring God Ministries)



The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

If our sins are punished by eternal separation from God, why did Jesus only have to suffer momentary separation?

That's a good question, and I think there's a pretty clear answer.

Another question would be, How can one man suffer when millions should've suffered? Same kind of issue. How does one suffering become the suffering of millions? The math doesn't work! How does suffering for 3 hours on a cross correspond to delivering people from eternity in hell? All those kinds of questions apply here.

The answer is that the degree of suffering, indignity, reproach, degradation, and fall that Jesus endured is not simply determined temporally. And it's not simply determined by the exquisiteness of the pain of a nail cutting through a nerve in your wrist.

It's determined by the difference between the glory that he had with the Father in heaven and the ignominy that he suffered, naked and hanging like a piece of meat as the Son of God on the cross. It's that distance that is the magnitude that provides the scope needed in his suffering to cover an eternity in hell and to cover the sins of millions of people.

The way to think about it is that we commit a greater indignity against God, not just in accord with how many sins we commit or how bad they are, but in accord with how great he is. Therefore our sins are infinitely great because they're against an infinite person and deserve an infinite punishment.

Christ, being an infinite person, became so low that that drop in suffering, that drop in indignity was such a huge drop—it was an infinite drop—that it suffices to cover the sins of millions and to cover the entire length of eternity that we deserve to be in hell.

He is a great Savior.

© 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

Like A Lamb

Like A Lamb
(Our Daily Bread)

The nail-pierced hands of Jesus reveal the love-filled heart of God.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day

Not only is it Good Friday it is also World Autism Awareness Day. Noel Piper has quite a bit on her site regarding this. She also has the official United Nations statement, calling on “all governments to make universal human rights a reality for all who live with autism.” I would like to encourage you to head over, visit Mrs. Piper, and learn more about Autism.

Messianic Psalms Bible Study

David Brickner and Israeli Missionary Yoel Ben David from "Jews for Jesus" will be teaching through the Messianic Psalms. You can download videos and powerpoint presentations from their Messianic Psalms Bible Study site located at http://video.jforj.com/category/messianic-psalms/.

What the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means to Me

The Team Pyro crew took turns today addressing the topic "What the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ means to me". Click to read posts by Frank Turk, Dan Phillips, and Phil Johnson.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Truth About Autism

I have just returned from Noel Piper's blog. She has a video posted about Autism and I wanted to pass it along. Please click here to view it.

New Books on the "To Read" List

(Please forgive me for the blurry picture.)


Yesterday, I took the kiddos to AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed - 2 Timothy 2:15) and hit the church library while I was there. I picked up two new books which have been added to my "To Read" list.

The first one I grabbed is BAD GIRLS OF THE BIBLE AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THEM by Liz Curtis Higgs. This book started out as a joke between the oldest child in my household and myself. But, I have to say, thus far I have been pleasantly surprised by it. It starts with the "first bad girl" (Eve) and divides up notorious bad girls into three categories: "Bad to the Bone" (Potiphar's Wife, Delilah, and Jezebel), "Bad for a Moment" (Lot's Wife, Sapphira, and Michal), and "Bad for a Season, but Not Forever" (Rahab, the Woman at the Well, and the Sinful Woman who anointed Jesus' feet with her tears).

The second I picked up is LOVE COMES SOFTLY by Janette Oke. A fellow sister in Christ told me about the movie series and I was happy to find there is a book sequence as well! So, I'm going to give it a try though fiction is not really my thing.

What are you reading?

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